Diet Tips

1200 Calorie Diet Plan For Weight Loss – Benefits, Safety, And Foods To Eat & Avoid

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Kristen Arnold, MS, RDN, CSSD
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
1200 Calorie Diet Plan For Weight Loss – Benefits, Safety, And Foods To Eat & Avoid Hyderabd040-395603080 July 12, 2019

The 1200 calorie diet plan is one of the most effective ways to lose 20 pounds in about 90 days. This is not a fad diet plan. This 7-day diet plan requires you to eat healthy proteins, carbs, and fats without exceeding the 1200 calorie per day limitation. There is no easy way out to lose the 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 the best for you.

This article provides detailed information on all you need to know for active weight loss while on the 1200 calorie diet plan.


The 1200 Calorie Diet Plan To Lose 20 Pounds

  1. The 1200 Calorie Diet
  2. Generalized 1200 Calorie Vegetarian Diet Chart
  3. Generalized 1200 Calorie Non-Vegetarian Diet Chart
  4. What To Eat When On The 1200 Calorie Diet
  5. What Not To Eat When On The 1200 Calorie Diet
  6. The 1200 Calorie Diet Recipe
  7. Role Of Exercise
  8. Changes In Lifestyle
  9. Benefits Of The 1200 Calorie Diet
  10. Drawbacks Of The 1200 Calorie Diet
  11. Dos & Dont’s
  12. FAQs

1. The 1200 Calorie Diet

The logic behind the 1200 calorie diet is to restrict the calorie consumption to only 1200 calories. There are numerous food items that are recommended in a typical 1200 calorie diet chart, such as lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, legumes, fruits, and vegetables to guide the dieters. Due to such a wide variety, there can be many diet menus for the 1200-calorie diet. An example of such a diet chart is given below.

Back To TOC

2. Generalized 1200 Calorie Vegetarian Diet Chart

The-1200-Calorie-Diet-Plan-2 Pinit

Image: Shutterstock

MealWhat To EatCalories
Early MorningA glass of warm water, honey, and half a lime74

1 bowl vegetable quinoa

A glass of fat-free milk and 2 slices of multigrain bread




Vegetable sandwich (with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise)

Broccoli and lentil soup



Post-LunchA bowl of fruits (banana, watermelon, kiwi, melon, and strawberries)227
Evening Snack

Green/black tea with a small bowl of popcorn (without butter)


Baked potato, carrot, eggplant, tomato

1 serving low-fat vegetable lasagne



Back To TOC

3. Generalized 1200 Calorie Non-Vegetarian Diet Chart

The-1200-Calorie-Diet-Plan-3 Pinit

Image: Shutterstock

MealWhat To EaCalories
Early Morning1 cup green tea with honey65

1 glass kale smoothie with pomegranate and cucumber

1 whole boiled egg and a slice of multigrain bread with low-fat cheese

Egg frittata with bacon





Spinach, asparagus, and mushroom salad with light dressing

Tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato with 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise




1 apple

A bowl of fruits (watermelon, musk melon, and kiwi)



Evening SnackGreen tea with 1 multigrain biscuit73

Baked salmon with veggies

Chicken clear soup with lots of veggies



Back To TOC

4. What To Eat When On The 1200 Calorie Diet

The-1200-Calorie-Diet-Plan-4 Pinit

Image: Shutterstock

The 1200 calorie diet plan requires a careful consideration of the amount and nature of food to be consumed in order to fulfill the nutritional requirements. Foods rich in carbs, such as flour bread and pasta, sugary products, and foods with high fat content should particularly be avoided as they have more calories, which tend to cause weight gain.

  • Non-starchy fruits and vegetables should be consumed more as they are low in calories and carbohydrates and high in vitamins when compared to other foods. Vegetables like cucumber, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, beets, asparagus, peppers, and leafy greens and fruits like bananas, plums, cherries, grapes, apples, and peaches are some of the best healthy options.
  • Carbohydrates are required in fewer quantities for a fit and healthy body. Complex carbohydrates, found in whole grain bread and pasta, bran, etc., keep you full for a longer time as they are digested slowly. Hence, in order to lose weight and build your immunity, consume complex carbohydrates.
  • Use olive oil, vegetable oil, rice bran oil, canola oil, mustard oil, and peanut oil. These oils have less saturated fat and calories.
  • It is recommended that if you are on the 1200 calorie diet, you should consume a good amount of protein. It is extremely vital for maintaining lean tissue and burning fat. Moreover, it improves your blood glucose levels and prevents any hunger pangs that you might experience. Eat lentils, beans, soy, mushroom, tofu, fish, turkey, chicken breast, and lean cuts of beef.
  • Instead of three large meals, have five or six small meals throughout the day. This will help keep your metabolism active and burn more fat.
  • Eat a heavy breakfast. Also, try not to skip breakfast. Depending on how many calories you consume during breakfast, keep your lunch low or higher in calories, but make sure not to eat a heavy lunch. Balance your meals in such a way that you do not deprive yourself of essential nutrients while keeping the calorie count low. The meal plate should have four sections comprising of mostly protein and non-starchy foods, and the remaining portions comprising of starchy foods and dairy products.

