1200 Calorie Diet

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

1200-calorie-diet

A diet based on 1200 calories daily is the recommended minimum for safe and healthy weight loss.

This is because 1200 calories will generally provide an adequate nutritional intake for most individuals, yet still allows the reduction of calories to the level that most dieters require in order to lose weight.

Many diet plans for weight loss that are developed by nutritionists and health professionals are based on 1200 calories daily.

1200 Calorie Diet Basics


This diet plan is centered around the concept of calorie control. If dieters are consuming less calories than they are expending then this will result in weight loss.

Dieters are to consume 1200 calories daily. This will involve the need to consult with either books or online resources that list the calorie content of each food.

Recommended Foods

There are no specific foods recommended on this plan however dieters are likely to experience a greater degree of success when the diet is based on fresh and unprocessed foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean proteins.

Featured Recipe

Sample 1 Day 1200 Calorie Meal Plan

Breakfast

1 cup bran cereal (128)
1 cup skim milk (90)
1 small banana (89)

Lunch

Tuna (2.9 ounces) sandwich on whole grain bread with 1 Tbs. low fat mayo (310)
2 cups raw vegetable crudités (carrot, red pepper, celery) (55)
1 small apple (80)

Afternoon Snack

Small Nectarine (57)
Sparkling water with lemon wedge (0)

Dinner

3 oz grilled chicken breast (75)
1 cup steamed green beans (44)
Salad with 1 cup lettuce, ½ cup cherry tomatoes, ½ cup grated carrot (45)
2 teaspoons olive oil and balsamic vinegar (90)
1 fresh small peach (51)

Evening Snack

1 small pear (86)

Note: Calorie amounts of each food are in parenthesis and derived from amounts listed on calorieking.com.

3 more days of 1200 calorie meal plans are found for free here.

Look for other healthy recipes and ideas here.

Exercise Could be Difficult

There are no specific recommendations for this diet however dieters should be aware that daily exercise is important for maintaining weight loss and for general health.

Excessive exercise may actually not be beneficial on this plan because the calories and nutritional intake is too low to sustain high levels of physical activity.

Costs and Expenses

There are no expenses for this program other than perhaps a calorie counting tool such as a book or computer program however free online services are also available such as freedieting.com.

The 100 Calorie Diet teaches dieters to eat 1200 calories by breaking each food down into 100 calorie portions.

Pros

  • If wholesome foods are selected many dieters will not experience hunger on this diet.
  • Low calorie diets are a proven effective method of weight loss.
  • Dieters have freedom to choose whatever foods they like as long as the daily caloric intake is not exceeded.
  • Can be adapted to suit special diets such as vegetarian, diabetic etc.
  • Rapid initial weight loss may increase motivation to stick with a long term weight loss plan.

Cons

  • Necessary to count calories and measure foods.
  • Diet will need to be planned carefully so as to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
  • Many dieters will experience fatigue and hunger on a low calorie diet.
  • Not suitable for physically active individuals.
  • High risk of rebound weight gain when calorie intake is increased.

At Least Short Term results

A 1200 calorie diet is likely to produce results for most individuals, at least in the short term. However in order for weight loss to be sustained it will be necessary to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes.

Dieters will have an increased chance of success if they learn how to select nutritionally balanced meals, to manage psychological stress and to incorporate daily physical activity into their routines.

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Creative

    I recently got a cal counting app on my phone to learn how many calories I was actually eating per day, you know, for enlightenment. A little background, I’m 5’2 and 20 years old. At my most I was at 180 when I was 17 years old. I have adult ADD and a bad history of impulsive eating, especially carbs!!! I’m at 132 right now. I eat a lot healthier these days but being aware of what i eat really helps, and taking care of those underlying issues… I’ve lost 2lb in 2 days on 1200 cal diet and I want to lose about 12 more lbs to be happy with myself. Self discipline and mindfulness are huge, as well as being kind to yourself. Be your own best friend, cheerleader, personal trainer, and diet coach. That is what has helped me most I think, because diet alone isn’t enough.

    • Evie Camacho

      I am on a 1200 calorie diet I am 5’2 and currently weigh 161 I want to lose like 35lbs. How many calories should I burn

  • Maria

    I have recently started 1400 calories a day , I lost 5 labs first week , now on second ! It’s working! If it stops , I will then reduce calories ! Simple!

