Recently a friend showed me the annual ranking by U.S. News and World Report of what they consider the “Best Diets” in America. Taking a quick glance at their rankings, I knew that something wasn’t right. Why are they promoting diets that rely almost solely on unhealthy processed food full of additives linked to cancer and heart disease? Why did they rank diets that advocate for giving up processed food in favor of fresh, whole foods AS THE WORST on their lists? They’ve gotta be kidding, right?!?
Who is benefiting from rankings like this? Will this help Americans become less obese? Will this make us healthier? I’d argue that many of the “diets” in America are outrageously unhealthy and diet rankings like this are seriously misleading people about what it means to eat healthy.
Just take a look at what you’d be eating on some of these popular diets…
This diet relies almost 100% on processed food. With a diet like this, you are sure to be eating insane amounts of preservatives and added sugar, which are both linked to major health risks. Jenny Craig uses some of the worst additives in their food, like carrageenan (linked to cancer and intestinal inflammation), cellulose (linked to inflammation and weight gain), and the artificial sweetener sucralose (linked to leukemia and weight gain). How could anyone call this diet healthy?
This diet isn’t supposed to rely on processed foods, but Weight Watchers sells a huge line of majorly processed foods and officially endorses processed food brands like Jolly Time Popcorn and Progresso Light Soups. You’ve probably seen the new commercials that chant “Bring on the food!” while they talk about how NOTHING is off limits on Weight Watchers…. bacon, pizza, chips… “You can have whatever you want”. So, it sure sounds like they are advocating for the continued use of processed junk food full of additives, instead of creating healthier habits that will teach your body to crave fruits and vegetables instead. Some of the recipes on their website call for processed foods like reduced fat vanilla wafers and even chocolate cake mix! Say Whaaaah?
It blows my mind that this is considered an acceptable diet by ANYONE. On this diet you essentially drink chemical-filled processed drinks for two of your meals, along with three of their processed snacks every day – and then you get just one homemade meal per day. You’ll basically be gulping down tons of artificially thickened sugary drinks every day. Gross.
On this diet you eat five of their “100 calorie” products every single day and then one home cooked meal. So, the majority of the time you are eating food full of heavily processed proteins, excitotoxins, artificial thickeners and sweeteners, synthetic vitamins and amino acids (instead of naturally-occurring ones). This is nowhere near real food! Medifast products are LOADED with hidden MSG additives like textured proteins, sodium caseinate, yeast extract.
On this diet you’ll be eating boxed up and processed Nutrisystem food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – all filled with of dozens of chemical additives (some of which are addicting) blended together with the “correct” ratios of protein, carbs and fats, with some synthetic vitamins and fiber mixed in to make them look healthy on the “Nutrition Facts” label. Unfortunately, the “Nutrition Facts” label doesn’t tell the real story, and you’ll get a whole lot more than you bargained for when you choose to eat fake food like this.
Most diets put ZERO focus on the quality of the food itself and no emphasis on whether the food is unprocessed or free of chemical additives.
For instance – on the Mayo Clinic Diet, you can spread your toast with a “margarine-like spread” full of chemicals. On the DASH Diet you can start your day with a bowl of Shredded Wheat preserved with BHT or “light” yogurt sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. On the TLC Diet you can snack on low-fat microwave popcorn with TBHQ. On the Biggest Loser Diet, you can make a sandwich with processed deli meat and sprinkle your plate with fat-free cheese coated in cellulose. On the Volumetrics Diet, you can eat sugar-free pudding every day for dessert. This is not real food!
More than 80 million of us are dieting, yet without a lot of success. What is it about diets that don’t work?
Any diet book will tell you to eat right and exercise, but what does that really mean? I’ve seen people “eat right” by eating unlimited amounts of red meat and fat, and I’ve seen people “work out” daily for more than four hours, exhausting their body and pushing themselves too far.
I decided to search for some answers. My search was inspired not by any diet book, but rather by an eye-opening article, “Science Compared Every Diet, and the Real Winner is Real Food.” The article summarized an independent study, published in Annual Reviews in 2014, that reviewed every major diet and concluded that, “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with healthy promotion and disease prevention.”
I was pumped by reading this! It supported and validated what I had been doing and preaching for years: a natural, whole food, and predominately plant-based diet is the secret to staying in shape, feeling vital, and being healthy. Other diets just don’t cut it, and one reason is that they induce you to eat a lot of chemical calories and lock you into habits that kill your ability to maintain your weight. The old motto, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”, is so true! There is no doubt about it – you feel horrible when you feed your body fast and processed food.
