10 Popular Diets Ranked According To Healthiness

A new report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association ranks ten diets according to nutritional quality and potential effects on heart health. The best of the ten is the Ornish diet, while the least healthy is the Atkins plan. Dieters, begin fighting.

While all of the diets emphasize fruits, veggies, and fiber, the Atkins lost points “because of its more liberal attitude toward red meat, saturated fat and trans fats.”

The study used the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), which has a maximum score of 70, and is determined by averaging each diet’s individual score for the evening gown, swimsuit, and personal interview sections of the study. Below are the diets along with their scores:

  • Ornish (score 64.6)
  • Weight Watchers high-carbohydrate (score 57.4)
  • New Glucose Revolution (score 57.2)
  • South Beach/Phase 2 (score 50.7)
  • Zone (score 49.8)
  • 2005 Food Guide Pyramid (score 48.7)
  • Weight Watchers high-protein (score 47.3)
  • Atkins/100-g carbohydrate (score 46)
  • South Beach/Phase 3 (score 45.6)
  • Atkins/45-g carbohydrate (score 42.3).
  • “Dietary quality of popular diets varies: study” [Reuters]
    abstract of published study [ADA Journal – registration required]


    Edit Your Comment

    1. wring says:

      gotta love the pic of some swedish twink biting on a sausage :))

    2. rmz says:

      I’m a fan of the “eat less hamburgers, eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise more” diet, myself.

    3. rmz says:

      @rmz: But then I guess you can’t trademark such a thing and package it for infomercials, so it’s doomed.

    4. emona says:

      @rmz: That sounds a lot like my “plenty of water, green tea, veggies, fruits and bacon” diet. All my friends look perplexed when I tell them eating well with occasional treat is how I maintain my body, no labels required.

    5. edogat says:

      What a joke. If you’re interested in the subject of weight loss, heart disease prevention, healthy diets, exercise and more then I urge you to read Gary Taubes new book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” for an in depth discussion of the scientific research involved. You’ll probably be surprised.

    6. Televiper says:

      Atkins diet really just proved that people have no clue what-so-ever about what’s healthy for them, and what’s not. So annoying to have a nice plate of pasta with black beans, garlic, broccoli, and peppers and someone comments on “all those carbs in there.”

    7. TheName says:

      @edogat: Man I wish I wasn’t the only one who balks at the “everything you have ever been told was completely wrong and you’re stupid for believing it you stupid idiot” sector of the market.

      But I’m sure this one’s different, right? Take that veg-swilling exercise freaks!

    8. Save lives, be healthy, go Vegan!

    9. jeblis says:

      Kill plants, be an anorexic insufferable twit, go Vegan!

      I’d recommend the Abs Diet over all of those.

    10. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

      @TheName: So much hate for the Atkins. I was a fat porker and did Atkins for a year and a half and lost over 100 pounds (107 to be exact). I kept it off and turns out it was only 2 weeks of carb-fasting.

      It saved my life.

    11. CumaeanSibyl says:

      I’m grateful for the high-protein diets because at least they’ve done away with the myth that every last gram of fat must be stripped from your diet even if you have no heart issues whatsoever. Some fats are good for you — necessary, in fact, for proper function. The diet philosophy that told us to replace a natural dairy product with congealed vegetable oil needed to go.

    12. wezelboy says:

      You can lose weight with a drug habit also.

      Just sayin’

    13. Dustin says:

      I, too, would recommend the Abs Diet. It’s common sense and not too hardcore (read: easy to follow and not fall off the wagon). I lost 60 pounds using the advice in the Abs Diet and have been a huge proponent since.

    14. Amy Alkon says:

      I have an advance copy of investigative science journalist Gary Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories, which separates the science of healthy eating from the “science.”

      The above list is based on the “science.”

      Read Taubes book and you’ll see what a bill of goods we’ve all been sold about the supposed health benefits of low-fat food.

    15. Falconfire says:

      @Televiper: The problem with Atkins wasnt the diet, its actually quite a sound diet if you follow it, its the fuckups who sell it.

      Atkins when done right simply limits gets rid of the bad carbs (your white bread possessed crap that the government keeps trying to say is good for you… guess what ITS NOT) limits the good carbs so you dont go overboard (yet its still well more than aa good 70% of the population eat) but gives you more protein which we dont get enough of in our diets.

