I want to lose weight! How many times have I said that?? If you’re looking for the best diets for women, it can be so confusing. It’s hard to tell which diet or weight loss program makes the most sense for you.
That’s why I put together this list of the best diets for women, along with lots of information you need to make the best choice for your weight loss goals.
This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is sort of boring, but you can find it here.
8 Popular Diets for Women Explained
Choosing the best diet really comes down to your goals. For most people, dieting is a way to lose the extra weight. For others, dieting is a way to lower their cholesterol, blood pressure or have more energy.
Ultimately the best diet for you is one you can stick to for the long-term.
I’m not including any here that require a subscription, or a membership, but there are some good ones out there (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig).
I’m also leaving out all the crazy fad diets like the boiled egg diet and the cabbage soup diet. Sorry, but you’ll have to google to find that somewhere else.
Here the lowdown on 8 popular diets including what you can and cannot eat, and my take on the plan.
2. Flat Belly
6. Intermittent Fasting
The first diet up on my list of best diets for women is all the rage right now. The Keto or Ketogenic diet seems to be all the rage these days. It’s probably the most popular diet for women right now. I just got back from my high school reunion and so many people were talking about it.
The keto diet is a type of low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet.
I think this diet is so popular because you can eat lots of high-fat foods and still lose weight. It sounds crazy, but you actually eat a high-fat diet to burn more fat!
To do keto, you intentionally reduce your carb intake, eat high protein foods and load up on foods that are high in fats.
Since the average American diet consists of loads of carbs (think bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.), these carbohydrates are burned to give us the energy to do everything our bodies have to do.
On a keto diet, you’re cutting off your body’s carb supply, so your body adapts by burning up your stored fats instead.
But…..I’ve read that while on Keto your breath may reek, and you might get something called the keto flu. Hmmm…something to consider when choosing the best diet for you.
What you eat:
- About 75%: High-fat foods like bacon, butter, cheese, cream cheese, avocado, etc.
- About 20%: Protein foods like eggs, fish, red meat.
- 5%: Low carb foods: Mostly vegetables that grow above ground like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and zucchini.
- Foods to avoid: Sugar, starch, starchy vegetables, bread, beer ☹️.
My take: I could see myself trying this out. I love bacon and cheese, so it might just work for me. But I’m afraid that I also love vegetables too much to keep them to 5% of my diet for very long .
Who here wants a flat belly?? That’s what I thought.
Proponents of the Flat Belly Diet claim that you can lose up to 15 pounds (mostly around your middle) in 32 days. You don’t have to exercise, but the creators say that exercise can boost your results.
The Flat Belly Diet has two phases, a four-day “anti-bloat” phase restricted to specific foods and drinks, and a four-week eating plan during which allows you to eat about 1,600 calories a day.
The Flat Belly Diet emphasizes eating foods that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), like olive oil, nuts, seeds, soybeans, and avocados. In fact, you have to have MUFAs at every meal.
What you eat:
- After the very restrictive first four days: MUFAs at every meal.
- Unprocessed foods and fresh produce.
- Primarily plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
- Limited red meat, plenty of fish and poultry.
My take: This diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to be good for your heart and a good long-term way of eating, so it might be a good “maintenance” way to eat for a long time.
I learned about this diet because I follow Busy Phillips on Instagram. This diet is all over social media feeds. And it’s not actually a weight loss diet. The Whole30 is basically a short-term nutrition reset.
For 30 days, you eliminate certain foods from your diet, focus your eating on recommended whole foods, and then see how if your energy, sleep, mood and craving levels act with the eliminations to try to see if you have sensitivities.
What you eat:
- Meat, eggs
- Vegetables, fruit
What you (can’t) eat:
- Dairy, alcohol, beans and legumes, grains
- No sugar whatsoever
My take: This plan is super restrictive, regimented and not sustainable long term. The only way I could see myself doing this would be if I was experiencing health problems and I just couldn’t get rid of the issue. This program doesn’t allow you to have an oops day – you pretty much have to start over if you mess up. Way too much pressure for me!
The Volumetrics diet is based on eating foods that are naturally high in water and low in calories, the idea being that since you’re eating a larger volume of foods, you’ll feel full, more satisfied and less hungry.
You feel full because of the types of foods you can eat, not because of the number of calories, fat, protein or carb grams you’re eating. The trick is filling up on the right foods that fill you up with fewer calories.
What you eat:
- Unlimited non-starchy veggies like broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, and broth.
- Reasonable amounts of whole grains, proteins, legumes and low-fat dairy.
- Small amounts of bread, cheeses, high-fat meats
- Barely any fried foods, candy, cookies, nuts and other fats.
My take: This plan helps you make good choices that result in weight loss that can be sustainable and healthy. This is how I usually eat when I’m trying to lose a few pounds – lots of salads, veggies, lean protein, low fat.
This is definitely something I could see myself doing long term. The fact that you are eating large volume/ low-calorie foods makes it seems like you’re eating more than you are and that’s a win when you’re on a diet. This one is probably my favorite of all the diets for women out there.
More Popular Diets for Women
This diet gets its name from the union of two words: flexible and vegetarian. Before you run for the hills at the word “vegetarian”, you can still have an occasional burger or steak on this plan when the craving strikes.
The creators of this plan claim that flexitarians weigh 15% less than their meat-eating counterparts, have a lower rate of heart disease and cancer and live longer. All things that sound good to me.
Flexitarian meals stress plant proteins rather than animal proteins. So you basically eat more plants, eat an occasional piece of meat if you want, and keep it up as best as you can.
What you eat:
- Replace meat in your diet with tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds and eggs
- Fruits and veggies
- Whole grains,
- About 1500 calories daily (breakfast = 300 cal, lunch = 400 cal, dinner = 500 cal , plus two snacks at 150 cal each.)
My take: I really like this philosophy from a weight loss as well as an environmental standpoint. It’s also the least restrictive of most of the effective plans out there.
It takes so many more resources to put a one-pound steak on the BBQ than it does to create one pound of plant-based protein. I’m not against meat – my grandfather raised cattle – but I do see the toll that raising animals on a large scale is taking on our planet.
I love that this plan stresses eating well most of the time and doesn’t beat you up when you want or need to have that cheeseburger! I think that eating in a Flexitarian fashion is something that I’d definitely do long term.
This is something that I have just started doing a couple of days a week. Intermittent fasting is more like an eating pattern than a diet, which is probably the biggest reason that I like it. I’m putting this in this best diets for women post because if you’re looking to lose weight, this one really does work.
I have never been a morning person and have forced myself to eat breakfast for years. (All because of that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” soundtrack that has been playing in my head since I was a kid.)
So it’s been really easy for me to skip breakfast and extend my fast until lunch so I’m fasting from about 8 pm until noon the next day. This way is called the 16/8 plan for fasting 16 hours then eating in an 8-hour window.
There are many different kinds of fasts, from the one I just described, to 24-hour fasts, to the popular 5/2 fasting. I may do another post in the future just on fasting after I’ve tried a few more methods.
What you eat:
- Pretty much anything you want, it just has to be between your fasts.
My take: This is the favorite of all the plans I’ve tried. If I could just silence that voice in my head telling me that “my best days start with breakfast”.
This diet was created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute specifically to help lower blood pressure. And it’s been proven to work so it deserves a place in this best diets for women post.
The DASH diet is a plant-focused diet, full of fruits and vegetables, nuts, with low-fat and non-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, and poultry, mostly whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.
What you eat:
- Stay away from salt, sugar and fatty foods
- Every food group is represented so it’s easy to find something you enjoy eating.
My take: This is your traditional, eat healthy foods, make good choices diet. There are tons of online recipes from places like the Mayo Clinic, so it shouldn’t be too hard to stay on the diet. It sounds like a good, solid plan that can not only help you lose weight but helps you get your blood pressure and cholesterol in control.
The paleo diet is based on the premise that genetically, you are almost identical to your hunter-gatherer ancestors. This makes good sense to me since technology and society has evolved much faster than our bodies have.
So if you’re thinking about what you should eat, it’s simple: if the pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors did not eat it, then neither should you.
Eating paleo is a good choice if you are looking for an anti-inflammatory diet.
What you eat:
- Vegetables, fruits
- Unprocessed meats, fish, poultry
- Nuts, seeds
- You can’t eat: processed sugar, grains, dairy, legumes
My take: I think it would be ultra hard for me to give up grains (read bread, pasta) and dairy for the long term so I don’t think this one is for me.
Which of these Diets for Women is for me?
Finding a diet that works for you can take some trial and error. Some of these are great choices for a quick weight loss diet, while others are more of a sustainable, life-long eating plan. Others can help you with health issues, but make sure to consult a doctor about specific health issues.
Many of these plans are great options that can really help you improve your health, and help you work toward your target weight over time.
You may even find that a combination of plans works for you. I think I’d be happy as an Intermittent Fasting Flexitarian. Maybe you can take a hybrid of a couple of these diets for women and combine them into something that can work for you long term.
Here’s to reaching your goals and your good health!
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