The present review examined the evidence base for current popular diets, as listed in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report, on short-term (≤six months) and long-term (≥one year) weight loss outcomes in overweight and obese adults. For the present review, all diets in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Rankings for "Best Weight-Loss Diets", which did not involve specific calorie targets, meal replacements, supplementation with commercial products, and/or were not categorized as "low-calorie" diets were examined. Of the 38 popular diets listed in the U.S. News & World Report, 20 met our pre-defined criteria. Literature searches were conducted through PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science using preset key terms to identify all relevant clinical trials for these 20 diets. A total of 16 articles were identified which reported findings of clinical trials for seven of these 20 diets: (1) Atkins; (2) Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH); (3) Glycemic-Index; (4) Mediterranean; (5) Ornish; (6) Paleolithic; and (7) Zone. Of the diets evaluated, the Atkins Diet showed the most evidence in producing clinically meaningful short-term (≤six months) and long-term (≥one-year) weight loss. Other popular diets may be equally or even more effective at producing weight loss, but this is unknown at the present time since there is a paucity of studies on these diets.
Keywords: body composition; carbohydrates; obesity; overweight; protein.