“It’s no surprise that the Mediterranean diet remains the No. 1 best diet overall,” said nutritionist Lisa Drayer, a CNN contributor. “It’s easy to follow and offers a healthy eating lifestyle. “
The diet focuses on eating less red meat, sugar and saturated fat and more Omega-3-rich fish and olive oil. Red wine can be enjoyed in moderation and socializing with friends and family during meals is part of the prescription.
Following closely behind the Mediterranean diet were the respected DASH, Flexitarian, WW (the rebranded name popularly known as Weight Watchers) and MIND diets. Their high rankings are a trend in the report’s results each year.
“We’re interested in diets that have proven staying value — not fad diets that are here today, gone tomorrow,” said Angela Haupt, managing editor of health at U.S. News & World Report. “The diets that perform well are safe, sensible and backed by sound science. That’s going to be consistent from year to year.”
The DASH diet is often recommended to lower blood pressure. Its premise is simple: Eat more veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy foods while cutting way back on any food high in saturated fat, and limit your intake of salt.
Speaking of the keto craze …
Down for the count
Both diets aim for “ketosis,” a metabolic state that burns the body’s stores of fat instead of carbohydrates, the body’s natural source of energy. To do that, the diets restrict carb intake to levels nutritionists feel are highly unhealthy as well as completely unsustainable.
In the keto diet, Drayer said, “carbs are limited to about 20 grams per day,” the equivalent of one small banana or apple. Due to the drastic cut in carbs, the diet can cause “headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, particularly in the beginning,” she said, adding that “long-term studies on its effectiveness are lacking.”
In place of carbs, the keto diet emphasizes high levels of protein, fats and dairy, typically full of saturated fat that can contribute to cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.
“I am not a fan of the keto diet, though it may be helpful as a ‘jump start’ to weight loss and can help you quickly rid your diet of processed carbs and sugars,” Drayer said.
Which may be why the keto diet tied for third place in the race for best “fast” weight loss diet.
‘Fast’ weight loss?
Both diets could be difficult to follow, Haupt said, “because prepackaged meals tend to get old fast.”
But the low/no-carb diet Atkins and the keto diet also tied for third place, despite ranking in the deep bottom of other diet categories, such as best diet, most healthy diet and best diets for heart health and diabetes. Ironically, HMR and Optavia joined them toward the bottom of the other categories.
Why would diets that are considered good at helping drop weight quickly be ranked so badly overall?
“Many things that are truly bad for health can cause short-term weight loss,” Katz said. “The most effective diets for ‘fast’ weight loss impose severe restrictions that cannot be maintained and would not be compatible with health if they were.”
“Spending your life weight-obsessed, and going on and off diets, is no way to live,” Katz said. “One of the things we hope to convey to the American public is that it’s time to grow up about diet and give it more respect.
“Grown-ups don’t generally expect to ‘get rich fast;’ they understand the need to work, over time,” Katz continued. “But everyone thinks there is some magic formula they haven’t tried yet for rapid weight loss. The consensus of the U.S. News judges is a resounding rebuke of that silly idea.”