The Truth About 2014’s Most Popular Diets

Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Fad diets are popular for a reason: They can offer big results in a short amount of time. But, they can be difficult to stick to, and they don't always encourage healthy lifestyle changes. That's why, for the fifth year, U.S. News & World Report has ranked dozens of top diets to see how they stack up.
Using their team of experts, the magazine evaluated 35 diets based on whether or not they deliver on their claims, pose any health risks, and can help manage or prevent disease. Number one overall — and last year's winner — is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). This high-carb, low-fat, moderate-protein plan is based on lowering high blood pressure through limiting sodium intake. Coming in second is the TLC diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes); the Mediterranean diet took third.
The super-popular Paleo diet didn't do so hot: In fact, it ranked last overall, tied with the Dukan diet. Although there's some evidence to suggest that lowering our carb intake can be better for weight loss and our hearts, the research is still inconclusive and sometimes conflicting. Plus, these diets often ask you to take extreme steps, like completely cutting out refined sugars.
The report also ranked eating plans based on how effectively they target specific dietary needs and health concerns. DASH won as the best for diabetes, while the low-fat Ornish diet ranked as the most heart-healthy. The Mediterranean diet was deemed the best plant-based plan, and Weight Watchers was considered the easiest to follow. So, whatever your reasons for trying a specific eating plan, remember that your individual needs are your own — find what works for you and own it.

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