From keto to paleo to Whole30, there are plenty of promising diets to embark on when you’re trying to finally shed the spare tire. Except, with so many options, how do you know which eating plan will yield the most desirable results? To answer this gripping question, U.S. News & World Report evaluated 40 of the most popular diets out there and determined the best one—or two. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet tied in first place.
The Mediterranean Diet
You may be familiar with the Mediterranean diet or have tried it at some point in time to lose weight. The eating pattern prioritizes vegetables, fruits, as well as healthy fats (think nuts and fish), and quality carbs such as legumes and whole grains. There aren’t any strict calorie counting rules and hunger-inducing exclusions of certain food groups — you just have to limit red meat and avoid processed foods and added sugars. And the benefits go beyond weight loss: It can protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive decline. But if your imminent concern is cinching your waistline, there’s major proof that this easy-to-follow diet is worth giving a go. Another worthy bonus: women can enjoy one daily glass of red wine while men are allowed two.
A 2016 study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal found that people on the Mediterranean versions added the fewest inches to their waistline while another study in the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism discovered that people who adhered to a traditional Mediterranean diet lost 16 pounds while folks who followed a low-carb Mediterranean plan lost 22 pounds over the course of a year.
The DASH Diet
As for the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, it isn’t much different from the Mediterranean lifestyle as it also requires consuming produce, fish, nuts, and whole grains in addition to limiting red meats and sweets. It’s more structured than the Mediterranean diet as it promotes 6–8 small daily servings of grains; 4–5 servings of vegetables or fruits; 6 servings of chicken or fish, nuts, or seeds; and 2–3 servings of fats in addition to limiting sodium. Sounds promising, right? A study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2006 found that adults with borderline or mild high blood pressure lost 9.5 pounds in 18 months.
Both diets emphasize a diverse and balanced meal plan with healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbs while shunning processed eats. Need more direction when it comes to choosing a plan? “If your idea of a wonderful meal is a pile of roasted vegetables and grilled chicken on brown rice, the DASH diet may be the plan for you. On the other hand, if you’d rather fill a plate with hummus, tabouli salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives and enjoy it with a glass of wine, you might find the Mediterranean diet easier to stick with,” Harvard Medical School suggests. Whether you choose to follow the stricter portion control aspect of the DASH diet or embrace the Mediterranean diet’s inclusion of vino, couple your new eating plan with our 35 Instant Weight Loss Secrets and you’ll be on your way to a rocking beach bod in no time.