Why Did the Ketogenic Diet Finish In Last Place On a List of Top Diets?

The Ketogenic Diet came in last place in US News and World Report’s annual ranking of the top 40 diets. Other popular low-carb diets such as the Paleo and Atkins diet fared little better, coming in 32nd and 36th place respectively. The DASH Diet and the Mediterranean Diet both walked away with the laurels in a two-way tie for first. 

Before asking how a panel said to be composed of health experts, consultants and specialists could reach such an inaccurate conclusion, it is important to look at the background of the judges. A quick perusal reveals an abundance of dietitians, and none of the 25 members lists naturopath, osteopath or nutritionist in their credentials. This is not surprising as registered dietary nutritionists (RDNs) and their trade group, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, functions as a closed guild. One of their primary goals has been to exclude and marginalize competing voices.   

In 2012, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, a state chapter of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), threatened legal action against a blogger for writing about the Paleo diet without being a registered dietitian. They have also worked to gain legal control over the term “nutritionist” as a path to limit competition and suppress the views of anyone who has not been indoctrinated in their dogmatic and conventional views on health. 

This fight has raged at the state level for years, and if the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gets its way, other health experts such as your chiropractor, naturopath, personal trainer or any number of other contacts in your life who may have amassed personal experience in their lifetimes, including yours truly, would not be allowed to share nutritional advice. 

It is clear that supporters of the conventional dietary advice that has led to the obesity epidemic received disproportionate representation on the US News and World Report panel and that dissenting views were all but excluded. Still, one has to wonder how the Keto Diet tied for last with the Dukan Diet, which one of their experts described as “idiotic,” and finished well behind the Body Reset Diet, which was said be an “unhealthy weight loss diet” and a “gimmick.” Do their complaints about the Keto Diet have any validity? 

Anyone hoping for a science-based and nuanced view of the low-carb and high-fat diet was left sorely disappointed by their analysis of the Keto Diet. Although they conceded that the Keto Diet is excellent for short term weight loss, they then docked it heavily for a number of myths and misconceptions that have long since been debunked.  

If you are not familiar with the Ketogenic Diet, it is a dietary approach that focuses on minimal carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and high healthy fat consumption — the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis. Once you reach nutritional ketosis your body burns fat as its primary fuel. 

One of their primary concerns was that the Keto Diet was too restrictive and extreme. This view entirely overlooks the huge number of resources available to anyone interested in adopting a Ketogenic Diet. My ultimate Ketogenic Diet beginners guide and “Fat for Fuel Ketogenic Cookbook” are great starting points for anyone interested in embracing this healthy diet. My extensive Healthy Recipes website is stacked with amazing items that demolish the myth that Keto-friendly eating is too restrictive for the average dieter. 

Taste is generally considered subjective, but it is worth mentioning that as you become fat adapted your desire for sugar will usually all but disappear. The unhealthy sweets and sodas you may have tried to ditch for years often become cloying and intolerable. 

A more troubling aspect of the US News and World Report list were specific health claims they made about the Keto Diet. It is worth noting that the suggestions the panel made are the very ones that have led to a global obesity epidemic. They also overplayed the short term effects of ketosis while ignoring the ever expanding body of research that shows that the Ketogenic Diet might be the key to cancer recovery and could reduce damaging brain inflammation and trauma related injuries, especially after a stroke.

The US News and World Report list of diets is a cautionary tale: Make sure you vet your health sources before buying into hype and flashy headlines. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics monopoly is crumbling fast as cutting edge research shatters their questionable advice, and charges of collusion with junk food manufacturers continue to surface. We can expect more stunts like this list in the future but they are on the wrong side of history. Ignore their officially sponsored advice, do your own research and take control of your health.