Why You Should Avoid These Popular Diets

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
Just because roll-on glitter was popular a decade or two ago did not make it a good idea (for you or your laundry). And just because everyone's cutting this week's trendy nutritional villain out of their diets — whether it's gluten, sugar, or nightshades — doesn't mean it's in any way feasible or healthy. In fact, as this year's list of the best diets from U.S. News & World Report shows, the most popular plans actually tend to be some of the least healthy.

To create the list, a team of nutritionists and physicians graded 38 diets on how easy they were to follow, how likely they were to actually help you achieve your goals, and what kind of effect that had on your heart health and risk for diabetes. In general, "fad diets" that were particularly restrictive and difficult to follow ranked near the bottom. But those plans that emphasized balance and improving overall health were likely to be easier to sustain, and therefore, closer to the top of the list.

As it has for the past six years, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) came in at number one on the list of best diets overall. This plan was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help those looking for heart-healthy nutrition. The Mediterranean diet and MIND diet came in at second and third places, respectively. Interestingly, the MIND diet is sort of a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diets, with a specific emphasis on foods that may help keep your brain healthy.

On the other hand, infamously restrictive diets such as Paleo and the oat-obsessed Dukan diet ranked near the bottom of the list. And Whole 30 (which requires you to give up sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, and pretty much everything else fun) was named the worst diet overall. Although we're fans of the plan's emphasis on the way food makes you feel rather than weight loss or calories, we're not so hot on...pretty much anything else about it.

Of course, we're not big fans of "dieting" in general. But if you're looking for a way to get your nutrition on track, it's clear some strategies are better for you than others. Focusing on how a plan might help you rather than what it makes you give up — or which celebs are currently singing its praises — is definitely the way to go.

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