From celebrity-endorsed to science-backed, finding the best diet for your body and lifestyle can be an exercise in frustration—definitely not the kind of exercise you need right now! To make your search easier, we've pulled together the 10 most popular diets based on which ones have consistently ranked highest on the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, WebMD, and other current diet lists. Just know this: It's not about finding out which diet is the most popular overall but which one fits your goals and lifestyle the best. After all, the best diet for you is the one you can stick with (and enjoy)!
Some diet plans, such as the MIND diet and the DASH diet, are meant to focus on certain areas of health — and weight loss may be a bonus. Others are created with weight loss as a primary goal. “It is important to remember that we are all very unique individuals,” says Kyle. “We all have different states of health and different lifestyles, which could affect what diet plan is best for us. That means that you should not be considering what is working for your friends or family members — and instead should pay attention to what works for you individually.”
Although adding an exercise routine to your diet overhaul will help you burn fat more quickly than a dietary intervention alone, one JAMA study found that obese patients who change their diets first and begin exercising six months after their diet change will lose the same amount of weight after 12 months as those participants who eat healthier and exercised over the course of the whole year. In short: don’t put off your weight loss goals just because you don’t want to exercise. Change your diet today, exercise later, and you can still lose weight.
I would love to join a study! Could you recommend where to go to find one? I have done 30 or less total carbs a day for almost 2 years and feel great. I have NEVER EVEN ONCE gone over 40 total so I do follow it and I do not cheat on high carb foods, although I do occasionally over-eat on low carb foods resulting in a bit over 30 maybe 1 -2 times a month. I do feel that time will provide more support and think that the medical community should educate on this as another alternative. It isn’t for everyone because it is a bit more problematic if a person does fall of the straight and narrow too often but it can be done!
“A healthy diet should be a sustainable eating plan that provides adequate nutrition to support optimal health,” Taylor says. “For many people with diabetes, a low-carb diet is a temporary tool that can be used to support short-term weight loss and improved blood sugar control. However, I typically don't recommend sticking with a low-carb diet permanently, as many micronutrient deficiencies can result from an unbalanced eating plan. I like to think of low-carb diets as a possible ‘stepping stone,’ not a ‘forever diet.’”
The DASH diet plan focus on increasing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes; choosing lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts and healthy fats; and limiting added sugars, trans fats, added salt, and processed foods. Serving sizes from each food group are based on individual calorie needs (see below for a 1600-calorie plan), and you’ll likely find that the plan looks pretty close to the MyPlate plan, as well as another consistently rated “top diet,” the Mediterranean Diet. Here’s a breakdown of the recommended nutrients in a typical day and week on the DASH diet:
DASH stands for "dietary approach to stop hypertension" and was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a way to help reverse national trends of obesity and heart disease. Scientists combed through decades of research to come up with an expert-backed list of diet tips, along with a prescription for exercise. And it worked: The DASH diet has topped nearly every diet list for nearly a decade. Doctors particularly recommend it for people looking to lower high blood pressure, reverse diabetes, and lower their risk of heart disease. (Here's the basic list of DASH diet-approved foods.)
“The alkaline diet often has a focus on eating lots of fresh produce and unprocessed foods, which could be a good thing,” says Hultin. “However, keep in mind that this is not an evidence-based therapeutic diet. When people take it too far — for instance, drinking baking soda — or become too restrictive or obsessive over food choices, it can definitely turn negative.”
Water is a weight loss ally in a number of ways. For starters, if sipped prior to a meal it can help ensure you eat less. A British study published in the journal Obesity that asked participants to chug 16 ounces of H2O prior to eating found said participants lost an average of 2.87 pounds in 90 days—which translates to nearly 12 pounds in a year! Water helps you blast even more fat because it is a much better beverage choice than diet soda or fruit juice, both of which are full of artificial sweeteners that can pack on belly fat super fast.
The researchers agree that the diet itself isn’t inherently dangerous. But, cautions Weiss, “If you have any medical condition, if you take any medicine at all – there are lots of things that change how medicines work in our bodies, and nutrition is definitely one of them. If you’re making a real change in your nutrition, you really should talk to your doctor.”
Hi, Esther! Thank you so much for your kind comment. I am so glad you found The Mediterranean Dish and hope you’ll enjoy cooking some of the recipes here! I should preface my answer here by saying that I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, what I share here is mainly from my experience as someone who grew up in the Mediterranean area and have continued to eat the Mediterranean way now as an adult living in the USA. So please always check with your health care provider or a registered dietitian if you are looking for professional advice or a specific diet plan to follow. But I’ll answer your questions as best as I know how.
