The best weight loss for women involves making small changes that can last a lifetime. As women age, their metabolism tends to slow down, making weight loss seem challenging.

Understanding how the body gains and loses weight is the key to long term weight loss success.

How Does the Body Gain Weight?

Understanding how weight gain happens is half the battle. Eating more calories than you burn off daily leads to increases in fat storage and weight gain over time.

To effectively drop weight, you must reverse the process and burn extra calories, eat fewer calories, or combine these two methods.

Eating the wrong high-calorie foods can lead to unwanted weight gain. Focusing on satiating foods is the key to the best weight loss for women.

Another reason weight gain often occurs in women, especially those over age 40, is related to hormone fluctuations associated with pre-menopause, menopause, and beyond.

Insufficient sleep and feeling stressed can alter hormones within your body and increase appetite. Low thyroid hormone is common among women and can drastically slow down your metabolism if left untreated.

Check-in with your doctor to have hormone levels checked before you begin a weight loss program.

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Foods to Eat for the Best Weight Loss for Women

Knowing which foods to eat, and those not to eat, is an excellent way to begin your weight loss journey.

Use the following weight loss food lists to watch the weight melt off:

Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber-rich foods keep you full for long time periods. Studies show that fiber is associated with lower body weights, body mass indexes, and number of eating occasions.

Examples of foods high in fiber include:

  • Fruits (blueberries, pears, strawberries, apples, bananas, oranges, etc.)
  • Vegetables (greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, corn, etc.)
  • Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, etc.)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, whole-grain cereals, etc.)
  • Nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)

Keeping the skin on fruits and vegetables helps retain the fiber content of these nutritious foods.

Healthy Protein Foods

Protein can increase your body’s metabolism, maintain or build lean muscle, and keep you full longer.

Nutritious protein foods to eat during the best weight loss for women include:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Organic, very lean red meat (in moderation)
  • Fish (salmon, cod, tuna, tilapia, herring, pollock, etc.)
  • Seafood (shrimp, mussels, crab, lobster, scallops, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Milk or plant milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Plant-based yogurt
  • Reduced-fat cheese
  • Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, etc.)
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc.)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc.)
  • Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, etc.)
  • Protein powder shakes or bars (that are low in sugar)

While eating organic, very lean red meat in moderation is perfectly fine, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends you avoid eating more than 18 ounces of red meat weekly to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.

Beef, pork, and lamb are examples of red meats.

Nutritious Fats

Nutritious fats enhance brain and heart health, boost satiety, and help you maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails.

Examples of fats to eat during the best weight loss for women are as follows:

  • Olive oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Flax seed oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc.)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc.)
  • Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, etc.)
  • Olives
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, etc.)
  • Fish oil

Healthy Drinks

Include the following healthy drinks in the best weight loss plan for women as they are low in calories (or calorie-free), low in sugar, increase your metabolism, or help boost satiety:

  • Chilled water
  • Water flavored with fruit chunks
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Black coffee
  • Mint-flavored water
  • Protein shakes

Add ice to water, tea, or coffee to enhance its palatability.

When drinking protein shakes for weight loss, try them as meal replacements to cut calories!

Foods to AVOID for the Best Weight Loss for Women

By focusing on healthy foods during weight loss, your cravings for junk food may diminish.

It's okay to have a “cheat day” every now and then if it doesn’t cause you to overindulge, but eliminating the following foods from your regular routine is the key to effectively dropping weight and keeping it off:

Refined Grains

Refined grains are lower in fiber compared with whole grains and may contain added sodium and sugar.

These foods don’t fill you up as long as fiber-rich foods, so avoid them whenever you can.

Examples include:

  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Regular pasta
  • White tortillas
  • Regular bagels
  • Baked goods
  • Crackers
  • White hamburger or hotdog buns
  • Dinner rolls
  • Biscuits
  • Many breakfast cereals
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles

If you do eat pancakes or waffles, choose those fortified with extra protein and fiber (such as whole-grain waffles).

Fried Foods

Fried foods pack on unwanted calories quickly, hindering weight loss. They may also be loaded with sodium or trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease.

Examples of fried foods to avoid during weight loss in women are:

  • Fried meats
  • Fried cheese curds
  • Fried mozzarella sticks
  • French fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Other greasy, fried foods
  • Fried fish

High-Fat and Processed Meats

Eating high-fat meats rich in saturated fat may increase your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, and processed meats are associated with certain types of cancer.

Many of these meats are high in calories, which makes weight loss difficult.

Examples of meats to avoid for weight loss and reduced chronic disease risks include:

  • Fatty cuts of red meat
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Pepperoni
  • Hot dogs
  • Brats
  • Sausage
  • Deli meats

Instead choose organic, very lean cuts of meat without skin or breading.

Other Processed Foods

Other processed foods to avoid because they are high in sodium or sugar, loaded with calories, contain processed meats, or are low in fiber include:

  • Pizza
  • Mac and cheese
  • Hamburgers
  • Fast food meals
  • Corn dogs
  • Many microwavable dinners
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Fish sticks

If you do include these foods in your diet, do so sparingly for optimal health.

Sugary and Diet Drinks

Sweets, sweetened drinks, and other foods containing added sugar aren’t the best choice for weight loss in women.

Sugar has addictive properties and doesn’t fill you up like foods rich in fiber, protein, or healthy fats.

Examples of sugary foods and drinks to avoid include:

  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Chocolates
  • Candy bars
  • Pie
  • Sodas
  • Sweet tea
  • Lemonade
  • Sweetened coffee
  • Granola bars
  • Sugary cereals
  • High-sugar protein bars
  • Sugary protein shakes

Because diet drinks taste sweet, they can increase your cravings for sugary foods and drinks.

