1200-Calorie Diet Plan – Foods To Eat And Avoid

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Kristen Arnold, MS, RDN, CSSD
by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

The 1200-calorie diet plan is a reasonable way to balance your meal and include all the essential macro and micronutrients. This is not a fad diet but a conventional meal plan that requires you to have 50% carbs, 20% protein, and 30 % fat (1).

There is no easy way out to lose stubborn fat. Therefore, regular exercise and a changed lifestyle are needed to accelerate the weight loss process.

This diet plan can be followed by anyone. However, the amount of weight you lose will depend on factors, such as current weight, age, medical history, and genes. Consult your doctor or dietitian to know which diet plan is best for you.

The 1200-Calorie Diet Plan

Studies show that this type of conventional hypocaloric diet plan aims to reduce energy intake by 500-600 kcal from your basic calorie intake. This approach reduces approximately 0.5 kg per week, which is based on age, physical activity, and medical conditions (1).

This weight loss is observed in the first few months and will slow down due to hormonal adaptations. Hence, it is important to develop personalized diet plans based on individual preferences and weight loss goals as these diets are followed for a long period to achieve the desired weight loss.

Generalized 1200-Calorie Diet Chart

MEALWHAT TO EATCALORIES
Early Morning
  • Overnight soaked and peeled almonds
  • A glass of warm water, honey, and half a    lime (1 glass)
31

34

BreakfastOptions
  • 1 cup vegetable quinoa + ½ glass of low-fat milk

OR

  • 1 slice of multigrain bread + 1 whole boiled egg + 1 oz. of low-fat cheese
200

200

LunchOptions
  • 1 vegetable sandwich
  • 1 small cup broccoli and lentil soup

OR

  • 1 tuna avocado sandwich
  • 1 cup spinach egg white drop soup

220

94

255

78

Post-Lunch
  • 1 medium apple

OR

  • 1 cup grapefruit
107

97

Evening SnackGreen/black tea with a small bowl of popcorn (without butter)32
DinnerOptions
  • Baked capsicum and potato
  • 1 serving low-fat vegetable lasagne

OR

  • 1 serving of baked salmon with grilled vegetables
  • 1 cup chicken mushroom soup
243

282

397

150

Calories: This diet plan offers 1200-1243 calories, depending on whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

Anyone can follow the 1200-calorie meal plan, whether they are on the keto meal plan, a diabetes diet, or a strictly vegetarian meal plan. But always speak to your nutritionist before planning any meal within this calorie budget.

What To Eat When On The 1200-Calorie Diet

The 1200-calorie diet plan requires careful consideration of the amount and nature of foods to be consumed to fulfill the nutritional requirements. If you want to follow the 1200-calorie plan for a month or 7 days, you need to alter the basic diet plan with the following general considerations.

  • Consume more fruits and vegetables as they are low in calories and carbohydrates and high in fiber and vitamins when compared to other foods (2). Vegetables, such as cucumber, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, beets, asparagus, peppers, and leafy greens, and fruits, such as bananas, plums, cherries, grapes, apples, and peaches are some of the healthy options.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates over simple ones. Consume whole-grain bread and pasta, bran, etc., that will keep you full for a longer time as they are digested slowly and have a low glycemic index (3).
  • Consuming a good amount of protein is extremely vital for maintaining lean tissue and burning fat. It increases satiety and induces thermogenesis that promotes more energy expenditure (4). Consume lentils, beans, soy, mushrooms, tofu, fish, turkey, chicken breast, and lean cuts of beef.
  • Consume high-protein snacks like yogurt granola bowl, roasted peanuts, and baked beans to increase satiety and control hunger pangs (5).
  • Having a healthy protein-rich breakfast within 1200 calories is an effective way to improve satiety, decrease binging on unhealthy snacks, and improve metabolic rate diet (6).

What Not To Eat When On The 1200-Calorie Diet

Here is the list of foods that you should avoid when you are on the 1200-calorie diet.

  • Avoid or restrict the consumption of simple carbohydrates as they provide little nutritional value and are digested quickly, which will make you hungry after a short while. Candy, soda, sugar, white rice, white pasta, white bread, sweet syrup, breakfast cereal, desserts, and pastries contain simple carbohydrates.
  • Avoid eating fried foods, such as fried chicken, deep-fried foods, and potato fries.
  • Avoid aerated and artificially sweetened drinks. Packaged fruit juices contain additives and artificial sweeteners, which will make you gain weight.
  • Avoid alcohol while you are on the 1200-calorie diet plan. Alcohol gets broken down into sugar, which gets readily absorbed into the blood and raises the blood sugar levels.

The 1200-Calorie Diet Recipe

Broccoli And Lentil Soup

Shutterstock

What You Need
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup yellow lentils
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 small green chili
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • Salt
How To Prepare
  1. Wash the yellow lentils and keep them aside.
  2. Chop the onion, garlic, tomato, and chili.
  3. Dice the broccoli florets.
  4. In a soup pot, heat the oil and fry the cumin seeds for about 30 seconds.
  5. Fry the garlic until golden brown.
  6. Add the onions and fry until they are translucent.
  7. Add the broccoli florets and tomato. Fry for about a minute.
  8. Add the chopped green chili and fry for about 15 seconds.
  9. Add the washed lentils, a pinch of salt, and a cup of water.
  10. Let it cook until the lentils and broccoli florets are properly cooked.
  11. Add orange juice and use an immersion blender and blend all the ingredients to make a thick soup.

