The scores are determined by a panel of doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists from places like the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, as well as many others. They attempted to determine what kind of diet is best for any healthy lifestyle, as well as for specific health needs. In addition to overall rankings they have ranked the 35 diets for diabetes, weight loss, hearth health, and easiest diets to follow.
The worst diets overall:
- The Fast Diet (2.5 out of 5 points)
- Atkins (2.3 points)
- Raw food (2.3 points)
- Dukan (2 points)
- Paleo (2 points)
All the US News’s diet rankings that included the Paleo diet, which attracted a cult-like following in 2013, placed it last or close to it. The Paleo diet says we eat too much processed junk, and the way to fix it is to adopt the diet of hunter-gatherers thousands of years ago—high on protein and leafy greens or fruits, with no grains or refined sugars or dairy. The biggest problems with the diet, according to the experts, is that it excludes entire food groups that provide important nutrients, and it hasn’t actually been proven to provide health benefits. It’s also pricey because of the emphasis on protein and produce, both of which are often more expensive than processed foods. “This diet should go back where it came from,” according to one panelist’s feedback.
The raw food diet got mixed reviews. It appeared toward the bottom of the overall diet list, ranking 32 out of 35, but it ranked third for weight loss. The plant-based diet, which doesn’t allow heating food beyond a certain point, includes legumes, veggies, and whole grains that can keep a person full for a relatively long time, according to the US News panel. But the diet is hard to follow, and received only 2.1 out of five possible points on nutrition, because dieters may not be getting enough calories or the right balance of vitamins.
The best diets overall:
- DASH Diet (4.1 points)
- TLC Diet (4 points)
- Mayo Clinic Diet (3.9 points)
- Mediterranean Diet (3.9 points)
- Weight Watchers (3.9 points)
The best overall diet to follow, according to the rankings, is the DASH diet (similar to the Mediterranean diet, NPR notes, which tied for third overall). It scored high in every category, receiving almost full marks in both safety and nutrition, and three out of five points for being “easy to follow.” Developed to lower blood pressure, the diet can help promote weight loss by prescribing a mix of whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, while cutting back on red meats, sweets, and salt. Unlike the lower-ranked regimes that are more contrived, DASH is basically a well-balanced diet that’s easy to follow. Go figure.