U.S. News & World Report has revealed the top diets of 2018 and the DASH Diet came in first for best overall, with Mediterranean in a close second.
We spoke to three local experts to find out if these top two meal plans are easy, sustainable, and will help you reach your goals.
If you're taking on 2018 with healthier habits, U.S. News & World Report suggests you focus on the DASH or Mediterranean diets.
“Food is meant to be enjoyed and you shouldn’t feel bad about the resolutions you’ll be setting," said Big Y registered dietician Andrea Luttrell.
Luttrell said to first focus on your goals as a lifestyle change.
"A diet, people think you just have to start it, but it’s hard to maintain and people fall off and feel like it's a failure, so we like to focus on making simple changes to everyday that are realistic to you," Luttrell explained
The dietary approach to stop hypertension, or DASH Diet, is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, and low or non-fat dairy with moderate amounts of meat, fish, or poultry.
Big Y registered dietician Carrie Taylor told Western Mass News this eating plan helps minimize the impact of sodium on blood pressure.
“It’s rich in potassium, which counteracts sodium in our cells, and it's low in sodium, so it's a one-two punch. Focusing on vegetables that aren’t dolled up with sauces and salt, but teaching you the base of your meal is extremely colorful and to do that you’ll push foods off your plate that you may normally have,” Taylor said.
As for weight loss, Ashley Brodeur, exercise physiologist and personal trainer, said it helps to structure your eating.
“...And having something to focus on, then I think that’ll be a good route to help restructure and get restarted on your eating lifestyle and making better choices,” Brodeur said.
Coming in at second best, similar to DASH, is the Mediterranean diet.
“If you’re looking at a plate of a Mediterranean, it's going to be a lot of color. You’re looking at fruits, vegetables, whole grains, so maybe something like quinoa, brown rice, really incorporating nutrient-rich foods,” Luttrell said.
The biggest difference between the two is the fat, depending on which version you look at. The Med-diet has benefits exceeding general weight loss.
“You also see things like heart health, diabetes, certain cancer preventions, brain health because of the foods you're eating,” Luttrell said.
The original DASH Diet focuses on lowering high blood pressure. Mediterranean helps to prevent diseases like diabetes and cancer.
However, what if you're just trying to lose weight?
“They didn’t get rated number one for weight loss. They’re number one for overall meal plan and Med for most ease - DASH voted four on that. Easiness and more nutritious is the focus of the meal plans more than quick weight loss,” Taylor said.
All three professionals tell Western Mass News the key is to enjoy your meal plan and don't deprive yourself of what you love.
“I recommend whatever you can sustain long-term. We want to build healthy habits; you want to hit your calorie goals. If you want to lose weight, you want to be in a deficit. If you want to gain muscle you want to be in more of a surplus of calories,” Brodeur said.
Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.