  • Kay

    I’ve started a 1300 calorie a day diet and working out twice a day. Im on day 5 and i have gained weight. I am very upset and feel like giving up. I write down everything i eat and i have been drinking lots of water. Not sure whats going on. I don’t have any health issues either so i know its not my thyroid. i know that some days i haven’t ate the full 1300, could that possibly be the problem? Ugh, i hate how hard this is

    • Evie Camacho

      Reduce calories or work out longer don’t eat after 7 p.m. don’t give up

    • gymgirl

      Well are you weight training for the first time? Because if you are, that could cause you to weigh more due to muscle gain. Also your female cycle will cause quite drastic weight fluctuations. Lastly, do not drop food intake below 1300, especially on workout days. This will cause your body to go into starvation mode, holding onto your weight. So…my advice? all calories aren’t made equal. So focus on leans, fruits and vegetables. Eat lots of raw things. Measure yourself. And weigh only once a month a few days after your period. Good luck! Hope this helps:) ps…this worked a charm for me

  • sam

    There is no way that is 1200 calories! I eat way less than that all round, and even less diary and carbs and I can’t even fit into a 1500 a day diet. I have to be doing it wrong coz this is crazy

    • http://www.everydiet.org ted

      Hi Sam- I doubled checked the above meal plan and added the calorie amounts of each food. It adds up to 1200. The plan above focuses on foods that have more volume, but less calories and is low fat. If you are choosing more calorie-dense foods then the amount of food you are eating will be less.

  • gus

    hi there folks, im on a 1520 calorie diet a day and have been using my fitness pal as well which is amazing but my question is that if i goto gym and burn off say 500 calories it then adds that to my daily total so does that mean i have 2020 calories that day? or am i just ment to have 1520 full stop???

    • mFP

      Hey, I am on MFP as well, if are at or under your daily intake goal you must consume the amount you burned off

    • http://www.everydiet.org ted

      You are supposed to still only eat 1520 calories however if you want a formula that factors this in try this calculator http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm

  • Dianna

    Hey everyone reading all of your post has encouraged me to start a 1200 calorie a day diet … Thanks for all of your thoughts it has been such a huge motivation for me and has given me the confidence I need to start a healthy lifestyle I need to loose 50 lbs or more to be my normal BMI

  • Chameli

    I have been following Fitness Pal app online and via phone for the last month – I am following 1200 calories/ day which was a struggle the first week, the second week I’ve added 5 days of either walking or dancing to burn at least 350 calories for the 5 days. I have lost 9lbs, say just under a kg a week. Guys – be patient as your bodies will be tightening at the same time not mentioning the feel good factor will soar up. Update on your scales no more than once a week and do not magnify yourself infront of the mirror till your usual clothes are hanging off you. I have 9lbs more to burn and we will get there…

    • Tandy

      I had started a 1500 calorie diet as I need to lose 100 lbs. I have only lost 16lbs in 3 months….so 3 weeks ago I started aquatic aerobics(med/high intensity)classes are 1hr long each..but I haven’t lost a lb since…I am moving my calories down to 1200 to see if that make a difference…any suggestions?Feeling pretty down:(I also use the fitness pal program

      • Reta Disney

        Tandy,Im on a 1200 calorie also,and I’ve talked to a few people and they have all said the 1200 is the one to be on.good luck.

    • Lana

      I’m trying the 1200 calorie diet…I have 40 pounds to lose. I’m 55 and have a high stress desk job that leaves me exhausted at the end of the day( I work 10 to 11 hours a day) I’ll done this diet for a week now and can already tell I need better evening meal planning. I would like to be add…I need any and all help!
      Lana

  • Trixie

    I just started a 1200 Calorie a day diet mandated by my Doctor. Its been four days now, and I have lost seven pounds! I’m super excited, yet hesitant to celebrate this small victory because I am worried I may give into my “cravings” and/or eat something not on my list. Does the brain ever stop thinking about the things you can’t have while on this diet, or is this something one has to battle with for the duration of the diet? I’ve been keeping a written journal of all the food, and amounts daily, is this fitness pal easy to keep up with? If so I may have to give it a try.

