What is the ‘best diet’ for you?

What makes a diet best? In Best Diets 2021, the latest set of exclusive rankings from U.S. News, the Mediterranean diet beat out a pool of other eating plans, including Atkins, Jenny Craig and SlimFast, to win the “Best Diets Overall” crown. Among the 15 commercial diet programs marketed to the public, WW (Weight Watchers) came out on top. (Our methodology explains how.) We also ranked the diets on likelihood of weight loss, ability to prevent and control diabetes and heart disease, healthiness and how easy they are to follow.

Our analysis puts hard numbers on the commonsense belief that no diet is ideal for everybody.

Take DASH, which tied with Flexitarian as the No. 2 Best Diet Overall. It wasn’t created as a way to drop pounds, but as a means of combating high blood pressure (it stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The federal government, which funded the research behind DASH, doesn’t even call it a diet — it’s an “eating plan.” If losing weight is your primary goal, a diet in our Best Weight-Loss Diets rankings would be a more likely choice. Or if you have diabetes, you might want to look especially hard at Best Diabetes Diets.

[See: Favorite Mediterranean Diet Recipes From America’s Test Kitchen.]

That’s why we’re giving you lots of tools. Each diet was scored by a panel of experts in short-term and long-term weight loss, on how easy it is to follow, how well it conforms to current nutrition standards and on health risks it may pose — plus its soundness as a diabetes and as a heart diet.

Besides the rankings and data, each diet has a detailed profile that tells you how it works, what evidence supports (or refutes) its claims, a nutritional snapshot — right down to daily milligrams of potassium — and, of course, a close look at the food you’d eat, with photos. All of it is reliable and easy to understand.

These tools will be at least a start at helping you, your mother, your brother — whomever — find that elusive perfect-for-me diet. Once you’ve whittled down your eligible diets to a few, consider your personality and lifestyle. If you’re a foodie, you probably won’t be happy with a plan built around frozen dinners, or mostly just-add-water meals. If cutting carbs will make you cranky and resentful, you’ll want to stay away from low-carb diets such as Atkins and South Beach.

Then think about what did and didn’t work the last time you were on a diet. Was it too restrictive? Lots of diets we covered don’t consider any food off-limits. Didn’t provide enough structure? Some plans will tell you exactly what to eat and when.

With any diet, ask yourself: How long can I stay on this? No matter how good it looks — or how good it might make you look — if you can’t stick with it in the long run, you’ll be right back where you started after a couple months.

And consider physical activity — an important component of any healthy lifestyle. Does your plan lay out a specific exercise program, or are you on your own?

[Read: We Surveyed People on the Mediterranean Diet. Here’s What They Say.]

The questions are endless. Right now, you may have no idea what will or won’t work for you. That’s what we’re here for. We’re not going to tell you what diet you should be on, but we can help lead you to a winner — the Best Diet for you.

Here’s which diets came out on top in the nine different ranking lists:

Best Diets Overall

1. Mediterranean

2. DASH diet (tie)

2. Flexitarian (tie)

Best Weight-Loss Diets

1. Flexitarian (tie)

1. WW (Weight Watchers) (tie)

Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets

1. HMR Program

2. Atkins (tie)

2. WW (Weight Watchers) (tie)

Best Diabetes Diets

1. Flexitarian (tie)

1. Mediterranean (tie)

Best Heart-Healthy Diets

1. DASH diet (tie)

1. Ornish Diet (tie)

1. Mediterranean (tie)

Best Commercial Diet Plans

1. WW (Weight Watchers)

2. Mayo Clinic Diet

Best Diets for Healthy Eating

1. DASH diet (tie)

1. Mediterranean (tie)

Easiest Diets to Follow

1. Mediterranean

2. WW (Weight Watchers)

[SEE: Mediterranean Diet Snacks.]

Best Plant-Based Diets

1. Mediterranean

2. Flexitarian

More from U.S. News

Favorite Keto Recipes From America’s Test Kitchen

Favorite Mediterranean Diet Recipes From America’s Test Kitchen

Mediterranean Diet Snacks

What Is the “Best Diet” for You? originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 01/04/21: This is an updated version of a previously published story.

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