Now, new annual rankings from U.S. News & World Report reveal that the best diets for 2018 is a tie, with the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet in first place.
The lowest ranking diets were the Keto Diet and the Dukan Diet, which tied for last place. People who follow the Keto Diet slash carbs and fill up on fats in order to help the body enter of state of “ketosis,” where the body breaks down fat. The Dukan Diet is a rule-heavy plan that goes in stages, including a phase of eating a lot of protein. The experts rated both diets as hard to follow
Here’s top 10 best diet plans for 2018:
1: Dash Diet
Nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and fiber are crucial to fending off or fighting high blood pressure. You don’t have to track each one, though. Just emphasize the foods you’ve always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy), while limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils, and sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets. Top it all off by cutting back on salt, and voila!
How does DASH Diet work?
First, decide how much you want to read. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which helped develop DASH, publishes free guides on the plan. One (PDF here) is 20 pages while another (PDF here) is six. Both take you through the same process of determining how many calories you should eat for your age and activity level, tell you where those calories should come from and remind you to go easy on salt. It’s as simple as that.
For a 2,000-calorie diet, you should shoot each day (unless otherwise noted) for six to eight servings of grains; four to five each of veggies and fruit; two to three of fat-free or low-fat dairy; six or fewer of lean meat, poultry and fish, with one serving being equivalent to an ounce; four to five (a week) of nuts, seeds and legumes; two to three of fats and oils; and five or fewer (a week) of sweets. DASH suggests capping sodium at 2,300 milligrams a day and eventually working to stay at about 1,500 milligrams.
It’s OK to ease into DASH. Try adding just one vegetable serving to a meal, and a fruit serving to another. Go (sort of) vegetarian by preparing two or more meat-free dishes each week. And start using the herbs and spices hiding in the back of the pantry – they’ll make you forget the salt’s not on the table. Meanwhile, you’ll be encouraged to stick to a regular physical activity program.
As for weight loss, you’re advised to ask your doctor about how to best tailor your plan. Because DASH emphasizes so many healthful foods, it can easily support weight loss. Just move more and eat slightly less, says the NHLBI.
2: Mediterranean Diet
It’s generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods.
How does Mediterranean Diet work?
It depends – there isn’t “a” Mediterranean diet. Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and Spanish. But they share many of the same principles. Working with the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways, a nonprofit food think tank in Boston, developed a consumer-friendly Mediterranean diet pyramid that emphasizes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation, while saving sweets and red meat for special occasions. Top it off with a splash of red wine (if you want), remember to stay physically active and you’re set.
3: The Flexitarian Diet
Flexitarian is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago, and in her 2009 book, “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life,” registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner says you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits.
How does The Flexitarian Diet work?
Becoming a flexitarian is about adding five food groups to your diet – not taking any away. These are: the “new meat” (tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds, and eggs); fruits and veggies; whole grains; dairy; and sugar and spice (everything from dried herbs to salad dressing to agave nectar sweetener). A five-week meal plan provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes. You can follow the plan as it’s outlined, or swap recipes from different weeks to meet your preferences. It’s a three-four-five regimen: Breakfast choices are around 300 calories, lunches 400 and dinners 500. Snacks are about 150 calories each; add two, and your daily total clocks in at 1,500 calories. Depending on your activity level, gender, height and weight, you can tweak the plan to allow for slightly greater or fewer calories.
Flexitarian meals revolve around plant proteins rather than animal proteins. You might have cereal topped with soy milk, nuts and berries for breakfast; black bean soup with a salad and whole-grain roll for lunch, an apple with peanut butter for a snack and a barbecue veggie burger with sweet potato fries for dinner. Jackson Blatner provides tips like a tofu tutorial; a cheat sheet on veggies that taste like meat; strategies to “fend off flatulence;” and preparation tricks for different kinds of beans. Great Northern beans, for example, have a delicate flavor and are tender and moist, so she suggests pureeing them and making dips.
You can follow her regimen at your own pace. Jump in and try most of the recipes, sticking to the meal plan verbatim for five weeks. Or take it slowly, and test one of the recipes every once in a while. The Flexitarian Diet includes what she calls a “Flex Swap” feature: suggestions for recipe alterations and ingredient substitutions, such as adding chicken, turkey, fish or red meat to a vegetarian recipe. Jackson Blatner offers advice for all kinds of followers; if you already eat well most of the time, for example, she’ll show you how to add variety. The diet is molded after her philosophy “Eat more plants, and do the best that you can.”
4: Weight Watchers Diet
There’s more to weight loss than counting calories – if you make healthier choices and behavior changes, you’ll feel better while losing weight. The Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale Program, launched in late 2015, is designed to help people eat better, move more and shift their mindset. The program assigns every food and beverage a SmartPoints value, based on its nutrition (higher amounts of saturated fat and sugar increase the point value; higher amounts of protein bring the point value down). Choices that fill you up the longest “cost” the least, and nutritionally dense foods cost less than empty calories. So if you’re wavering between a cup of lobster bisque soup or a chicken salad sandwich – both 380 calories – the sandwich is the smarter choice. A backbone of the plan is multi-model access (via in-person meetings, online chat or phone) to support from people who lost weight using Weight Watchers, kept it off and have been trained in behavioral weight management techniques.
