Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

The Best Diets for Women Plus 7 Simple Nutrition Tips

Avatar

By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

diets for women

Women have a unique set of nutritional needs, and there are many different diets for women out there.

Knowing your specific dietary needs can enhance your overall health, prevent nutritional deficiencies, and help you maintain a desirable weight.

Some of the best diets for women are simple, whole food meal plans that taste delicious and don’t leave you feeling deprived.

Does an easy, yummy, and fulfilling weight loss plan sound good to you?

Whether you’re seeking weight loss or healthy eating plans in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond to look and feel amazing, here are 7 tips to get you started!

1. Control Your Calories

Control your overall calories to avoid the unwanted weight gain that can occur with aging.

USDA calorie guidelines for weight maintenance in women of various age ranges are:

Women in Their 20s

  • Sedentary: 1,800-2,000 calories
  • Moderately active: 2,000-2,200 calories
  • Active: 2,400 calories

Women in Their 30s

  • Sedentary: 1,800 calories
  • Moderately active: 2,000 calories
  • Active: 2,200-2,400 calories

Women in Their 40s

  • Sedentary: 1,800 calories
  • Moderately active: 2,000 calories
  • Active: 2,200 calories

Women in Their 50s

  • Sedentary: 1,600-1,800 calories
  • Moderately active: 1,800-2,000 calories
  • Active: 2,200 calories

Women in Their 60s, 70s, and beyond

  • Sedentary: 1,600 calories
  • Moderately active: 1,800 calories
  • Active: 2,000 calories

Your personalized daily calorie needs are based on your size, metabolism, and activity level.

Use USDA guidelines as a place to start and adjust your intake as needed to meet weight management goals.

Calories for Weight Loss Diets for Women

To LOSE WEIGHT, simply subtract 500-1,000 calories from your weight maintenance calorie requirement but don’t drop lower than 1,000 calories per day unless a doctor supervises you.

Most women benefit from eating about 1,200-1,500 calories per day to drop excess weight at a safe rate.

 

2. Use the Perfect Plate Method

The perfect plate method is a good way to estimate portion sizes without tedious calorie counting when you're tight on time.

The best diets for women often include meals on plates that:

  • Are half full of non-starchy vegetables
  • Are one-fourth full of whole grains, legumes, or other starchy vegetables
  • Are one-fourth full of protein-rich foods
  • Contain some healthy fats
  • Offer 1-2 servings of fruit each day
  • Contain 3 daily servings of dairy foods or calcium-rich dairy alternatives

By filling your plate and planning meals in this fashion, you can get nutrients your body needs to stay healthy without feeling deprived.

 

3. Calculate Macros

Knowing how many grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you should eat based on your calorie requirements is helpful for many women.

Balanced diets for women often include:

  • 45-50% of your calories from carbohydrates = 180-200 grams per day for a 1,600-calorie diet
  • 20-25% of your calories from protein = 80-100 grams per day for 1,600-calorie meal plans
  • 25%-30% of your calories from fat = 44-53 grams per day for 1,600-calorie diets

Carbohydrates

Healthy foods rich in carbohydrates containing about 15-20 grams of carbs per serving include:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked whole grains like quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain cereals, and whole-grain bread
  • 1/2 cup of cooked starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, corn, green peas, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, lentils, and other legumes
  • 1/2 cup of fresh fruits
  • 1 cup of milk

Protein

Sources of nutritious protein foods include:

  • 3 ounces of chicken, turkey, duck, bison, venison, lean organic beef, fish, shrimp, or other seafood: 20-26 grams
  • 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese: 28 grams
  • 1 container of plain low-fat Greek yogurt: 20 grams
  • 1 cup of cooked lentils: 18 grams
  • 1 cup of cooked black beans: 14 grams
  • 3 ounces of firm tofu: 9 grams
  • 2 large eggs: 12 grams
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa: 8 grams
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk: 8 grams
  • 2 tablespoons of nut butter: 8 grams

Fats

Foods rich in healthy fats that about 5 grams of fat per serving include:

  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil, canola oil, pumpkin seed oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, or other plant-based oils
  • 3 slices of avocados
  • 1/3 ounces of nuts or seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon of nut butter
  • 10 olives
  • 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1-2 ounces of fatty fish like salmon

 

4. Consume Key Micronutrients

The best diets for women contain key vitamins and minerals.

Essential micronutrients important for women include iron, calcium, vitamin D, folate, iodine, vitamin B12, and choline.

Consider adding the following nutrient-dense foods to your diet plan:

Calcium

Calcium supports strong bones. Good sources of calcium include milk, plant-based milks, yogurt or plant-based vegan yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, sardines, cottage cheese, calcium-fortified orange juice, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals, and leafy greens.

Women under age 50 require 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, while women over 50 should get at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D also supports bone health. Foods rich in vitamin D include fish, milk, yogurt, egg yolks, calcium-fortified orange juice, and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals.

Aim for 15 micrograms of vitamin D daily and 20 micrograms per day if you’re over age 70.

Iron

Women younger than age 51 require 18 milligrams of iron daily versus the 8-milligram requirement of men and older women.

Pregnant women need 27 milligrams and nursing women require at least 9 milligrams of iron each day.

Iron-rich foods include red meat, chicken, turkey, lentils, other legumes, spinach, tofu, sardines, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.

Folate

Folate is a key nutrient necessary to maintain a healthy pregnancy and prevent brain and spinal cord defects.

Women need at least 400 micrograms of folate, or folic acid, daily.

During pregnancy, this number jumps to 600 micrograms and breastfeeding women should have 500 micrograms.

Food sources of folic acid include spinach, other green veggies, avocados, legumes, and fortified grains.

Iodine

Iodine deficiency can affect your body’s thyroid production and metabolism.

Make sure to eat foods rich in iodine or take a multivitamin supplement containing iodine.

Women need at least 150 micrograms of iodine daily, 220 micrograms per day during pregnancy, and 290 micrograms while breastfeeding.

Iodine-rich foods include fish, seafood, eggs, milk, yogurt, iodized salt, enriched breads, and enriched grains.

Vitamin B12

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, vitamin B12 is important as this nutrient is abundant in meat, fish, and poultry.

Other dietary sources of vitamin B12 include milk, yogurt, cheese, nutritional yeast, and B12-fortified breakfast cereals.

Women need 2.4 micrograms daily, while pregnant women should aim for 2.6 micrograms. Breastfeeding women need 2.8 micrograms of B12 daily.

Choline

Choline is nutrient abundant in eggs, red meat, soybeans, chicken, fish, mushrooms, potatoes, beans, quinoa, milk, and green vegetables.

It's crucial for women of childbearing age to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in developing babies.

Choline requirements for women are 425 milligrams, 450 milligrams during pregnancy, and 550 milligrams while breastfeeding.

 

5. Take Dietary Supplements

Despite eating a well-balanced diet for women, it’s often difficult to get all essential nutrients needed to optimize health and prevent nutritional deficiencies, especially if you reduce calories during weight loss.

Consider the following dietary supplements for women:

Multivitamin Supplements

Take a multivitamin supplement containing all or most essential vitamins and minerals to prevent nutrient deficiency.

Choose multivitamins customized for your age, gender, and life stage.

For example, take a prenatal vitamin supplement if you may become pregnant, are pregnant, or are nursing.

Other multivitamin supplements are designed for post-menopausal women.

Protein Supplements

Protein supplements aren't mandatory but are useful after workouts to rebuild or repair muscles.

Because protein increases satiety, protein meal replacement shakes or bars work well when trying to drop excess weight.

Consider making your own protein shakes at home by mixing protein powder with water or milk, plus fruit or nut butter if you’d like.

Or try these great protein shake recipes!

Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 supplements help you meet daily eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) requirements, as studies show women consume fewer omega-3s than men and may be at risk of inadequate intakes.

Omega-3s are helpful as they optimize cognitive development in unborn babies, enhance brain function in children and adults, and can improve heart health.

The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) recommends adults get at least 500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA daily, and pregnant women consume at least 200 milligrams of DHA each day.

Probiotic Supplements

Probiotics can improve your overall health, and you might not be getting enough of these helpful gut bacteria from foods alone.

Studies show that probiotics enhance digestive health and may improve blood cholesterol levels, oral health, skin issues, and anxiety or depression.

Probiotics are often present in yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and other fermented foods but taking a daily probiotic supplement is beneficial.

Fiber Supplements

Fiber supplements aid in digestive health and keep you full, which is why studies show higher fiber intakes are associated with weight loss.

Women need at least 25 grams of fiber each day to achieve optimal health.

While you can meet this requirement from fiber-rich foods, fiber supplementation can enhance weight loss or prevent unwanted weight gain over time.

6. Avoid Buying Certain Foods

Not keeping certain foods in your house is the best way to avoid junk food, stay healthy, and steer clear of unwanted weight gain.

Examples of foods NOT to add to your grocery list include:

  • Fried meats, French fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and other fried foods
  • Processed meats like ham, hot dogs, cold cut meats, hamburgers, and regular bacon
  • Potato chips
  • Sweets, sugary cereals, baked goods, sodas, and other sugary drinks
  • White bread, white rice, regular pasta, and other refined grains
  • Pizza, macaroni and cheese, microwavable dinners, and other highly processed foods
  • Alcoholic drinks

While a cheat day every now and then is OK, shy away from junk foods whenever possible.

 

7. Review Popular Diets for Women

If you’re thinking about trying popular diets for women, it’s helpful to learn the facts and determine which one, if any, is right for you.

Medical Weight-Loss Diets

Medical weight-loss diets may contain just 500-800 calories daily, which is why supervision from a doctor is important.

Very low-calorie diets often include protein shakes or bars as meal replacements, or taking medications that affect your appetite and metabolism.

Medical weight-loss diets may be indicated as a short-term weight loss strategy for people struggling with obesity, to get excess weight off quickly and reduce the risk of serious health problems.

Low-Carb Diets

Studies show that restricting carbohydrates, especially carbs in sweets, sugary drinks, and refined grains, is associated with weight loss and improved health parameters like lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Restricting carbohydrates to just 20 grams daily is OK short-term but can lead to nutrient deficiencies and fatigue over time.

Try cutting back on unhealthy carbs but not severely restricting them.

The National Institute of Health recommends getting at least 130 grams of carbs daily.

Mediterranean Diets

Mediterranean diets are heart-healthy, well-balanced diets for women and men rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and olive oil.

Studies show this type of eating plan can reduce obesity, waist circumference, and the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Plant-Based Diets

Studies have found that vegetarian diets, especially entirely plant-based or vegan diets, are associated with significant weight reduction as nixing meat and other animal-based foods helps reduce your overall calorie intake.

GET YOUR FREE
“FIT MOM” JUMPSTART
(MEAL PLAN + WORKOUT)

Let us show you how you can start losing weight this week! We'll email you our free meal plan & workout + email coaching.

YES! GET MY FREE PLAN

GET YOUR FREE
“FIT MOM” JUMPSTART
(MEAL PLAN + WORKOUT)

Paleo Diets

The Paleo diet, or paleolithic diet, is a meal plan containing foods the cavemen probably ate.

It consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, lean meats, and oils.

Grains, legumes, dairy foods, potatoes, added sugar, and highly processed foods are not part of the diet.

Studies show Paleo dieting helps reduce waist circumference, body weight, and chronic disease risk factors.

However, nutrient deficiencies are a concern if you eliminate all whole grains, legumes, and dairy foods long term so supplementation might be necessary.

Ketogenic Diets

Ketogenic diets are very low-carb diets rich in dietary fat. They put your body into a state of ketosis, burning primarily fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates.

Strict keto diets contain just 4-5% of your total calories from carbohydrates, some protein, and up to 90% of the calories from fat.

While severely restrictive keto diets often lead to weight loss, they are difficult to follow long term and nutrient deficiencies are a concern.

If you opt for keto dieting for weight loss, try more liberal versions of the diet.

16:8 Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can help you eat fewer calories throughout the day, which leads to effective weight loss.

But fasting for long time periods can cause fatigue, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

Try 16:8 intermittent fasting to drop weight without the side effects.

Fast for 16 hours of each day, including the time you’re asleep, and eat during an 8-hour window.

For example, you might eat only between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm.

Well-Balanced, Reduced-Calorie Diets

You don’t have to drastically alter the macronutrient content of balanced diets for women to lose weight and keep it off.

Simply exercise regularly, get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, eat nutritious foods, and reduce your current caloric intake by 500 calories daily to drop about 1 pound weekly without feeling hungry.

To get started with healthy weight loss and avoid feeling deprived, try the Fit Mother Project’s 30X program (FM30X) or sign up for a free 3-day weight-loss jump start kit today!

 

Avatar
Erin Coleman

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on diets for women.

Join Fit Father 30X

The World’s First Weight Loss Program for Men 40+

Lose Weight. Keep it Off.

Fit Mother Project Fact-Checking Standards

Our Fit Mother Project Team’s deepest commitment is to helping you live healthier for both yourself and your family. And when it comes to online content, integrity and trust is everything. That’s why our Fit Mother Project staff-writers are all trained professionals in the field of health and wellness (registered dieticians, licensed personal trainers, and licensed physicians) – see the full team here. We rigorously run all of our articles through a rigorous editorial process to ensure the accuracy, simplicity, and utility of the information. And we aren’t just a team of “academics” sitting in an ivory tower. We are real people – with jobs, responsibilities, and families – working hard in the trenches and testing our tips & methods out to make sure you can stay healthy for family.

Here is what you can expect from us on our Fit Mother Blog and YouTube channel:

  1. All of our content is written and reviewed by licensed health professionals (dieticians, personal trainers, doctors).
  2. In nearly all of our articles, we link to published research studies from the most respected peer-reviewed medical & health journals.
  3. We include research-based videos to accompany our articles to make it easier for you to consume our content, put it into action, and see results.
  4. Inside our articles & videos, we do promote our free meal plans, workouts, and/or paid programs, because we know they have the potential to change your life.
  5. We openly take feedback here on our contact page. We welcome your content suggestions… and even feedback on grammar (we’d like to thing that we’re pretty OK at spelling and “stuff”).
  6. Above all, we are a community of likeminded men and women committed to living healthier. We do not advocate any health advice that we wouldn’t personally implement with our families. Because as far as we’re concerned, you’re our family too.

Thanks for checking out the blog. We can’t wait to support you toward greater health, energy, and vitality.

– The Fit Mother Project Team

 

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy