US News ranks the best diets for weight loss, other health benefits for 2021

“We are seeing people exercising less and eating more,” said Angela Haupt, managing editor of health at U.S. News & World Report. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/ASphotowed)

Maybe it was more take out, or less exercise from being stuck at home, but many people ended 2020 with weight gain. For some, this year’s resolution may have been to drop their so-called “quarantine 15” with the help of a diet.

“We are seeing people exercising less and eating more,” said Angela Haupt, managing editor of health at U.S. News & World Report.

With so many diets out there, it can be hard to decide; but there’s a new ranking that could help.

U.S. News & World Report put out its findings for the Best Diets 2021, and it covers a range of categories, from diets geared toward weight loss to others aimed at helping people with diabetes and heart disease.

This year, with more people stuck inside during the COVID-19 pandemic, more home cooking is happening, which Haupt said has increased interest in diets involving homemade goods instead of buying weight-loss shakes and bars.

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“What people are looking for in a diet has really changed,” Haupt said.

Coming up in the top five for a number of rankings, including No. 1 in the category of “Best Overall Diets” again this year, is a familiar one — the Mediterranean diet.

“Mediterranean is really a lifestyle plan, and you can cater it to your personal taste preferences, your habits and tendencies,” Haupt said.

The diet came up as among the easiest to follow, best for plant-based plans and the most helpful for people with diabetes or those looking to better their heart-health.

Haupt warned that with a flavorful diet such as this, those on it have to track how much they’re eating, otherwise they might not get the desired outcome.

Another frequently seen name in the rankings is another familiar one, WW or Weight Watchers. This one also remains popular because it works with those who want to cook and those who don’t, and doesn’t limit what you can eat as much as other diets.

“Not having any foods off limits makes a really, really big difference in how easy it is to actually stick to a given diet,” Haupt said.

According to Haupt, after a stressful day, going for some ice cream is OK, as long as you don’t go over on points with everything else you eat during the day.

Weight Watchers was among the high-ranking commercial diets, and so was diet-world newcomer Noom.

Noom not only gives people a plan, according to Haupt, it also provides support in their weight-loss journey, since they’re grouped up with other users. This can be especially helpful, she said, for people who may be the only one in the house looking to lose some weight.

“We know that support makes a huge difference in how likely someone is to stick to a diet,” Haupt said.

When it comes to other overall best diets, the government-developed DASH diet to lower blood pressure fared well overall among all diets, since it also helps to lose extra pounds.

Also, with good results, the Flexitarian diet has focused on eating mostly fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains, while limiting how much protein a person gets from animal products.

There was also the Mayo Clinic Diet, which helps people develop personalized meal plans and track weight-loss progress.

The controversial ketogenic diet, or keto, showed up in rankings for fast weight loss. Haupt said many people swear by the diet for weight loss, but many experts, she added, say it is fundamentally at odds with everything that is known about long-term health.

“Because it has a really heavy emphasis on fatty foods, that means you could be having bacon three times a day on the keto diet and you would still technically be going keto,” Haupt said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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