With so many options it can be difficult to determine the best diet for you. There is no one size solution, especially considering various reasons for following a diet – from weight loss to heart health to diabetes and more. So which is the best? U.S. News & World Report recently released their report on the 40 Best Diets for 2018.
The publication asked a panel of nationally-recognized experts to review a selection of popular diets based on criteria such as:
- Short-term weight loss (first year) and long-term weight loss (maintaining weight loss)
- Potential to prevent or reduce the risk of health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
- Ease of compliance
- Nutritional completeness
- Health risks
The study ranked the diets across nine categories and ranked The DASH Diet and The Mediterranean Diet as the top two overall.
Diet Rankings in Perspective
Nina Gray MD, a Bariatrician specializing in non-surgical weight management care at TriHealth Weight Management provides a review of the rankings and gives advice on which diets are best considering an individual’s specific weight-loss goals and health needs.
She says the rankings give a good overview of a variety of diet options and agrees the Mediterranean and DASH diets are good choices for healthy eating. However there has been growing interest in the benefits of plant based protein diets both for weight loss and health benefits, preliminary results suggest even outperforming the Mediterranean diet.
“Based on the AHEI (Alternate Healthy Eating Index) scoring system which rates diets based on weight loss and chronic disease prevention they ranked the Ornish diet (a very low fat vegetarian diet) and Weight Watchers as the best overall diets, of note the vegan diet also scored high.” she says.
Dr. Gray cites studies showing that vegan diets and the Ornish diet have shown the best improvement in blood sugars, Body Mass Index and diabetic risk versus the Mediterranean and DASH diets. In studies of the Ornish diet in those who had heart disease 82% of them had reduced fat build up in their arteries after 1 year.
“The Flexitarian Diet (ranked third overall) is a step in the right direction in providing plant-based proteins but this only partly confers the health benefits of a vegan diet,” she says. “However, it is a good start to meeting USDA guidelines of adding at least two plant-based proteins to improve health.”
The Mediterranean and DASH diets are healthy diets for chronic disease prevention, according to Dr. Gray, but not as helpful for Diabetics and improving blood glucose levels or weight loss. We have to assume that most Diabetics have or are highly at risk of heart disease. The best diet plans for these individuals are lower carbohydrate diets. By controlling carbohydrates per meal blood sugar improvement is immediate even without weight loss. Atkins and South Beach represent severe restriction and are not recommended for diabetics but a moderate decrease in carbohydrates is safe, effective and sustainable.
The Best Diet for You
So what is the best diet for your weight-loss goals and health needs? Dr. Gray says that studies comparing different types of diets (low carbohydrate, low fat, etc.) show that all lead to weight loss but by the 6 month mark all the diets have led to equal amounts of weight loss, suggesting it's not the type of diet that's important but the commitment to it.
“The best diet is one that provides maximum individual health benefits, but especially one that a person can stick to,” she says. “There really isn’t one type that works for everybody.”
Weight Watchers scored highly on the best diet plan based primarily on the support and accountability it provides that help people stick to the diet plan.
Making it Stick
The keys to sticking with a successful diet are two factors: 1. individualized diet plans and 2. support/accountability, according to Dr. Gray. This is why she suggests a comprehensive weight management program such as TriHealth Weight Management that offers individualized treatment plans that include the education, support and accountability to help your achieve your short and long-term weight loss goals.
“Our personalized plans are designed to predict the need for sustainability, the possibility of weight plateau's and the fluctuation of motivation,” she says. “Through continued support they can help you maintain weight loss and improve health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and more.”
For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gray call TriHealth Weight Management at 513 862 4957.