It’s almost half-way through the year, and we start to take stock of how our New Year’s resolution diet is working. Did we meet our goals? Is it time to set some new ones? If it’s not working, then it is time to search for the ultimate fix and the program that promises results and promises them fast! Thank goodness US News and World report ranked ten of the best diets for us to choose from in a number of different categories from “Best Commercial Diet” to “Best Diets for Healthy Eating.” Here are seven of the diets; some of these names will be well-known to you, while others will be new and exciting. From the tried and true weight loss programs to the new and unfamiliar lifestyle enhancers, US News and World Report has compiled a list of what they and their panel of experts feel are the best diets of 2018. So here we go, and in no particular order.
Many of us, particularly women, have been on Weight Watchers at some time in our lives. Founded in the early 60s by Jean Nidetch, Weight Watchers began as a small group of women getting together in one another’s homes to discuss healthy eating habits. We now know Weight Watchers as an international powerhouse of successful weight-loss strategies, incorporating various lifestyles and food intolerances. It’s no surprise it’s included in the top diet list.
Each year, Weight Watchers rolls out a new and improved plan, designed around the latest research and healthy eating habits. This year’s plan, WW Freestyle, is dedicated to creating a healthy lifestyle rather than selling a diet plan, asking us to make permanent changes for our health, rather than a temporary fix. Freestyle has added numerous zero-point food options to the plan, which allows for no tracking or portioning. This means you can eat as much as you want of these selected foods, including eggs, skinless chicken breast, and nonfat plain yogurt. Along with this weight-loss strategy, Weight Watchers arms individuals with a phone app, online tools, and meeting support.
The DASH Diet Plan has received a lot of buzz in the media, having been featured on “Dr. Oz” and “The Today Show with Kathy Lee and Hoda” television programs. This plan was not initially designed as a weight-loss plan, but one for reducing high blood pressure. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. However, in the years since its inception, it has been clinically proven to not only lower blood pressure, but lower and prevent the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of several types of cancer and heart disease. The experts love this diet because it promotes healthy eating by adding foods high in nutrients like potassium, calcium, fiber, and protein, while cutting back on saturated fats, sugar, and salt. Furthermore, the diet doesn’t require extensive tracking of what you eat, simply emphasizing the healthier foods recommended by the plan.
The Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet Plan was developed by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. Flexitarianism is more a philosophy around eating than it is a diet plan. Built strongly on a plant-based eating platform, flexitarianism allows for the occasional meat-eating option that a traditional vegetarian diet plan would not. Everything about the diet is as the names implies, flexible. Flexible meal plans, weight-loss options, and exercise options, all with an emphasis on adding more plant-based ingredients into your recipes.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is part of a group of diets referred to as “traditional diets.” The ideology behind this program is to use fresh seasonal foods that are generally found in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains make up the bulk of the diet program. Next come fish and seafood, followed by poultry and dairy. Red meat and sweets are rarely eaten and are generally saved for special occasions. This diet program relies heavily on physical activity. In addition to helping to reduce heart disease and other chronic illnesses, it prides itself on being easy to follow and affordable.
The TLC Diet
The TLC diet stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, and was released by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The diet was designed specifically for lowering LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein (bad cholesterol – in an effort to reduce heart disease). The program asks you to take a look at your risk factors, including heredity, age, gender, diet, whether or not you smoke, your exercise habits, and weight. Your answers to some questions determine your heart disease risk factors, which then leads to you a risk score, and finally your risk category.
According to “US News and World Report,” this program is a bit harder to follow. Daily cholesterol intake cannot exceed 200 milligrams, and only seven percent of your daily calorie intake can come from saturated fat. It also requires strict attention be paid to reading all food labels, adding 10 to 25 grams of fiber a day, and reducing sodium intake.
The MIND Diet
The MIND Diet brings an entirely new approach to diet through eating foods that may actually help to prevent mental decline, specifically Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. By combining features found in both the DASH and Mediterranean plans, the MIND Diet explains which foods aid in mental fitness and which ones actually harm brain function. What are brain healthy foods? They are green leafy and other vegetables, whole grains, nuts, berries, beans, olive oil, fish, poultry, and wine. Unhealthy brain foods include red meat, butter, cheese, fried foods, and sweets. Choosing healthy foods your youth can prolong mental vitality and cognition you age. Studies at Rush University concluded that even moderate adherence to this program reduced the incidence of Alzheimer ’s disease by 35 percent.
The Volumetrics Diet
Volumetrics focuses on overall calories per bite of food. By reducing the number of calories per bite, one can eat larger volumes of food, creating a fuller feeling and satisfying hunger. It also actually increases how much you are able to eat while reducing the overall calories consumed. Volumetrics was created by Penn State professor, Dr. Barbara Rolls. Her philosophy is based on a food’s energy density. Low-energy, dense foods have fewer calories than high-energy, dense foods. By creating meals based largely on low-energy dense foods, like fruits and vegetables, one can eat the same volume, or even increase it, and actually reduce their overall caloric intake.
Each one of these programs offers not only success for weight loss, but challenges you to look at your health from different perspectives. From weight loss to mental fitness, there truly is a program available to suit various health needs and dietary preferences. As with any new program, it is always best to consult with your healthcare professional to be sure the program you choose is safe and healthy for you.