The Mediterranean diet pyramid looks different from other food pyramids. Social eating and physical activity sit at the base, supplying the foundational piece of the regimen. Research has shown that, traditionally, people in Mediterranean countries spend more time preparing, eating and savoring their food, and took their meals in the company of others. Contrast this with the American habit of eating fast food alone or on the run, in a car or at a desk. The traditional Mediterranean style of living was also much less sedentary than that of other cultures, including the United States, involving significant physical labor and activity.
Christopher D. Gardner, PhD; Alexandre Kiazand, MD; Sofiya Alhassan, PhD; Soowon Kim, PhD; Randall S. Stafford, MD, PhD; Raymond R. Balise, PhD; Helena C. Kraemer, PhD; Abby C. King, PhD, “Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women,” JAMA. 2007;297(9):969-977. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/art icle.aspx?articleid=205916.
A survey of 1,580 low-carb consumers published in late 2017 by the Journal of Insulin Resistance45 found that while more than 11% of respondents reported using sleep-aids before beginning their low-carb diet, less than 5% reported using them after their diet. Moreover, nearly seven in 10 reported improved quality of sleep after dieting while only 3.4% said their sleep quality had worsened.
What is your opinion on the conflicting opinions about whether or not wine is healthy or harmful? It seems there is a daily article touting research that proclaims wine is health alternating with another article about research that indicates that even moderate intake of wine is associated with cancer or dementia. I’m trying to understand all of this conflicting data with the reality/evidence of Mediterranean cultures that include daily intake of wine. Is it the amount drunk that is key?
Also, reducing sodium doesn’t restrict you to boring, bland food, nor does it mean you have to toss out the salt shaker. Yes, reducing the amount of salt you use and choosing lower-sodium products are key, but opting for fresh foods or whole foods instead of boxed, canned, and ready-to-heat items makes a big enough impact. Experiment with spices and herbs, and use a little salt to enhance flavor. Salt should never be the sole flavoring or seasoning in any in dish.
Lectins are another way plants defend themselves. Food naturally wears and tears your gut lining as it passes through. The normal repair process is part of the digestion program. Lectins interfere with the repair by binding to the lining of your gut and blocking healing. This leaves microscopic holes in the gut, which allows undigested food particles to pass through, and then you find yourself constantly afflicted with low-level inflammation.
It reduces risk of disease. A growing number of studies suggest that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to die of heart disease than people who follow a typical American diet. (1) What’s more, evidence is emerging that shows people who eat this way have a lower risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and some head and neck cancers, according to studies published in September 2016 in the British Journal of Cancer and in February 2018 in the Journal of Urology. (27,28,29)
I’ve been following a ketogenic based “Way of Eating” or almost a year now, and I’ve never felt better. Fats are the main source of calories with it—NOT protein. Fats and proteins ARE essential for the body. Carbohydrates are not. The 20g of carbs are for net carbs, NOT total carbs. This means you can have a great deal of fiber from very nutrient filled veggies that don’t spike your blood sugar.
Hello, I am hoping someone can reach out to me and explain something. My son who is T1D just started the keto diet 4 days ago. At first we were doing great numbers were good, then out of nowhere we are having highs! He is correcting and it’s not bringing him down into normal range. I am going into a panic, I don’t know what to do, or who to ask for help. His doctor would be no help, and thinks the Standard American Diet is fine. I don’t see eye to eye with him. I hope someone can tell me why this might be happening. Thanks in advance for your time!
I agree!! I too..have /had Diabetes II..at age 66 and retired RN, we were taught for so long the WRONG way to eat and I taught that way, the high carb, grains, etc, way to eat. KETO saved me. Dropped my A1C and I feel great. The author of this page is wrong when saying 5-10 percent of our diet, carb eating, should be root veggies like ‘carrots”…so wrong. For goodness sakes, get KETO right by educating yourself, Tammy Shiflet~ Horribly wrong! There are so many studies and physicians, brain scientists, etc out here who understand what this diet is about. Read, and educate yourself….Please! Diabetes is a symptom of the Government’s education mistakes. Sugar, Wheat, Grains…horrible for us. Get with it, we live in 2018 and the information is out there; if you need a list, just ask.
If you've never given farro a try, this pretty bowl of goodness will have you stopping by the grocery store on your way home tonight. Farro has basically zero fat, is a great source of fiber, and an even better source of bone-boosting calcium. It's a little denser than brown rice and is a bit more substantial than quinoa. This bowl takes only 35 minutes to make—perfect for meal-prep days. Obsessed? Try these healthy recipes featuring high-fiber foods.)
A: The most common ways to track your carbs is through MyFitnessPal and their mobile app. You cannot track net carbs on the app, although you can track your total carb intake and your total fiber intake. To get your net carbs, just subtract your total fiber intake from your total carb intake. I have written an article on How to Track Carbs on MyFitnessPal.