    • Jessica

      sorry sweetie but its an ongoing battle, it will get a little bit easier and you’ll stop having these cravings so much after a month or two, the beauty of a 1200 calorie per day diet though is you can still indulge a craving a little bit and i stress this point a little bit! just make sure you account for the calories, and do better the rest of the day, my thing is i have a sweet tooth so occasionally ill have a hershey bar and eat salad 2 meals that day to make up for it. as long as your total is 1200 calories you’re ok as long as yur doctor didn’t tell you to follow a diabetic diet or heart healthy diet.

  • shanaz

    Please add me on my fitness pal, could use your support. Un shanazshafiq

  • Ashley

    I’ve been doing the 1200 caloie for a month now I was 185 and lost 10 pounds.. I exercise three times a week.. my workouts are the elliptical at the gym, walking, squats, abs, and weightlift. I usually change it up a bit. The only foods I cut out are fast foods and chips. I’ll let you know right now that its a lifestyle wanting to be healthy.. its not just “oh I want to loose 10 pounds and im done” no its a lifestyle once you stop what you started you will gain it all back.. just don’t give up. If anyone has any questions email me.

  • shelly

    hey! i wanna loose 30 kg in 100 days and right now my calorie intake is 600 per day … m on strict dieting … so is it possible to reduce 30 kg in 100 days ??? any suggestions … ??? pls help me out >> thanks !

    • Jojo

      if you exercise off 1080 calories while maintaining a diet between 1500-2000 calorie diet you will lose the weight

      (trick is **3600 times amounts of pounds you want to lose** divided by the **number of days you want to lose it in** this equals **how many calories you need to burn a day.**)

    • Rachel

      My personal experience is that 600 cal a day is TOO LOW. It only throws your body into starvation mode making it even harder to loose any weight. For me I have to have between 1000-1200 to loose weight and about 1600-2000 cal to maintain

      • Gia

        Rachel,
        I think you are right. I have been on a diet for the past 3 wks. I consume 650 cals per day even with my 45 minutes of exercise every day. I use an app named LOSE IT, and according to my diet and exercise I am supposed to increase my calories up to 1200 because of my time in exercise. I have not increase my calories and I still have only lost 3 pds in 3 weeks.

  • Sammy

    Hi There
    I started using My Fitness Pal 11 days ago and I can honestly say hand on heart that I haven’t cheated once. I’ve been allocated 1200 calories a day which at 5 ft 1 I think is fine. I’ve also completely cut out puddings, crisps, chocolates and crisps from my diet although I Will have a low fat cereal bar or yoghurt as a treat. I have skimmed milk too etc etc. I was so excited when it came to weigh day but this was quickly destroyed when the scales told me I had put 4 pounds ON :( I have literally transformed my diet and as a vegetarian I eat quorn etc. I’ve also cut down my bread intake and if I need any oil I use the one calorie spray. Compared to how I used to comfort eat I truly have overhauled my diet.
    Any ideas as to why I have put weight on? I am truly devastated !!

    • Jane

      Perhaps you weighed yourself at a different time of day? I always weigh myself in the morning after I have been to the loo, and before I have had anything to eat or drink.

    • weaslewam

      I don’t know but I feel you. I’m in a similiar situation. Cut my calories way down, substituted raw veggies for fries, cut out the wine, started working out more and am gaining weight. And no, it’s not muscle. I did not put an inch of muscle on my waste.

      sigh.

  • Dee

    Hi, how long it takes to see weight lost?

  • Debbie Tallon

    Me and my friend have been on this diet and not really losing alot
    of weight we are both active. im doing 3 gym classes and using my
    cross trainer when not..! on my fitness pal it ups my cals regarding my excersise has anyone any tips on where were going wrong..!??

    • anna

      If you’re exercising that much you need at least 1500 calories or else your body will go into starvation mode.

    • Adrian

      Debbie,
      If you and your friend have been eating about 1200 calories a day for at least 1 week with moderate exercise (1 hr walk per day) and you have not seen any weight loss then I am concerned that you are not accurately counting your calories. Are you still consuming any artificial sweeteners or other processed foods to help battle your hunger/cravings?

      • prudence

        hello i am on the 1200 cal diet i am 22 and i am 319 pounds i started the diet on the 12th of jan and i have only lost six pounds did i go wrong some way alone the line

  • Nor

    Hi I have been on a 1200 cal diet for over 4 months and have lost 40 lbs. I’m 72 years old and had to diet for most of my life . I was at 205 and am now at 165 lbs and now have increased it some and want to just hold my weight at 165 . It not really a diet to me its a lifstyle change. I know that I can nver eat certain things and really I dont miss any longer . I feel better and have more energy . I walk a couple of miles everyday sometimes more and keep active .

    • Mare

      Would like to add you as a Fitness Pal friend. Is it possible?

      • Josie

        Mare I started fitness pal last week and I would like to get a group support so please add me to your list

        Thanks

  • Angelina

    Hey im angelina and im 13 years old. i know what you’re thinking, holy isnt she too young to be losing weight. but if thats the case, i’d have to disagree. I am 5’5 and 152 pounds. I was 158 two weeks ago but lost the weight using the calorie diet. i am shocked that it actually works and good luck to everyone thats using it. this week im planning to add exercise to my plan and hopefully i can lose twice the weight two times as fast :)

    • Adrian

      Angelina,

      I second Alana’s statement. Be aware of your need for protien if you are going to add exercise. I focus on eating a Egg Whites (17 calories and 3g protien per egg), at least 6 per day, full services of Legumes (100 calories but 9g protien), and 1 can of tuna fish (100 cal 13g protient) this way i get at least 40g protien a day. I work out 3-5 days a week (I’m active duty military) and I’m trying to stay in standards while remaining mission ready. So it is a balancing act.

    • Alana

      Good for you Angela! I know how you feel, I’m 5’6″ and 175lbs…I’m in Nutrition class and having to research different diets and came across this one. Just remember, if you are to be increasing your exercise, this diet may not have enough calories to provide you with the necessary energy that your muscles need… so don’t forget to add ONE additional portion of good Full Protein Carbs for muscle/skin tissue, such as: chicken, beef, pork, fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt, milk and cheese, OR TWO portions of Half Carbs: corn, grains, nuts, sunflower/sesame seeds, peanuts, soybeans, navy beans and pinto beans. Some other vegetarian protein foods are tofu, soy protein, cottage cheese, egg whites, watercress and spinach. Everyone can always add protein powder to daily fruit smoothies (16 oz glass) and get about half of your dairy, fruit and protein intake in one! (at least for my 2000 calorie daily intake diet) Track your daily intake at choosemyplate.org and use the supertracker/foodtracker tool to get all of your daily requirements. Hope this helps, good luck to you!

  • Purpose88

    How do you add people on My Fitness Pal without having their email address?

    • LC

      Ask them for their user name for My Fitness Pal, and it appears you can also go through FB to add your friends from there.

  • terrabrns

    terrabrns, I need friends on this plan. Nature Valley Granola thins are my new candy bar. :)

  • Doris Pelletier

    I just started the 1200 calorie diet a week ago. Lost 6 lbs. already!! I went to the grocery store and bought all healthy foods, am drinking no more soda, and trying to do all the right things to lose weight. I am 65 years old and I cannot be terribly active because I have some feet issues and a few health issues. I plan on starting to use 2 lb. weights slowing to exercise my arms. I am so serious about it. I just do not want to get discouraged. Any suggestions????

    • Courtney

      I been doing 1200 calorie for a month now and I lost 14 lbs almost 15. I did this site it’s biggest loser.com and that’s how I track what I eat and exercise, it’s easy enter your food tells you the calories it is.

  • Tiki

    Hey can anyone tell me if having 222 calories for breakfast is a good start? Or is it too much? It was a healthy normal breakfast far free mayo an egg whole wheat bread and lettuce.. Let me know I curious if I’m off to a good start

    • http://www.everydiet.org ted

      Basically, you can do this diet in two simple ways.. 3 meals @around 400 calories each or 3 meals @300 calories each and two snacks @150 calories each. You can vary the meal/snack amounts as long as they don’t pass the 1200 calorie mark.