Role Of Exercise

No specific exercise is recommended when you follow this diet. However, dieters should be aware that exercising regularly is vital for maintaining weight loss and for overall good health. Working out at the gym, brisk walking, or practicing yoga for an hour on a daily basis is recommended.

You also need to make lifestyle changes to stay fit and healthy. Keep in mind the following things if you are on the 1200-calorie diet.

Changes In Lifestyle

  • Control your portion. Fill your plate with 50% non-starchy vegetables and fruits, 25% lean protein, and 25% whole grains.
  • Sleeping for at least 7 hours per day helps in controlling weight (7).
  • Try to manage your stress by practicing meditation and deep breathing exercises.

The 1200-calorie diet is proven to be beneficial for numerous reasons, the most important being weight loss. Listed below are a few benefits.

Benefits Of The 1200-Calorie Diet

  • It is simple and easy to follow as there are no restrictions on the types of food you can consume. It can be easily adapted to suit specific dietary concerns.
  • It does yield results when it comes to losing weight as it focuses on consuming fewer calories than you expend. The reduction in calories provides the body with less fuel than what it requires, thus resulting in a net loss of weight.
  • This diet provides a variety of choices with numerous menus and eating plans that suit different eating habits, nutrition needs, and cooking styles.
  • It is cost-effective. All you need is a calorie counting tool, which can be found online for free.
  • It generally provides adequate nutritional intake while reducing calories to the level that most dieters require for losing weight.
  • This diet plan has provided a basis for nutritionists and health professionals to develop other diet plans for weight loss.

All forms of diets have certain drawbacks, and the 1200-calorie diet is no exception. While many people might find it effective, it does not mean that this diet is suitable for everyone.

Drawbacks Of The 1200-Calorie Diet

  • The reduction in calories may also lead to the reduction of certain vital nutrients. Therefore, careful planning of the diet is required to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
  • Calorie counting and food measurement are extremely crucial in this diet. This can be done by using a menu or assistive diet plan, which is an additional requirement.
  • Hunger and fatigue are the most prominent side effects of this diet.
  • This diet is not recommended for physically active individuals as they require more calories to sustain themselves.

Dos And Don’ts

DOSDON’TS
Have a heavy breakfast.Do not exceed the calorie limit when you are on this diet.
Have at least 6 meals per day.Do not have a long gap between two meals.
Eat a whole fruit rather than juicing it.Do not drink packaged drinks, aerated drinks, and alcohol.
Mild exercises will keep your muscles and bones active.Avoid doing rigorous exercises.
Get a good night’s sleep.Don’t stress yourself too much. Stress may make you gain weight.
Consult your physician or dietitian to know whether you need to go on such a low-calorie diet to lose weight.Do not follow it at a stretch for many weeks. You can follow this diet plan every alternate week.

Conclusion

The 1200-calorie diet can be followed by any person, irrespective of the health condition, but you need to check with your doctor. Consuming 1200 calories is enough to make you lose weight if followed by healthy living practices. Choosing a variety of healthy options with a 1200-calorie budget and curbing your binging by including protein snacks are key to stay fit and healthy.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Why are 1200 calories a day important when dieting?

Most women need 2200 calories per day. The need for weight loss arises when you eat more than what you burn. To lose weight, you should either work out rigorously or balance it with lesser calorie intake and mild workout. The 1200-calorie diet plan does exactly that. It restricts your calorie intake, without being too low on calories, and includes a mild exercise routine that will help to keep the muscles and bones in your body active.

If I consume 1200 calories a day, how much exercise do I need per day?

Do not opt for rigorous exercises. Yoga, mild stretching, freehand exercising, and intermittent running and walking should be enough. However, if you are already an active woman, you can opt for strength training exercises as well, but for a lesser duration. Consult your trainer for expert advice.

Why is the 1200-calorie meal plan ideal for women who want to lose weight?

The 1200-calorie diet plan is not ideal for all women. Depending on your current weight, age, height, medical condition, and genes, your doctor or dietitian will be able to tell you whether this is the ideal diet plan for you or not. If this is the ideal diet plan for you, it will help you lose 20 pounds over a period of 90 days. The slow weight loss process will keep you healthy and help you avoid post-weight loss problems like loose skin.

How much weight will I lose if I eat 1200 calories a day?

A healthy way to lose weight is to have a 500-600 calorie deficit per day. This approach will help you to lose 500 g per week or 4 kg in a month, depending on your health conditions and activity levels.

Is it healthy to eat 1200 calories a day?

The calorie requirement is dependent on your BMR, activity level, and age. Talk to your nutritionist or dietitian who will determine the right meal plan for you.

Are 1200 calories too low?

The 1200-calorie diet plan is not a very low diet plan. This is the minimum calorie range that a person should follow to maintain the minimum BMR level. Choosing the correct foods and nutrients is key to stay fit and healthy.

How much fat should I eat per day on a 1200-calorie diet?

You should eat at least 30-36 g of fat (30% of total calorie intake) in which 20 g would be visible fat (fat from cooking oil) and the rest from invisible sources (fat from foods). Choose monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids over saturated and trans fatty acids.

7 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.
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