Dieting is the worst.
- Day one: The day when you crave everything you swore off the day before.
- Day two: The day you modify your diet so you can allow yourself to eat most of the things you are not allowed to eat.
- Day three: The day you end your diet.
Just the word “diet” is enough to make any woman run to the nearest doughnut shop and get her last “indulge day” in.
OK, OK, so there’s that. But some diets do a really good job of not making it seem like a diet — or they have some magic power that actually makes them doable (hey, I still believe in unicorns).
If one of your resolutions this year is to lose weight and you need a good diet to stick to, then look no further than U.S News and World Report. They have graciously researched, evaluated and ranked 38 diets to the joy of women everywhere. They called in a panel of health experts, who rated the diets based on nutrition, safety, weight loss efficacy, disease prevention and how easy they were to follow.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 ranked diets.
10. Jenny Craig
The Jenny Craig diet has been around since the ’80s and claims you can lose up to two pounds each week. Once you sign up, they send you prepackaged meals, which are balanced, nutritious and limited in bulky calories.
Why it works: The reason this diet is a go-to diet for many is that it is so darn easy. It takes out all the guesswork, calculations, scales, portion sizes — you name it. The prepackaged meals are already perfectly balanced. All you have to do is, well, eat.
This one’s all about volume, of course. The theory is that foods with more volume keep you full longer (makes sense). So this diet encourages you to eat foods that have high volume but low calories. For example, 5 cups of air-popped popcorn (about 150 calories) versus one half slice of cake (about 150 calories).
Why it works: This diet is all about making you feel full on low calories. Therefore, when you’re full, you are less likely to mindlessly eat or binge eat once you’ve reached the point of starving.
8. The Flexitarian Diet
Just the name of this one sounds good. But before we get too excited, it doesn’t mean that you sometimes diet and you sometimes get to eat whatever you want (that’s yo-yoing!). Instead it means you get to be a flexible vegetarian — sometimes, when that craving conquers, you can eat your meat and have it to. “Flexitarians weigh 15 percent less than their more carnivorous counterparts,” U.S News reports.
Why it works: The Flexitarian Diet doesn’t pigeonhole you and tie your hands behind your back. It encourages you to eat a mostly plant-based diet but won’t restrict you from having that piece of chicken you’ve been craving every once in a while. (And when you start to eliminate meat from your diet, you realize you don’t really need it all the time.)
7. Weight Watchers
If weight loss is your goal, then you should jump on board Weight Watchers. This diet is ranked No. 1 as the best weight loss diet. It promises you’ll lose up to two pounds each week if you follow its SmartPoint system, a method for keeping track of what and how much you eat.
Why it works: This one works for a couple of reasons. First, it allows you to eat whatever you want — within your individual point range. So when you have only 20 points for the day, you might rethink eating that five-point slice of cake. On this diet you can also go to a designated center and “weigh in” each week. This motivates you to actually lose the weight each week, because you have support and are held accountable.
6. Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets. It’s based on the diets of people living in areas around the Mediterranean Sea. Their diets consist of low red meat but lots of seafood, vegetables and nuts.
Why it works: This “diet” works because it is more about gradually changing your lifestyle of eating. It’s not just a two-week, lose-10-pounds kind of diet. This diet will stick with you long term.
5. Mayo Clinic Diet
Looking for a fresh start? Try the Mayo Clinic Diet. It goes back to the basics with your eating habits, breaking all the bad ones and teaching you new, healthy ones. It claims you will lose six to 10 pounds during the first two weeks.
Why it works: The appeal of losing so much weight over such a short amount of time has many dieters hungry (wrong choice of words?) to try this diet. And even for claiming that you’ll lose up to 10 pounds, it’s still a relatively healthy diet.
4. The Fertility Diet
Based on research from studies all the way back in the ’70s, this diet follows the facts that certain nutrition can boost fertility. The research from Harvard Public School of Health revealed that women who eat more healthy fats, whole grains and protein from plants had a better egg supply than those who eat unhealthy fats, refined carbs and red meat.
Why it works: A woman will do anything for her baby, right? Well, that’s why this one works. Sometimes doing something for someone else is easier than doing something for yourself. So if this diet can help you plan a family, then it becomes easier to stick to, because it’s not just about losing weight.
3. TLC Diet
This is not the diet in which your mother will coach you and pat you on the back with some tender loving care whenever you make a small success in your diet plan. Rather, TLC stands for therapeutic lifestyle changes. This diet is backed by the American Heart Association to get those with unhealthy cholesterol levels lowered to healthy levels once again.
Why it works: It’s for your health! Similar to the Fertility Diet, this one is not just about losing weight. It sticks with people’s lifestyles because it promises better health, so you can live longer and stop taking those darn cholesterol pills every day.
2. MIND Diet
OK, this acronym is kind of a stretch here: MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay. It mixes the Mediterranean and DASH diets to focus on foods that deliberately enhance your brain health.
Why it works: It works because this diet is ranked the No. 1 easiest diet to follow and aims at preventing Alzheimer’s. The MIND Diet encourages a new holistic lifestyle, recommending foods like vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, fish, whole grains, olive oil and… wine.
And… drumroll, please…
1. DASH diet
U.S. News ranks the DASH diet as the best overall diet. The DASH — dietary approaches to stop hypertension — diet focuses on a low-sodium diet to help reduce high blood pressure. Including foods with high fiber, low fat and lots of potassium, calcium and magnesium (that’s those dark, leafy greens), this diet will get you back to healthy and may help you drop a few pounds in the process.
Why it works: This diet is successful because it becomes necessary for those who are focused on reversing unhealthy consequences — like high blood pressure and diabetes — from poor eating habits past. Like several others on this list, it is not a starve-yourself-and-only-drink-spicy-lemonade diet. Rather, it is a lifestyle — a positive outlook on your future health.