It’s important to keep a few factors in mind when selecting the meal plan that’s right for you.
For starters, be sure to consider your personal needs and preferences.
While some people may enjoy structured diet programs, others might prefer plans that are a bit more flexible.
Certain meal plans may also require more time and effort than others, which can be an important consideration for women who might not want to measure portion sizes or track their food intake.
Be sure to avoid diets that eliminate entire food groups or are overly restrictive. Not only are these meal plans more difficult to follow long-term, but they can also make it much more difficult to get all the nutrients you need.
Finally, be sure to talk with a healthcare professional before making any big changes to your diet. This is especially important if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.
Best meal planning app
- Who it’s best for: those who have a busy schedule and are looking to simplify meal planning
PlateJoy is an app that helps simplify weight loss by providing custom meal plans and recipes tailored to your needs.
After you answer a series of questions about your diet, lifestyle, and health goals, PlateJoy builds a personalized menu for you and your household.
It also provides optimized grocery lists based on your meal plan. You can order the groceries and have them delivered directly to your door using a third-party delivery service.
In addition to adjusting the portion sizes automatically to fit your weight loss goals, PlateJoy makes it easy to prepare more tasty and nutritious homemade meals.
Additionally, one study found that adults who ate only home-cooked meals had 26% lower odds of obesity than those who did not eat any home-cooked meals (
While the app typically costs $12.99 per month, Healthline readers can subscribe to PlateJoy for just $4.99 per month.
Not sure if PlateJoy is for you? See what Healthline editor and registered dietitian Kelli McGrane, MS, thought of PlateJoy in this comprehensive hands-on review.
Best for a plant-based lifestyle
- Who it’s best for: individuals looking for a flexible way to lose weight and improve overall health
Plant-based diets consist mostly of foods derived from plants, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Animal products — meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy — are also sometimes included in small amounts.
One review found that people who followed a plant-based diet experienced less weight gain over 4 years than those who followed other diets (
For more information about following a plant-based diet, check out “The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners” by Alice Newman, which includes a sample 21-day meal plan to help you get started.
You can also check out our whole foods, plant-based diet guide.
Best for hormone balance
- Who it’s best for: people who prefer structured diet plans with simple, straightforward guidelines
Low carb diets involve limiting your consumption of added sugars and foods high in carbohydrates, such as grains and starches.
A review of 17 studies found that low carb diets were more effective for short-term weight loss than low fat diets, although the difference between the two slowly decreased over time (
What’s more, other studies have found that low carb diets may offer some benefits specifically for women, including improvements in hormone levels and menstrual regularity (
However, keep in mind that very low carb diets may not be a good fit for everyone, especially women who have certain medical conditions or are pregnant or breastfeeding (
For an in-depth look at how to follow a low carb diet to promote hormone balance, check out “Women, Food, and Hormones: A 4-Week Plan to Achieve Hormonal Balance, Lose Weight, and Feel Like Yourself Again” by Dr. Sara Gottfried.
- Who it’s best for: people who need additional support to stay motivated
WW is a popular weight loss program that was founded in the 1960s.
It uses a points system, which assigns foods a certain number of points based on their nutritional value and gives users a daily budget of PersonalPoints.
It also encourages regular physical activity, provides various workout guides specifically for women, and offers options like group workshops and personal coaching for an additional fee.
Plus, it helps teach you how to make healthier food choices, so it may be a good fit for women seeking long-term, sustainable weight loss.
One large review of 39 studies found that people who used WW for 1 year lost 2.6% more body weight than a control group (
Another study showed that people who followed WW for 1 year lost more than twice as much weight as those who received a self-help booklet and 5 minutes of general nutrition advice.
The WW group also maintained a greater overall weight loss than the control group, even after 2 years (
However, keep in mind that this study was partially funded by WW, though the researchers note that this did not affect the design, analysis, or final results of the study (
WW offers several plans, starting at $22.95 per month. It also provides several sample meal plans and a variety of recipes on the WW website and app.
Best for heart health
- Who it’s best for: those looking to lose weight and lower blood pressure
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating plan designed to help lower blood pressure levels.
The diet encourages eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources while limiting red meats and foods high in added sugar or salt.
Not only has the DASH diet been shown to improve heart health, but some research suggests that it may help facilitate weight loss as well (
One study in 293 female nurses found that greater adherence to the DASH diet was associated with a lower risk of obesity and excess belly fat (
In another study, older adults who followed a low calorie DASH diet for 12 weeks experienced a 6.3% reduction in body weight and a 2.5% decrease in body fat percentage (
You can read more about the DASH diet in “The Complete DASH Diet for Beginners” by Jennifer Koslo, which includes two 7-day meal plans with shopping lists and 75 heart-healthy recipes.
Easiest to follow
- Who it’s best for: people seeking a simple diet plan that isn’t overly restrictive
Based on the traditional diets of countries such as Spain, Greece, and Italy, the Mediterranean diet is often considered one of the healthiest eating patterns.
Though it isn’t as structured as many other plans and doesn’t have any strict rules or regulations, the Mediterranean diet scored our top spot as the easiest meal plan to follow because it’s simple, sustainable, and not overly restrictive.
The diet involves eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats such as olive oil.
As part of this diet, processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat, and refined grains should be limited.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out “The Complete Mediterranean Diet” by Dr. Michael Ozner, which provides a 2-week meal plan and 500 nutritious recipes to try making at home.
Best for personal coaching
- Who it’s best for: individuals seeking an effective way to build healthy habits
Noom is a mobile app that helps users build healthy habits to support long lasting, sustainable weight loss.
Although no foods are off-limits with Noom, the program focuses on foods low in calories but high in nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables.
The app also offers support from a virtual health coach, access to an extensive library of nutritious recipes, and tools to help log and track your progress.
In one study that included nearly 36,000 people, about 78% of participants experienced weight loss while using Noom over an average period of 9 months (
Noom membership starts at $60 per month. The program also offers a Premium Bundle for a one-time fee of $49, which includes an online consultation and a customized meal plan and workout guide tailored to your needs.