Diet Drama - Identifying the Best and Worst

By Kelli Harvilla, MS, RDN LDN - Contributing Editor for ExecWell

Every day we hear about a new diet trend that has emerged and promises rapid weight loss with minimal effort. This sounds too good to be true, and most often, is. With so many different diets in existence, how can we tell which ones are more effective, as well as more beneficial to our overall health?


It really comes down to personal preference and belief in what is best for our body, as well as our activity level and ability to realistically follow a strict diet plan.


USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines

Mediterranean Diet

Paleo Diet

Atkins Diet

Diet Type Balanced eating pattern Balanced eating pattern Low carb structured diet Low carb structured diet
Increased Focus Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins Fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, olive oil Meat, fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables Meat, fish, poultry, low carb vegetables
Decreased Focus Fat, added sugar, salt Red meat, sugar, saturated fat Refined sugar, grains, dairy, legumes Grains, sugar, some fruits
Macronutrient Distribution

(Carb) 45-65%
(Protein) 10-35%
(Fat) 20-35%

(Carb) 50%
(Protein) 10-25%
(Fat) 20-35%

(Carb) 23%
(Protein) 38%
(Fat) 39%

(Carb) 0%
(Protein) 10-25%
(Fat) 63%

Supplementation N/A N/A Vitamin D, calcium, fish oil Multivitamin with magnesium and calcium, omega-3, vitamin D
Exercise Required Required Assumed activity Not required
Side Effects N/A N/A N/A Nausea, weakness, constipation, bad breath, irritability
Notes Encourages balanced eating within suggested calorie limits based on age Encourages an eating pattern vs. structured diet, as well as activity Transitional meal and snack allowance based on various levels Theory assumes that fat vs. carbs will burn for body fuel to promote weight loss.
Allowed carbs progress in “phases”
Kelli Harvilla, MS RDN LDN is a contributing editor to ExecWell, as well as a licensed, registered dietitian based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She received her bachelor's degree in Nutrition & Dietetics from Marywood University in 2007, and her master's degree in Applied Nutrition with a concentration in obesity and eating disorders from Northeastern University in 2013. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as the state and local chapters of the Dietetics association. Her background includes clinical nutrition, along with food service management. She strives to provide optimal nutrition education and guidance to promote healthy living and wellness among the general population, as well as traveling professionals. contains information on health, nutrition, fitness and exercise. This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or modify the advice provided by your doctor or other health care professional. You should consult a doctor or health care professional for all health-related matters, including before beginning any diet or fitness program.