An effective diet plan for women involves a lot more preparation than most people think!
Some of the most important aspects of a diet plan include:
- Understanding Energy Balance & Your Calorie requirements
- Understanding Your Goal
- Optimising Your Macronutrients
- Addressing Flexibility
Unfortunately there is a lot of miss-guided information floating around the internet also, if someone tries to sell you one of these, run away fast:
- Weight Loss Shakes
- Juicing Diets
- Weight Loss Herbs
- Diet Pills
Not only can these be detrimental to your health in the short-term but they fail to address the most fundamental part of any diet, sustainability. An effective diet plan for women needs to address flexibility and be able to fit in with your lifestyle. Let’s get started into the first step.
Step 1. Energy Balance & Calorie Intake
An effective diet plan for women requires an understanding of energy balance and your caloric requirements. I’ll go into more detail with the next step about how many calories you need for your chosen goal.
Without ensuring you are in a negative energy balance AKA consuming less daily energy than your body burns, you won’t be telling your body to start utilising fat stores as energy. And on the other hand, if you’re trying to target muscle & strength gains with some fat loss, you will want to be consuming calories closer to your maintenance levels, TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).
- You will want to first calculate your BMR which can be done by 655 + (9.6 X weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in yrs)
2. For example: Age: 27, Height: 178cm, Current Weight: 69kg
3. BMR = 665 + (9.6 X 69) + (1.8 x 178) – (4.7 x 27) = 1520.9 calories
4. The next step is to calculate your TDEE, which can be calculated by BMR x Activity Factor
The above example woman would have the following calculations: TDEE = 1520.9 x 1.375 = 2091 meaning the 27 year old woman with a moderately active lifestyle indicates maintenance levels (TDEE) would be 2091 calories per day.
Step 2. Understanding Your Goal
Without knowing what your goal is, everything else won’t fit into place. The 3 choices you have with your diet plan will be:
- Fat Loss Focus – Caloric Deficit (negative energy balance): Consuming around 300 calories below your TDEE from step 1
- Fat Loss & Building Muscle Focus – Maintenance Calories (body recomposition): Consuming calories at your TDEE from step 1
- Building Muscle Focus – Caloric Surplus (positive energy balance): Consuming 300-500 calories above your TDEE from step 1
If you haven’t trained at an advanced level consecutively for more than 2 years, and you are fairly lean with less than 5kg of fat to lose, I would recommend focusing initially on Body Recomposition and increasing your calories to your TDEE.
Although Body Recomposition isn’t spoken about too often in the fitness world, it has incredible benefits for women when it comes to achieving sustainability with a physique transformation.
I designed the 90 Day Fitness Model Challenge to teach women about how to transform their physiques through Body Recomposition. Instead of crash dieting I teach women to increase calories at the right times and build strength & muscle through metabolic resistance training.
Step 3. Optimize Your Macronutrients
The best way to optimize your macro’s is to utilize them efficiently towards your chosen goal. Protein has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF), meaning your body will use more calories to digest protein over fats and carbohydrates. For this reason you should always consume higher amounts of protein to aid protein synthesis and ultimately help your body burn more fat.
Carbohydrates get quite a bad rap these days, and let’s get this straight, carbs are absolutely essential – don’t be scared of them. They are actually your body’s preferred fuel source (glycogen). Carbohydrates are responsible for fuelling those intense training sessions or giving the energy you need to aid maximum performance output. You can cycle your carbohydrates on low, moderate and high days, depending on your chosen goal.
Fats are a woman’s best friend, women can utilize fats very efficiently, any diet which decreases your fats can lead to many health issues. Most low-carb or ketogenic diets will have much higher fat ratios over carbohydrates, for this reason ketones are used as fuel over glycogen.
Example Ketogenic Diets macro ratio:
- 70% Fats
- 25% Protein
- 5% Carbs
Example High Carb Low Fat macro ratio:
- 20% Fats
- 40% Protein
- 40% Carbs
Step 4. The Final Step For An Effective Diet Plan For Women
Generally a new diet plan for women in the beginning stages can be tricky. Adding in new foods and giving up old foods which weren’t so healthy is a process which can take time.
My recommendation is to include foods which makes you forget that you’re even on a diet. If you’re eating foods you enjoy, then you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. This is why crash dieting never works, when you cut your calories too low and restrict the foods you love for too long, flexibility and ultimately sustainability is scarified for the long term.
I highly recommend starting a program based on body recomposition to begin with, you will gain all the benefits from increasing calories with the right delicious foods. Definitely check out the 90 Day Fitness Model Challenge which gives you meal options that will help you forget about the word diet for good!