Weight Loss Plans For Women in 2023 – Forbes Health – Forbes

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Regardless of where you’re at in your health journey, losing weight can be a challenging process. Structured diets and weight loss plans can be a good option for some, especially if you prefer having a detailed set of guidelines to follow. However, with so many choices available, finding a program that is safe, effective and sustainable can be tricky for many women.
If you’re interested in losing weight but unsure where to start, read on for a few of the top weight loss plans for women, recommended by experts.
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There is seemingly an endless amount of weight loss programs available for women, from pre-packaged meal delivery services promising quick results to bootcamp-style workout routines and diet regimens.
Some popular plans, such as the Mediterranean diet, plant-based diet or low-carb diet, provide general guidelines of which foods you should eat and avoid to support weight loss and overall health. Meanwhile, commercial programs like Weight Watchers (WW) or Noom offer a more structured approach to weight loss and provide more detailed guidelines to follow.
With so many weight loss plans to choose from, it may feel overwhelming to find a weight loss plan that fits your needs and preferences. Regardless, most nutrition and fitness experts agree that weight loss plans should pair a nutritious, balanced diet with regular physical activity to maximize results.
“Nutrition is key to seeing weight loss results,” says certified personal trainer and nutrition coach Stephanie Thomas, who’s based in Washington, D.C.. “You can do the most effective workout program out there, but if you’re not eating in a calorie deficit and fueling your body with nutritious foods, it will be really hard to see the results you want.”
However, even with a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, weight loss can still be challenging for many women. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, men often lose weight more quickly than women because they are usually larger and have more muscle to support, and can eat more while still losing weight. Additionally, women tend to have less muscle mass and a higher amount of body fat, which burns less calories than muscle.
For this reason, Thomas notes that finding a diet and exercise plan that you can stick with is key, as it can take time and patience to see results. She recommends working with a professional, such as a registered dietitian, personal trainer or medical weight loss specialist to help hold you accountable. Alternatively, pairing up with a workout partner or weight loss buddy with a similar set of goals is another option that can help you stay on track for long-term success.
There are several meal plans for women that can be effective for weight loss. Here are some of the top choices recommended by experts.
Paulina Lee, a registered dietitian in Sugar Land, Texas and founder of Savvy Stummy, a wellness program designed to support gut health, notes that the balanced plate method can be a simple way to add more variety to your diet. “Instead of counting calories or tracking macros, simply fill your 9-inch plate where half of it is vegetables, a quarter of the plate is lean protein and a quarter of the plate is starch,” she explains.
This diet pattern is sustainable, realistic and effective for long-term weight loss, according to Lee. “Not to mention, rounding out a meal with fiber, protein and healthy fats will keep you fuller for longer, which can reduce snacking between meals and other cravings,” she says.
One review of 23 studies concluded that portion control plates, which incorporate the same guidelines of the balanced plate method, could help support weight loss in people with overweight and obesity or type 2 diabetes. The review also noted that portion control plates were associated with several positive dietary behaviors, including increased fruit and vegetable intake[1].

Gisela Bouvier, registered dietitian and owner of Gisela Bouvier Nutrition in Punta Gorda, Florida, recommends the Mediterranean diet, noting that it can support weight loss and overall health. According to Bouvier, the Mediterranean diet “encourages intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, such as nuts and seeds and lean proteins.”
One study found that both menopausal and pre-menopausal women experienced significant fat loss when following a low-calorie, Mediterranean diet. In fact, women lost an average of nearly five pounds of body fat over the course of the eight-week study, even with minimal aerobic exercise[2].
Inspired by the traditional diets of Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain and Italy, the Mediterranean diet has also been linked to a long list of health benefits beyond weight loss, including improved heart health, enhanced brain function and increased longevity. Plus, unlike other popular diet plans, it’s easy to follow and doesn’t have any strict rules, like calorie counting.
However, while no foods are technically off-limits on the diet, several should be limited, including red meat, processed foods, refined grains and added sugar. Other components of the diet often include staying active, sharing meals with family and friends and enjoying red wine in moderation.
The volumetrics diet is an eating plan that encourages eating foods with a low calorie density, such as fruits and vegetables, to promote feelings of fullness while also cutting calories. The diet, which is outlined in a book by nutrition scientist Barbara Rolls, categorizes foods based on their calorie density and offers guidelines of which foods a balanced meal should include.
“The thing people like most about a volume-based approach is that it makes you feel like you can eat a ton—without constantly thinking about ‘restriction, ’” says Jaclyn London, a registered dietitian based in New York.
London also notes that no foods are restricted on the volumetrics diet and it’s easy to adapt to your needs and preferences. Plus, it may even help improve your relationship with food. “By emphasizing plants, volumetrics encourages a shift in not only what you eat, but how you think about what you eat,” she says.
A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that foods with a lower energy density improved appetite control, curbed cravings and increased feelings of fullness in women with overweight or obesity, all of which could contribute to weight loss[3].
Also known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet, the DASH Diet was originally developed to reduce blood pressure and promote heart health. However, according to London, the diet “can be both an overall healthier style of eating and smart approach to weight loss.”
The plan recommends filling your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with legumes, nuts, fish, poultry and low-fat dairy products. Meanwhile, foods high in added sugar or saturated fat should be limited, including red meat or full-fat dairy, and the plan recommends limiting sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. The DASH Diet also provides guidelines on how many servings of each food group you should enjoy each day.
Many of the foods encouraged on the DASH Diet are low in calories yet rich in important nutrients like fiber and protein, which can be beneficial for weight loss. Furthermore, foods that are limited, including foods high in added sugar, have been linked to weight gain and obesity when consumed in excess.
“Of great emphasis on this plan (and really, any great diet) is that the diet tells you what to eat, without over-emphasizing a key nutritional component,” says London. Besides supporting weight loss, London also notes that the diet features several key nutrients to support heart health, including omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and magnesium.

