U.S. News ranked 41 diets in terms of effort it takes to follow, nutritional balance, heart health, and how well each diet delivered on its promises. Coming in at #1 was the Mediterranean diet, with a score of 4.2 out of 5; the DASH diet was a close second, scoring 4.1; the Flexitarian Diet, MIND diet, and Weight Watchers diet filled out the rest of the top five. The Dukan Diet came in last, with a score of 1.9.
The Mediterranean Diet is low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat, and high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil. It scored high on health and ease-of-following, but didn’t rate too highly in terms of weight loss: Given that the diet consists of guidelines and not planned meals, weight loss is up to the dieter.
The DASH diet is intended to prevent high blood pressure through fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy, and by avoiding foods high in saturated fats, added sugars, and excess sodium.
The Flexitarian Diet—the flexible vegetarian diet—is exactly that: mostly vegetarian, with room for a burger when necessary. Eat more plants and less meat, reap the health benefits, help the planet, save animals—but eliminating meat entirely isn’t necessary for any of that.
The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It takes the Mediterranean and DASH diets, and emphasizes the foods that are good for cognitive health, in hopes of preventing cognitive delay.
Weight Watchers trains dieters in behavioral weight management techniques, while offering support online, over the phone or in-person. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables, but focuses on overall eating patterns, and on maintaining them over the course of a lifetime.
The Dukan Diet, #41 on the list, is a strict variation of Atkins and Keto. The first phase is pure protein, and that’s no exaggeration: dieters can’t eat vegetables until the second phase, which allows certain vegetables on certain days. Reviewers for U.S. News felt that the strict rules, wherein even the tiniest mistake may hinder progress, make it less-than-ideal.
All that being said, it could be argued that none of these diets rank top with dieters. CNN turned to Google and found that keto topped the list of trending health-related searches in 2018. The diet was #38 on U.S. News, out of worry that it wasn’t nutritionally balanced or sustainable long-term.