For people who want to lose weight, avoiding alcohol might seem like a foregone conclusion. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
In fact, 33 of the 40 diets included in U.S. News’ Best Diets rankings permit alcohol in some fashion.
To produce the Best Diets rankings, a panel of experts analyzed and scored an array of diets and eating approaches — from Weight Watchers to the Vegetarian diet — to determine which were best. Diets were ranked across metrics like how easy they are to follow, how much weight you can expect to lose in both the short and long term and how healthy they are.
Registered dietitian Lisa Sasson, a Best Diets expert panelist, said the diets that rate the best overall tend to be healthy and practical, plus teach lifelong healthy eating skills. “It’s important that diets aren’t so strict and so extreme because that could backfire, and that’s usually the characteristic of a fad diet,” says Sasson, a clinical associate professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.
While she clarified she doesn’t promote drinking alcohol, she points out that the Mediterranean diet — which tied for the No. 1 Best Diet Overall — encourages a glass of wine with dinner. Sasson says the key to successful weight loss is staying on a weight program for a while. Having a glass or two of wine can help make a diet easy to follow, increasing the likelihood of actually sticking to it.
Elisabetta Politi, the nutrition director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina, says you can lose weight while still drinking alcohol — but you need to be smart about it and pay attention to the calories. You might decide to have a glass of Merlot instead of dessert, for example, or up your 30 minutes of exercise to 45 to help make up for it.
Politi, who is also a Best Diets panelist, says those who have liver disease or show signs of being problem drinkers — people who can’t stop when they have just one drink — should steer clear of alcohol. But other than that, whether or not to drink while on a diet comes down to personal preference and tendencies. “I can’t see why, unless there is some restriction [like medication], that you cannot have a little bit of wine once a day, a couple times a week with your meal,” Sasson says.
While margarita after margarita may not be the best bet to achieving a healthy weight-loss diet, alcohol doesn’t have to be totally missing from the equation. A look at the 33 Best Diets Overall that permit alcohol is included below, in order of rank.
|1 (tie)||DASH Diet|
|1 (tie)||Mediterranean Diet|
|3||The Flexitarian Diet|
|4||Weight Watchers Diet|
|5 (tie)||MIND Diet|
|5 (tie)||TLC Diet|
|5 (tie)||Volumetrics Diet|
|8||Mayo Clinic Diet|
|10 (tie)||The Fertility Diet|
|10 (tie)||Vegetarian Diet|
|12 (tie)||Jenny Craig Diet|
|12 (tie)||The Traditional Asian Diet|
|14||Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet|
|15 (tie)||Flat Belly Diet|
|15 (tie)||Nutritarian Diet|
|15 (tie)||Spark Solution Diet|
|18||The Engine 2 Diet|
|19 (tie)||Biggest Loser Diet|
|19 (tie)||Nutrisystem Diet|
|19 (tie)||Vegan Diet|
|22 (tie)||Eco-Atkins Diet|
|22 (tie)||Glycemic-Index Diet|
|22 (tie)||South Beach Diet|
|22 (tie)||Zone Diet|
|26 (tie)||Abs Diet|
|26 (tie)||SlimFast Diet|
|32 (tie)||Paleo Diet|
|32 (tie)||Raw Food Diet|
|32 (tie)||Supercharged Hormone Diet|
|35||The Fast Diet|
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