Diets come and go, all promising what feels like the elusive 'hot body'. Here are the top 10 diets in terms of nutrition and efficacy, as rated by U.S. News.
With input from a panel of health experts, U.S. News took on the challenge of sussing out the good versus bad diets. To be top-rated, a diet had to meet certain guidelines: be easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss, and protect against conditions including diabetes and heart disease. Read on to find out which diets made the cut for 2015.
1. DASH Diet
The DASH Diet is aimed specifically at fighting high blood pressure (hypertension). Ranked one on the list, it ticks all the boxes for nutritional completeness, safety, heart health, and ability to prevent or control diabetes. The DASH Diet claims nutrients such as potassium, calcium, protein and fibre are essential to fighting high blood pressure. A typical food plan would emphasise the usual good suspects (fruits, veggies, wholegrains, lean protein and low-fat diary) and avoiding sweets and red meat.
2. TLC Diet
The TLC Diet, also referred to as 'Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes', offers a more DIY approach than the hand-holding provided in more commercial diets. Good at improving cardiovascular health, the TLC Diet claims to lower your bad cholesterol by 8 to 10 per cent in 6 weeks. It requires cutting back heavily on fat, especially saturated fat found in fatty meat, wholemilk dairy and fried foods, including more fibre, and reducing your daily dietary cholesterol intake. Instead your diet will consist of loads of fruit, veggies, wholegrains, low-fat or non-fat dairy, fish, and poultry with the skin off.
First, you need to choose your target calorie level. The intial goal is 2,500 per day for males and 1,800 for females. If you're wanting to lose a few extra pounds as well, aim for 1,600 for men and 1,200 for women.
3. The Mayo Clinic Diet
The Mayo Clinic Diet takes on the approach of making healthy eating a lifelong habit. By refocusing on your diet, you can break any bad habits and replace them with more positive ones. Rather than counting calories expected in other diets, you are allowed to snack on all the fruits and veggies you want. No food group is completely off limits, and you're claimed to be able to adopt a pattern of healthy eating that you can follow for life.
4. The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is a sensible diet in that there is an emphasis on fruits, veggies, olive oil, fish and other healthy fare. A typical week would include wholegrains, beans, nuts, the usual suspects fruits and veggies, legumes, flavourful herbs and spices, fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese and yoghurt in moderation, and sweets and red meat reserved for special occasions.
5. Weight Watchers
If you're wanting a diet with plenty of group support, then Weight Watchers is a great option. The basic premise is if you make healthy choices that fill you up, you'll eat less. Their PointsPlus program assigns food a points value based on protein, carbohydrate, fat and fibre. Lots of fruits and veggies are included with room for occasional indulgences allowed.
6. The Flexitarian Diet
U.S. News considers the Flexitarian Diet approach to be a nice method that could work for the whole family. Instead of 'taking anything away', you're adding five food groups to your diet. There's an emphasis on fruit, veggies, wholegrains and plant-based protein. The 'new meat' includes tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds and eggs. A five-week meal plan provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes. Breakfast choices are limited to 300 calories, 400 for lunches, 500 for dinners, and two snacks daily at 150 each, making a total of 1,500 calories.
Volumetrics is considered to be the eating plan for anyone, by U.S. News. Foods are divided into the following four groups:
Category 1 (very low density)
Non-starchy fruits and veggies, non-fat milk and broth-based soup.
Category 2 (low density)
Starchy fruits and veggies, grains, breakfast cereal, low-fat meat, legumes, and low-fat mixed dishes including chilli and spaghetti.
Category 3 (medium density)
Meat, cheese, pizza, French fries, salad dressing, bread, pretzels, ice cream and cake.
Category 4 (high density)
Crackers, chips, chocolate candies, cookies, nuts, butter and oil.
On the plan you'll stick to categories one and two, watch your portion sizes with category three and keep category four to a very minimum. Each day you'll eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert, however it's up to you as to how strictly you follow the plan.
8. Jenny Craig
Similar to Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig offers emotional support. It's considered easy to follow, nutritionally complete and safe. It's all about reducing calories, fat and portion sizes. Prepackaged meals and recipes are implemented to promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
9. The Biggest Loser Diet
In a sea of diets, U.S. News didn't consider The Biggest Loser Diet to be anything special. Offering short-term weight loss and moderate effectiveness for heart health, it was suggested the diet is simply capitalising off the success of the TV show. It focuses on the usual approach of eating regular meals with filling calories from fruits, veggies, lean protein, wholegrains, as well as practicing portion control, regular exercise and using a food journal.
10. The Ornish Diet
The Ornish Diet had a mixed reaction by health experts. The positives? It's nutritionally sound, safe and very heart healthy. The negatives? The severe fat restriction is probably not easy for dieters to follow. Created by Dean Ornish, Professor of Medicine at the University of California, the diet is divided into five food groups from most healthful (G1) to least healthful (G5). There is also emphasis on leading an active lifestyle with aerobic activities, resistance training and flexibility.