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The Best and Worst Diets You Could Follow This Year

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For the past seven years, U.S. News & World Report has released its Best Diet Rankings, highlighting which diets are actually healthy and proven to work and which are merely just fads. Rankings come from an expert panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants, and physicians who complete an in-depth survey evaluating almost 40 of the current most popular diets—criteria such as how easy a diet is to follow and nutritional completeness are considered. Mainly, the diets are reviewed for their overall healthfulness and sustainability, but they're also reviewed in categories such as "Best for Weight Loss" and "Best Plant-Based Diets," because your diet of choice should very much depend on your specific goal. (Heads up, these are the plant-based diet rules you should be following.)

The Best Diets

The overall winner is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (aka the DASH diet), which has held the top spot several times during the past decade. This diet was initially created to help lower blood pressure, but it also happens to contribute to weight loss and lowered risk of other major health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. The DASH diet is pretty easy to follow too, since it mainly asks that you eat wholesome, nutritionally dense foods, and there are no extreme restrictions on what you can and can't eat. The Mediterranean Diet, which allows moderate amounts of healthy fats, and the MIND Diet, a combo of the DASH and the Mediterranean Diet that focuses on brain health, clocked in at numbers two and three—not surprising since these are also favorites among nutritionists and health practitioners. The best diet if you want to lose weight was Weight Watchers, and the best for fast weight loss (but remember your long-term goal) was the HMR Program, which utilizes meal replacements.

The Worst Diets

While your Facebook news feed might be full of people embarking on Whole30 for the month of January as a "fresh start" to the new year, it ranked as the worst diet overall for the second year in a row. This is mainly because the diet is so restrictive, forcing people to cut out entire food groups that actually have some healthy and nutritionally necessary qualities. Though Whole30 does usually result in some weight loss, people tend to gain it back once they start eating normally again. Whole30, along with Paleo, have been criticized as being unsustainable over the long term, and therefore not as effective. (Related: Can Going Paleo Make You Sick?) Another diet that ranked low on the list was The Dukan Diet, which tells dieters to eat extremely high levels of protein and involves four fairly complex phases. It's not that easy to follow and isn't particularly healthy (you need more than just protein to survive!), which is likely why it ranked so low.

Other Fitness and Health Trends to Watch In 2017

Aside from ranking diets, U.S. News and World Report also looked at major trends in the diet and nutrition industries. Their big takeaway for 2017? Body positivity is going to continue to be a thing—especially with respect to dieting. [Yay! #LoveMyShape] Their report notes that advocates of the body-pos ideology believe that it improves dieters' overall well-being, which can in turn help to break unhealthy habits like binging on food. They also believe another major focus for the new year will be diet sustainability, or how well you can actually stick to a healthy eating pattern long-term. After all, if a diet is so complex that you can't figure out how to stick to the rules, or so restrictive you can only do it for a month at a time, it's probably not going to be a good choice for your life—period. So while this year's list of best and worst diets may not be all that surprising, it's always reaffirming to see that fad diets are being sifted to the bottom of the pile. (For some seriously bad fad diets, check out the eight worst weight-loss diets in history.)