'U.S. News and World Report' Reveals the Best Diets of 2012

Did your New Year's diet make the cut?

It’s day five of 2012. How’s that new diet working out for you? Even though we’re barely a week into the New Year, some of us who’ve decided to lose weight as our New Year’s resolution may want to rethink our fat-blasting strategy.

U.S. News and World Report just released its Best Diets list -- an annual ranking of which weight-loss methods will help dieters shed pounds most easily. They analyzed 25 diets, ranging from the latest crazes, like Kate Middleton’s wedding slim-down choice, the Dukan Diet, to the government-endorsed, heart-healthy DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

As you might have been able to guess, few of the trendy new diets, like the Paleo Diet, in which people eat like cavemen, won any awards. Instead, experts gave points for sensible, healthy eating approaches that people could maintain long-term. Because as nice as it is to see results lickety-split, diets work best when dieters can actually stick with them. Imagine that! (Get tips for sticking with your weight loss plan here.) And if you find a diet that you want to be your life-long way of eating, well, that ups your odds of not regaining all your weight -- plus some! -- when the dieting phase is over.

So, without further adieu, here’s how the best diets scored.

Best overall diet: Winner, DASH Diet. Runner-up, TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyles Changes Diet).
Best diet for weight loss: Winner, Weight Watchers. Tied for runner-up, Biggest Loser, Jenny Craig and Raw Food Diet.
Best diabetes diet: Tied for first place, Biggest Loser and DASH Diet.
Best heart-healthy diet: Winner, Ornish Diet. Runner-up, TLC Diet.
Best diet for healthy eating: Winner, DASH Diet. Runner-up, TLC Diet.
Easiest diet to follow: Winner, Weight Watchers. Runner-up, Jenny Craig.
Best commercial diet plan: Winner, Weight Watchers. Runner-up, Jenny Craig.

The only diet within these top contenders that I’ve tried is Weight Watchers. Back when my weight used to fluctuate year to year, I would turn to my well-thumbed copy of the Weight Watchers points book, and diligently plan out my day’s meals. I loved that if I splurged on McDonald’s one day, I could make up for it by eating salads and sushi the next.

The idea of eating pre-packaged, processed everything held zero appeal for me, and yet, both U.S. News and Consumer Reports rank Jenny Craig as one of the best commercial diet plans. If a life-long meal plan is the way to a slimmer future, I always wondered how people would fare once they started making their own dishes.

But the diet that’s really making me scratch my head for its top spot is the Raw Food Diet. I can’t think of a more restrictive diet that would make me want to cheat by day two. I love vegetables, but the idea of chomping on shredded broccoli and kale all day is already making my stomach rumble. Actress Amanda Seyfried subscribed to the diet for a while, eating spinach and seeds for lunch. It’s probably not a shock that she described the diet as “intense and kind of awful.”

Which I guess just goes to show that even the so-called top-ranked diets aren’t for everybody. If you already hate the diet you started on January 1st, quit while you’re ahead and find one that makes you happy. Okay, perhaps happy is a strong word where dieting is concerned. Let’s just aim for relatively satisfied and not about to chew someone’s head off because you're hungry and cranky.

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