The best and worst diets for 2018

The best and worst diets for 2018

Despite the never-ending articles posted about fad diets, there is no magic bullet when it comes to losing weight.

It may not be as glamourous or enticing as a juice cleanse or week-long fast, but in 2018, consistently eating well-balanced meals is what’s recommended for weight loss and maintaining your health.

Earlier this month, U.S. News & World Report released their Best Diet Overall List for 2018. Diets that took the top spots?

The Mediterranean and DASH diets, which are both composed of a well-balanced eating plan and are rich in healthy fats. The Ketogenic diet tied for the lowest ranking, while the Whole30 Diet ranked towards the bottom, as well.

That doesn’t surprise Elizabeth Prendergast, a registered dietitian at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

She’s found that the word “diet” can have a negative connotation for some people, which is why she tries to get people to focus on “lifestyle,” not “diet,” when it comes to food choices, something the Mediterranean and DASH diets have in common.

“The lifestyle changes that are encouraged by the DASH and Mediterranean diets tout moderation and encourage copious amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These changes lead to improved overall health starting with positive changes from the inside out,” says Prendergast.

Pros and Cons of the Highest and Lowest Ranking Diets

The Keto Diet

The Keto diet has been gaining popularity because it recommends a low-carbohydrate intake, but health professionals have expressed growing concern about the amount of saturated fat found in foods the diet allows, including red meat, butter and cheese.

The Pros:

  • Helps combat sugar cravings. The Keto diet is low in carbs (25-30 m per day), which means it’s very low in sugar. Following this diet for a short period of time might help someone with excessive sugar cravings eliminate them.
  • Weight loss. If performed correctly, the diet could result in weight loss due to increased levels of satisfaction from higher levels of fat, the idea being that you’re eating less, but feel fuller because many more of your calories are coming from fat as opposed to other sources.

The Cons:

  • Difficult to maintain. Because it’s so restrictive and must be performed correctly for dieters to reap the benefits, Prendergast says it’s hard to see long-term success with the Keto diet.
  • Not enough fiber. Restricting carbohydrate intake also lessens the amount of fiber you receive by eating fruits and vegetables. “A medium to large banana is approximately 30 gm of carbs. If this were eaten on the Keto diet, the diet would not allow for any additional fruits or vegetables throughout the day,” says Prendergast.
  • Weight gain. If performed incorrectly, participants could become deficient in vital macronutrients and fiber, as well as possibly gain weight instead of losing it.

The Whole30 Diet

The Whole30 diet has participants eliminate certain food groups like sugar, legumes, grains and dairy for 30 days and requires dieters to eat most of their food from organic sources. While it ranked low on U.S. News & World Report’s list, Prendergast says there are some positives associated with this plan.

The Pros:

  • Can reduce sugar cravings. Participants of the Whole30 can only eat sugar that’s naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables and restricts artificial sweeteners, says Prendergast. By cutting sugar out, your body craves it less.
  • Incorporates whole foods. The diet encourages people to eat foods in their whole form. For example, RXBARs are compliant with the ingredient list for the Whole30 diet, but it’s preferred that dieters choose a piece of whole fruit or nuts as a snack instead of something packaged.
  • Focus is on overall health, not weight loss. The diet focuses on eating healthy as opposed to losing weight, although dropping pounds can happen while following the plan. Participants are discouraged from tracking food or weighing themselves throughout the 30 days, which helps keep them focused on eating healthy as opposed to weight loss.

The Cons:

  • Limited food choices make compliance for even 30 days difficult.
  • The diet encourages people to eat organic foods, which can cost more and prohibit people from starting or finishing the diet.
  • Allows for processed meats. Prendergast says the diet doesn’t eliminate processed meats like prosciutto or bacon if they are not treated with sugar or non-compliant additives such as MSG. This could result in individuals opting for the more processed meats compared to their leaner and fresher counterparts.
  • Regaining weight. Because the diet lasts for only 30 days, plus a ten-day reintroduction phase, participants return to their usual eating habits soon after, which can cause dieters to regain the weight they just lost.

The Mediterranean and DASH Diets

These diets are similar in that they’re eating plans are meant for long-term success, not restrictive, and focus on incorporating fruits, vegetables and healthy fats into the diet on a consistent basis. They’re not diets as much as they are lifestyles.

The Pros:

  • These diets are not restrictive and can be tailored to individuals’ different shapes and sizes.
  • Heart healthy. Both diets have been backed by scientific research as effective lifestyles for decreasing cardiovascular risks.
  • High in fiber. The DASH diet is high in fruits, vegetables and legumes. “Diets high in fiber are linked to higher levels of satiety and decreased cancer risks,” says Prendergast.

The Cons:

  • Results are not as obvious. These diets aren’t known for producing dramatic 30-day transformations, which is why some stay away from them. However, moving towards a more consistent healthy eating routine helps prevent many illnesses.

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  1. Fran Czarnecki Z January 25, 2018 at 12:51 pm · Reply

    I’d like to know where the Whole Food Plant Based Lifestyle fell on this list. And the pros and cons please. Thanks.

  2. The Zone diet is the ultimate best and works for life it you stay on it properly.

  3. I have been a calorie counter for the better part of a year and am down 93 pounds. Most of this was done without the addition of exercise. I have only recently added exercise to the mix for the sheer fact that I had too much energy at the end of the day. Find a good calorie counting app. If you are honest about what you eat and stay on track you will lose. I use (Lose It) if anyone is interested.

  4. Dieting to lose weight quickly for a specific goal, e.g. wedding, vacation, etc, creates a yoyo effect. Once the goal is achieved we go back to old habits. Here are my simple rules I live by that have helped me maintain a healthy weight. Moderation and variation. Count calories because calories count. Rather than eating because its on your plate or your child’s plate, it will go to waste one way or the other, its just a matter of which one your choose, “waist” or “waste”. Your choice! It is rocket science, energy in–food–is either used as fuel for the body and activities you participate in or energy stored for future needs. Learn to distinguish and make a conscience choice between “want” and “need”. The more you satisfy “want” the more calories you will pack on and gain weight. Drink more water. My golden rule is not the scale, although I use it every day at the same time of day and keep a chart. The best guideline is “Do I have the energy to do the things I want or do I make excuses.” Did I mention drink more water? Getting enough good, sound sleep at night 7-9 hours, helps cut down cravings, plus drink water. Stop cramming your mind with TV shows and movies you have seen repeatedly and get more sound sleep. Plan your next day before going to bed so you don’t have worries, if you do, write them down so you know what you need to do rather than taking it to bed with you. Variation, moderation, rest, water. Good luck!

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About the Author

Colette Harris
Colette Harris

Colette A. Harris, health enews contributor, is the public affairs and marketing coordinator at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Il. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and has nearly a decade of experience writing about health and wellness, which are her passions. When she’s not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, cooking, reading, or traveling.