You are here

The 10 Best Diet Programs for Every Goal

The Best Diets and Healthy Eating Plans Out There

1 of 11

All photos

From celebrity-endorsed to science-backed, finding the best diet for your body and lifestyle can be an exercise in frustration—definitely not the kind of exercise you need right now! To make your search easier, we've pulled together the 10 most popular diets based on which ones have consistently ranked highest on the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, WebMD, and other current diet lists. Just know this: It's not about finding out which diet is the most popular overall but which one fits your goals and lifestyle the best. After all, the best diet for you is the one you can stick with (and enjoy)!

Photo: ragophotos / Shutterstock

Best Diet Overall

2 of 11

All photos

The winner: The Mediterranean Diet

When it comes to the "best" diet for most people, this one consistently ranks at the top of every list. If you can't afford a cruise to the Mediterranean (yet!), at least you can eat like the beautiful, long-living, and famously healthy people from the region. The Mediterranean diet teaches you to eat like a Sardinian, one of the "blue zones" identified by researchers as having a high number of people living past 100—by eating more fish, olive oil, healthy fats, and fresh vegetables. The point is to have not just a longer life but also a healthier and happier one, whether you're trying to lose weight or not. (Really—research shows that you can reap the benefits of the Mediterranean diet without cutting calories.)

Photo: shakim888 / Shutterstock

Best Diet for Weight Loss

weight watchers diet program as the best diet for weight loss

3 of 11

All photos

The winner: Weight Watchers

Thanks to its flexibility, easy-to-understand system, and group support, Weight Watchers came out way (weigh?) ahead, winning "best weight loss," "best fast weight loss," and "best commercial diet" in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. (Oprah's endorsement probably didn't hurt either!) They recently revamped their signature plan to include "free" foods like chicken breasts and fresh produce so you'll never feel hungry even while dropping pounds. In addition, their app makes tracking your food a piece of cake—which you're totally allowed to have on the program, by the way. (Even better news: Research supports the fact that Weight Watchers is one of the best weight-loss diets.)

Photo: Eugene Gologursky / Stringe / Getty Images

Best Diet for Overall Health

4 of 11

All photos

The winner: The Nutritarian Diet

A relatively new offering, the Nutritarian diet is based on maximizing the amount of healthy vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients in your food, balancing your hormones, and avoiding toxins. The plan—created by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of The End of Dieting—is nutrient-dense, plant-rich, and includes anti-cancer superfoods to help you not just lose weight but live a long, disease-free life. (P.S. Follow these guidelines to make sure you're absorbing all the nutrients from your food.)

Photo: Alexander Raths / Shutterstock

Best Low-Carb Diet

5 of 11

All photos

The winner: Keto

Forget old low-carb diet plans that focused on processed protein bars and shakes. This year, the keto diet got high marks for low carb. Keto, short for "ketogenic," is all about training the body to burn fat for fuel. How? By eating fat—and lots of it. Most keto diets recommend getting at least 70 percent of your daily calories from fat and the rest from protein. The goal is to eat as few carbohydrates as possible. Proponents say it helps them drop weight fast with little or no hunger in addition to perks like more energy and mental clarity. (Interested? Here's everything you need to know about the keto diet.)

Photo: Liliya Kandrashevich / Shutterstock

Best Low-Calorie Diet

6 of 11

All photos

The winner: CICO

The best low-cal diet plan isn't a diet so much as it is a method. CICO stands for "calories in, calories out" and is based on the mathematically sensible principle that as long as you're burning more calories than you're eating, you'll lose weight. All you need to get started is a way to track your calories—there are plenty of apps on the market although a pen and paper works great too—and a food scale to keep you honest about your portion sizes. (Also read this guide on how to safely cut calories to lose weight.) People love the simplicity and straightforwardness of the plan. And while it may not be the fastest way to lose weight, you're guaranteed to have success long term. (Just know that some weight-loss experts actually don't recommend calorie counting.)

Photo: Background All / Shutterstock

Best Expert-Backed Diet

7 of 11

All photos

The winner: DASH Diet

DASH stands for "dietary approach to stop hypertension" and was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a way to help reverse national trends of obesity and heart disease. Scientists combed through decades of research to come up with an expert-backed list of diet tips, along with a prescription for exercise. And it worked: The DASH diet has topped nearly every diet list for nearly a decade. Doctors particularly recommend it for people looking to lower high blood pressure, reverse diabetes, and lower their risk of heart disease. (Here's the basic list of DASH diet-approved foods.)

Photo: margouillat photo / Shutterstock

Best Plant-Based Diet

8 of 11

All photos

The winner: The Ornish Diet

Popularized by the documentary Forks Over Knives, the Ornish diet is a low-fat, plant-based diet plan based on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. It's based on a lacto-ovo style of vegetarianism, allowing only egg whites and nonfat dairy products. It's packed with vitamins, fiber, and lots of filling plants to keep you satiated. Some studies have shown it can reverse heart disease and have beneficial effects on other chronic health conditions. (BTW, there is a difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet.)

Photo: Timolina / Shutterstock

Best High-Protein Diet

9 of 11

All photos

The winner: The Primal Blueprint

Interested in following a more historical approach to eating? The Primal Blueprint is similar to the Paleo diet, which has roots in how our long-ago ancestors supposedly ate. This plan ditches grain, sugars, and processed foods while focusing on clean eating with plenty of protein (both animal- and plant-based), lots of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. The Primal Blueprint acknowledges other health factors too, advocating for lots of low-intensity activity, some high-intensity exercise, strength training, and plenty of sleep.

Photo: Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock

Best Plant-Based Cuisine

10 of 11

All photos

The winner: The Middle Eastern Diet

If you've been trying to eat healthy for a long time, you know how quickly you get sick of chicken breasts and broccoli. Break out of your diet rut with the Middle Eastern diet. It's based on the same principles as the Mediterranean diet but with more of an emphasis on plant-based foods and a different flavor profile. With all the tasty and healthy spices, you'll never get bored of making dinner and you'll get all the same heart-healthy benefits as its geographical cousin's diet.

Photo: its_al_dente / Shutterstock

Best Diet for People Who Can't Choose

11 of 11

All photos

The winner: The Flexitarian diet

The "all meat all the time" low-carb approach or strict veganism can be great options for people who thrive on clear diet rules (and those two are actually the most popular diets out there) but these extremes are not for everyone. If you prefer more of a moderate approach, the Flexitarian diet is the clear winner. The "flexible vegetarian" mindset allows you a healthy balance of plant-based foods, responsibly sourced meats, and quality fats. The best part? It's not super restrictive, so you have plenty of nutritious food options. (Start here: How to Adopt a Flexitarian Diet)

Photo: Foxys Forest Manufacture / Shutterstock

Comments

Add a comment