It's that time of year again - when talk of diets and exercise is at its most earnest. With 34 percent of Americans tipping the scales toward obese, losing weight has become more important than a New Year's resolution or bathing-suit season pledge - it's been dubbed an epidemic.
Thankfully, America is still the land of plenty when it comes to weight-loss options. The DailyBeast.com recently took the time to rank diets by "combing journals of nutrition and medicine to find clinical studies on specific diets. To be ranked, the dietary studies had to include six-month and 12-month data on weight loss and participant retention, as well as 12-month change in body mass index, or BMI."
Below are the top ten diets, listed in a descending order, identified by The DailyBeast.com:
- #10. LEARN Diet: Dieters learn to change their relationship with food with a low-fat diet and increased exercise. Created by Dr. Kelly Brownell, LEARN is an acronym for the five components that lead to a healthy life: Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition. Dieters begin the program by filling out questionnaires and taking tests that help to prepare them for the lessons. After the first 16 lessons, there’s the option of eight more monthly classes to promote maintenance. The Daily Beast reports "the diet is a low-fat regimen, with 55-60 percent of calories from carbohydrates and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. One of the more outspoken dieticians, Brownell gained attention in 1994 for suggesting via an op-ed in The New York Times that “since the government controls cigarette and alcohol advertising aimed at children, a similar rationale should apply to unhealthy foods,” a proposition later dubbed the Twinkie Tax."
- #9. Mediterranean Diet: A diet rich in plant foods and healthy fats is good for you, according to WebMD.com. "Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet protects against the development of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, some types of cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease -- and also leads to a longer lifespan. The DailyBeast.com describes the Mediterranean Diet as "calorie-restrictive with a target of 35 percent of calories from fat, primarily from olive oil and nuts. It produced one of the lowest attrition rates in a 2008 study among the clinical studies and gained mass popularity thanks to the book The Sonoma Diet."The diet also includes regular physical activity.
- #8. DASH Diet: According to MayoClinic.comThe DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet emphasizes portion size, eating a variety of foods and getting the right amount of nutrients." Created by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute as a way to combat high blood pressure and bad cholesterol, the DASH Diet cuts saturated fat, sugar, salt and limits alcohol. The DailyBeast reports, "Even the USDA is a fan of this one." The DASH diet calls for the following daily servings: 4-5 servings of vegetables and fruits; 2-3 servings of dairy; 6 or fewer of lean meat, poultry and fish; 2-3 fats and oils. It limits nuts, seeds and legumes servings to 4-5 a week and sweets to 5 a week.
- #7. Atkin's Diet: This is a strict diet that limits net carbohydrates. Weight often comes off fast but many believe it's more difficult to stick with. Dr. Robert Atkin's published Dr. Atkin's Diet Revolution in 1972. The DailyBeast reports: "while the diet’s popularity has waxed and waned throughout the past 40 years, a generic low-carb diet has been proven to help keep the flab off once weight has been lost. The problem: low-carb diets often result in high-fat consumption, which isn’t great for cardiovascular health."
- #6. Slim-Fast: The DailyBeast reports: "Slim-Fast has become a cultural and diet staple since S. Daniel Abraham introduced it in 1977. With just “a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner,” the program promises rapid weight loss without the complications of … food. The diet company has diversified offerings to include snack bars and powder, but has been declining in popularity in the past decade."
- #5. Low Fat Diet: There are many studies about low-fat diets and most have found they don't work well unless dieters also limit calories. Most low-fat diets limit 30 percent of calories from fat, 10 percent from saturated fat and 300mg of cholesterol. There are many different diet plans that follow low-fat guidelines, such as Eat More, Weigh Less, by Dean Ornish, MD, which is very restrictive. The DailyBeast reports: When participants of a study conducted by the American Heart Association stuck to the diet with a limit of 1,500 calories per day for women or 1,800 for men, the diet produced the second highest short-term weight loss and the lowest short-term attrition rate among the clinical studies included in the rankings."
- #4. The Vegan Diet: Vegan diets have become more mainstream lately - there are even vegan bakeries now - but it is also a lifestyle. It is more restrictive than a vegetarian diet, which eliminates meat, fish and poultry. Vegans also cut dairy and eggs and shun honey, leather, silk and wool. The DailyBeast reports: "One notable study published in 2007 concluded that a low-fat vegan diet resulted in “significantly greater weight loss” than a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. After one year, the vegan dieters lost an average of 10.8 lbs., while the low-cholesterol dieters lost an average of just 4 lbs."
- #3. Jenny Craig: This can be a good diet for folks who don't like or have time to shop, prepare and cook meals. You must become a Jenny Craig member and start with prepared meals and menus. The DailyBeast reports: "Jenny and Sid Craig, who formed the company in 1983 in Melbourne, created the program. There are more than 700 centers in the world and the average customer reportedly spends about $100 per week on Jenny Craig food while enrolled in the program. Among the diets included in the list, Jenny Craig had the highest rate of short- and long-term attrition, but ranked high in terms of total weight loss over one year."
- #2. Weight Watchers: Dieters limit what they eat to a certain number of points based on their height and weight. Heavier people get more points than those who weigh less but the number is adjusted as weight is lost. Weekly meetings and weigh ins help many Weight Watchers dieters to not feel alone and also serve to pass along helpful information. The DailyBeast reports: "In 2011, consumers spent nearly $5 billion on Weight Watchers services and products, according to the company, and each week 1.4 million members attend weekly meetings around the globe. The publicly traded company offers everything from branded pastries and frozen dinners to mobile apps and cookbooks." There is also an online version of the diet available.
- #1. Volumetrics: According to the DailyBeast, Volumetrics was: "pioneered by nutritionist Dr. Barbara J. Rolls, who co-authored The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan with journalist Robert A. Barnett in 2000, the volumetrics diet focuses on eating foods that have high water content to promote the feeling of satiety and combat feelings of hunger and deprivation. Foods such as soup and non-starchy vegetables are favored over calorie-dense foods like chips and cookies."