Diet is a crucial tool for managing diabetes, and weight loss can help people who are overweight prevent type 2 diabetes. The experts who rated the 29 diets below evaluated each one on its ability to both prevent and manage diabetes. The Biggest Loser Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), an eating plan endorsed by the government, came out on top.
Biggest Loser Diet
The plan, which revolves around healthy eating and exercise, tied for the top position as a diet for managing or preventing diabetes. The approach is generally viewed as an ideal eating pattern for both.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, edged out several other diets as a diabetes weapon, in the judgment of our expert panelists. Its emphasis on whole grains, fruits, and veggies matches the sort of nutritional prescription that diabetics frequently hear their doctors recommend.
Engine 2 Diet
The Engine 2 diet earned 3.5 stars, tieing for third place in the diabetes category. The plan should help dieters drop pounds—and being overweight is one of the greatest risk factors for developing diabetes. Plus, it includes a fitness regimen, which is key for diabetes prevention and control.
The Flexitarian diet earned an above-average score in the diabetes category. Eliminating meat typically leads to consuming fewer calories, and losing weight—and keeping it off—is essential for preventing type 2 diabetes.
The diet’s eating guidelines and fitness advice are a compelling combination for preventing or controlling diabetes. Its focus is on coaching dieters to develop healthy, lasting habits around which foods they choose to eat and which to avoid.
The Ornish diet is a good option for preventing or controlling diabetes, experts concluded. It’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which matches the guidelines of the American Diabetes Association, and it has been found to lower A1C level in diabetics, a positive signal of better control over blood sugar.
As a diet for managing diabetes, veganism is a smart option, some experts said. It could also help prevent the condition, since it helps dieters drop pounds—and being overweight is one of the greatest risk factors for developing diabetes.
The Anti-Inflammatory diet earned a respectable 3.6 stars for diabetes control and prevention. It’s based on a Mediterranean-style diet, which can reverse metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that can lead to diabetes. However, some experts noted that diabetes patients should exercise additional caution, since daily protein is “on the high side.”
Experts gave this diet relatively high marks when it comes to preventing or controlling diabetes. Research suggests a healthy Mediterranean-style diet can reverse the metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that can lead to diabetes.
On the whole, experts think the vegetarian diet has real ability to help prevent or control diabetes. Followed right, the diet emphasizes many of the foods Americans should eat to maintain a healthy, disease-free lifestyle.
The diet has the potential to prevent or control diabetes, according to the experts. Being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and Volumetrics can help you lose weight and keep it off, tilting the odds in your favor.
Our expert panel put Slim-Fast near the middle of the pack when looking for a diet to counter diabetes. To the extent it helps dieters drop pounds, as evidence suggests it does, it should improve the health of diabetics and those at risk of developing diabetes.
There is no strong evidence that following the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet will help prevent or control diabetes, but the experts felt that it could have a positive effect. Their ratings put it in a three-way tie with Slim-Fast and the Traditional Asian Diet.
Traditional Asian Diet
The Asian diet is an average choice to prevent or manage diabetes. To the extent that it helps dieters drop pounds, it should improve the health of diabetics and those at risk of developing diabetes.
The macrobiotic diet received a slightly above-average score, indicating moderate effectiveness in the experts’ judgment as a diabetes plan. But that’s if you can stay on the diet, and its score in how easy it is to follow indicates that the experts didn’t think many can. Still, if the plan helps you drop weight and keep it off, you’ll likely tilt the odds in your favor.
Preventing and controlling diabetes isn’t the strongest suit for Weight Watchers, which earned its lowest score, just above average, in this category. The experts said there’s no good evidence that the program staves off or blunts the chronic disease. Nevertheless, Weight Watchers’ effectiveness as a weight-loss diet could work for diabetes prevention and management as well.
Being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes, so any diet that helps shed pounds could also help ward off the chronic disease. Those who sign up for the program’s Jenny Craig Type 2 track will work with a counselor who is knowledgeable about the disease and can help customize the plan. Still, the diet did not impress experts who rated it as a regimen for preventing and controlling diabetes. Their scores put Jenny Craig behind many competitors.
Flat Belly Diet
This diet pulled in a below-average score in the diabetes category. Some research suggests that monounsaturated fatty acids, which the plan emphasizes, help stabilize blood sugar levels and control insulin. Still, experts weren’t convinced, and agreed that more clinical evaluation is needed.
The experts concluded that it’s not a strong option for preventing or managing diabetes, giving it 2.7 out of 5 stars. No research has studied the effect of the diet on the disease. Still, benefits claimed for some of the “Powerfoods” identified by the program are backed up by studies that suggest they may protect against diabetes.
Even though the glycemic-index diet was specifically developed with the goal of helping diabetics control their blood-sugar levels, the experts who rated it for U.S. News largely didn’t see it as an appealing option for preventing and controlling the condition.
Nutrisystem’s small, company-funded diabetes study didn’t persuade the experts of its value in preventing or controlling the disease. They scored it between “minimally” and “moderately” effective. (Although experts didn’t specifically rate Nutrisystem D, the company’s diabetic track, it doesn’t differ markedly from the mainstream adult plans.)
Panelists weren’t too impressed with Medifast’s typical adult program as a regimen for preventing and controlling diabetes. (Although the company markets plans for diabetics, experts did not evaluate those specifically in rating its effectiveness on this measure.)
Raw Food Diet
The diet received a below-average 2.6 out of 5 stars. It got much higher ratings in weight loss, however, and losing weight and keeping it off—no matter the diet—typically helps reduce the risk of developing the chronic disease.
Although some experts felt Atkins might help prevent or control diabetes by producing significant weight loss, the diet still scored low as one for diabetics and people at risk of the disease. One expert noted that diets like Atkins that are high in saturated fat can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The Eco-Atkins diet rated well below average as a tool for diabetes prevention or management. No evidence indicates a significant role in preventing or controlling the chronic disease.
South Beach Diet
South Beach isn’t an effective way to prevent or control diabetes, the experts concluded. However, being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetes; if South Beach helps you drop pounds, that could prevent the condition or reduce its impact.
The Zone Diet has little value for preventing or controlling diabetes, according to experts. They deemed other diets markedly better at helping dieters cope with this chronic disease.
The Paleo diet lagged behind other ranked diets when evaluated for its effect on diabetes. Without the research to show otherwise, most experts rated it a “minimally effective” way to prevent or control diabetes.
The Dukan diet came in dead last in the diabetes category, receiving a “minimally effective” 2 out of 5 stars from the panel of experts. Research is lacking, so what kind of effect—if any—the plan would have on diabetes is largely unknown.