Is there such a thing as the

Is there such a thing as the 'best' diet? The answer is yes - and it's here

Asad Ali @asadali1989

Rankings

  • US News & World Report just released the best diets for you to follow in 2016
  • Choose from a wide range of diets depending on goal: weight loss, heart health, diabetes control

More in the story

  • DASH wins overall best diet category followed by MIND and TLC
  • Understand what each acronym means, and what you'll need to do to follow it

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

If Orson Welles's doctor had lived today, he would've been able to give far better, and less sardonic, dietary advice to Welles than this. Or Welles could simply have gone online and checked the US News & World Report's rankings of 2016's best diets.

No matter what your trigger for a change in diet - from weight loss to diabetes management - they've got a top-ranked one for you to try, across 9 categories.

Best diets_EMBED

The company first set up a comprehensive panel of health experts for the project, including nutritionists and cardiac and diabetes physicians. The panel scored every diet on a number of parameters such as short- and long-term weight loss, ease of following and safety to health.

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Scores were then awarded on a scale of one to five, with one being least effective and five for the most effective.

The overall winner? The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was a clear winner in the best diet overall category followed by the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) and TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet.

The DASH diet's primary objective is to prevent and decrease high blood pressure or hypertension. But DASH makes the process really simple and you don't need to be a trained nutritionist to figure it out. Just stick to the conventional definition of healthy food: fruit, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Say no to high calorie sweets and red meat, and reduce salt. That's pretty much it. Need a sample recipe? Here you go.

The MIND diet's aim, on the other hand is to "prevent Alzheimer's disease with brain-healthy foods." It suggests 'brain healthy' food groups - from leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains to fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. And there are five 'unhealthy groups' to avoid - red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food. However, with MIND there's no daily calorie cap you need to follow. Instead, it's about maintaining a healthy body weight. Check out the sample menu here.

TLC, which sounds like something we could all use, is for those looking to cut cholesterol down to size. In fact proponents of this diet claim that it can reduce bad LDL cholesterol by 8-10% in six weeks. How? The devil is in the saturated fats, which TLC looks to cut down. So fatty meat, whole milk-dairy, fried food and the like all need to go (but the word diet should have told you that anyway). Fibre-rich food is your goal. Take a look at a one-day, 1,800-calorie menu according to the TLC Diet.

DASH, incidentally, turns out to be a great multitasker - it's among the top choices for controlling diabetes as well. The one that leads that category, though, is the oddly-named Fertility Diet, whose core aim is to "boost ovulation and improve fertility." How does a fertility diet plan top the Best Diabetes diet category? No apparent correlation could be found but the outcome was indisputable.

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DASH and TLC both feature again in "best heart healthy diets" - but at the top of this list is what's called the Ornish diet which, the US News & World Report website says, is "scientifically proven to make you 'feel better, live longer, lose weight and gain health.'"

Let's talk weight

Say the word diet and weight loss is naturally a top outcome most people expect. The list has not one but two weight-loss diet categories. The first, a regular weight loss category and the second, the subtly-differentiated 'fast weight-loss category'.

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Weight Watchers leads the former and the cleverly-named Biggest Loser Diet leads the latter. While Weight Watchers is straightforward with its claim - you'll drop up to 2 pounds weekly - the Biggest Loser Diet is a bit more 'conventional' with its objective: Weight loss, disease prevention or reversal.

What's the diet for you? The US News and World Report clearly has the answer, if you're clear about your goal. It's a comprehensive, well-researched report. And to make the dietary and nutritional jargon clearer, the site has also shared a pretty comprehensive list of recipes to accompany almost every diet plan it suggests. Check out the full report here to see which diet you think is best for you.

Back to the big question: do diets work?

There's an army of people opposed to the idea of dieting (proper academics and fitness professionals, not just hungry people) who contend that dieting doesn't work most of the time.

Just ask Tracy Mann. She's been teaching psychology at the University of Minnesota and has been studying the concept of diets for about two decades now. In an interview with the Washington Post, Mann very logically refutes the claims that diets are necessary for a healthier body.

Some of these top-ranked diets, though, may provide a healthy alternative: the highest-ranked ones are all more lifestyle change than eating plan.

And that has always been the real challenge of diets: the information may come from pros, but the effort is all yours.

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Asad Ali

Asad Ali @asadali1989