These Are the Best and Worst Diets of 2023, According to U.S. News & World Report

Before you sign up for South Beach or SlimFast or enter the Zone, read this.

Easy Salmon Cakes with Arugula Salad

Ahh, January 1. While there's nothing magical about the flip of the calendar, many of us take it as a cue to reignite our resolve. About four in 10 Americans regularly set resolutions, according to recent estimates, and you can probably guess one of the top five resolutions each year: improved diet. (ICYMI, that healthy eating resolution need not be restrictive! EatingWell dietitians suggest setting resolutions that add more good to your life rather than drastically limiting major elements, such as carbs or sugar.)

Pictured Recipe: Easy Salmon Cakes with Arugula Salad

If you're among those who are hoping to double down on healthy eating and are searching for a new way to dine, listen up: The best and worst diets of the year have just been revealed. Each January, U.S. News & World Report releases their list of the best diets, which are ranked by medical experts in several categories, such as best overall diet, best for heart health and best for weight loss. Now in its 13th year, a panel of dietitians, doctors and epidemiologists helped the U.S. News & World Report review and score 24 diets to help people make more informed choices about what's worthy of a spot on their plates—and worth their money.

With inflation shifting food prices to historic levels in some categories, the judges added financial factors into the overall consideration for the best diet of 2023. A couple more new-for-the-new-year features:

  • In addition to the previous nine categories, U.S. News & World Report added Best Family-Friendly Diet and Best Diet for Bone and Joint Health to the line-up.
  • The experts now review 24 diets, rather than the previous 40. The U.S. News & World Report eliminated diets that fit in most or all of the other plans (vegetarian, vegan, glycemic index), those that no longer exist or have lost favor (Biggest Loser Diet, HMR) or are generally prescribed to treat a specific health condition (GAPS, AIP).
  • They also placed a greater focus on holistic programs that fit into busy lives, diets that can fit into a wide range of cultural practices and food accessibility options, those that are more eco-friendly and plans that offer community support.

A group of 33 nationally-recognized experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease took a deep dive into each of the 24 diets to answer questions about each diet in the follow areas:

  • Are all food groups included and are nutrient-rich foods promoted?
  • Does the diet require purchasing specialty products, such as branded foods or supplements?
  • Is the pace of weight loss realistic, and once at goal, is there a plan for maintenance?
  • How time-consuming is meal prep?
  • Can the strategy be modified for different cultural, religious or personal preferences?
  • Would it be safe (and possible) for the whole family to follow?
  • Does the plan take into account age and current activity level?
  • How effectively can the diet help prevent or manage chronic diseases?

After answering the questions to firm up their intel about each plan, the panelists rated each diet. The U.S. News & World Report team then translated the collective ratings to a per-diet rating from one star (lowest) to five stars (highest) in all categories.

Before we reveal the best of 2023, don't miss our recaps of previous ratings:

The Best Overall Diet of 2023

Six years running, the Mediterranean diet takes home the trophy as the "Best Diet Overall." Ranked highly for its long-term sustainability (meaning followers could actually stick with it for a lifetime without feeling overly restricted), this eating plan also earned top ranks as the Best Diet for Healthy Eating, the Best Plant-Based Diet and tied for first for the Best Family-Friendly Diet and Best Diet for Bone and Joint Health. (P.S. A Mediterranean diet meal plan is also one of the best diets for the brain to help prevent dementia!)

Want to give it a go? Fuel up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood and healthy fats, and savor a glass of red wine every so often (if you choose to drink alcohol). Limit processed foods and added sugars, sprinkle in some daily activity and social time with loved ones.

In a tie for the second-best diet of 2022, you'll find the blood pressure-lowering DASH diet and the mostly plant-based Flexitarian diet (the "meat on the side" plan). Coming in at fourth is the cognitive health-supporting MIND diet. At fifth, you'll find the TLC diet (which stands for "Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes"), a diet created by the National Institute of Health's National Cholesterol Education Program.

The following diets also improved from last year's 2022 rankings across several diet categories:

The Worst Diets of 2023, According to Experts

Due to their lack of flexibility, overly-restrictive nature and the possible nutritional imbalances that may result from following these programs, the worst diets of the year include the Raw Food Diet, the keto diet, Atkins, OPTAVIA and SlimFast.

Most or all of these plans restrict at least one healthy food group and are less of a "lifestyle" plan and more of a short-term, lose-LBs-quick diet—which can lead to a rollercoaster on the scale. Researchers estimate that about 80% to 95% of those who lose weight on restrictive plans gain all of it back; sometimes more. Studies have linked "yo-yo dieting" or "weight cycling" to increased cancer risk and worse heart health outcomes compared to simply maintaining a consistent weight. (Although keto wins gold in the Best Fast Weight-Loss Diet category, this is likely why it is a low performer overall.)

All of the Best Diet Winners

  • Best Overall Diet: Mediterranean diet
  • Best Diet Program: WeightWatchers diet
  • Best Weight-Loss Diet: WeightWatchers diet
  • Best Fast Weight-Loss Diet: Keto diet
  • Best Diet for Healthy Eating: Mediterranean diet
  • Easiest Diet to Follow: Flexitarian diet and TLC diet (tie)
  • Best Diet for Diabetes: DASH diet
  • Best Heart-Healthy Diet: DASH diet
  • Best Plant-Based Diet: Mediterranean diet
  • Best Family-Friendly Diet: Flexitarian diet, Mediterranean diet and TLC diet (tie)
  • Best Diet for Bone and Joint Health: Mediterranean diet and DASH diet (tie)

So, Which Diet Should You Follow?

Regardless of the category or your desired end goal—better heart health, lower diabetes risk, stronger bones, weight loss—the best diets of 2023 have a few things in common:

While the Mediterranean diet was selected as the MVP again this year, you need not stick to every principle to score some big health and longevity benefits. Sneaking an extra serving of antioxidant-rich fruit at lunch or swapping a portion of heart-healthy fish for deli meat at dinner need not be part of any specific "diet"—they're just a smart (and tasty!) lifestyle tweaks.

The best diet for you, according to our on-staff dietitians, is one that includes all of your favorite foods in moderation—and yes, that can definitely include chocolate and cheese.

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