Experts rank the best diets, but you might not have heard of the top three

The Mediterranean Diet, Weight Watchers, and Paleo all scored highly - but Atkins, 5:2 and the Raw Food Diet failed to make the top ten

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The world of diets is an over-populated one, where even the savviest slimmer could have difficulty sorting through the background noise of Atkins, Mayo, 5:2, Weight Watchers – the list goes on.

New diets come and go and the trendiest ones often promise the most dramatic results with the least effort. Whether they’re effective or a fad is a matter of opinion, but it can be an arduous task to sift through the options to find the diet plan you want to try.

Luckily, a panel of experts at US News Health has ranked the top 35 diets for a fifth year to make choosing a diet more effective.

Each diet was rated by seven different measures on a scale on 1 to 5: the ability to produce short and long term weight loss, whether the diet was easy to follow, whether it provided suitable nutrition, its safety, and its potential in reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Although, you have to decide yourself whether the diet is all talk and no looser trousers.

The selected experts include nutritionists and doctors who specialists in diabetes, heart health, human behaviours and weight loss. Their three favourites aren’t necessarily widely known.

1. DASH Diet

The five years in a row champion DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet scored 4.1 stars out of 5. It is a relatively simple plan developed as a way to lower blood pressure with help from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of America.

It basically tells you how many calories you should eat for your age and activity level, have lots of fruit and vegetables and to cut back on salt. The main aim is to keep blood pressure low, which can trigger things like heart disease and stroke. It has also been shown to decrease “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood which are also linked to cardiovascular problems.

You’ll get a balanced diet by following the DASH guidelines, but you have to give up your favourite fatty and sugary foods, so success is ultimately up to your the level of willpower.

2. TLC Diet

Coming in at a close 2 Is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, or TLC, which received four stars. Its main aim is to lower high cholesterol by cutting saturated fat intake to a very low level and having more fibre-rich foods like whole grains, fruit and veg. Only 7% of your daily calories can come from saturated fat.

This diet should help you lose weight because of the low fat guidelines, but it was originally developed to specifically reduce cholesterol. This means it is considered what is called a heart-healthy diet because sticking to it will reduce the risk of heart disease.

The TLC is a diet that takes quite a lot of work on your part. There’s no hand-holding like you might get with a Weight Watchers diet and it requires a lot of meticulous reading of nutritional labels.

3. Mayo Clinic Diet

The bronze medal goes to the Mayo Clinic diet with 3.9 stars, which comes with a handy book to help you through the process. It works by getting you to reprogram yourself and your eating habits by replacing bad ones with good ones, such as snacking on lots of fruit and veg (are you noticing a recurring theme here?).

The unique selling point is the food pyramid which emphasises foods with low energy density like whole grains, meaning you can eat more but take in fewer calories as you do it.

Diets also awarded with US News “Gold Medals” were the Mediterranean Diet and Weight Watchers. The Paleo diet and Dukan diet coming in joint last with just two stars.

From the research it looks like the more successful diet plans had more of a balance where nothing is cut out altogether, whereas highly regimented plans were more highly criticised.


The Dukan diet for example was created by Pierre Dukan in France who has been promoting his diet for 30 years. It has and endless list of do’s and don’ts, and four short, very restrictive phases. Any tiny slip up is considered a complete failure, so if you like strict rules and no flexibility in your diets then this one’s for you.

The Paleo diet centres around the idea that if a caveman didn’t eat it, you can’t either. Highly processed modern foods are bad for us so we should stick to meat and plants. So that’s no refined sugar, dairy or grains and lots of meat, fish and fruit.

Some of the household name diets like Atkins and the Raw Food Diet failed to make the top ten, or even the top thirty. Both Atkins and 5:2 (which wasn’t ranked at all) have been slated as fad diets by dieticians.

When enduring to Atkin’s, fat is your friend and carbs are extremely limited. Founder Robert Atkins used this diet, from a research paper in The Journal of American Medical Association by Alfred W. Pennington called "Weight Reduction" to lose weight himself. Nutritionally, the experts thought the Atkins diet was poor and it has been known to cause horrible breath and constipation.  

The 5:2 Diet is an intermittent fasting diet that was devised in the UK and became popular in 2012. It involves restricted calories on two days a week; 500 for women and 600 for men. For the other five days you can eat whatever you want. Are you convinced?  

No diet is a quick fix, and based on the top ten diets from the panel, they will require hard work if the goal is losing weight healthily. Bold claims are one thing, but ultimately it’s worth thinking about whether you have the time, effort or willpower to stick to such regimes.