US News and World Report is well known for its rankings on everything from colleges to cruise lines. One of their many rankings delves into a topic important to tens of millions of Americans: the best diet.
Not long ago, the venerable publication released its diet rankings, which examined 39 of the most popular meal plans. Each plan was evaluated based on weight loss results and impact on overall health.
So which diet reigned supreme, and why? Here is a full rundown of the top picks, including the one that ended up on top of the heap.
Each diet received separate scores based on weight loss and health benefits, which were then calculated into a single composite score on a scale of one to five. No diet earned a perfect score in 2021, but the top five diets all pulled in a grade of at least 3.8.
Here are the top-ranked diets, listed in order from fifth to first.
5. Four-way tie (3.8/5)
- Volumetrics Diet: Dividing food into four categories based on energy density.
- Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Diet: Geared toward those looking to cut cholesterol. The focus is on fruits and veggies, breads, cereals, pasta, and lean meats.
- The MIND Diet: Created for those looking to optimize brain health and mental clarity.
- Mayo Clinic: A weight-loss diet purported to help users drop 10 pounds in two weeks and one to two pounds weekly thereafter.
4. The Weight Watchers (WW) Diet (3.9/5)
This tried and true diet plan remains elite after all these years. Its ingenious point system assigns numerical values to foods and beverages, providing flexible but solid boundaries for optimal eating. Support tools are available through the WW app, as are in-person workshops and more.
2/3. Two-way tie (4.1/5)
- The Flexitarian Diet: Flexible vegetarian: that’s the crux of this popular diet. Although the occasional meat product is allowed, plant-based protein is the preferred daily staple. The diet helps not just with weight loss but with reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- DASH Diet: Short for dietary approaches to stop hypertension, the DASH Diet was developed to help control blood pressure. The emphasis lies on fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
1. Mediterranean Diet (4.2/5)
This diet provides lots of wiggle room in terms of daily menus, and the core tenets are rooted in mountains of scientific evidence. It’s based on diets found in Greece, Italy, and elsewhere across the region.
The Mediterranean Diet divides foods into three broad categories. There is ample room for mixing and matching–and even infrequent indulgences.
Core foods include:
- Whole grains
- Liberal use of herbs and spices
- Olive oil and/or other healthy fats
A second category is meant for moderate intake. These foods include:
- Fish or seafood (recommended twice weekly)
- Low-fat dairy like yogurt and certain cheeses
Finally, a third category is meant as a destination for the occasional indulgence. This includes:
- Red meat
Why is it so effective? The flexibility of the diet and diversity of food options makes it relatively easy to stick to. And if you stick to it, it has a raft of benefits, as illustrated by years of convincing scientific evidence.
For example, one large study followed more than 7,400 people over five years and concluded that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil reduced heart disease risk by 31%, while a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts lowered the risk by 28% — both very solid numbers.
A 2019 major review of 20 different studies concluded that the Mediterranean diet “is effective in preventing obesity and metabolic syndrome in healthy and at-risk individuals, in reducing mortality risk in overweight or obese individuals, in decreasing the incidence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals, and in reducing symptom severity in individuals with type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.” That’s a pretty impressive conclusion.
Any of the top five diets highlighted in this U.S. News and World Report ranking are worth a try. Take a deeper dive into these diets — and the rest of the many diets appearing on the full list — to help you determine which one is right for you.
But if you’re looking for a surefire diet to help you lose weight and get healthier, without major sacrifices in flavor or fun, the Mediterranean Diet is, at least according to this prestigious annual ranking, the top option for shedding pounds and maximizing your health.
BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.