Here are tips to help you decide which diet is best for you.
Thinking of starting a diet now that a new year is upon us? If so, you may have questions about which diet is best.
The answers are not so simple, however. Ask a dozen people which is the best diet and you’ll get a dozen answers. What works for one person may not work for another. And while proponents of one diet may show research backing up why their diet of choice is good for you, other diet advocates will often disagree, citing research that shows just the opposite.
Part of the reason there’s not much consensus about the “best” diet is that dieting is not a one-size-fits-approach. Finding the best eating plan for any one person depends on a lot of factors, from health conditions and dietary goals to culture, habits and tastes.
The fact is that the best diet for losing weight, or for meeting any health goals you set, is the one you’re most likely to stick with. Fad diets or those only followed for a short time may provide quick benefits in the short term, but if you don’t stick to them, those rewards quickly fade away.
If you’re trying to decide which diet to follow, talk to your doctor (especially if you have chronic health issues), do some research and think about whether any of these diets are right for you:
- Mediterranean Diet – This diet has consistently been ranked as one of the healthiest diets year after year. It focuses on healthy plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Use of olive oil is encouraged, while sweets and red meat are not. You can eat seafood at least twice a week and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation. You can also have an occasional glass of wine. There’s no counting of calories or macros involved.
- DASH Diet – This stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet is full of foods rich in fiber, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and encourages you to limit sodium and saturated fat intake. The diet encourages whole foods over processed foods, while focusing on a good intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat free or low fat dairy, and a lean meat, fish, and poultry intake. It encourages eliminating (or at least limiting) processed foods, sugary drinks and snacks, red meat, and packaged foods. This diet has long been recommended to help control blood pressures, but also can be a healthy way to lose weight.
- Vegan Diet – This diet eliminates all meat and dairy. But just because something doesn’t come from an animal, doesn’t mean it’s healthy or will help you lose weight. Keep in mind that vegan diets lack critical nutrients, like B12 and readily-absorbable forms of omega 3’s, and make it hard to get enough protein. If you want to try this approach, choose mostly whole plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If you can’t imagine a life without some meat, cheese or dairy, consider eating more plant-based foods in place of meat rather than completely eliminating animal foods. It may be easier to stick to long-term.
When it comes to dieting, slow and steady wins the race. Following a well-rounded eating plan focused primarily on healthful whole foods, without eliminating any one food group, is typically the best way to achieve long-term success. Weight loss may not be quick or dramatic, but by making small changes to your diet over time, you’re most likely to reap the rewards of your efforts for a long time to come.
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Date Last Reviewed: November 18, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT