The best weight loss program depends on a person’s particular needs. There is no such thing as one ideal program for everyone.
A quick look at 5 of the best weight loss programs for women
- Best for faster weight loss: Low carb diet plans
- Best for food tracking: Point-based dietary programs
- Best for premade meals: Meal Replacement diets
- Best for diabetes or blood pressure conditions: DASH diet
- Best for physical activity: Home-based exercise programs
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
According to the
- cultural background and social circles
- family history and genes
- sleep habits
- underlying medical conditions
All people have different factors that affect their weight. Though the weight loss programs within this article can be useful for females, anyone can follow and benefit from them.
Diet and weight loss programs may help with short-term weight loss. People may find certain programs offer more success than others.
When attempting long-term weight loss, it is
Medical News Today chooses diets that fit the following criteria:
- Weight loss: MNT only chooses weight loss diets that have support from scientific evidence.
- Healthy eating habits: MNT only chooses diets that promote healthy eating habits and do not ask people to restrict their calories severely or promote disordered eating.
- Sustainability: MNT only chooses diets that are sustainable to follow for the time it takes for a person to reach their weight goal.
- Nutritional quality: MNT only chooses diets that meet the average person’s nutritional needs.
The NIDDK also states a person should choose a weight loss program that includes:
- lifestyle counseling
- guidance about sleep, stress, and the pros and cons of weight loss medication
- feedback and monitoring through the weight loss program
- realistic weight loss goals and plans
People should avoid diets that severely restrict calories unless they are under the supervision and recommendation of a doctor. People should also avoid diets that promise fast, unsustainable results within a time and ones that do not offer a mix of all the macro- and micronutrients they need.
- Very low carb diets: A person consumes 20–50 grams (g) of carbohydrates per day or carbs that make up less than 10% of total daily calories.
- Low carb diets: A person consumes fewer than 130 g of carbohydrates per day or carbs that make up less than 26% of total daily calories.
How it works
A low carb diet reportedly works by reducing the body’s dependence on carbs for energy. The low carb model can help rapidly reduce weight for the first
There are potential downsides to eating a low carb diet. According to
Point-based dietary programs offer a simple points system for keeping track of food intake.
How it works
Point-based dietary programs assign a simple numerical value to each food. In most programs, a person can eat or drink a certain number of points per day.
However, a person should follow a points-based system consistently to get the best results.
A points-based diet can be overwhelming for some people. A person needs to keep track of all the foods they eat and determine how many points remain after each day. Additionally, not all programs are the same, as some may be more effective than others.
Meal replacement diets come in different varieties. Some, such as the Health Management Resources Program, provide premade meal replacements and shakes. Others may only replace a single meal with a shake or other food replacement.
How it works
The goal of meal replacement diets is to create a calorie deficit to promote weight loss. Meals come in the form of frozen or prepackaged and measured meals or shakes.
According to researchers at the University of New Mexico, meal replacement diets can be an effective weight loss strategy. Their study suggests that even replacing one high calorie meal with a reduced-calorie meal per day can help promote weight loss.
Prepackaged meals and programs can be expensive for some people. Others might find it hard to maintain eating only premade meals or shakes.
Another downside is that many of these meals have low quality ingredients and preservatives and generally lack balance. Some diet plans may require the addition of fruits and vegetables.
People may also find it challenging to transition back to a regular diet, and the program should try to address this transition.
This diet focuses on vegetables, fruits, and nutrients. The DASH diet is not only an
How it works
According to the
- eating fish, poultry, nuts, vegetable oils, beans, and low fat dairy
- eating vegetables, whole grains, and fruits
- limiting sugary drinks and foods
- avoiding foods high in saturated fats
The program also offers specialized instructions for those seeking to lose weight.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, some potential issues with the DASH diet include:
- People living with food allergies may need to make modifications to their diets.
- People are responsible for creating and regulating their food and meals.
- A person could develop gas and bloating due to the high fiber content.
- The DASH diet food lists are not comprehensive.
A person can choose from many home-based exercise programs. Many focus on different areas, and each may be more effective for some people.
How it works
Home-based exercise programs provide guided exercise through videos. Some come in physical media formats, while others are available through streaming services.
According to a
Not all programs will work for everyone. A person should research programs that fit their goals and needs.
One downside of home exercise is that some people may find it hard to maintain their motivation to follow the program’s activities and recommended diet regimen.
