The 8 Best And Effective Diets, According To Experts

Written by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

You enthusiastically started a diet. But within a week, you are back to square one. It’s not you, it’s the diet! Most diets are unsustainable. They are not easy to adhere to and make you feel hungry all the time. Whether you want to lose weight or improve your health, a balanced diet that fills you up and keeps you happy is key to achieve your goals (1), (2).

Thankfully, there are diets that improve your health, control hunger, and keep the tastebuds happy. In this article, we discuss the 8 best diets ranked by nutrition experts. Read on to know what they are, how they work, and which one is best for you. Scroll down!

8 Best Diets Ranked, According To Experts

1. Mediterranean Diet – Best Diet Overall

From aiding weight loss to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, the Mediterranean diet does it all! It is a balanced dietary pattern that includes fatty fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil, and whole grains. Michelle Dudash, an award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, says, “The Mediterranean diet holds the top rank for being easy to follow and delivering proven results for improved heart health and blood sugar management, decreased risk of cancer, and increased longevity (3).”

Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, explains, “The Mediterranean-style diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and heart-healthy fats like nuts and seeds, seafood, olives, and olive oil. Compared to those who eat a Western-style diet, those on a Mediterranean diet consume far more vegetables, whole grains, and seafood.” Researchers found that adults who consistently followed a Mediterranean-style diet were found to have higher levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and bacterial diversity in the gut. This helps improve gut health and control inflammation, cognition, mood, and even anxiety and depression (4), (5).

2. Flexitarian Diet – Best For Weight Loss

Foods that help increase satiety, reduce calorie intake, and keep tastebuds happy are crucial for weight loss. The Flexitarian diet checks all these boxes. It is basically a plant-based diet with occasional consumption of fish, meat, and animal products. Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD, says, “For a flexitarian-style diet that is primarily plant-based but also includes some meat and dairy, there is a low risk for nutrient deficiencies.”

The Flexitarian diet is good for weight loss because it limits the intake of animal products, which contain hormones and antibiotics unless they are farm-raised or wild-caught (6), (7). Following a flexitarian diet also reduces calorie intake. The dietary fiber aids in digestion and helps reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension (8).

3. Plant-Based Diet – Best Diet For Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels shoot up. The body is unable to either make insulin (type 1) and/or use insulin (type 2) (9). Sometimes, moms-to-be may also be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and prediabetes can potentially be reversed through dietary changes. And the best diet to follow is a plant-based diet. Dr. Katie Takayasu, MD, says, “In my view, a healthy plant-forward diet would emphasize vegetables, fruit, healthy plant fats like olive oil, nuts, and seeds, whole grains, yogurt, buttermilk, and plant-based sources of proteins like beans, lentils, whole organic soy, and fermented foods.”

New York-based RD Jenn LaVardera says, “Plant-based diets have been linked with health benefits, including reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (10). Plant foods are nutrient-dense and provide health-promoting nutrients, including fiber and phytochemicals (compounds in plants with antioxidant properties) that you don’t get in animal foods.” Dr. Lynn K Wagner, MD, advises taking vitamin B12, C, D, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc supplements to reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

4. DASH Diet – Best For Heart Health

Excessive sodium intake through salt or salty foods can increase the risk of hypertension and heart disease. To reduce the intake of salt and improve heart health, doctors and researchers formulated the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet (11). Brenda Peralta, RD, says, “The DASH diet is a commonly known diet used to handle patients with high blood pressure. It has a list of foods to avoid and add to your diet. It emphasizes eating less processed foods, more natural foods (fruits, veggies, grains, and nuts), and limiting sodium consumption (1500-2300 mg per day).”

Dr. Kristina Hendija, MD, says, “The diet restricts sodium, sugars, and saturated fats, which are all bad for hypertension, to begin with. Avoiding these can help decrease the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the body. The meal plans can be flexible and easily found in grocery stores. It doesn’t focus on a single food group and is a balanced diet.”

5. Anti-Inflammatory Diet – Best For Reduced Disease

Chronic inflammation is the major cause of various diseases and conditions. Allergies, asthma, obesity, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even depression are linked to chronic inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet, rich in omega-3, helps reduce inflammation and the risk of diseases (12), (13), (14), (15).

Dr. Liia Ramchandra, Pharm.D., Ph.D., recommends consuming celery, bone broth, wild salmon, broccoli, ginger, blueberries, walnuts, pineapple, bok choy, and dark chocolate. Heather Hanks, a nutritionist specializing in autoimmunity and chronic disease management, says, “Typically, an anti-inflammatory diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, organic meat, pasture-raised eggs, and healthy fats, such as olive, avocado, and coconut oils. It’s free from all processed foods, refined sugars, candy, soda, gluten, dairy, soy, and conventionally-raised animal products.”

She adds, “Grains, beans, and legumes tend to be a bit of a gray area. These foods contain a hard-to-digest, inflammatory compound called phytic acid that binds to the wall of the digestive tract, induces inflammation, and prevents the absorption of certain nutrients. For this reason, many people do not consider grains and legumes as suitable foods for an anti-inflammatory diet. However, you can make these foods less inflammatory by soaking them in water overnight before cooking them.”

6. MIND Diet – Best For Brain Health

The MIND diet is a nutritional strategy that delays and prevents neurodegeneration. It is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Prof. Morris and colleagues at the Rush University Medical Center, the creators of this diet, found that it might lower the risk of Alzheimer’s (16), (17).

Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, says, “The MIND diet recommends an increase in berries and leafy green vegetables. It also recommends limiting animal products and foods high in saturated fat.” She adds, “The MIND diet also recommends consuming at least 3 servings of whole grains, a salad, one other vegetable, and a glass of wine each day. Nuts and beans are alternated as snacks. Poultry and berries should be consumed twice a week and fish at least once a week.”

A study states that the MIND diet provides antioxidants like folate, omega fatty acids, vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids. This helps improve memory and learning and slow cognitive decline (18).

7. Vegan Diet – Best Diet For Body & Mind Balance

A vegan diet is a lifestyle followed by avoiding all animal products including dairy and honey. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms that people on a vegan diet have lower cholesterol levels, a healthy weight, and a reduced risk of high blood pressure and heart disease (19). According to Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, “Vegan diets can be beneficial for the mind and the body as they contain vegetables. With good vegetable consumption comes better nutrient intake.”

Vegan diets may improve gut health, which is essential for a healthy body and mind. More research is needed to know the connection between brain health and plant-based diets (20). Also, Jeanette Kimszal warns, “Some downsides to vegan diets: they can lack certain nutrients that are only found in animal foods and depending on what you eat, they could not be that healthy.” She advises taking vitamin B12, omega-3, and calcium supplements after consulting a licensed doctor. She also recommends avoiding unhealthy vegan foods loaded with preservatives, sugar, and additives.

8. High-Protein Diet – Best For Building Lean Muscle

Proteins are the building block of muscles. Whether you want to gain weight or muscle or shed weight, a high-protein diet can help you. Research shows that a high-protein diet increases metabolism and prevents fat storage, facilitating weight loss (21). A high-protein diet is also beneficial for athletes and those who workout regularly to preserve lean muscle. It also aids in faster muscle recovery (22).

Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, recommends consuming protein from plant and animal sources. She says, “Animal proteins include meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. Plant-based protein foods include tempeh and other soy-based proteins, grains like farro, quinoa, and teff, nuts, seeds, and vegetables also contain some proteins.”

However, she cautions that a high intake of branched-chain amino acids can lead to metabolic disease. She says, “This usually occurs when there is a high fat intake along with protein. Animal protein foods may also be high in fat, so looking to plant-based proteins is a good way to keep protein high and fat low.” A high-protein diet that is not balanced with enough vegetables and whole grains also poses risks of kidney disease (23).

These are the 8 best diets that you can choose from. But the real question is, how to know which diet is the best for you? Scroll down to make the right decision.

What Is The Best Diet For You?

You first have to know what your goal is, your food habits, and your medical condition. For example, if you want to lose weight, you may choose either a Mediterranean diet or a Flexitarian diet. Opt for an anti-inflammatory diet to address inflammatory diseases like skin disorders, IBS/IBD, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, etc. Similarly, vegetarians or vegans can go for a plant-based diet. Go for the MIND diet for improving memory and cognition. The DASH diet is ideal to control hypertension. A high-protein diet is a good bet to gain lean muscle mass and lose weight.

Now you know which diet is good overall and which one is best for you. But do you know which diet is not good and should be avoided? Scroll down to make the right decision.

What Is The Worst Diet?

Diets that do not have a balanced approach are considered unhealthy. A crash diet or liquid diet for weight loss is a strict no-no. Liquid diets are only prescribed by doctors and dietitians for people who will or have undergone surgery or are unable to chew and digest the food on their own. Keto is good for people with epilepsy and cancer, but it should not be used for weight loss. It was not created for weight loss, and its long-term effects are not well studied. Avoid a high-carb, high-sugar, and high-salt diet. Living on burgers, pizza, frozen foods, refined flour, white sugar, and trans fats not only causes weight gain but also increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The Verdict

The best diet overall is the Mediterranean diet. It can address all your health problems and boost weight loss. If you want to address a specific health concern, choose from the seven other diets mentioned above. You can also talk to a dietitian for the best advice, depending on your age, medical condition and history, and food habits. Talk to a dietitian and take your first step towards a healthy life!

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071223/
  2. Higher Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet is Related to More Subjective Happiness in Adolescents: The Role of Health-Related Quality of Life
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470946/
  3. Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723598/
  4. Shifts on Gut Microbiota Associated to Mediterranean Diet Adherence and Specific Dietary Intakes on General Adult Population
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5949328/
  5. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/
  6. Risk Assessment of Growth Hormones and Antimicrobial Residues in Meat
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3834504/
  7. Use of antibiotics as feed additives: a burning question
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2014.00334/full
  8. Health benefits of dietary fiber
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/
  9. What is Diabetes?
    https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes
  10. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466941/
  11. DASH Diet To Stop Hypertension
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482514/
  12. Anti-inflammatory Diets
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26400429/
  13. A randomized controlled cross-over trial investigating the effect of anti-inflammatory diet on disease activity and quality of life in rheumatoid arthritis: the Anti-inflammatory Diet In Rheumatoid Arthritis (ADIRA) study protocol
    https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-018-0354-x
  14. Association between dietary inflammatory index (DII) and risk of irritable bowel syndrome: a case-control study
    https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-021-00721-5
  15. An anti-inflammatory diet as a potential intervention for depressive disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30502975/
  16. The MIND Diet Intervention to Prevent Alzheimer\’s Disease
    http://mind-diet-trial.org/meet-the-researchers/
  17. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer\’s disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25681666/
  18. MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4581900/
  19. Health effects of vegan diets
    https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/5/1627S/4596952
  20. The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain: a systematic review
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0552-0#Sec13
  21. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32699189/
  22. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852756/
  23. The Effects of High-Protein Diets on Kidney Health and Longevity
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32669325/
Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.
Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.