Each year, U.S. News & World Report releases a ranking of popular diets—assessed by a panel of health experts based on seven categories, including weight loss, nutrition, safety, and ease of compliance.
Topping 2018’s list of “best diets overall” is a tie between the Mediterranean and DASH Diets, which received high marks for being healthy and easy to follow, and potentially effective for weight loss in both the short- and long-term.
“No single diet works for everybody, but the DASH and the Mediterranean diets have the strongest biological underpinning, and also have been tested in the largest and longest studies,” says Dr. Eric Rimm, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, who served as one of 25 panelists for the 2018 ranking. “I’m glad the other panelists agreed with me since it is not always the case that nutrition experts agree!”
Other popular diets—such as those that involve fasting or severe dietary restrictions—fell lower on the list, with the Ketogenic Diet ranking last. Although these and other diets may result in short-term weight loss, many were rated as difficult to follow, which factored into lower scores for weight loss in the long term.
“Some diets that fell further down the list have only been tested short term, and should really be considered prescriptions—not long-term lifestyle solutions” says Rimm. “Choosing a diet that is both healthy and easy for you to follow is crucial for lasting results.”
Remember that even if a particular diet may result in weight loss for one person, it may not be effective for another due to individual differences in genes and lifestyle. And while research shows that calories matter, focusing on food quality is an equally important part of the equation for preventing weight gain and promoting weight loss.