The Best Diets of 2016, According to the U.S. News & World Report


While there’s no such thing as the perfect diet, there’s one that’s pretty damn close, at least according to a press release from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It’s called the MIND diet, and it’s been ranked the easiest diet to follow and the second best overall diet (tying in both categories) for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.

A blend between the Mediterranean and DASH diets (more on the DASH specifics in a bit), the MIND diet highlights foods and nutrients that work to fight the risk of Alzheimer’s. It has 15 main dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups”—green leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine—and “five unhealthy groups”—red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

The guidelines are fairly loose. It’s recommended to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day, along with a glass of wine, a snack most days consisting of nuts, beans every other day, poultry and berries at least twice a week, and fish at least once a week.

The researchers say to really ward off the devastating effects of cognitive decline, we have to limit our consumption of butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), baked goods (including packaged and processed), whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for all of the above). But they don’t completely nix them from the diet plan, which gives you a nice reprieve.

But, the MIND diet isn’t the only good diet option out there (though it did rank in an impressive seven different categories in the report!) To create the annual rankings you’ll read below, the U.S. News editors and reporters spent months examining eating plans by mining medical journals and government reports to create in-depth profiles explaining how each diet works, whether or not its claims are substantiated, and what it’s like to actually live on the diet. Here’s how 35 popular diets stacked up.

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Best Diets Overall

#1 DASH Diet
#2 TLC Diet
#2 MIND Diet

Goal: Prevent and lower high blood pressure, which is why it’s called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
What You Eat: Fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy, while avoiding calorie- and fat-laden sweets, red meat, and salt. Basically, you stick to the foods you’ve always been told to eat.

TLC Diet
Goal: Cut high cholesterol (hopefully 8 to 10% in 6 weeks following this diet).
What You Eat: Known as the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (and endorsed by the American Heart Association), this heart-healthy eating plan cuts back on fat (this is the main emphasis), particularly saturated fat—so foods like fatty meat, whole milk dairy, and fried foods). You’ll also limit your overall cholesterol intake and increase your fiber consumption.

MIND Diet – Details above

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Best Weight-Loss Diets

#1 Weight Watchers Diet
#2 HMR Program
#3 Biggest Loser Diet

Weight Watchers
The Goal: Drop up to 2 pounds each week.
What You Eat: While it can be pricey and it’s a bit tedious to tally up your meal points, Weight Watchers is effective because it’s flexible, there’s a support group, and you don’t eliminate food groups. It’s all based on choosing nutritionally dense foods that fill you up the longest, so your eating plan is lower in calories, saturated fat and sugar, and higher in protein.

HMR Program
The Goal: To lose and keep off weight by reducing calories, which is accomplished by meal replacement with additional fruits and veggies, adopting healthy lifestyle strategies, and getting physically active (up to 20 minutes of walking per day is recommended).
What You Eat: Known as the Health Management Resources Program, this eating plan revolves around low-calorie shakes, meals, nutrition bars, and hot cereal eaten in place of other meals and snacks. You’ll also eat fruits and vegetables in place of other high-calorie foods.

Biggest Loser Diet
The Goal: Prevent disease and promote weight loss by cutting calories and working out, typically within a six-week timeframe.
What You Eat: Choose a Biggest Loser book to follow. They’ll give you a crash course on nutrition, choosing quality calories, and illustrating the Biggest Loser diet pyramid. You’ll eat four servings of fruit and vegetables a day, three servings of protein, two of whole grains, and no more than 200 calories of desserts and other extras. (Your daily breakdown is: 45% of calories from carbs, 30% from protein, 25% from fat.)

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Best Commercial Diet Plans

#1 Mayo Clinic Diet
#1 Weight Watchers Diet
#3 Jenny Craig Diet

Mayo Clinic Diet
The Goal: To lose 6 to 10 pounds in two weeks, then continue losing 1 to 2 pounds each week afterwards until you’ve hit your target weight.
What You Eat: Using the Mayo Clinic’s food pyramid and the Mayo Clinic Diet book, you’ll break bad food habits and replace them with new ones (15 in all). You won’t count calories or eliminate food groups, and you can snack all you want on fruits and vegetables.

Weight Watchers – Details in Slide 2

Jenny Craig Diet
The Goal: Drop up to 2 pounds each week and maintain weight loss.
What You Eat: Jenny Craig’s prepackaged meals are low in calories, fat, and portion size.

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Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets

#1 HMR Program
#1 Biggest Loser Diet
#3 Weight Watchers Diet

HMR Program – Details in Slide 2

Biggest Loser Diet – Details in Slide 2

Weight Watchers – Details in Slide 2

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Best Plant-Based Diets

#1 Mediterranean Diet
#2 The Flexitarian Diet
#3 Ornish Diet

Mediterranean Diet
The Goal: Long-term weight loss, and the promotion of heart and brain health, in addition to preventing cancer and diabetes.
What You Eat: Based on the diets of men and women from the Mediterranean (who typically live longer and suffer fewer diseases), the plan revolves around an active lifestyle, weight control, little red meat, sugar, and saturated fat, and lots of produce, nuts, olive oil, fish, and a moderate amount of eggs, cheese, and yogurt. Red wine is also allowed, in moderation.

The Flexitarian Diet
The Goal: Weight loss and optimal health. It’s said flexitarians weigh 15 percent less than carnivorous eaters, have a lower rate of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and live nearly four years longer.
What You Eat: Essentially this diet plan marries two concepts: vegetarian and flexible. It’s predominantly a vegetarian eating plan, but you don’t have to entirely eliminate meat. You’ll add five food groups to your diet: the “new meat” (tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds, and eggs); fruits and veggies; whole grains; dairy; and sugar and spices (everything from dried herbs to salad dressing to agave nectar sweetener).

Ornish Diet
The Goal: To lose weight, prevent or reverse diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and prostate or breast cancer. You have free reign to schedule when you exercise so long as you keep yourself accountable.
What You Eat: The creator, Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California, categorizes food into five groups from most (group 1) to least (group 5) healthful. You choose how you want to fill up your grocery cart with these groups.

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Easiest Diets to Follow

#1 Weight Watchers Diet
#1 The Fertility Diet
#1 MIND Diet

Weight Watchers – Details in Slide 2

The Fertility Diet
The Goal: For the ladies, this diet plan boosts ovulation and improves fertility.
What You Eat: There’s a strong emphasis on good fats (like full-fat dairy), whole grains, and plant protein. Women are advised to avoid bad fats, refined carbs, red meat, eggs, and sugary sodas. There are 10 research-backed steps to follow.

MIND Diet – Details at top of page

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