The following table compares the weight loss programs in this article.
|Low carb diet plans
|Point-based dietary programs
|Meal replacement diets
|Home-based exercise programs
|How it works
|restricts carb intake
|uses a point system that replaces calorie counting
|shakes, bars, or premade meals replace at least 1 meal per day
|promotes food high in fruit, vegetable, and nutrient content
|uses exercise rather than diet changes to lose weight
|may help rapidly reduce weight in the first 6–12 months
|offers a simple and effective way to lose weight
|even 1 meal replacement a day can aid in weight loss
|suitable for individuals with diabetes or blood pressure conditions
|most noticeable effects take place in the first 6 months
|may lead to an increase in low-density lipoproteins
|a person must follow this diet consistently for the best results
|may be expensive and may not contain all the nutrients a person needs
|this diet may not be food-allergy friendly
|a person may need to try various programs before finding one that works for them
Meal planning can be a useful tool when trying to lose weight. By planning meals in advance, people may be more likely to follow diets.
A suitable weight loss meal plan should include the following food groups:
- Protein and fiber: A
2021 reviewrecommends an adult protein intake of 46–56 g or 0.8 g per 1 kilogram of ideal body weight daily.
- Fruits and vegetables: United States guidelines recommend people stay within their calorie limits, consume vegetables of all types, and eat whole fruits.
- Dairy: U.S. guidelines recommend fat free or low fat milk, yogurt, and cheese form part of a person’s diet. For people who are lactose-intolerant, lactose-free versions, fortified soy beverages, and yogurt are suitable alternatives.
- Grains: People should focus on
whole grainsas these may support weight loss.
People should limit the following foods and drinks:
- added sugar should form less than 10% of a person’s daily calories
- saturated fat should form less than 10% of someone’s daily calories
- sodium intake should be under 2,300 milligrams per day
- males should limit their alcohol intake to two or fewer drinks per day
- females should limit their alcohol intake to one or fewer drinks per day
Stick to a routine
A person can set aside specific times during the week to plan meals, grocery shop, and cook. This will make it easier to decide what meals to have and when.
Depending on the amount of time a person has to prepare meals, it may be quicker and easier for some to batch cook over a weekend. Others may find it better to cook meals daily, opting to prep all of the ingredients ahead of time.
Organizing shopping lists by departments and sticking to specific items can help speed up the process of grocery shopping. Having a list may make it less likely a person will impulse buy or purchase items not on their shopping list.
A variety of dishes may lead to more successful dieting, so people can ensure that their recipes are varied and nutritiously balanced.
Organize cooking times and compatible recipes
People need to always read through recipes to determine when they should start cooking and preparing the ingredients. Some may find that preparing all ingredients into bowls or containers before starting the recipe is a better option than chopping vegetables while another part of a dish cooks.
Kitchen tools, such as slow cookers, may be more suitable options for those with tight schedules. Throwing a few ingredients into a pot and leaving it for several hours may make a person short on time more likely to stick with a weight loss plan.
A variety of nutritious recipes can keep people on track with their weight loss. Having recipes that break down cooking instructions into easy step-by-step points may encourage those newer to cooking.
While people can purchase diet-specific cookbooks, there is a wealth of free recipes online. Other options include weight loss apps that offer recipes or checking out recipe books from the local library.
Below, we answer some common questions about weight loss programs.
What is the most effective type of weight loss program?
There is no weight loss program that is best for everyone. People should consider the type of diet the program offers, the amount of support and guidance available, and whether they can easily find the food the diet tells them to eat.
A person may wish to discuss with a healthcare professional to find out which is the best weight loss program for them. Alternatively, people may wish to try several different programs.
Can a woman lose 20 pounds in a month?
The CDC says that individuals who lose a maximum of 1–2 pounds per week are more likely to maintain their weight loss.
What is the fastest way for a woman to lose weight?
According to the CDC, the maximum weight a person should lose per week is 1–2 pounds. Therefore, depending on how much weight a person wants to lose, it may take several weeks to months to reach their goal.
Where can I find free meal plans?
People can find free meal plans on websites such as the
MyPlate is another option. People enter in their age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity. The website creates a meal plan based on this data.
Do I need to calorie count to lose weight?
People gain weight by eating more calories than their bodies use. They lose weight by eating the number of calories their goal body weight needs.
Calorie counting may be a more suitable option than following a strict meal plan, as no food is off-limits so long as it is within a person’s calorie budget. However, people who prefer eating off a strict menu may find the amount of choice overwhelming.
A person’s age, gender, race, starting weight, and other factors can influence how effective a weight loss program will be. The weight loss programs in this article are suitable for females, but not specifically for females only. Anyone can follow and benefit from them.
A person should not expect immediate results from starting a program. It can take several weeks or months to see weight loss results. People should also note that a weight loss program is not a long-term solution or replacement for a nutritious diet and regular exercise.
Before starting any weight loss program, a person needs to talk with their healthcare professional.