With Beyond the Scale, Weight Watchers members lost 15 percent more weight in their first two months following the new program, the company says, compared with those who followed the previous program.
How does Weight Watchers Diet work?
There’s no fixed membership period; many people who join Weight Watchers – via an OnlinePlus, Meetings or Personal Coaching subscription – stick with it even after they’ve shed unwanted pounds.
The new SmartPoints food plan guides members toward an overall eating pattern that is lower in calories, saturated fat and sugar, and higher in protein. However, you can eat whatever you want – provided you stick to your daily SmartPoints target, a number based on your gender, weight, height and age. You can find the points values of more than 290,000 foods on the mobile app or desktop food database. Processed choices like bologna usually have higher point values due to calories and saturated fat. Fresh fruits and most vegetables carry zero points, so you can eat as many as you need to feel full. That’s because they tend to be low-calorie and nutrient-dense, so they’re more filling than, say, a candy bar. (Fruit juice, dried fruit and starchy vegetables don’t count as freebies, since they’re more calorie-dense for the same serving size.)
The company offers thousands of recipes, each with a SmartPoints value, to show how it fits into your eating plan. If you’re preparing a dish that’s not listed in the database, you can calculate the points value ingredient by ingredient, using your mobile app or through the company’s website. Vegetarians, gluten-free eaters and people with other dietary preferences can also easily find items and recipes tagged for them.
5: MIND Diet
The MIND diet takes two proven diets – DASH and Mediterranean – and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health.
The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. Meanwhile, MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.
The MIND diet, which stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, through a study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published online February 2015. Morris’ team followed the food intake of 923 Chicago-area seniors. Over four and a half years, 144 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease. The longer people had followed the MIND diet patterns, the less risk they appeared to have. Even people who made “modest” changes to their diets – who wouldn’t have fit the criteria for DASH or Mediterranean – had less risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The study found the MIND diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by about 35 percent for people who followed it moderately well and up to 53 percent for those who adhered to it rigorously.
Two previous, large U.S. studies found significant slower cognitive decline in people who ate at least two servings of vegetables per day, with the strongest effect seen with at least six weekly servings of leafy green vegetables. Several animal studies show that eating a variety of berries is tied to better memory performance. And population studies suggest eating a single fish meal a week is related to Alzheimer’s prevention.
Morris emphasizes that findings on the diet are not definitive, with more long-term, randomized comparison studies needed. Her team’s second paper on the MIND diet found the MIND diet superior to the DASH and Mediterranean diets in preventing cognitive decline.
6: TLC Diet
Created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is endorsed by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy regimen that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The key is cutting back sharply on fat, particularly saturated fat. Saturated fat (think fatty meat, whole-milk dairy and fried foods) bumps up bad cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. That, along with strictly limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber, can help people manage high cholesterol, often without medication.
7: Volumetrics Diet
People tend to eat the same weight, or amount, of food each day, regardless of how many calories they take in. Since some foods are less energy dense than others – that is, they have fewer calories per gram – filling your plate with more of those means you’ll be eating fewer calories without actually eating less food. Low-density foods, which are low in calories but high-volume, help you feel full and satisfied while dropping pounds. Fruits and veggies are ideal, since they’ll fill you up without breaking your calorie bank. (A pound of low-density carrots, for example, contains as many calories as an ounce of high-density peanuts.) Volumetrics is all about getting more mileage out of what you eat.
8: Mayo Clinic Diet
You recalibrate your eating habits, breaking bad ones and replacing them with good ones with the help of the Mayo Clinic’s unique food pyramid.
The pyramid emphasizes fruits, veggies and whole grains. In general, these foods have low energy density, meaning you can eat more but take in fewer calories. Think of it this way: For about the same amount of calories you could have a quarter of a Snicker’s bar or about 2 cups of broccoli.
9: Ornish Diet
The more you change your diet, the more health benefits you reap – at any age. If you’re only looking to lose a few pounds, a couple of this-for-thats might do the trick. But if you want to reverse heart disease – which research shows may be possible at the rigorous end of this diet’s spectrum of choices – you’re looking at big changes. For most programs, though, you have plenty of room between all and nothing. If you indulged yesterday, make more healthful choices today; if you didn’t have time for a run yesterday, make it a must-do today. What matters most is your overall approach – if it’s doable and pleasurable over the long haul, you’ll stick with it for life.
10: The Fertility Diet
Research from the Nurses’ Health Study – which began in 1976 and grew to include 238,000 female nurse participants aged 30 to 55 – has shown that tweaking aspects of your diet, from fats to beverages, can increase ovulation and improve your chances of getting pregnant. In “The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant,” Drs. Jorge Chavarro and Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health created a diet plan based on the study, which showed that women who consumed “good” fats, whole grains and plant protein improved their egg supply, while those who ate “bad” fats, refined carbohydrates and red meat may make fewer eggs, thereby increasing the risk for ovulatory infertility. They also suggest that full-fat dairy products are good for fertility compared with skim milk and sugary sodas. The doctors recommend a 10-step approach to improving fertility.