Picking the Best Diet for the New Year

It’s January, and polls show that the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Even if you didn’t make a resolution, there’s still a good chance you’re hoping to lose the few pounds you gained during the holidays. Wondering the best way to go about achieving your weight loss goal? US News & World Report recently evaluated 32 popular diets and chose the best based on ease, nutrition, safety, and effectiveness.

The top ten best diets on the list are all safe, smart, and healthy diet plans. Use this report as a guide to pick a plan that will work best with your lifestyle and goals. Better yet, you can call the OHSU Nutrition Clinic for a personalized plan from a registered dietitian.

What’s best for you?

Although they aren’t designed specifically for weight loss, I love the DASH (#1 on the list) and Mediterranean (#3 on the list) diets for their focus on balanced nutrition from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins including seafood, beans, nuts, and low-fat dairy. Most people find that they do lose weight when they follow these plans as they reduce their intake of higher-calorie processed foods. You can find more information on the benefits of a mediterranean diet here.

My favorite weight loss plan is Volumetrics (#6 on the list), which is based on the idea that people tend to eat the same volume of food every day, regardless of how many calories they are consuming. According to this program, by choosing foods that are high-volume yet low-calorie (think foods that are bulky from fiber and water such as fruits, vegetables, and broth-based soups), you can eat much bigger portions than if you choose foods that are more calorie-dense (such as higher-fat foods and sweets).

This means you’ll feel more satisfied and not as deprived or hungry as with other “diets.” No foods are off-limits, but as you learn the Volumetrics principles, you’ll find it easier to make lower-calorie choices that lead to weight loss and still allow you eat a full plate of food at meals.

Want faster results with less work?

Unfortunately, there is still no magic bullet for weight loss (there are also no flying cars – this is not the 2014 I envisioned as a child!). The good news is the FTC is cracking down on false claims made by companies selling weight loss products, which should make it easier to decipher bogus claims. Case in point, the makers of weight loss supplement Sensa just settled for $26.5 million for making false advertising claims that sprinkling their product on food will help reduce hunger. Keep the FTC’s Common Sense Guidelines in mind when considering a weight loss product. If it sounds too good to be true, there’s a very good chance it is!


Tracy Severson is an outpatient clinical dietitian at OHSU. She moved to Portland from Tucson in 2010, and has worked at OHSU since 2011.

Tracy works with the OHSU Surgical Weight Reduction clinic and Cardiac Rehab program, and also provides medical nutrition therapy for General Adult Outpatient Clinics at OHSU.


2 responses to “Picking the Best Diet for the New Year

  1. I couldn’t find a link to the original US News and World Report article, but I’m wondering if the Paleo Diet made the list and what your, or others, thoughts are on this diet?

    1. Hi Tim. Thanks for your comment. I am skeptical of any meal plan or diet that eliminates major food groups, as this will limit a person’s intake of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The Paleo diet eliminates whole grains, legumes, and dairy, which can all be part of a healthy diet. A person can certainly eliminate these foods and still maintain a healthy diet, but it takes a lot more planning to ensure they are meeting all of their nutrient needs. I do like the focus on eliminating processed foods, refined grains, and refined sugar and on increasing intake of vegetables, but this can be done while still including whole grains and legumes which are useful sources of fiber and plant-based protein. The Paleo diet can be high in fat, so there is a great need to choose lean protein sources such as fish and skinless poultry. Anyone choosing to follow this diet should probably take a multivitamin & calcium supplements to help ensure they are meeting their micronutrient needs. – Tracy Severson

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