U.S. News & World Report evaluated and ranked several diets with input from a panel of health experts. The criteria followed includes how easy the diet is to follow, how nutritious, safe and effective for weight loss the diet is and how it fares in the fight against diabetes and heart disease.
Take a look at the best and worst diets for 2014:
9 (tie). Ornish Diet
The Ornish Diet got a mixed reaction from experts. On one hand, it’s nutritionally sound, safe, and tremendously heart-healthy. On the other, it’s not easy for dieters to adhere to the severe fat restriction the diet demands.
9 (tie). Biggest Loser Diet
The Biggest Loser Diet received high marks for short-term weight loss, safety, and soundness as a regimen for diabetes, and it was rated moderately effective for heart health. But many panelists felt that in a sea of diets, it’s not overly special, and one said it’s merely “capitalizing on the name” of the popular TV show.
8. Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig drew praise from experts for being easy to follow, nutritionally complete and safe, and for offering dieters emotional support. But these experts also noted that Jenny Craig’s cost could be a roadblock for some.
6 (tie). Volumetrics Diet
Volumetrics outperformed its competitors in many categories. It earned particularly high marks for being safe and nutritious, and experts said it could have a positive effect on heart health and diabetes. "This is an eating plan that everyone can benefit from," one expert said.
6 (tie). Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian diet, which emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains, and plant-based protein, is a smart and healthy choice. It outperformed many of its competitors, with particularly high scores in nutritional completeness, easiness to follow, and long-term weight loss.
3 (tie). Weight Watchers Diet
Weight Watchers is a smart, effective diet. It surpassed other commercial diet plans in multiple areas, including short- and long-term weight loss and how easy it is to follow. Among its pluses: An emphasis on group support, lots of fruits and vegetables, and room for occasional indulgences.
3 (tie). Mediterranean Diet
With its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, and other healthy fare, the Mediterranean diet is eminently sensible. And experts’ assessments of it were resoundingly positive, giving this diet an edge over many competitors.
3 (tie). Mayo Clinic Diet
This is the Mayo's take on how to make healthy eating a lifelong habit. It earned especially high ratings from our experts for its nutrition and safety and as a tool against diabetes. Experts found it moderately effective for weight loss.
2. TLC Diet
Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, or TLC is a very solid diet plan created by the National Institutes of Health. It has no major weaknesses, and it’s particularly good at promoting cardiovascular health all while requiring a “do-it-yourself” approach.
1. DASH Diet
DASH was developed to fight high blood pressure, not as an all-purpose diet. It gets high marks for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes, and role in supporting heart health. Though obscure, it beat out a field full of better-known diets.
9. (tie) Eco-Atkins Diet
It's summed up by one expert as a "healthier version of the Atkins diet," but U.S. News & World Report says it's even more restrictive and little guidance is available.
9. (tie) Glycemic Index Diet
This diet distinguishes "good" carbs from "bad." It scored particularly low on long-term weight loss, heart benefits and ease of adherence.
9. (tie) Zone Diet
It’s "unnecessary and tedious to structure every meal around specific macronutrient thresholds," one expert told U.S. News & World Report of this diet. Another stated there is "no magic with the diet."
7. (tie) Macrobiotic Diet
Following the plan is a challenge, according to several experts, mainly because it's such an extreme change from the standard American diet. And it’s awfully strict.
7. (tie) Medifast
This diet scored above average in short-term weight loss, but was dragged down by lower marks in most other categories.
5. Acid Alkaline Diet
This diet performed particularly poorly in overall weight loss and easiness to follow. And don’t expect it to have a positive effect on diabetes or heart disease management or prevention, experts say.
4. The Fast Diet
The widespread concern among experts about this diet’s lack of nutritional guidance on non-fasting days contributed to its poor overall performance, according to U.S. News & World Report.
3. (tie) Atkins Diet
Although it could outperform nearly all of its competitors in short-term weight loss, unfavorable marks in other areas -- including long-term weight loss, nutrition, safety and heart health -- yanked down Atkins in the standings.
3. (tie) Raw Food Diet
This diet got solid marks for both short- and long-term weight loss, but experts considered it all but impossible to follow its nutritional guidelines. Safety was also a big concern.
1. (tie) Dukan Diet
This low-carb diet's overall score was more than a full star below average. It’s too restrictive and experts say there’s no evidence it works. One described the diet as "idiotic."
1. (tie) Paleo Diet
Experts took issue with this popular diet on every measure. "A true Paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants," said one expert. But duplicating such a regimen in modern times would be difficult.
To get the full list of U.S. News & World Report's best diets of 2014, click here.
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