The U.S. News and World Report released its Best Diets 2020 List earlier this year. With so many people trying to lose winter pounds, I thought I’d weigh in (pun intended).
Please note that I am not a weight-loss or nutrition expert. I am writing from the perspective of someone who failed a million diets, and then found one that worked – losing 200 pounds and keeping the weight off for almost four years. I’m hoping that my thoughts might be helpful to others.
BEST OVERALL DIETS: The US News and World Report list includes different categories including Best Diets Overall. These diets are “easy to follow, nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss and productive against diabetes and heart disease.” The Mediterranean Diet is ranked #1 on this list. The DASH Diet and Flexitarian Diet are tied for second, while WW (Weight Watchers) is ranked #4.
What do these diets have in common? Basically, they’re simply healthy eating programs including a balance of proteins, fats, and carbs. And that’s my point. In my opinion, the best way to lose weight is to simply eat healthy over a period of time. But for some reason, we all love to say that we’re on “this diet” or “that diet.” It’s almost like we’ve joined a team or club and we’re totally loyal to that diet. If someone questions our chosen method for dieting, we’re quick to explain why our diet is the best diet. Matt Fitzgerald, author of over 20 best-selling books on fitness and nutrition calls popular diets “cults” in his book, Diet Cults.
There is no magic diet. Weight loss comes from simply eating healthy over a long period of time. The diets on the Best Overall Diets teach people how to eat healthy over a sustained period of time – like the rest of your life.
So which diet should you pick from those at the top of the list? The one you will follow. When I first began to successfully lose weight, the diet I followed not only taught me how to eat healthily, it included an accountability plan and a social component. That worked for me. Once I learned how to eat healthy and had been on track for quite a while, I found I no longer needed the high level of accountability. I’ve been able to follow that nutrition plan for years because with a healthy balance of all food groups, it was sustainable for me.
BEST WEIGHT-LOSS DIETS
Now let’s look at US News and World Report’s list of the Best Weight-Loss Diets which take into account, “short-term and long-term weight loss scores.” Weight Watchers is #1 on this list. The Vegan Diet and Volumetrics are tied for #2, while the Flexitarian Diet is #4. While these are the top weight-loss diets, only Weight Watchers and Flexitarian are also on the Best Overall List which takes nutrition, safety, ease of following, and productivity against diabetes and heart disease into account. For that reason, I usually point to Weight Watchers when someone asks me to recommend a weight loss program. I’m not as familiar with Flexitarian, but I suspect it’s a good program too.
BEST FAST WEIGHT-LOSS DIETS
US News and World report says that there’s a strong chance that you’ll drop significant weight within the first 12 months of starting the diets at the top of this list, but then goes on to explain that they are “different from the long-term weight loss programs that are more important for your health.” The top two diets on this list are the HMR Program and Optavia Diet. The Atkins Diet, Jenny Craig Diet, WW (Weight Watchers) Diet, and Keto Diet were all tied for #3.
IS FAST BEST?
CNN notes that the top two diets in the Fast Weight Loss category ranked “in the deep bottom” of other diet categories such Best Overall, Heart Healthy, and Diabetes Diets. CNN asks, “Why would diets that are considered good at helping drop weight quickly be ranked so badly overall?”
CNN then quotes David Katz, president of the True Health Initiative, “The ‘best’ way to lose weight fast is to do something very silly, unsustainable and arguably irresponsible. It’s not truly best – just fast. Many things that are truly bad for health can sustain short-term weight loss. The most effective diets for ‘fast’ weight loss impose severe restrictions that cannot be maintained and would not be compatible with health if they were.”
In the beginning of this blog, I wrote that I lost 200 pounds after multiple failed attempts at weight loss. I guess they weren’t really failed attempts because I did lose weight, but the diets weren’t sustainable, and each time, I gained back all the weight I had lost plus an additional ten pounds. I started believing that I was destined to be obese all of my life. But in reality, I had been following diets that weren’t healthy over a long period of time, and therefore weren’t sustainable since it would take me a long time to get to a healthy weight.
Success came when I did three things: 1) My “why” for losing weight changed. I talk about the impact of this mindset change in my book.* 2) I started a weight-loss plan that was based on sound nutrition, and therefore, sustainable over a long period of time. 3) I started thinking of what I was doing as a life-long nutrition plan, rather than a diet. Diets start and stop. Diets are things you go on and go off. I understood that my healthy nutrition plan would go on for the rest of my life. And it has!
Photo Credit: US News and World Report