      You should be eating almost a gram a protein per pound, yet most people eat a 1/4th that.

      Oh and here is a shocking thing for you… fat is GOOD. your diet should have a good 20% of fat in it. Why? because fat is the more easily burned energy in your body, with protein second and carbs dead last. People have been sold on this idea that fat on food is what makes fat on people… its NOT and never has been ever. Its the copious amounts of bad carbs in everything we eat.

      Now Atkins gets it wrong in some areas as well. I think you can up the intake of good carbs personally, but its hardly bunk and your doing a disservice by pretending to actually know the mechanics of the diet through watching those fat asses who think they are on it.

    16. Boberto says:

      Here’s why Atkins works;

      If you break food into two groups, it either comes from the ground or walks on the ground (generally).

      The food that comes from the ground are carbs. Mankind ate these in abundance during growing/harvesting seasons, and our bodies evolved as such, by burning stores of fat for the long lean winter months when we would switch our diets to food that walks on the ground.

      Evolution has not caught up to the fact that we can get fresh produce shipped to us in from the southern hemisphere during the Winter months. As well as the many other non-stop sources of carbs.

    17. FREAKHEAD says:

      just get someone to stalk you so that you run from place to place.

    18. Thain says:

      The Atkins diet is very healthy as long as it is done right. The problem is that 95% of the dieters using it are not willing to follow such a strict diet. Most diets are forgiving if you “fall off the wagon.” Atkins is not. Plain and simple. If you cheat on the Atkins diet, you will end up doing your body far more harm than good (and you won’t lose any weight, either).

      Given the self-control exhibited by the average American, the Atkins diet IS unhealthy.

      If you want a pure health diet, though, the Gerson therapy is healthier than anything else out there.

    19. @Falconfire: “because fat is the more easily burned energy in your body, with protein second and carbs dead last.”

      Um, no. Glucose is the most easily-burned energy in your body. Actually, it’s basically the ONLY burned energy in your body. It’s a carb. Your brain can’t use anything BUT glucose and boy does it use a lot of it. Fat has to be broken down into glucose before it can be used as energy. Fat can be STORED as fat, or its components can be USED as fat (for cell wall construction, say), but it has to be BURNED as glucose.

      You might be confused because fat is the richest source of energy, at 9 kcal per gram vs. 4 kcal per gram for carbs and protein. (Alcohol comes in at 7.)

    20. suburbancowboy says:

      I would highly recommend the Pritikin diet. Pritikin was a long time critic of the Atkins diet, and his diet is pretty much the opposite of Atkins.

      Just because you lose weight from a diet, doesn’t mean it is good for you. Sure you can lose weight from Atkins. You can also lose weight by amputating your limbs, or going through chemotherapy.

    21. Gopher bond says:

      I eat whatever I want in moderation and exercise regularly. Call me crazy but it seems to work.

    22. TheName says:

      @testicles: Score one for the good guys!

    23. forever_knight says:

      @Applekid: I believe the correct terminology isn’t “fat porker” but “big fatty” for adults or “fatty fatty fat fat” for children.

    24. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:


      You can also lose weight by amputating your limbs, or going through chemotherapy.

      In my experience, the easiest way to lose weight is a haircut. Relatively painless, too. They don’t take BCBS, though.

    25. TheName says:

      Why not some more? Like this

      C’mon, I’m hoping we can hear one more “Read Taubes [sic] book” shill?

    26. Bryan Price says:

      Yeah, diabetics can eat all their calories in carbohydrates. NOT! My CDE was pretty specific in doing anything with Weight Watchers, diet or products, due to the heavy carb count.

      Diet wars are like peeing in the wind. You are always going to find some “science” to prove whatever.

    27. peggynature says:

      Anything that restricts your variety of food choices is suspect. Nutrition is a newish science. Your best bet is to hedge your bets by spreading out your risk. Don’t eat too much of one type of food or not enough of another. That is, eat as wide a variety of foods as possible.

      Also, for the love of Pete, eat food that you like. Stop being such insufferable, moralist snobs about nutrition. You’re all going to die anyway.

      Did you know that dead people can lose weight without exercising? It’s true! Nothing Tastes as Good as Rigor Mortis Feels.
      I am an asshole.