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There are many diet programs and meal plans, including many that are specifically designed for women looking to lose weight.
However, not all meal plans are equally effective when it comes to weight loss.
While many diet plans are safe, healthy, and sustainable, others can be ineffective, difficult to follow, and downright dangerous.
The meal plans presented in this article were selected based on the following criteria:
- Nutritionally balanced. The plans are balanced and offer a good mix of vitamins and minerals.
- Effective. Plans are backed by research and have been shown to promote weight loss.
- Sustainable. Plans are not too restrictive and can be pursued over the long term.
- Easy to follow. Plans are simple and have clear, straightforward guidelines.
Here are 7 of the best weight loss meal plans for women.
Plant-based diets mainly consist of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Sometimes animal products are also found in small amounts, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Several studies have found that a plant-based diet can be an effective strategy for reducing body fat (1, 2).
One review found that people who ate plant-based diets gained less weight over 4 years than people who followed other diets (3).
In addition, eating more fruits and vegetables, both key components of a plant-based diet, has been linked to increased weight loss and a decrease in belly fat (4, 5).
In addition, some research in women has found that consuming more fruits and vegetables may be linked to a lower risk of obesity and weight gain (6, 7).
For more information on following a plant-based diet, see “The Plant-Based Diet For Beginners” by Alice Newman.
Buy this book here.
Low-carbohydrate diets limit the consumption of added sugars and high-carbohydrate foods like grains and starches.
Although there are several types of low-carb diets, most limit carbohydrate consumption to less than 26% of your total daily calories (8).
A review of 17 studies found that low-carb diets were more effective than low-fat diets for short-term weight loss, although the difference between the two slowly decreased over time (9).
Some research also suggests that low-carb diets can increase the number of calories your body burns during the day, which can help aid weight loss (10, 11).
In addition, other studies have found that low-carb diets may offer other benefits specifically for women, including improvements in hormone levels and menstrual regularity (12).
Note, however, that a very low-carb diet may not be suitable for everyone, especially women with certain medical conditions, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding (13).
If you find that a very low-carb diet is too restrictive or difficult to follow, consider a moderately low-carb diet instead.
For a closer look at the benefits of a low-carb diet, see “The Art and Science of the Low-Carbohydrate Living” by Jeff S. Volek and Stephen D. Phinney.
Buy this book here.
WW is a popular weight loss program that was originally founded in the 1960s.
It uses a points based system that assigns a certain number of SmartPoints to foods based on their nutritional value and gives users a daily budget of points to spend per day.
It also encourages regular physical activity with various training guides specifically for women and offers options such as group workshops and personal coaching for an additional fee.
You will also learn how to choose healthier foods so that it may be well suited for women who want to lose weight long-term and sustainably.
Many studies have found that WW can be effective for weight loss.
A large review of 39 studies found that people who used WW for 1 year lost 2.6% more body weight than a control group (14).
Similarly, another study showed that people who followed WW 1 year lost more than twice as much weight as those who received a self-help brochure and 5 minutes of general nutritional advice (15).
Not only that, but they also maintained greater weight loss than the control group after 2 years (15).
Start with WW here.
The Diet Approaches to Ending Hypertension (DASH) Diet are nutritional plans designed to help lower blood pressure.
The diet encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein, while red meat and foods high in sugar or salt are limited.
Not only has the DASH diet been shown to improve heart health, but some research suggests it may help in weight loss as well (16).
A study of 293 female nurses found that more adherence to the DASH diet was associated with a lower risk of obesity and excess belly fat (17).
A review of 13 studies also showed that people who followed the DASH diet lost significantly more body weight and belly fat than a control group after 24 weeks (18).
In another study, older adults who followed a low-calorie DASH diet for 12 weeks showed a 6.3% reduction in body weight and a 2.5% reduction in body fat percentage (19).
For more information on the DASH diet, see “The Complete DASH Diet For Beginners” by Jennifer Koslo.
Buy this book here.
Based on the traditional diets of countries like Spain, Greece, and Italy, the Mediterranean diet is often considered to be one of the healthiest eating habits.
The diet includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil.
As part of this diet, processed foods, sugary drinks, red meats, and refined grains should be limited.
Several studies have found that the Mediterranean diet can help increase weight loss for women.
For example, a large study of over 32,000 people showed that more adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of obesity and belly fat (20).
Another study of 565 people found that more strict adherence to the diet was associated with a two-fold increase in the likelihood of maintaining weight loss (21).
In addition, a study of 248 women showed that following the Mediterranean diet was associated with lower body fat levels (22).
If you want to learn more, read “The Complete Mediterranean Diet” by Dr. Michael Ozner.
Buy this book here.
Jenny Craig is a weight loss program by offering fully prepared meals and snacks.
Additionally, certain plans offer one-on-one coaching with a Jenny Craig consultant so you can stay on track and achieve your goals.
Several studies have found that Jenny Craig could be an effective choice for weight loss.
In fact, a review of 39 studies found that people who used Jenny Craig for 12 months saw 4.9% more weight loss than people who received brief counseling or printed training materials (14).
In another small study, women who followed Jenny Craig lost an average of 23.3 pounds (5.3 kg) over 12 weeks (23).
Start here with Jenny Craig.
Noom is a mobile app that allows users to develop healthy habits to support permanent and sustainable weight loss.
Although no foods are banned at Noom, the program focuses on low-calorie but nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables.
The app also offers assistance from a virtual health coach, access to an extensive library of nutritious recipes, and tools to help you track and track your progress.
According to a study of nearly 36,000 people, approximately 78% of participants experienced weight loss while using Noom for an average of 9 months (24).
Another small study showed that women who used a virtual coaching program like Noom for 8 weeks experienced significant weight loss and improvements in behaviors such as emotional eating (25).
Additionally, Noom encourages members to eat mostly low-calorie foods that have been shown to aid in both weight loss and fat loss (26, 27, 28).
Start with Noom here.
There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right meal plan for you.
First, consider your personal needs and preferences.
While some may enjoy structured diet programs, others may prefer plans that are a little more flexible.
Certain meal plans may also require more time and effort than others. This can be an important consideration for women who may not want to measure serving size or track their food intake.
Avoid diets that eliminate entire food groups or are overly restrictive. Not only are these eating plans harder to stick to over the long term, but they can also make it much harder to get all of the nutrients you need.
Lastly, be sure to speak to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet. This is especially important if you have health problems or are taking medication.
There are a variety of nutrition plans for women that can help achieve long-term and sustainable weight loss.
When choosing a meal plan that is right for you, consider your personal needs, preferences and the time and effort required.
Avoid overly restrictive plans and talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet.