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The best diets for women — what works for weight loss

By , MD

With so many options, how do you know which weight loss plan works best, even if you’re a doctor like me? One thing to look for is a plan that provides your body with the right nutrition as it’s helping you let go of excess weight.

a woman who wants to lose weight can focus on healthy changes to diet and lifestyle

When I finished my residency, I was an overworked doctor, eating cereal for breakfast, bread with every meal, plus lots of cheese and sugar. I was tired, overweight and always eating on the go. Around that time, I began attending some nutrition conferences, and learned more about how food and my stressful lifestyle were affecting my body, especially my weight. Shortly after that, I began to change what I ate and how I lived.

If I showed you my picture from back then, you probably wouldn’t believe it. As I tweaked my diet and lifestyle, my puffy cheeks went down and the fat around my thighs melted away. I still have to eat on the go sometimes, but what and how I eat is different. Of course I look better now but I feel better, too, because I have more energy, more mental focus, better sleep, and the list goes on.

There are a lot of weight loss plans to choose from — some better than others. That’s why I’ve put the most popular diets together to look at the pros and cons of each. As a doctor, I want to know how successful these plans are for weight loss, but also how they measure up for your long-term health and wellness.

Do you have weight loss resistance?

When your body physiologically blocks weight loss due to a systemic imbalance, it can become resistant to losing weight. Systemic imbalances can include hormonal, thyroid and adrenal imbalances. Digestive imbalances, detoxification issues and inflammation can also cause weight loss resistance.

Find out what’s blocking your weight loss with our Weight Loss Quiz.

The “ingredients” of a successful weight loss plan

The changes that made the biggest difference for me were cleaning up my diet (taking out gluten, dairy and sugar) and minimizing my stress (getting more sleep, finding exercise I enjoyed, having fun). Some of the plans out there help you lose weight the healthy way, but others are short-term fad diets. Here’s what goes into a healthy — and lasting — weight loss plan:

  • Gets to the root of weight-loss road blocks, or weight loss resistance
  • Feeds the body all its necessary nutrients
  • Incorporates healthy meal ideas with recipes that taste good without ingredients like gluten, dairy, and sugar
  • Offers fresh ideas for exercise
  • Emphasizes the importance of emotional wellness
  • Shows you how to restore life balance (stress-relief, sleep, and fun)
  • Supports healthy metabolism naturally with green tea extract, chromium, alpha lipoic acid, and B vitamins
Essentials Weight Loss Program Essentials Weight Loss Program

Essentials Weight Loss Program

Complete plan with all the nutrients, recipes & step-by-step guidance you need to ensure healthy weight loss

Diet PlanWomen’s Health Network Weight Loss Health Programs
I mention our Weight Loss Health Programs first because they are healthy, custom-fit to your body, and very effective for weight loss. We built the eating plan on a Mediterranean-style diet, use herbal support to unlock weight loss resistance and include lots of added support to ensure your success.
ProsAddresses metabolic imbalances
Includes a quality multivitamin, a snack-replacement protein shake, and key herbal metabolic support
Tasty, family-friendly recipes
Wellness Coaches for personalized support and guidance
Real-life tips for exercise and restoration
ConsIf you’re used to eating out, this approach will have you spending more time in your own kitchen (could be a good thing!)
Paleo diet
Mediterranean diet
DASH diet
Schwarzbein I & II
ProsHealthy food combinations
ConsMay not get to the root metabolic imbalance/s leading to difficulties with weight loss
Protein Power
ProsLoss of fat
Creates muscles
You feel full
ConsDoesn’t address metabolic imbalances and may even lead to metabolic issues if followed for too long
Poor choice for those with kidney problems
Weight Watchers
Jenny Craig
ProsEmotional support (included in some plans)
Easy to follow
Encourages lifestyle changes
ConsMay not get to the root of weight loss problems
Point-tallying, calorie counting, and packaged meals can be hard to continue long-term and may be expensive
Often very high in carbs and known food allergens
Can be socially isolating
Raw food diet
Vegetarian & Vegan Diets
Flexitarian Diet
ProsLots of fruits and vegetables
Cardiovascular benefits
ConsCan be very tedious to prepare meals (especially for the raw food diet)
Could leave you with low energy
May make digestive issues worse

Tips to keep you motivated — no matter which diet or eating plan you’re on

Even though I’ve changed the way I eat, I still slide off course every once in a while, especially on special occasions. Remember, we are looking for progress, not perfection. Here are some tips to keep you motivated:

  • Clearly define your goal and identify your ‘why.’ The ‘why’ will determine the ‘how’ you will go about losing weight. You need a compelling reason why losing weight is a MUST instead of a SHOULD. A life change happens when there is a shift in perspective and awareness. Transformation occurs when there is a driving force to keep you committed. Once you understand why you need to lose weight, you can set specific goals (i.e. incorporating more vegetables, a number on a scale, a dress size, etc.) that make sense for your path.
  • Seek a mentor and stay connected. The most successful people in any endeavor work with a coach who implements daily practices for better, faster results. Everyone benefits from having someone to hold them accountable and it helps to be around like-minded people. Having support and encouragement from others when you are actively losing weight is a key ingredient of success. If you choose one of our Weight Loss Programs, you’ll have regular phone calls with our Wellness Coaches.
  • Reward yourself when you hit milestones. “Milestones” don’t have to be actual pounds you’ve lost, but may be a set number of days you’ve been on your new eating plan, or your first holiday without binging on sugar, or your clothes fitting differently, etc. Rewards may include getting a massage, going out to buy a new dress, getting a facial, indulging in a nap or an afternoon spent relaxing on the couch — just make it something that doesn’t involve sugar.
  • Be your own chef. You can make your own version of healthy “fast-food” and surround yourself with easy snacks. I’ve found that preparation is the key to my success. Make meals and snacks on the weekends and freeze or refrigerate them. Cut up a bunch of veggies and keep them on hand with hummus in your fridge. I always keep a protein shake and a bag of nuts with me at the office when I’m seeing patients — this way when I’m hungry, I reach for something healthy.
  • If you splurge one day, enjoy it! Instead of feeling guilty or bad, get right back on your eating plan the next day.

Reclaim your power

Real, lasting weight loss takes a whole-body approach, and fad diets don’t take that into account. You can lose weight for good by:

  • Making sustainable lifestyle changes one step at a time so they stick.
  • Respecting the needs of your body and supplying it daily with the nutrients it must have to flourish and stay balanced.
  • Empowering and allowing yourself to make the choices that feed your health and happiness on all levels.

In many ways, losing weight is a form of letting go. You’re parting ways with past habits and behaviors that have kept you trapped in a vicious circle of losing weight only to gain it back. When you follow the steps we’ve laid out here, you’ll be writing a new chapter in your life where you have the power to change and succeed at meeting your weight loss goals.


US News and World Report. 2013. Best diets. URL: https://health.usnews.com/best-diet.

Feinman, R., & Fine, E. 2004. “A calorie is a calorie” violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutr. J., 3, 9. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC506782/.

Last Updated: June 12, 2024
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