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Planning to try a new diet plan in 2024? Here’s how the most popular diets stack up for overall health, according to experts. Maskot/Getty Images
  • A panel found that the best overall diets are the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets.
  • They have scientific backing that they can improve cardiovascular and brain health.
  • The panel noted that diets like keto, Atkins, and HMR were best for quick weight loss.
  • However, these diets ranked low overall when compared to the other diets reviewed.
  • Nutritionists say it’s best to focus on sustainable changes rather than quick fixes.

According to the American Society for Nutrition, the most popular New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, with many people seeing January 1 as an “empowering and motivating moment” to improve their health.

If you’re like many other people with the goal of slimming down, you may be wondering what’s the best diet to try.

To answer this question, each year the U.S. News & World Report gathers a panel of medical and nutrition experts to evaluate the most popular diets to see which are best backed by science.

Their experts examined each plan to determine whether it is safe, nutritionally sound, sustainable, and effective for weight loss.

They also looked at whether each diet might be better for a particular purpose, such as bone health.

We’ll summarize below some of what the panelists found.

The three best diets, according to the U.S. News & World Report panel, were the Mediterranean diet, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, and the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet.

These diets received scores of 85.1%, 75.4%, and 60.7% respectively.

According to Barbara Kovalenko, an RDN and nutrition consultant at, the Mediterranean diet promotes cardiovascular health due to its emphasis on heart-healthy fats like olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish.

The DASH diet is designed to promote healthy blood pressure levels, added Kovalenko. It encourages lower sodium consumption, which is also beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Finally, the MIND Diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH eating plans. It is designed to support brain health and can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age, said Kovalenko.

“Adopting these diets can bring various health benefits, such as improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and better brain function,” Kovalenko explained. “They prioritize whole, unprocessed foods that nourish the body.”

Other diets that were highly ranked included the Mayo Clinic diet (55.3%), the flexitarian diet (53.6%), WeightWatchers (46.1%), the volumetrics diet (41.4%), Dr. Weill’s Anti-Inflammatory diet (41.1%), and the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet (39.9%).

One thing that was made clear by the rankings is that medical professionals do not necessarily equate fast weight loss with being the best way to lose weight.

Some of the highest-ranked diets for fast weight loss included the keto diet (100), the Atkin’s diet (57), and the HMR (Health Management Resources) diet (52).

However, when it came to overall rankings, these plans scored a dismal -46.1%, -46.2%, -33.1% respectively.

The keto diet and the Atkin’s diet are both low-carb and high-fat diets and have been somewhat controversial.

They tend to be high in saturated fat, which can raise bad cholesterol. These diets can also be restrictive because they cut out most carbohydrates. This can potentially lead to shortfalls in vital nutrients like folate, thiamin, selenium, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

However, they remain popular due to the fact that carbohydrate restriction places people in a fat-burning state called “ketosis” which helps to suppress appetite and food consumption leading to quick weight loss.

The HMR diet is a structured meal replacement diet. During the initial phase of the plan, people consume three meal replacement shakes, two entrees, and five cups of fruits and vegetables each day.

Among the criticisms cited by the U.S. News & World Report panel were its potential for monotony and limited options for eating out.

Emily Norman, RDN, LDN, who is a contributor at HealthInsiders, says that starting a new diet in a sustainable way is all about making gradual and realistic changes to your lifestyle.

“Instead of drastic restrictions, focus on incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats into your meals,” she advised.

Norman added that you can start by setting achievable goals such as including a serving of leafy greens to your meal or replacing snacks high in added sugar and saturated fat with nuts, berries, or a piece of whole fruit.

“The key is to make small adjustments that align with the chosen diet’s principles,” said Norman.

Other steps you can take, per Norman, include building a support system, staying mindful of portion sizes, and leaving room for occasional indulgences.

All of these can contribute to making your new lifestyle more sustainable.

“The emphasis should be on long-term health and well-being rather than quick fixes,” she concluded.

According to a U.S. News & World Report panel of medical and nutrition experts, some of the best diets that are supported by scientific research include the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet.

The ones that produce the quickest weight loss include the keto diet, the Atkin’s diet, and the HMR diet. However, these plans ranked fairly low overall.

Nutrition experts say that quick fixes do not work when it comes to weight loss. It’s best to start slow and make small, sustainable changes.