Examining the bottom three diets


Dear Readers,

Last week, we discussed the U.S. News and World Report rankings of the top 3 diets for overall health, so it seems only balanced to examine the bottom three diets this week. A panel of nutrition experts evaluated the diets based on seven categories: how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, its nutritional completeness, its safety, and its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease (1).

The Dukan Diet ranked #28 of 30 diets reviewed. This diet was created by French physician Dr. Pierre Dukan. Its premise is that protein helps people lose weight, so the menu is heavy on meat with non-starchy vegetables. It promises fast weight loss initially, and once you’ve reached your goal, you slowly add bread, cheese, and fruit back to your meal plan. The Dukan Diet is a bit complex and challenging to maintain in the long run.

Herbalife is a meal replacement plan that ranked #29. This diet offers a Herbalife shake at breakfast and lunch, then a sensible, healthy dinner. Protein snacks are included, and vitamin supplements are part of the package. Herbalife will reduce calories for weight loss but is not a reasonable long-term solution for healthy nutrition.

The Raw Food Diet ranked #30 out of 30 diets reviewed. This diet stems from the erroneous belief that cooking destroys the nutrients in food. Most followers do not eat 100% raw food on this diet. Most will consume 75-80% of their calories from uncooked food. Some eat raw fish, sashimi, and cheese made from raw (unpasteurized) milk.

While consuming more fruits and vegetables is healthy, the Raw Food Diet often lacks adequate protein and calories. Furthermore, drinking milk that hasn’t been pasteurized poses a threat of foodborne illness.

When it comes to healthy nutrition, choose a diet that contains high-fiber foods, such as whole wheat bread, bran cereal, fruits, and vegetables. Choose lean meats and unsaturated fats, like olive and canola oil. Apply the 90/10 rule: eat healthy 90% of the time and eat whatever you want (within reason) 10% of the time.

As always, be healthy!

Dear Dietitian


1. U.S. news best diets: how we rated eating plans and diets (2024, January 1). Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall

Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, is an award-winning dietitian based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mission is to educate consumers on sound, scientifically-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at [email protected]. Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.

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