The way to create lasting change in your body is to eat food as close to nature as possible – the least amount of processed food, the better!!! After I began eating this way, I have never had to diet again, despite the challenging environment we live in with an abundance of tricky marketing and addictive food additives.
We can’t control what they are doing to our food, but we can control what we put in our mouths every day.
I’ve learned that the only way to feel great is to stop outsourcing my food to corporations and spend more time preparing meals at home. When I began cooking and eating whole foods, my health soared as a result – and now I never look back.
After I spent years juggling meal planning, food shopping and cooking, I consulted with a nutritionist and worked with my team to create an Food Babe Meal Plans for Health program – not only for myself, but for all of you. This is more than a meal planning service, it will keep you on track, and help you develop HEALTHY HABITS so you can finally shed unwanted pounds or have an easier time maintaining the healthy lifestyle you may have already built. This program makes eating healthy food and losing weight practically mindless (and delicious)!
If you want my team and I to personally help you with your goals, this is the program for you!
When you sign up, you’ll get recipes for new Food Babe meals every month (easy to make green drinks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners), a meal schedule, and a shopping list. These are brand new recipes that the Food Babe Team cooks up every month just for you that are absolutely delicious! You will actually LOVE the food you are eating, which makes creating new habits so easy.
You’ll also get my Starter Guide full of budget tips, diet strategies, and a list of the “Terrible 20” ingredients that keep you from losing weight, where to spot them, and what to eat instead. You can download these guides and recipes to your computer and keep them forever. Dozens of pages of knowledge at your fingertips INSTANTLY.
See everything that comes with the program here.
You’ll gain control your eating habits, while this program shows you how to eat wisely and well. As you continue eating this way, which will quickly become second nature, you’ll naturally start losing weight and keeping it off. You won’t have to count anything or obsess over calories or carbs, either. You just have to read labels, change some food-buying and food-prep practices, and enjoy food the way it was meant to be – natural and whole.
The only reason I’ve been able to maintain my ideal weight for over 10 years now and feel amazing is because of my habits, food choices, and routine, which is outlined in this program. If you haven’t already heard my personal story about what happened when I started eating this way and how much my health improved, read my story and see my before/after photo here. When I took a hard look at what I was really eating and changed my eating habits and food choices, things dramatically shifted in my life. I went from someone overweight and sick to a new being of vibrant health, and I want everyone to feel this way.
I have helped thousands of people develop new eating habits, lose weight, and feel their best. You can read a few of their stories here, here, and here. YOU can do this too and I can’t wait to hear your success story.
Share this post with a friend or family member who you can team up with. It’s always easier to develop new eating habits and tackle obstacles when you work together.
I hope you get on board!
42 responses to “The Worst Diets To Follow”
So bad it’s actually funny.
“instead of creating healthier habits that will teach your body to crave fruits and vegetables instead” well said!
You are so wrong about Weight Watchers. You don’t have to eat their food. I eat only whole food and mostly organic. They actually encourage eating that way. They provide supplemental food for those people who need the crutch.
Weight Watchers has made a huge difference in getting me to eat well as a habit. I have lost 20 pounds because of the support and consistency of the program.
Roxanne, I agree about Weight Watchers. I lost 53 pounds on WW in 2016. They’ve made sugar super-high in points, discouraging people from eating sugary, processed food. And fresh fruits and veggies are ZERO points, encouraging us to eat those instead of processed stuff. I don’t buy their WW branded products. WW teaches you to eat real food, and you choose your own food, unlike programs that supply all the food for you, and don’t teach you to eat in the “real world”.
Completely agree. Now on Weight Watchers, we are encouraged to focus on fresh veggies, fruit and lean protein. While a person can do WW and eat processed foods, it’s solely up to the participant. I love the flexibility, the focus on good choices. There is also a huge emphasis on physical exercise (we earn points / more for eating) based on how much p.e. We add to our week. WW Syncs up to my Fitbit making life easier. Very happy with WW… never eaten more healthier !
How is she wrong about Weight Watchers???? LOOK at the ingredients!! I’m sure you have two eyes. Just LOOK at them!!! That is Weight Watchers food!!! They feed that to people!!! The fact that they even offer these chemicals as food is the problem. Do you not see that???
You don’t HAVE to eat their food! And they encourage you to eat whole foods – not their packaged junk.
While I never had much luck on WW, the meeting leaders all emphasised not eating the prepackaged stuff they sell. That comes from the corporate heads looking to make extra $.