  • Tiki

    MFP I ment! I need slots of motivation! I just had my baby and I gained 74 pounds!! I lost 24 the day I had him and a few pounds after I did the three day diet and lost 2 pounds so all this leaves me at 196.. I’m counting calories w my fitness pal and I’m all for this healthy diet! Lifestyle I should say.. Wish me luck and I really eat some friends on MFP :)

  • Tiki

    Add me! I just started the fitness pro today!! My username is t_kii

    • Purpose88

      add me, I cannot add people without their email address ;-) I’ve been at it for 11 days and am having results and like you am quite determined ;-)

      • Donna hay

        Can you add me i am new to this and need tokse forty poundd. I do alot of. Juicing. I can use. Some support

    • Mary Fink

      I’ll add you! I just started MFP also!

  • mandy

    I have done the 1200 calorie diet; However with excessive exercising. I lost 17 pounds and 1 pantsize in 1 month, and I felt so good! Unfortunatell, as my busy schedule brought back bad habits, I gained all the weight back. Now, I am back on it, with the assistance of “MyFittness Pro.” With this application, I am able to record adequate caloric intake, and I find it to be amazingly productive! Please add me to your friends list! I could really use some encouragement! My UN is mandykay66.

    • Rechelle

      Hi mandy, I have also downloaded the my fitness.pro app, I found.ibstruggled to get to 1200 calories lol, but I have heard this is a minimumbthat women should eat per day…i also walk aswsll so that means id.brun some.of the.calories.i ate, therefore going below 1200 calories a day….do u think/known if this.is.ok, or.sjould I be consiming sady 1400 calories.and then burning 200 to make sure.i dont.go below the 1200.limit…if this makes sense lol

      • Colleen

        Rechelle, it’s my understanding that you should shoot for the 1400 with 200 calories of burned exercise. That’s what I do. I basically use exercise as a way to enjoy a treat or a meal out while still sticking to the 1200 calorie diet. I’ve been told if you go below 1200 calories, your body enters starvation mode, in which it will hold onto as much fat as possible. So it’s basically counterproductive. It’s definitely hard to stick to the 1200 I’m with you! The app really helps though.

  • Jack Jack

    :D im a cheater lol i did a pre test a month before i started my real calorie count. The second time around was much better. Plan snacks, lunch and dinner for the week and left the weekend for shopping. It was tough but its easy once you start getting the hang of it. OH and a tip DRINK LOTS OF WATER.

  • robin

    I am middle age lady who finds herself obese..with back and knee problems..I want to be healthy again..i am approx 90 pounds over weight,,,need help desperately

    • sue

      Do not be discouraged. Just get a notebook and start. Write down what you eat and try to only do 1200-1300 cals. Do not cheat. When you have done this for 1 week give yourself a “free” day. Enjoy. Then next day be strict again. You will lose. Don’t worry about how much you are losing just stick to this plan. It comes off. Trust me nothing works as well as this and you do not need to exercise strenuously. Good luck!

    • sue gunderson

      Get a notebook, a calculator and calorie guide (and the backs of food packages). Just eat only 1200 a day…pick one day for a “cheat” day. The first week is really hard, but after that it is so easy. I lost 16 lbs in 2 months. I have maintained for 3 months. Now I am starting again for my last 10. It is worth it and you can do this.

  • SHEENA BRIMAGE

    EXCITED AND DETERMINED TO TRY THIS DIETING PLAN

  • Brenda

    Hi, please add me on My Fitness Pal, I would love some friends and encouragement from people also doing the 1200 calorie diet. My username is brenee0786. Thanks!!

    • Kimberly Adams

      My username is Kimmey13

    • Amena

      Hi Brenda, I sent you a request in MyFitnessPal. My user name is MenaMeen. We can encourage and support each other.

  • sarah

    will it be possible to lose 10kg in 3weeks with this diet and some exersice too??
    im a girl..weight around 164 pounds….

    • Mindill

      Hi! I’m following a 1200 calories vegan plan and I’ve lost 2kg every week, but without any exercise. I guess if I excersise I could lose a little more, I was 166 lbs when I started. Greatings.

  • Rashmi

    Hi. In India now a days celebration of Diwali festival going on so i gain almost 3 kgs. weight. I am 34 yrs old. Now my weight is 47.7. i have two children. but due to 3 seizure operation my belly is not decreasing compare to other body part. kindly suggest me how to loose belly.

  • Shaz

    Hi could you please add me on fitness pal shazpav I need some friends to keep me motivated x

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