Researchers at Florida State University studied watermelon for its ability to regulate blood pressure due to it being “one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline”, an amino acid that the body converts into L-arginine, which improves circulation. They discovered that watermelon, due to its high L-citrulline, may prevent pre-hypertension from becoming full blown hypertension.
A relatively new offering, the Nutritarian diet is based on maximizing the amount of healthy vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients in your food, balancing your hormones, and avoiding toxins. The plan—created by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of The End of Dieting—is nutrient-dense, plant-rich, and includes anti-cancer superfoods to help you not just lose weight but live a long, disease-free life. (P.S. Follow these guidelines to make sure you're absorbing all the nutrients from your food.)
Benefits The main ingredient in hummus, chickpeas pack an impressive amount of fiber (more than half of a woman’s 25 g daily quota), as well as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium, according to a paper published in November 2014 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. (15,16) The stats above are for a whole cup, but you only need ½ cup per day to reap the benefits.
As mentioned earlier, the ketogenic diet focuses on weight loss. The human body requires more effort to turn fat into energy whereas it takes less time to turn carbohydrates into energy. This is the reason; ketogenic diet helps in a quick weight loss. Since, the ketogenic diet includes some amount of protein as well; it keeps you full for a longer time. Therefore, you tend to shed those extra pounds.
And, it's important to recognize that both study teams acknowledge that as exciting as their findings seem, a large, randomized controlled trial is still needed to more closely assess a variety of components that may be contributing to the successes found in both studies before the findings can be recommended to anyone outside the study groups1,2 he says.
Variations on the Johns Hopkins protocol are common. The initiation can be performed using outpatient clinics rather than requiring a stay in hospital. Often there is no initial fast (fasting increases the risk of acidosis and hypoglycaemia and weight loss). Rather than increasing meal sizes over the three-day initiation, some institutions maintain meal size but alter the ketogenic ratio from 2:1 to 4:1.
In 1921, Rollin Turner Woodyatt reviewed the research on diet and diabetes. He reported that three water-soluble compounds, β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone (known collectively as ketone bodies), were produced by the liver in otherwise healthy people when they were starved or if they consumed a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research and coined the term ketogenic diet to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrate. Wilder hoped to obtain the benefits of fasting in a dietary therapy that could be maintained indefinitely. His trial on a few epilepsy patients in 1921 was the first use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy.
In regard to serum measurements, the mean fasting glucose decreased by 17% from 9.08 ± 4.09 mmol/L at baseline to 7.57 ± 2.63 mmol/L at week 16 (p = 0.04) (Table (Table4).4). Serum sodium and chloride levels increased significantly, but only by 1% and 3%, respectively. Uric acid level decreased by 10% (p = 0.01). Serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001). Increases occurred in both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (8%) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (10%) but these changes were of borderline statistical significance (p = 0.08 and p = 0.1, respectively). The following blood tests did not change significantly: total cholesterol, potassium, bicarbonate, urea nitrogen, creatinine, calcium, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and hemoglobin.
If you have health reasons that make you want to try it and eating bacon, eggs and steak salads every day sounds amazing, maybe you could swing it. If nothing makes you happier than a fresh piece of sourdough, or if beans are one of the protein sources you rely on, there’s no point in trying a diet that’s not going to work. (And, by the way, sourdough toast with mashed avocado for breakfast and black bean soup for lunch are really delicious and healthy.)
Also worth noting is that low-carbohydrate, low-GI, and Mediterranean diets led to significant improvements in blood lipids with up to a 4–10% increase in HDL (4% in the Mediterranean, 5% in low-GI, and 10% in low-carbohydrate diets), 1–4% reduction in LDL (1% in low-carbohydrate, 3% in low-GI, and 4% in Mediterranean diets), and 9% reduction in triglycerides. 
There’s been no poultry or red meat so far in the menu, so plan for two dinners a week incorporating these animal foods instead of fish. Eat with family or friends, whenever possible, and listen to music instead of watching TV. Enjoy a glass of red wine with your meal; a moderate intake gives you polyphenols -- natural compounds in grapes -- that may protect you from heart disease, cognitive problems and even cancer.
“When we measured fasting plasma levels, we found low insulin and low glucose, which is good — not suggestive of diabetes,” he says. “However, when we challenged the animals with glucose — giving them a relatively large amount of glucose, as they would get by ingesting a meal — we found that their plasma glucose levels went higher than mice on normal chow and stayed high longer.”
Voted the "Best Diet Overall" for the past eight years in a row by U.S. News & World Report, the DASH diet can help you meet and maintain your health goals. The original intention of the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was to help lower high blood pressure (or hypertension), which research shows it does well. But even if you don't have high blood pressure, you might benefit from trying the DASH Diet, as research also shows it promotes weight loss and combats diabetes, all while being easy to follow and nutritious.