I was over 200 pounds 5 years ago and used Weight Watchers as my first attempt at taking back my health. I was ignorant on health, nutrition, my body and where to begin. I had huge success with it. However, I was following the older program since a friend gave me all her coaching material for free. Since that time, I have stopped doing and promoting WW. I cannot stand behind a person or organization that encourages people to drink something that is 0 calories and consider it “healthy”. To much support for Diet soft drinks and then desserts that used these soft drinks in the batter… yuck. I would rather see someone eat an abundance of leafy fresh greens then ever drink a diet or sugar free anything. I say it is a very good start for someone completely lost but to not use it for to long.
Weight Watchers is the best !! I only eat organic and eat balanced meals . I would never eat otherwise and am so careful. They do have snacks and other food I would never use those because it is a lot of fake food , I agree with Food Babe on that aspect. You absolutely don’t have to use those at all. Not like Nutrisystem or Jenny Criag which you have to eat their meals.
She is correct on WW foods however. They are loaded with chemicals and artificial sweeteners. And they’re expensive. I do think it’s a great weight loss program if you don’t eat their food products.
That’s great that weight watchers has helped you lose weight and eat healthy. What the post is stating is that their branded food is unhealthy. That was her point.
Please read and look at the article.packaged food
Roxanne is right. Weight Watchers does not require you to eat their food in the least. In fact, I’ve been on weight watchers off and on my entire life and not once even tasted a WW product. I’d like to add I’ve never been over weight either. I use weight watchers to get me back to healthy portions and good, healthy, fresh food when I’ve fallen off the wagon and feel I’ve over indulged a few months to long on processed crap. Weight Watchers is really great. Unfair review. (PS I have zero affiliation with WW…you can see that by going to my page).
there is no hope in this greedy lying world. u must take care of yourself.
Hi Food Babe! Was wondering your thoughts on Isagenix? I have been hearing a lot about this but am very wary. First, they seem quite secretive. Two, I have heard/read that many of their products are not organic. Thanks for your input!
Very interested to hear this response as well.
Hi Kerry! Check out this: https://foodbabe.com/faq/#faq17-go and also this post for more on their ingredients: https://foodbabe.com/2016/08/25/protein-powders-to-never-buy-again-and-what-to-choose-instead/
Their products are excellent. They may not fit into FoodBabe’s strict requirements, but I believe the company is serious about producing excellent products. You can do 2 day cleanse if you want, but it is not required. My health has improved and I have lost weight using their system, and I am currently dealing with 2 Seniors with major health issues, enough to stress anybody. I highly recommend their products, maybe not everything, but definitely their shakes and Ionix (for energy).
It is only sold through reps of the company, which I am not interested in doing but will be happy to pass along the name of a contact if you are interested. (She lost 100 lbs in less than a year.)
Reading the ingredients list on these Jenny Craig “meals” is sad and hysterical, obviously created by a chemist!
What has happened to people’s brains?!
Bye bye stubborn belly fat!
Are you eating mostly plants Food Babe and if you are still eating meat and/or dairy why haven’t you made the choice to stop yet?
Debbie Handley, eating beef is a personal thing. It is completely healthy to eat 100% Grass Fed and Grass Finished beef and Free Range Organic Chicken. These foods have tremendous health benefits. I choose to eat meat and chicken. It works for my lifestyle and my health. The point of this article is to bring awareness to people about the dangers of some of these diets and food-like products and to encourage people to eat whole foods, without preservatives, additives, GMOs, hormones, antibotics and chemicals.
Not everyone does well eating just vegetables and grains, ect but no animal protein. I do not nor does my son. Without some dairy and red meat in our diets, we begin to suffer health issues. We are blood type O. My husband and daughter could live on vegetables and various kinds of fish and seafood but will occasionally have a bone deep, terrible craving for red meat. They are blood type A. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to an optimal diet. People vary greatly in what their bodies require to achieve optimal health.
Have been a physique contest prep coach for 20 years. What all these trash “Quick Diets” do not tell you is that you will lose a lot of muscle mass with the fat. Long term with this crap you will have all sorts of problems mainly from inflammation.
Dieting for Physique contests ( Bodybuilding etc.) and incidentally I only work with Drug Tested athletes the goal is to maintain your muscle mass with fat loss. If you are doing this you are on the right track. Real Food is also thermogenic. The process of digestion burns calories. You have to Food combine correctly to achieve fat loss but preserve not fatty tissue. Hormones can go into the crapper as well. So many issues trying to lose fat. There are only two ways. Low Fat High Carb or High Fat Low Carb. Period end of story. I prefer High (animal derived) Fat low carb. Low inflammation which they now know cause cancer and heart disease. At 60 my Testosterone is at a 20 year olds level. No Statin, Viagra, Androgel. Just Cholesterol. This means I am processing or metabolizing everything as a younger person. Strength is as good as in my 20’s. Real Food!!
