These Are the Best Diets of 2022, Says U.S. News & World Report

The GAPS and Dukan diets landed at the bottom of the annual list. How did your diet fare?

Medically reviewed in July 2022

With the arrival of the new year, Americans in large numbers are gearing up to take better care of themselves. For many that means adopting some sort of diet.

To kick things off, U.S. News & World Report has released the Best Diets 2022 rankings, its 12th annual assessment of popular diet plans. In compiling this year’s list of 40 diets, U.S. News editors and reporters scoured medical journals, government reports, and other health resources. Researchers created profiles for each diet that include whether or not it helps to achieve a specific goal, if there are any risks involved, and what it’s actually like to try the diet.

Next, a panel of nutritionists, researchers, and physicians specializing in diabetes, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, and heart health reviewed the profiles, added their own research, and scored each diet across seven categories, including:

  • How easy it is to follow
  • Short- and long-term weight loss results
  • Nutritional completeness
  • Safety
  • Potential for preventing or controlling diabetes and heart disease

Once again, the popular plant-based Mediterranean Diet ranked highest, taking the top spot as best overall diet. Trailing closely behind is the heart-healthy DASH Diet, tied with the veggie-rich Flexitarian Diet.

The Keto, Modified Keto, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), and Dukan diets came in at the bottom of the rankings, with Dukan and GAPS tying for last. The reasons?

First, these diets are very restrictive. Moreover, the Dukan Diet—which involves strict rules and multiple phases—has experts concerned about its nutritional completeness, its long-term healthfulness, and its ability to control diabetes and heart disease. Similarly, judges were not convinced that the GAPS diet—which involves eliminating a variety of foods in an effort to detoxify the body, improve gut health, and improve brain function—has sufficient evidence to support its claims.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, consume less meat, or simply eat cleaner, here’s a breakdown of this year’s diets and how they stack up against one another.

A closer look at the top 3
For the fifth year in a row, the Mediterranean Diet ranks at the top of the list. A mounting pile of evidence suggests this heart-healthy diet can help you shed unwanted pounds, boost brain health, and help protect against diabetes and certain types of cancer. A Mediterranean Diet focuses on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, and olive oil. Seafood is encouraged at least twice a week, and eggs and poultry may be consumed occasionally, in moderation. An occasional glass of red wine is fine, but added sugars, red meat and other sources of saturated fats are limited.

Coming in second overall is the DASH Diet, the heart-friendly eating plan that aims to lower blood pressure, raise levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol), lower (LDL) “bad” cholesterol, and help you control your blood sugar. The DASH Diet also emphasizes whole grains and fruits and vegetables, but unlike the Mediterranean Diet, it outlines specific servings of each food group. Foods high in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and lean proteins are encouraged. The diet also suggests limiting foods that can hurt your heart, like salt, sweets, and red meat.

The mostly plant-based Flexitarian Diet is tied for second place. Rather than eliminating meat altogether, the goal of being “flexitarian” is to pack your plate with whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, and nuts. It's a diet that’s been proven to help people lose weight and lower their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. While the occasional serving of meat is fine, sticking to mostly plant-based foods is ideal. U.S. News ranked the Flexitarian Diet above a vegetarian diet largely because it’s easier to stick to.

Other best diets by category
In addition to the best diets overall, U.S. News also ranked the best diets for several different categories. These included certain health conditions as well as particular goals, like weight loss. Here’s a breakdown of the top picks for some of the most popular categories.

Best diet programs: Well-known diets like WW (Weight Watchers) are popular because they are convenient and often offer prepared foods, supplements, or coaching support. Experts ranked 15 structured programs that involve a participation fee or promotion of the company’s product.

1. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)
1. WW (Weight Watchers) Diet (tie)
3. Jenny Craig Diet
4. Noom

Best weight-loss diets: Some diets aim to help you drop pounds fast, while others help you shed weight slowly and steadily. Experts took both short- and long-term weight loss ratings into consideration when they created this overall list.

1. The Flexitarian Diet (tie)
1. Volumetrics Diet (tie)
1. WW (Weight Watchers) Diet (tie)
4. Vegan Diet

Easiest diets to follow: You’re probably more likely to stick to a diet if it’s fairly easy to follow. Experts rated these diets on taste, restrictiveness, and overall satisfaction.

1. Mediterranean Diet
2. The Flexitarian Diet
3. The Fertility Diet (tie)
3. MIND Diet (tie)
3. WW (Weight Watchers) Diet (tie)

Best diets for diabetes: A healthy diet is one of the best ways to help control diabetes; these diets were rated based on their ability to prevent and manage the condition.

1. Mediterranean Diet
2. The Flexitarian Diet (tie)
2. Vegan Diet (tie)
4. Mayo Clinic Diet

Best heart-healthy diets: Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. These diets aim to help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure.

1. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
1. Ornish Diet (tie)
3. DASH Diet
4. The Flexitarian Diet (tie)
4. TLC Diet (tie)
4. Vegan Diet (tie)

Best plant-based diets: Plant-based diets are gaining popularity—and for good reason. They are heart-healthy, can help you lose weight, and may also benefit the environment. These diets emphasize minimally processed plant foods.

1. Mediterranean Diet
2. The Flexitarian Diet
3. Vegetarian Diet
4. Nordic Diet (tie)
4. Ornish Diet (tie)

Before you start a new diet, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider. Your current weight, medical conditions, and lifestyle habits all play a role in determining what’s best for you. Read more about U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of all 40 diets.

Article sources open article sources

U.S. News & World Report. “Best Diets Rankings.” January 2022.

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