Is your New Years resolution to lose weight? If the answer is yes, simply wanting to lose weight doesn't mean it will be an easy endeavor. Diets are notoriously hard to adhere to - which is why the new 2012 "Best Diets" rankings from U.S. News include a particularly helpful list of diets that are easiest to follow.
Which diets are bound to give you trouble and which might you have better luck losing weight with? Keep clicking to find out...
25. Raw food diet
Dehydrated bananas and buckwheat sunflower seed pizza crust? About 75 to 80 percent of what raw foodists eat are plant-based foods never heated above 115 degrees. The approach is extremely prohibitive and unusual, and some meals are based on plants that must be germinated from seeds, harvested, and dehydrated. Of all 25 diets evaluated, experts deemed it the most difficult to follow and gave it close to the lowest score possible in this category.
24. Dukan diet
Rules-driven and extremely restrictive, the Dukan diet was second worst, scoring a full star below the average for all diets. The early phases focus only on high-protein choices like veal and pork, and alcohol is banned entirely until later stages. (Other food groups eventually are added back in.) "A diet that is not flexible and limits macronutrients would be difficult to integrate into daily dietary habits," said one expert.
21. Vegan diet
With a score nearly a star below average, veganism qualifies as somewhat difficult to follow. It's very restrictive, and shaping a healthful (and tasty) plan takes work and creativity. Restaurant meals are doable, but options may be limited. And only certain types of alcohol are vegan-friendly.
21. Paleo diet
The premise of the paleo diet - that if cavemen didn't eat it, you shouldn't, either - means cutting out refined sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains, while subsisting on meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and veggies. Such restrictions make the diet among the more challenging to follow on our list.
21. Macrobiotic diet
Look elsewhere if you want simple, the experts agreed. No dairy, eggs, poultry, or red meat allowed - or anything artificial, processed, or with chemical additives. One expert called the macrobiotic diet a "drastic diet change" and expressed doubt that most Americans could comply.
20. Ornish diet
Research suggests most people have trouble sticking to restrictive diets, and the Ornish diet's limit on fat to 10 percent of daily calories compared with the government's recommended 20 to 35 percent is certainly restrictive. Those who can't do without fatty foods like animal products may not be able to stay the course. Experts gave Ornish just under 2 stars, deeming it somewhat difficult to follow.
18. Glycemic-index diet
The glycemic-index diet lacks the structure provided by some commercial plans, making it somewhat difficult to follow. Dieters must figure out what, how much, and when to eat on their own. Plus, a GI ranking, which distinguishes good carbs from bad, isn't available for every food.
18. Eco-atkins diet
Experts had enough reservations to send Eco-Atkins to the bottom third of the easy-to-follow list. While it's less restrictive than traditional Atkins, most followers eliminate all animal products, making compliance somewhat difficult. And few books, online tips, or other resources are available to guide dieters.
17. Zone diet
Each meal on the Zone diet must contain the precise percentage of carbs, protein, and healthy fat. There's a strict eating schedule, too: breakfast within an hour of waking up; snacks and meals every five hours. That inflexibility makes Zone somewhat difficult to follow.
16. Atkins diet
Atkins was rated somewhat difficult to follow. It's very restrictive - goodbye to sweets and bread, for example - and dieters must diligently count carbs. Plans that sharply limit entire food groups for long periods, as Atkins does with carbs, tend to succeed less often than more flexible diets do, according to experts. Eating out is a chore, and alcohol is discouraged. All of the above explain why Atkins scored just a bit below average and wound up in the lower middle of the pack.
Credit: iStock photo
15. Medifast diet
A limited menu and small portions make the Medifast diet somewhat difficult to follow, according to experts. Its powdered, just-add-water food also will likely grow old fast. But dieters get to eat frequently and aren't required to track anything - there's no counting of carbs, points, or calories - all compliance-boosters.
14. Abs diet
Toward the lower end of the moderately easy range. Lots of prep work is required, and each meal must include at least two of 12 Abs Diet Powerfoods. That could challenge busy dieters, one expert said. On the upside, one "cheat day" is allowed per week and dieters get frequent meals and snacks.
12. Vegetarian diet
On the easy-to-follow scale, the vegetarian diet joins the moderately-easy cluster. It
12. Flat belly diet
The flat belly diet is moderately easy to follow. While menus are tasty and ample guides are available, the strict eating schedule - a meal or snack every four hours - may be a turnoff for busy dieters. And a specified amount of monounsaturated fatty acids is required at every meal, making the plan "unnecessarily complicated," as one expert noted.
11. South beach diet
Nearly 3 stars put the South Beach diet about in the middle of the pack as another moderately easy-to-follow plan. Snacks and dessert are allowed, and there
10. Biggest loser diet
The Biggest Loser diet is a relatively good choice as a moderately easy plan. No food group is off limits, and recipes, convenience foods, and online resources abound. "This is a pretty common sense approach," said one expert. "It's not overly restrictive, making it easier for one to stick with long term."
9. TLC diet
Developed by the National Institutes of Health, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet is moderately easy to follow. There are lots of online resources, including meal plans and recipes, but dieters must decode nutrition labels on their own. The experts appreciated the emphasis on fiber-packed fruits and veggies, which help keep hunger at bay.
6. Nutrisystem diet
Another moderately easy program, thanks to heat-and-eat, home-delivered meals. The downside: Dieters must cut back on dining out, and adjust to eating different meals than the rest of the family. Still, Nutrisystem's simplicity makes it a
6. Mayo clinic diet
The Mayo Clinic diet is also moderately easy to follow. Its eating pyramid promotes foods with low energy density, meaning dieters can eat more while taking in fewer calories. Restaurant meals are allowed, and there are lots of resources (including tips and recipes) that help dieters stick to the plan.
The diet's score of just above 3 stars, out of a possible 5, was well above average. No foods are banned and filling choices like fruits, veggies, and soup are emphasized. Nor does it call for drastic changes - the focus is on making smart, maintainable tweaks. One expert praised Volumetrics for being "straightforward"; another called it "family-friendly and sustainable."
4. Slim-fast diet
Grab a couple of meal replacements and you're good to go. The diet's convenience factor places it among the easier programs to follow, experts said. Slim-Fast products come in many flavors, from chocolate cookie dough to French vanilla, and dieters need only worry about preparing one home-cooked meal per day.
Credit: Consumer Reports Health
3. Mediterranean diet
Experts commended the emphasis on diverse foods and flavors. Dieters can tailor the menu to their tastes and preferences, and are even encouraged to have a glass or two a day of red wine. Since there's no hard and fast calorie range, going hungry isn't a concern, which helps make the Mediterranean diet moderately easy to follow.
2. Jenny Craig diet
Built around prepackaged, home-delivered meals, Jenny Craig takes the guesswork out of dieting. That makes it very easy to follow for those needing portion control and discipline, one expert noted. Meals include favorites like apple cinnamon waffles, lasagna, fish and chips, and cookies, and a Consumer Reports taste-testing panel found them good overall. Like Weight Watchers, Jenny also got praise from the U.S. News experts for structured support, via counselors who work one-on-one with dieters.
Credit: Jenny Craig
1. Weight Watchers diet
Dieters can eat whatever they want as long as they don't exceed their allotted daily points. No foods are forbidden, occasional treats are encouraged, and the plan emphasizes all-you-can-eat fresh fruits and veggies. Experts liked the optional weekly meetings, since support is crucial to compliance. They also applauded Weight Watchers for being realistic, flexible, and filling. It scored more than a full star above the average in this category and was crowned the easiest diet to follow.