New year, new you trying out a diet that will inevitably fail.

one for the ages

Excuse the cynicism, but according to science, diets just do not work.

Two-thirds of the people who go on a diet will regain the weight they lose, and often add more on as well. Dieting is actually a predictor of future weight gain.

But, there’s a difference between going on a restrictive diet to lose weight, and making healthy, sustainable changes to your diet for health reasons. The former can leave your body deprived of nutrients (and joy!); the latter can vastly improve your life.

If you’re not convinced that extreme and/or restrictive diets are a dumb idea, the freshly-released US News and World Report on 2018’s Best Diets might do the trick. And it’s bad news for Keto diet fiends: the “fat-burning” diet has been ranked dead last.

The report, which ranks trending diets according to their overall impact on health, found that the eating a heck tonne of protein and minimal carbs (which is said to put the dieter into a state of “ketosis”, or fat-burn) was unhealthy in the long term.

The experts were especially concerned about the keto diet’s extremely high fat content – about 70% of daily calorie intake – as well as unusually low carbohydrate levels: only 15 to 20 net carbs a day. People on such diets often deal with fatigue and light-headedness as they adjust to a lack of carbohydrates.

Speaking to CNN, nutritionist Lisa Drayer pointed out that restricting your daily carb intake to 20 net carbs a day (that’s less than one apple) is extreme.

“The keto diet is just not sustainable over the long term. It doesn’t teach you how to acquire healthy eating habits. It’s good for a quick fix, but most people I know can hardly give up pasta and bread, let alone beans and fruit,” she added.

The experts ranked the lesser-known Dukan diet equal last with keto, mainly because of its exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts.

The complicated, four-phase diet involves totally eliminating certain foods (fats and carbs become the devil reincarnate), and consuming all-you-can-amounts of pure protein. Dieters supposedly lose large amounts of weight in these initial stages.

There’s more to it than that, obviously, but considering the diet’s creator Pierre Dukan was sued for fraud and removed from the French medical register for promoting the plan in 2014, we won’t bother elaborating.

The popular, low-carb Whole30 diet was ranked just a smidgen higher than keto and dukan. The experts criticised the 30-day diet’s claims to banish “unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract and balance your immune system.”

The panel described the diet as follows: “No independent research. Nonsensical claims. Extreme. Restrictive,” and tied it with the raw food diet as “the worst of the worst for healthy eating.” Savagé.

But, onwards and upwards to the good stuff.

The well-researched and celebrated Mediterranean diet came out on top in equal first place with the DASH diet.

“What I love about both the DASH and Mediterranean diets is that they offer guiding principles for eating, like eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, fish, legumes, nuts and low-fat dairy foods,” Drayer said.

“I personally love the fact that a daily glass of red wine is encouraged as part of the Mediterranean diet.”

The Dash diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (sexy), involves eating more veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy foods while cutting way back on any food high in saturated fat and limiting salt intake. The meal plan includes three whole-grain products each day, four to six servings of vegetables, four to six servings of fruit, two to four servings of dairy products and several servings each of lean meats and nuts/seeds/legumes. Studies show the diet can reduce blood pressure in weeks.

The Mediterranean diet was also ranked tops for being the easiest to follow, probably because it encourages a bitta wine and everything in moderation.

Moderation, lil’ treats and plenty of water everyday? It’s as simple as that.

Image: Getty Images / Jenna Greenwell / EyeEm