I could not agree more about Nutrisystem. When I was yo yo dieting in my early 20’s I tried this. It did teach me portion control but there was so much soy in the products it literally made me sick. Back then I didn’t know how dangerous soy was until a few years later when I was suffering from digestive motility disorder and had to have my large intestine and gallbladder removed.
I agree with you regarding the above mentioned diets with the exception of weight watchers. Although WW endorses their processed food products, that doesn’t mean people have to consume them.
I lost 30 lbs on WW eating whole natural foods that don’t come in a box. It is a lifestyle, not a diet.
I also do weight watchers , it is a lifestyle . I have learned to eat better , fresh fruits and veggies, lean Protien , less sugar and processed foods . It’s a process of learning an changing your diet . I don’t eat any of the weight watchers products , not real food. I think it’s a good program if you are willing to do the work , to shop for real good , cook healthy meals and stay away from the processed and artificial stuff. It works for me
Cyanocobalamin is a bad form of B12 too. The natural form of B12 is Methylcobalamin.
I too got very sick on Nutrisystem because of all the soy. No longer have a gall bladder.
Once again . . . here comes another curve ball . . . . why do I smell Non-Santos behind the scenes. . . . Dr. Mercola mentioned this reality years ago concerning the massive conglomerate that is flourishing that seemingly appears to be insurmountable. This promoting misinformation through a so-called educational system is their plan of attack; solely created to mis-inform.. It’s all big business.. I really appreciate the fire in your belly Food Babe and staff. Keep stoking the ‘Fire of Truth’ a midst their necromancer fiery darts of deliberant deception’s decadence of greed. Eating Organic and God Based Foods is the simplest direction to take. I am writing a cook book and have priced out the cost of meals/person. If you spend real time ,at the beginning, looking for bargains and where to buy smart, Organics is no more expensive. Going on line and buying is another great way to save money. Food combining, eating according to your blood type, proper mastication and drinking enough water are truly successful lifestyle practices/activities that will maximize your nutrition payload. Lifestyle changes do take time but the rewards are awesome. Carry on!!!
‘Nobody makes an apple like Him’
What about Almased? FIRST STAGE: First two days..Three drinks of the Almased and Veg. Broth. SECOND STAGE: Two drinks of Almased and a small healthy meal until you lose what you want to lose. THIRD STAGE: One drink of Almased and two small healthy meals. Personally I just want to get the weight off (20lbs) and not think about preparing a meal. I Especially don’t like a diet that I have to plan the meals, buy a ton of fancy ingredients..Way too expensive and most of the food is wasted. I like a simple menu. When I’m just trying to get the weight off..I don’t want to think about food..Just want it simple.
Hey Weight Watchers uses real food .. so , Food Babe needs to clarify that they support healthy eating in general. I have fr4iends that have lost weight ….It does work.
Re: Weight Watchers….I am totally a Food Babe follower, on board with organic eating and have been for many years but recently decided that too much of any food, even organic foods like dairy and nuts will cause weight gain if one is not careful. I signed up at Weight Watchers and have lost 1 lb per week for the last five weeks , a very sensible and reasonable weight loss but here is the trick. I buy none of their pre-packaged foods and watch painfully while others do. I only use organic fruit, veg, meat and dairy, sprouted bread and a few other things like organic coffee and tea etc. I can drink 175 ml (6 oz. and not a drop more), of red wine every night and still keep my points right. So although I know others are eating the bad stuff, I am not and I really like the accountability with the Smart Points. Just stay clearly away form their package goods.
What about the Ideal Protein diet?
Thanks for sharing this! I am currently on weight watchers, but I do not purchase any food from their line BECAUSE of all the processed ingredients. I am a very pick eater, so I love that I don’t feel deprived from foods that I love, but I always make sure to use ingredients that are organic and don’t contain all the crap that’s in their food line. I really wish they did have an organic line without all the processed crap.
Thanks for this! ‘Diets’ are the real problem causing more cravings, body shaming, guilt, and constant weight fluctuation. I am a health coach, and I like to look at others’ carts at the grocery store (with as least judgement as possible, people are highly uninformed- so this site is so important!) and I just take note of skewed ratio of processed verses fresh food. I mean it is bad. I so rarely see someone with a cart of mostly veggies and fruits. I definitely eat a bit of processed foods, but I work to make it far less than the amounts of fresh I am eating.
So Im just saying thanks for talking about this!