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In addition to switching up your diet, staying active is another key component of weight loss. Here are some workouts that can help you reach your goals.
“For women that want to lose weight, I recommend circuit training,” says Marshall Weber, a Boise-based personal trainer and founder of Jack City Fitness. This type of exercise involves cycling through eight to 10 exercises lasting between 30 to 60 seconds each to target different muscle groups.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine notes that circuit training can support weight loss by helping you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. This is due to the shorter rest periods between each exercise, which keep your heart rate up throughout your training session to increase the overall number of calories burned.
“Circuit training has become popular by gyms like Orange Theory Fitness,” says Weber. He also notes that it can be a good way to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously, without adding too much bulk to muscles.
If you’re unsure how to get started when it comes to working out, Jill Charton, an Atlanta-based personal trainer and founder of iFour.life, recommends dynamic training.
“You’ll often see ‘dynamic’ in front of strength or stretching exercises, but it generally refers to a specific category of workouts that focus on ranges of motion that recruit more muscle groups for you to be able to stabilize and generate power,” explains Charton. Examples include rotational lunges, kettlebell swings, walking quad stretches and goblet squats.
This type of training is particularly good for weight loss, as it activates multiple muscle groups in each exercise, allowing you to build strength and muscle mass throughout your body, according to Charton. She also notes that this type of exercise can be incorporated into a variety of schedules and routines, meaning it may be easier to stick with long-term in order to maximize results.
“I love dynamic training because it helps my clients learn more about movement within their bodies in an empowering way,” says Charton. “It also helps my clients to learn how to work out more efficiently while gaining strength, speed, agility, coordination, stability and confidence.”
Resistance training, also known as weight training, can increase strength and endurance using bodyweight exercises like push-ups or squats or workout equipment, such as weights. “Over the past eight years of working with women, the most exercise effective plans I’ve seen to work incorporate weight lifting three to four days a week,” says Thomas.
Building muscle may be beneficial for weight loss and metabolism because muscle burns more calories than fat. Interestingly, one review concluded that resistance training could significantly increase resting metabolic rate, or the amount of calories you burn at rest, whereas aerobic training had no effect[4].
“The simple, traditional exercises work best. Workouts don’t need to be fancy or require a lot of special equipment. Including classic weight lifting exercises will benefit women as they’ll see muscle growth, which can help reduce body fat,” says Thomas.

Bouvier recommends assessing needs, goals and preferences to find a weight loss plan that works for you. She also notes that you should look for a program that is easily adaptable to your current regimen, doesn’t leave you feeling hungry or deprived and teaches you healthy habits to help maintain weight loss long-term.
When it comes to exercise, it may be most important to find something that you enjoy and can stick with. “Weight loss is a long-term game, so any exercise approach you take should be something that you can see yourself doing weeks, months and even years from now,” says Alex Parry, a strength, conditioning and weightlifting coach based in Leeds, U.K.
Lee agrees that weight loss should be a slow and steady process and cautions against weight loss programs that promise rapid results. “We gain weight over time and we aren’t going to lose it overnight,” says Lee. “Weight loss plans that promote extreme weight loss in a short period of time won’t help you maintain the weight lost.”

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Rachael Link is a registered dietitian and health writer based in San Francisco. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Missouri and holds a master’s degree from New York University. She enjoys balancing her time between the kitchen and the gym and is passionate about all things related to food, sustainability and plant-based nutrition.
Dr. Adrienne Youdim is an internist who specializes in medical weight loss and clinical nutrition. After receiving her degree from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Dr. Youdim completed her residency training and fellowship at Cedars-Sinai, where she later became the medical director for the Center for Weight Loss. She holds multiple board certifications awarded by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the National Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists and the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Youdim currently sees patients in her private practice in Beverly Hills, California. She is the author of the text, Clinician’s Guide to the Treatment of Obesity and her new book Hungry for More: Stories and Science to Inspire Weight Loss from the Inside Out explores the emotional and spiritual hungers that present as a hunger for food, validating universal experiences through story and science. She also hosts the Health Bite podcast and is founder of Dehl Nutrition, a complete line of nutritional supplements made with functional nutrients to promote health and wellbeing. Dr. Youdim is a national speaker sought after by the media and has been featured on The Doctors, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, ABC news, Inside Edition, National Public Radio among other news outlets.

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