The 5 Easiest, Effective and Overall Best Diets, According to Experts

by Lexi Petronis, Glamour

With so many (so, so many!) diet options out there, have you ever wondered which actually works? Join the club! About 45 million Americans go on a diet every year, spending $33 billion on weight-loss products.

U.S. News and World Report put together a panel of experts to scrutinize 29 popular diet plans, ranking them by how easy they are to follow, how nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss they are, and how well they work to decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Here are the top five, as chosen by the experts:

1. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH): The diet is meant to lower blood pressure, emphasizing fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy, and keeping sugary treats, red meat, and salt to a minimum. The lack of salt might be hard to get used to at first, but experts say that the diet is convenient and easy to stick to because it's not too restrictive.

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2. Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC): Created by the National Institutes of Health, this diet aims to boost cardiovascular health with major cutbacks on saturated fat intake (like whole dairy, fried foods, and fatty meats). For women who want to lose weight in addition to lowering cholesterol, the diet suggests 1,200 calories a day in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fish, and lean poultry.

3 (tie). Mayo Clinic Diet: You don't count calories when you start on this one, instead focusing on 15 key habits, and snacking all you want on fruits and veggies. After you've lost some lbs--the claim is that you'll lose 6 to 10 in the first two weeks of the diet, then 1 to 2 every week after that--you start thinking about how many calories you need for maintenance. Experts say this diet is helpful for controlling diabetes.

3 (tie). Mediterranean Diet: This emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fish--heart-healthy foods that experts say the long-living people of the Mediterranean have subsisted on for years.

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3 (tie). Weight Watchers: You can basically eat whatever you want with Weight Watchers--so long as you stay within your specified number of points (every food is assigned a points value, based on its protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, calories, and how hard your body has to work to burn it off). Most studies indicate that people on the program lose weight--and experts say many people stick with Weight Watchers to maintain weight loss.

Now, sticking to a diet... that's a whole other topic, right? But a new study has indicated that one of the best ways may be to employ a calorie-tracking mobile device. In the study, people who used a mobile calorie-tracking app were able to lose 15 pounds--and keep them off for a year.

What do you think--do you agree with the ranking? Are any of these plans appealing to you? And do ever you use a calorie tracker?

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