Back To TOC

5. What Not To Eat When On The 1200 Calorie Diet

The-1200-Calorie-Diet-Plan-1 Pinit

Image: Shutterstock

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.
  • Limit eating red meat as it contains high levels of saturated fat that shoot up the cholesterol levels in the blood. This, in turn, leads to heart disease.
  • Avoid eating fried foods such as fried chicken, deep fried foods, and potato fries.
  • Avoid aerated and artificially sweetened drinks. Even the packaged fruit juices contain additives and artificial sweeteners, which will make you gain weight.
  • While you are on the 1200 calorie diet, avoid alcohol. Alcohol gets broken into sugar, which gets readily absorbed into the blood and raises the blood sugar levels. If enough insulin is not present to use the sugar up as energy, the sugar gets stored as fat.

Back To TOC

6. The 1200 Calorie Diet Recipe

Broccoli And Lentil Soup

The-1200-Calorie-Diet-Plan-5 Pinit

Image: 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. Now, 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 the broccoli florets are properly cooked.
  11. Add the orange juice and use an immersion blender and blend all the ingredients to make a thick soup.

Back To TOC

7. Role Of Exercise

No specific exercise is recommended when you follow this diet. However, dieters should be aware that exercising on a daily basis is vital for maintaining weight loss and for overall good health. Nevertheless, you should not resort to excessive exercise as the caloric and nutritional intake are too low for high levels of physical activity. Exercise and workout should be done in moderation. Working out in the gym or brisk walking for an hour on a daily basis is recommended.

Back To TOC

8. Changes In Lifestyle

The-1200-Calorie-Diet-Plan-6 Pinit

Image: Shutterstock

  • Watch What You Eat

When you are on a diet to lose weight, you have to make it a habit to know what you are eating, especially when you buy foods from the supermarket. Also, try to avoid eating out. Cook simple and easy to cook foods the night before and store them in airtight containers. This will help you keep your weight in check.

  • Sleep

While on a low-calorie diet, make sure you allow your body and mind enough rest by sleeping for at least seven hours. Also, go to bed early so that you wake up early. You will get time for simple stretching exercises and also to fix a good breakfast before heading out. Also, when you sleep early, you can avoid the late-night carb cravings. You will feel more energetic the next day.

  • Relax

A lot of women gain weight due to “emotional eating”. Try to leave the office worries at the office and don’t carry them home. Listen to good music to block all negative thoughts. This way, you will be able to focus better, feel less anxious, and can completely avoid emotional eating.

  • Spa

Book an appointment at a spa and get a body massage. This will mobilize the stored fat and help burn it as well. You will feel rejuvenated and good about yourself.

  • Dance

You don’t have to be perfect, just dance. Do crazy moves or the perfect dance steps. This will help you release a lot of “feel good” hormones, which will help you lose weight by burning fat. It will also make you feel good and help you avoid emotional eating. Make sure you get grooving for at least five minutes a day.

  • Do Not Watch Food Channels

If you are someone who gets tempted to eat just by watching food channels, it is best to avoid watching them for a while. This will help you avoid eating unnecessarily.

Back To TOC

9. Benefits Of The 1200 Calorie Diet

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

  • It is simple and easy to follow as there are no restrictions on the types of food you can consume. Moreoever, it can be easily adapted to suit specific dietary concerns.
  • It does yield results when it comes to losing weight as it focuses on taking in 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.
  • Numerous diet plans are available to suit your needs. Any one of these can be chosen to enable you to stay on track. Even if you are following a high-protein diet or trying to reduce blood sugar, you can follow the 1200 calorie diet.
  • This diet provides a variety of choice 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 to the nutritionists and health professionals for developing other diet plans for weight loss.

Back To TOC

10. Drawbacks Of The 1200 Calorie Diet

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.

  • 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.
  • Consuming enough fatty products is also important to maintain good health. Fats help in protection against diseases, digestion, absorption of vitamins, keeping hair and skin healthy, regulation of body temperature, and maintenance of cell function. But, this diet drastically reduces the consumption of fats.
  • 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.
  • It is considered an unhealthy diet due to lack of calories for generating energy.

Back To TOC

11. Dos And Don’ts

Eat a heavy breakfast.Do not exceed the calorie limit when you are on this diet.
Eat at least 6 meals per day.Do not keep a long time 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 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.

Back To TOC

12. FAQs

Why is 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 every woman. 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.

Back To TOC

When you decide to go on a low-calorie diet to lose weight, the toughest part is to stick to the plan. Since it is a restricted diet, it is normal to have carb cravings very frequently in the beginning. However, once you stick to it for the first three days, following the diet plan for the next four days will not be a hassle anymore. Also, follow a proper diet, exercise routine, and change your lifestyle to get better and quicker results.

Let us know how this diet plan helped you lose weight. If you have any questions or queries, do comment in the box below.

The following two tabs change content below.

Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. 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. And that 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.