U.S. News and World Report is famous (and in some cases infamous) for ranking products, institutions and services of all kinds, be it cars, colleges or diets. Yesterday, they released diet rankings in a number of categories, most notably the best commercial diets and the best diets for weight loss. They also created a list for both the best diabetic diets and the best heart-healthy diets, and a list of best overall diets.
U.S. News reports that they spent six month researching diets, and then had a panel of 22 health experts score the diet on seven different criteria. The diet was judged on its nutritional completeness, its safety, its ability to prevent or manage diabetes, its ability to prevent or manage heart disease, short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss and how easy it is to follow.
It’s little surprise to us that Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig topped both lists, as multiple studies have shown these two diets to be effective. Below are the top eight diets from the best commercial diets and the best diets for weight loss.
Best Commercial Diets
Best Weight Loss Diets
What’s perhaps most surprising about this list is that cost was not a factor in the rankings. Nutrisystem often is preferred over Jenny Craig by many, simply because the cost is considerably less. I imagine that many people turning to such a list are as interested in value as they are in simple efficacy.
I was also surprised to see the vegan and raw so high on the list of top weight loss diets. Veganism can certainly accompany a very healthy lifestyle, but it’s no guarantee of weight loss. A simple vegan diet eliminates animal products, but does not necessary limit sugars, fats or simple carbs. U.S. News cites studies that show “vegans tend to eat fewer calories,” but that doesn’t mean that people following a vegan diet don’t need to be calorie conscious. However, the nutritional benefits of a vegan diet, done right, are great.
On the other hand, going raw is just about as close to a weight loss guarantee as you can get. In fact without careful planning, a raw diet can be too low in calories. The major difficulty with the raw diet is that it’s very restrictive and hard to follow. I’m glad that such an influential publication is giving this extremely healthy diet such a high endorsement, but I also know that most Americans will consider such a diet way too extreme.
Over all, these lists seem quite fair and balanced from a health standpoint. Of course, if there seems to be one big lesson in the weight-loss world, it’s that there’s no one solution for everyone. In many ways, that’s why Weight Watchers is so successful, because it allows for so much flexibility.
June 9th, 2011