I stopped struggling with my weight when I switched to a traditonal diet of real foods. I am able to eat three filling meals each day and I don’t feel the need to snack in between. By eating traditonally prepared real foods I feel satiated. And as an added bonus my aches and pains have deminshed greatly and I seldom get sick anymore. And if I do, it’s pretty minor.
I have been drinking the Atkins protein shakes choc for months now since I broke my ankle to have something easy to grab in the AM but since then ive had bad anxiety, can this be the cause? Please help, desperate to be cured…also use walgreens shake too (well at walgreens)..for maybe even longer…Thanks Gayle
Of course, the biggest problem with these diet programs is that people expect to magically attain excellent physical condition with corporate-defined processed food programs while leaving out the most important component: EXERCISE.
We human beings were made to be vigorously active. Join a gym and hit the weights, or try indoor climbing, or start doing a bodyweight routine with pull-ups, pushups and pistol squats, etc.
I would like your opinion on a ketogenic diet. I have been on one pretty much 100% for 10 months and have loss almost 70 pounds. I was thinking about joining your monthly subscription with the menu’s and such and just wanna make sure it will work. I eat mostly whole foods as well.
I am reading a lot of your comments about how Weight Watchers helped you lose weight ergo their way of doing things is healthy. I think Food Babe is making the point that you can lose weight on a lot of programs, but it doesn’t make them healthy. Two years ago, my mother and my sister who both had more than 100 lbs to lose joined WW. They both began losing weight. I decided it was time to do something about my own weight. I spent 5 years in a depression, gained 35 lbs on my petite 4’10” frame. I was a size 14 when my normal size was between a 2 and 4. I joined WW Smart Points plan and every meeting was the same thing. Every person there talked about what you “can” eat and the table was full of processed crap by the end. I was on the petite side, so I started with the smallest amount of points available…30 pts. Per day. For everyone else, that’s what the point balance is when they get to the maintenance stage. (Since that is the minimum allowable by the program, how was I going to continue to lose weight? That doesn’t make sense). I lost no weight in four months and was doing everything to the letter. I called/chatted their so called “experts” (who have no nutritional background, they are just people who lost weight on WW) and they told me to stop eating fruit! I saved the conversation. I tried to get help from my “coach,” and she started suggesting some of the WW products. After months of struggling and feeling like a failure at every meeting, I went to see a nutritionist. She was appalled at what I was eating and my calorie intake. 30 points equals between 1450 and 1600 calories per day depending on what is eaten. Some things that have the same point value on WW have a huge disparity in calorie count. For someone my height and weight, I needed to stick to about 1200 calories per day. There was no time in my day for exercise either (that’s not a copout, I really did not have time). I began voraciously reading about nutrition. I lost 40 lbs. in 4 months by eating highly nutritional foods, paying attention to my nutrient counts, and logging them into a free app. I am healthy, have more energy, and now that the busyness in my life has evened out, I am able to exercise.
My mother walks 6 miles a day and has lost 91 lbs., and I am so proud of her. My sister has lost 50 lbs. but has stalled out on WW. My mother is manic about her points and has major anxiety issues now. She has no idea what is or is not nutritionally healthy. She eats more fruits and vegetables, but she doesn’t see beyond the WW points. My sister is the same way. WW works for weight loss, but it is a far cry from healthy. I have to question the motives of a company that supposedly promotes a healthy lifestyle who does not train coaches or “experts” in basic nutrition, peddles processed foods in mass market under the guise of healthy choices, and has created a system that keeps people completely dependent upon the WW program by using a points system in which they do not share the formula for how they assigned foods their point value. Maybe it’s because people will get wise and figure out it’s a multi-billion dollar business that is focused on creating a repeat customer and not a healthy lifestyle.
I tried WW several times over a 20-year period and gained weight every single time, even though I never deviated from the plan. I never used their foods, either. The WW points system drove me crazy. It really bothered me that the more weight you lose, the fewer points you are allowed – at least it was that way the last time I tried it. If you keep eating less and less, where does it stop? And I don’t like the deception in the Oprah commercials: “I eat bread every day – EVERY DAY.” or the girl who raves about being able to have chips. I just think it boils down to marketing BS, and WW has the money to cover the market.
People will do anything to become a size 0 and wear skinny jeans. They don’t care what’s in the food. Most of the prepackaged diet food is filled with soy. People used to gripe about a certain hamburger chain using soy in their burgers. Now people longing to be thin pay top dollar to eat that stuff. Dieting is a huge business. It appeals to people’s vanity. Oh, sure, everyone says it’s for their health and all that positive energy. But vanity trumps all. And there is nothing wrong with being thin or wanting to be thin. Just try to get there by eating real food in a healthy way.