The 1200-calorie diet is a low-calorie diet meant to speed up and support weight loss. It works by limiting one’s daily caloric intake to 1200 calories. Since this is severely limiting diet in terms of calories, it is usually not recommended men, large people, pregnant, or breastfeeding women, and those with an active lifestyle. People with certain medical conditions that require eating a balanced diet or maintaining a certain weight should also avoid such extreme diets. It is advisable to seek advice from a certified dietician when following this diet.
What is a 1200-Calorie Diet?
1200 calories are the lowest number of calories considered safe to consume for the average person on a daily basis. The recommended daily intake is 2000 calories, so consuming only 1200 calories is a steep drop for most individuals and can lead to the loss of 1-2 pounds a week, depending on your activity levels and specific metabolism. This diet appeals to many, as there are no restrictions on specific types of food, such as sugars or fats. It may also increase your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can temporarily boost metabolism.
It should be noted that the number of calories needed per day varies greatly between individuals, and 1200 calories may be too low or too high, depending on the person. A consistent decrease in caloric consumption will lead to weight loss for most adults. A 1200-calorie diet plan is considered quite extreme, falling under the category of a ‘crash diet’. There are other dietary recommendations that are generally considered safer and longer-lasting, as explained in this article from Obesity Reviews.
1200-Calorie Diet Meal Plan
Although the focus of this diet is on the total calorie count, it is still important to consider what, and not just how much, you are eating. Calories are how we get the majority of the micro and macronutrients necessary for optimal health. When cutting out calories, it is important to ensure that you don’t force yourself into nutritional deficiencies, as this can lead to long-term health impacts. You should eat meals containing fiber, protein, vegetables and whole grains. A balanced meal covers most of your fundamental nutritional needs. Here are a few ideas for the three major meals throughout the day to promote a balanced diet.
Starting your day with protein may contribute to weight loss. Protein-focused breakfast options include:
- An egg, hard- or soft-boiled
- Low-fat yogurt with blueberries
- 1 slice of whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter
For lunch, get some healthy fat in the mix, such as olive oil or avocado. Some studies have found that the addition of healthy fat may aid in weight loss. It is also important to include vegetables and protein. Try:
- A can of tuna
- A salad with walnuts and cranberries drizzled with lemon and olive oil
- A slice of whole-grain toast with an avocado
- Two slices of bread, sliced turkey, lettuce and mustard
To round out your day, consider the following options:
- 4oz of chicken with brown rice, quinoa or couscous and a roasted vegetable, such as cauliflower or broccoli
- Grilled salmon and asparagus
- A lean 3 oz. pork chop and a baked sweet potato
- Zucchini stuffed with lean ground turkey, tomatoes, onions, and 1 oz mozzarella
Tips and Things To Consider
There are many issues to consider when beginning any diet. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when following a 1200-calorie meal plan:
- Safety: It is important to ensure your health and safety when restricting your food intake, particularly when eliminating up to 40% of your daily calories.
- Needs: Your own caloric needs, based on age, gender and activity level, are important to consider before beginning this diet. A caloric intake of 1200 calories may be too low to sustain a healthy lifestyle for some populations.
- Underlying illness: Dropping caloric intake is likely to lead to weight loss. But there could be many additional factors to address, such as stress, sleep, and underlying illnesses that may contribute to weight gain and obesity. It is always important to consult your physician before dieting. Combining a diet with other healthful practices, such as staying active and working can relieve chronic sources of stress.
- Post-diet weight gain: It is also well documented that severe caloric restriction diets can be followed by a period of weight gain. This is often due to a return to standard eating practices, rehydration, or a slowdown of the metabolism. Caution and moderation are strongly recommended.