What Is the 'Best Diet' for You?

We’ve named some standouts, but you have to decide for yourself which diet is the best fit for you.

By Angela Haupt, Staff WriterJan. 2, 2019
By Angela Haupt, Staff WriterJan. 2, 2019, at 7:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

What Is the 'Best Diet' for You?

Each diet was scored by a panel of experts in short-term and long-term weight loss, on how easy it is to follow and how well it conforms to current nutrition standards.(Getty Images)

What makes a diet best? In Best Diets 2019, the latest set of exclusive rankings from U.S. News, the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet beat out a pool of other eating plans, including AtkinsJenny Craig and SlimFast, to win the "Best Diets Overall" crown. Among the 13 commercial diet programs marketed to the public, WW (Weight Watchers) came out on top. (Our methodology explains how.) We also ranked the diets on likelihood of weight loss, ability to prevent and control diabetes and heart diseasehealthiness and how easy they are to follow.

Our analysis puts hard numbers on the common-sense belief that no diet is ideal for everybody.

Take DASH, the No. 2 Best Diet Overall. It wasn't created as a way to drop pounds, but as a means of combating high blood pressure (it stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The federal government, which funded the research behind DASH, doesn't even call it a diet – it's an "eating plan." If losing weight is your primary goal, a diet in our Best Weight-Loss Diets rankings would be a more likely choice. Or if you have diabetes, you might want to look especially hard at Best Diabetes Diets

That's why we're giving you lots of tools. Each diet was scored by a panel of experts in short-term and long-term weight loss, on how easy it is to follow, how well it conforms to current nutrition standards and on health risks it may pose – plus its soundness as a diabetes and as a heart diet.

Besides the rankings and data, each diet has a detailed profile that tells you how it works, what evidence supports (or refutes) its claims, a nutritional snapshot – right down to daily milligrams of potassium – and, of course, a close look at the food you'd eat, with photos. All of it is reliable and easy to understand. 

These tools will be at least a start at helping you, your mother, your brother – whomever – find that elusive perfect-for-me diet. Once you've whittled down your eligible diets to a few, consider your personality and lifestyle. If you're a foodie, you probably won't be happy with a plan built around frozen dinners, like Nutrisystem, or mostly just-add-water meals, like Medifast. If cutting carbs will make you cranky and resentful, you'll want to stay away from low-carb diets such as Atkins and South Beach

Then think about what did and didn't work the last time you were on a diet. Was it too restrictive? Lots of diets we covered don't consider any food off-limits. Didn't provide enough structure? Some plans will tell you exactly what to eat and when.

With any diet, ask yourself: How long can I stay on this? No matter how good it looks – or how good it might make you look – if you can't stick with it in the long run, you'll be right back where you started after a couple months.

And consider physical activity – an important component of any healthy lifestyle. Does your plan lay out a specific exercise program, or are you on your own?

The questions are endless. Right now, you may have no idea what will or won't work for you. That's what we're here for. We're not going to tell you what diet you should be on, but we can help lead you to a winner – the Best Diet for you.

Here's which diets came out on top in the nine different ranking lists:

2. DASH diet 

2. Atkins (tie)

2. Keto Diet (tie)

2. Optavia (tie)

2. DASH diet (tie)

2. Flexitarian (tie)

2. Volumetrics (tie)

1. Mediterranean (tie)

1. Ornish Diet (tie)

2. Flexitarian (tie)

What Makes a Diet Easy to Follow?

U.S. News rankings rate how easy 41 diets are to follow. How much weight should you give this?

Angela HauptJan. 2, 2019

Updated on Jan. 2, 2019: This is an updated version of a previously published story.

Angela Haupt, Staff Writer

Angela Haupt is Assistant Managing Editor of Health at U.S. News, where she oversees a team of ...  Read moreAngela Haupt is Assistant Managing Editor of Health at U.S. News, where she oversees a team of staffers, freelancers and bloggers. She was a health reporter before transitioning into an editing role, and prior to joining U.S. News in 2010, she wrote for publications including USA Today, Newsday and The Reading (Pa.) Eagle.

Angela helped launch U.S. News' annual Best Diets rankings in 2011 and has since discussed the project on an array of local and national media programs, including "Good Morning America” and “Doctor Radio” on SiriusXM, and with NPR, Today.com, WTOP and numerous other outlets. Angela has moderated and appeared on numerous panels, including at the Partnership For a Healthier America’s annual Summit and at U.S. News’ annual Healthcare of Tomorrow conference. She’s an active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and was recently selected for the organization’s CDC fellowship, which entailed spending several days studying public health on two CDC campuses in Atlanta.

Angela received a journalism degree from Penn State University. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at ahaupt@usnews.com.

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