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8 Best Diets For Women That Go Beyond Weight Loss

Switching up your eating habits can provide more than just a lower number on the scale.

By Stefanie Gordon
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Whether you're reevaluating your eating habits as part of a New Year's resolution or you've been dealing with some health issues that have caused you to take a second look at your diet, it's never a bad time to be more thoughtful about the fuel you're putting in your body. Dieting is often associated with weight loss, and though it can be great for that purpose, there are diet plans for women that have benefits beyond a lower number on the scale. So if you're looking at trying one of the best diets for women, it's worth considering what your nutritional goals are beyond weight loss. “Good nutrition starts with providing your body with the nutrients it needs, rather than starting with weight loss,” Laura Prince-Feldman, MS, RD, CDN, CDE and professor of nutrition at LIU Post, tells Woman's Day. In fact, the singular focus on weight loss can be counterproductive

“For so long, weight loss was associated with eating high carbohydrate diet plans that led to high consumption of poor quality carbohydrates that had zero nutritional value. The message of good nutrition got muddied into people eating tons of carbohydrates in the pursuit of low-fat diets, which in turn contributed to the obesity epidemic,” Ginger Schirmer, PhD, RD, tells Woman's Day. To help you find the benefits including weight loss and beyond, Schirmer, Prince-Feldman, and Georgie Fear, RD, CSSD laid out the best diet plans for women that focus on nutritional balance, improved health, and physical and mental well-being.


Try going low carb.


“Eating a low carb diet can help improve glucose levels in individuals who are prediabetic or diabetic,” Schirmer says. The Keto diet is an extreme example of eating low carb, as it involves consuming only 50g of carbs or less per day. But Schirmer says that eating like this can be difficult to maintain, and suggests maintaining a minimum of 120 to 130g/day to get the benefits of a low carb diet and sustain it for longer periods of time.


Use herbs and spices.

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Feldman recommends using herbs and spices to give food flavor, rather than butter, salt, or high fat marinades. Not only are they healthier, but they also have nutritional benefits. “Certain spices and herbs, like turmeric and ginger, can help fight inflammation," she says. "Spices like cinnamon can help satisfy a sweet tooth, but unlike more sugary options, they won’t raise your blood sugar.” Other healthy spices options include garlic, cayenne pepper, and oregano.


Eat enough (good) protein.


"Studies show that protein has the best ability to provide a sense of satiety,” Schirmer says. Try adding good proteins like eggs, chicken breast, or fish to your diet. Fear recommends having fish, a great source of protein, at least twice a week because it's also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have tons of health benefits.

Eating enough protein, however, doesn’t mean strictly eating more meat or dairy. Many plant-based foods, like legumes and vegetables, can also help up your protein intake. You should also aim for eating proteins that are high in nutrients and low in both processed carbs and saturated fats.

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Fill up on fiber.


Fiber is filling, and helps to lower LDL cholesterol, which can prevent your blood sugar from rising quickly," Feldman says. "From a GI perspective, it can also help keep your bowel movements regular."

Try taking a dish, such as pasta salad, and reducing the caloric density of the food by including high fiber foods. For example, you could replace some of the pasta in the bowl with veggies, which will help increase your satiety and keep your blood sugar levels regulated.


Don’t be afraid of healthy fats.

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Healthy fats assist with long-term weight management by helping the body feel full,” Schirmer says. Unlike trans fats, which have no health benefits, healthy fats have been linked to lower rates of heart disease and stroke, lower inflammation, and raised HDL levels. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help aid in the reduction of inflammation and joint pain. There are two categories of healthy fats: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Schirmer suggests trying avocado oil, olive oil, or limited use of MCT oil.


Eat at least three times day.

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And more if you’re hungry.

“Don’t let yourself get too hungry; otherwise you may end up eating more than you need,” Feldman says. “If you feel yourself getting hungry, don’t try to deny it. If you’re not eating enough calories, you could slow down your basal metabolic rate, forcing your body to go into conservation mode.”

She notes that the body’s ability to slow its metabolism was an evolutionary advantage: In prehistoric times when food wasn’t as readily available, there was a benefit to having your metabolism slow down, so you could last longer without food. Now, however, a slower metabolism is not an advantage for most of us. Eat frequently and keep your metabolism in tip-top shape.

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Use an app.


Using an app to track what you’re eating can be a great way to make you more conscious of what you’re putting in your body. An app can alert you to whether you’re over- or under-eating, and can serve as a behavioral tool to help you change your diet appropriately.

But it's not necessary to get caught up on calories, Fear says. "Calorie counting backfires for a lot of people," she says. "Not to mention, it's a ton of work." Instead, she suggests finding an app or physical journal where you can keep more of a food diary, that tracks more skills-based eating habits such as noticing when you're hungry, noticing when you're full, and making sure you're getting specific nutrients that you're wanting more of.


Eat what you actually want to eat.

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"I think it's important to consider your personality and what you like because some diet changes are going to be better suited for certain people than for others," Fear says. "If you're somebody that really enjoys a lot of carbs and fruit, then going on a low carb diet could be a really abrupt change that could lead you missing out on a lot of your favorite foods."

Feldman agreed, adding, “If you hate what you’re eating, you may end up overeating because you aren’t satisfied. For example, if you want chocolate peanut-butter ice cream but you eat a low sugar version that doesn’t taste as good as you had hoped, you won’t feel satiated, and you might eat more than you intended to. It’s important that your food satisfies you.”

She notes that occasional indulgences can be good for you, and help you avoid feeling deprived or burnt out from eating healthy all the time. Eating a balanced diet can help you feel good both mentally and physically, and allow you to stick with healthy eating habits for years to come.


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