Avoid diet sodas and other diet products whenever possible during the best weight loss for women.

How to Plan Weight Loss Meals

Planning weight loss meals and menus is easy when you have the right tools in place. The first step is purchasing nutritious foods from the lists above.

Use the following weight loss meal planning guidelines:

  • Eat about 5-6 small meals/snacks throughout the day
  • Eat 1,200-1,500 calories (up to 1,800 calories daily if you’re very active)
  • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (tomatoes, greens, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.)
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with nutritious protein foods
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with fiber-rich starches (sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, beans, corn, squash, or whole grains)
  • Eat 1-1 1/2 cups of fruit daily
  • Add a healthy fat to each meal and snack

Try to drink 2 cups of water before meals and 12 total cups of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, increase your metabolism, and boost your chance of weight loss success.

Stay Active for the Best Weight Loss for Women

Staying active doesn’t have to include regular workouts, though exercise is an excellent way to stay tight, toned, slim, and increase muscle mass to boost your metabolism.

Even if you don’t complete daily workouts, staying active throughout the day increases your calorie expenditure for effective weight loss.

Try the following:

#1 Go for Walks Daily

Even if you’re not “working out,” going for daily walks boosts your calorie expenditure. Try walking the dog, walking to and from work or school, or going for short 10-minute walk breaks throughout the day.

A 155-pound person expends about 150 calories walking at a pace of 3.5 miles per hour for 30 minutes.

#2 Climb Stairs

If you have stairs in or near your house, you have another opportunity to increase your calorie expenditure for weight loss.

Go up and down stairs often throughout the day to stay active. Take short 5-minute stair climbing breaks whenever you have a chance.

A 155-pound person expends about 223 calories during 30 minutes of stair climbing.

#3 Play Outside with Your Kids

Doing fun activities with your children is an excellent way to burn extra calories, even on days you don’t make it to the gym.

A 155-pound person expends about 149-186 calories in 30 minutes playing with kids, and an 185-pound adult burns 178-222 calories doing the same activities.

Play basketball, soccer, hop-scotch, jump rope, or try other outdoor kids’ activities with your children regularly.

#4 Deep Clean Your House

House chores burn more calories than you might think, which is why completing them daily is an excellent weight loss strategy.

A 155-pound person burns 167 calories in 30 minutes doing heavy cleaning, such as cleaning windows or washing a car.

The same person expends about 93 calories while cooking.

Mop the floors, clean bathrooms, do laundry, dust, and do other household chores to burn as many calories as you can.

#5 Do Yard Work

Working outside in the yard helps you expend a significant number of calories – almost as many as some workouts!

If you weigh 155 pounds you’ll burn 150-205 calories in 30 minutes by gardening, weeding, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, planting trees, or operating a snowblower.

You can burn 223 calories in the same amount of time chopping wood or shoveling snow by hand.

#6 Stand Up Often

The more you stand up vs. sitting, the more total calories you'll burn throughout the day.

You’ll expend about 10 additional calories per hour by standing, which adds up over the course of the day.

Switching from a regular desk to a standing computer desk is an excellent way to increase your calorie expenditure for weight loss, especially if you spend most of the day in front of a computer.

#7 Find an Active Hobby

Find an active hobby to help you burn extra calories for weight loss. Try kayaking, golfing, bowling, or playing in a volleyball or softball league.

Even coaching sports helps you burn about 150 calories in 30 minutes if you weigh 155 pounds.

Kayaking or playing softball expends about 186 calories, horseback riding or competitive volleyball helps you burn 150 calories, and playing badminton expends about 167 calories.

Bowling burns 112 calories, golfing (carrying your clubs) helps you expend 205 calories, and roller blading burns 260 calories in just 30 minutes if you weigh 155 pounds!

Try water skiing in the summer to expend 223 calories during the same amount of time.

#8 Enjoy Winter Activities

Just because it’s cold in the winter doesn’t mean weight gain is inevitable. In fact, winter is the perfect time to enjoy calorie-burning outdoor activities.

Sledding, tobogganing, or ice skating helps you expend 260 calories in 30 minutes.

Snow shoeing or cross-country skiing burns almost 300 calories, and downhill skiing expends 223 calories in 30 minutes if you weigh 155 pounds.

Find something you enjoy and get outdoors, even during colder months!

#9 Consider an Active Career

If you’re a stay at home mom you probably stay fairly active, but if you work outside the home consider an active career.

Nurses and other healthcare professionals are examples of jobs that keep you on your feet.

A masseur burns 300 calories per hour, and waiting tables helps you expend 186 calories an hour if you weigh 155 pounds.

#10 Exercise While Watching TV

Watching television is the perfect time to be active and increase your calorie expenditure to enhance weight loss.

Make this healthy lifestyle habit part of your regular routine. Exercises to try during television viewing might include:

  • Plank exercises
  • Pushups
  • Sit-ups
  • Squats or jump squats
  • Alternating jumping lunges
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jumping rope
  • Calf raises
  • Burpees
  • Jogging in place with high knees
  • Lying or standing leg raises

Upon joining the FM30X program you’ll receive fat-burning workouts and healthy meal plans that get and keep lost weight off for life.

Sign up for the FM30X FREE weight loss jump start kit today to receive a free workout, meal plan, and health coaching support! You won't regret it!

Your new friend & coach,

Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician

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.


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*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 the best weight loss for women.

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