MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s early January, which means two things: the gyms are packed, and the pre-washed salad shelves are running empty at grocery stores.

Making a resolution to lose weight and eat healthy is an annual ritual. But which diets are the most popular?

It’s a tough question to answer, because there’s no definitive public opinion poll on the topic. Google publishes a list of most popular diet searches, but that has the “Michael Phelps Diet” as the top search. It’s unlikely the most popular American diet is one requiring 12,000 calories a day.

The diet comparison website DietsInReview.com has put together a list of most popular diets for five years. They use unique visits to pages that review the individual diets, so the most popular list may be a little more correlative to actual behavior.

The number one diet on the list is Weight Watchers, which is no huge surprise since WW has been around for 50 years. The company reports it has 1.3 million members.

“The most effective in terms of evidence is Weight Watchers. They give you a way to think about what you’re eating,” said Dr. Tom Kottke, a cardiologist with HealthPartners.

“It emphasizes fruit and vegetables, physical activity, and accountability, which is what you need,” he said.

The number two Diet of 2012 is the 17 Day Diet, which is actually three 17-day phases, followed by a fourth ongoing maintenance phase.

“Winston Churchill said Americans will usually do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else,” Kottke said.

Number three is Medifas, followed by the hCG diet (hormone injections), the P.I.N.K. Method, and Nutrisystem. The website gave an honorable mention to the Paleo/Caveman diet, which it said is on the way up.

“Americans are always into new,” Kottke said.

If you strip away the gimmicks around each diet, the reality is that most are devised of different ways of “controlling calorie intake,” Kottke said.

It’s boring, but effective.

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