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What is a 1200 Calorie Diet?

1200 Calorie DietA 1200 calorie diet is a diet that will allow you to lose weight, while still providing your body with the minimum amount of nutrition it needs. It is recommended by most nutritionists and medical professionals as they feel it would provide enough nutrition to prevent malnutrition. Note that for men, the calories are 1500-1700 calories per day. Another reason for the 1200 calories is to prevent your body from entering into starvation mode, which would slow down your metabolism and weight loss.

The great thing about this diet is that you can eat whatever it is that you want, you just can’t exceed 1200 calories a day. Since cravings are a major cause for people quitting their diet, you shouldn’t find that (cravings) to be a big problem on this plan.

This means that if you have a craving for chips, a doughnut, or a candy bar, you can indulge, provided you ensure that you don’t exceed your allotment of 1200 calories per day.

With a little research and by being creative, you can actually eat lots of delicious foods on the 1200 calorie diet including sweets! There are many low calorie meals you can cook or even eat outside, as well as fulfilling low calorie snacks. Check out some ingredients that are ideal to use for your 1200 calorie meals.

Here is a video of some samples meals you can have on the 1200 calorie diet:


How Much Weight Will I Lose On A 1200 Calorie Diet?

You can use this tool to figure out how much weight you will lose if you go on the 1200 calorie diet. Under the question “How Many Calories Will You Consume Per Day?”, make sure to enter 1200.

Can Combine with Intermittent Fasting

If you eat an equal amount of calories in each meal (1200 divided by 3), you will only be able to eat 400 calories per meal under the 1200 calorie diet (or less if you want to snack). If you prefer to eat more calories per meal, combining your 1200 calorie diet with intermittent fasting may be the suitable approach for you.

Intermittent fasting is simply not eating for a long period of time, usually for 14 to 18 hours. An easy way to incorporate intermittent fasting in your life is to skip breakfast. This is easier for busy professionals or parents who hardly have any time in the morning anyway. The first 1-2 days may be a bit hard, but usually thereafter you will feel no hunger. For those rare mornings when you get hungry, you can munch on one of the easily prepared low-calorie snacks.

What this allows is for you to have good-sized meals for lunch and/or dinner, depending on what your preference is. For example you can have a 700 calorie lunch and a 500 calorie dinner, which may be a lot more satisfying for some people than having three 400 calorie meals (or less if you want to have snacks).

Also incorporating intermittent fasting may have the benefit of accelerating your weight loss.

Become an Expert Calorie Counter

A 1200 calorie diet means that you will count every calorie that you eat for the duration of your diet. It also means that you will be looking up calories for every single item you consume, including dressings, sauces, and drinks.

When cooking your own dishes, you will need to add up calories for all the ingredients. This can be a hassle for many people, and one of the reasons people don’t stick to this diet plan.

However a very beneficial result of constantly looking up calories is that you will start to know how many calories each food item has. This is great knowledge that you can make use of for the rest of your life. Even among vegetables and fruits, you will learn which has higher calories.

Did you know that depending on the drink, a Grande drink at Starbucks can have up to 550 calories? That is pretty much equivalent to a Big Mac® at McDonald’s. Unless I am crazy about the drink, I’d rather have a Big Mac to fill up my 1200 calories. Once you learn how many calories each food item has, you can start making smart decisions on how you consume those calories, and make each calorie count!

Tools to Help You With the 1200 Calorie Diet Plan

Luckily there are many websites, iPhone apps, and IPad apps that can help you look up and track your calories very easily.

Have these tools handy wherever you go, so you can look up the calories BEFORE you order, cook, or eat your food.

Here are a couple of links that can help you determine the calorie content of food:

Website: CalorieKing or Calorie Count

MyFitnessPal App

The Calorie Counter from MyFitnessPal is a free app available for your iPhone and/or IPad, easy to use, and great for calorie tracking on the go.

This free app allows you to look up calories and track them on a daily basis for each meal. You can also track your weight. It contains calories of many fast-food, café and restaurant menus as well, so you can make better choices.


General Foods to Eat on the 1200 Calorie Diet

Although you can eat whatever you like on this diet, in order for you to not be hungry and stay healthy, you probably will have to rely heavily on unprocessed foods, including but not limited to vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and lean meats, as they are relatively low-calorie and high in nutrients.

Processed foods are usually high in calories (for example, a Big Mac is around 550 calories), do not have nutritional value, and over time make you hungry quickly.

So unless you have a strong craving for a processed food item, it would be better and easier for you long-term to skip processed foods as often as possible, and eat more whole foods including vegetables, meats, fish and low-sugar fruits. Again this is so that you can avoid feeling hungry and so that you can get the necessary nutrients (and avoid illnesses).

1200 Calorie Meal Plan

For a list of recommended ingredients to use while on the 1200 calorie diet, check out the 1200 calorie meal plan ingredients.

If you have a busy life and need easy to prepare snacks while on the 1200 calorie diet, check out these low calorie snacks for busy people.

The following short (4 min) video shows a few more ideas for low calorie snacks that you can eat while on the 1200 calorie diet plan.

A little research and creativity goes a long way. Seek out low-calorie foods and snacks you enjoy and make them a part of your everyday 1200 calorie meal plan.

Below are sample 1200 calorie meal plans for each type of cuisine. The menus will give you a good idea of how much you can eat for each type of food. It may be a great starting point for those who want to get started quickly since the recipes are probably familiar to you and relatively easy.

1200 Calorie Diet Exercise

While excessive exercise should be avoided while on the 1200 calorie diet since your calorie intake is limited, a moderate amount of exercise is absolutely recommended for weight loss and maintenance. Exercise increases your insulin sensitivity which aids in weight loss, and if you build muscle, you will also increase your metabolism. At least once a week of exercise is recommended. Good exercises are walking, weight-lifting, jogging, yoga and aerobic exercise, not exceeding 30 minutes, up to 3 times a week.

Since every person is different, carefully watch your body and find the right amount and frequency of exercise for you. Stop immediately if you feel dizzy or sick, and make sure to drink plenty of water.

If you have a treadmill at home, make sure to make use of it and do some walking and running. Even simply walking on the treadmill or around your neighborhood will make a noticeable difference.

Below is a short video (1 min) that shows how you can incorporate simple walking to lose weight. The video is centered around a treadmill, so is perfect for those with a treadmill at home, or access to a treadmill at a gym.


Here is a video of some great strength training routines that you can do in less than 8 minutes!


Tips When Going on the 1200 Calorie Diet Plan

Again when you’re on a 1200 calorie diet, you need to be careful of the amount of exercise that you do. Many people don’t realize that when they exercise heavily they need more calories to maintain a healthy body. While you can still exercise while in-taking 1200 calories a day, you’re exercises should not exceed more than 30 minutes a day and you should only exercise up to 3 times a week. What’s more, the exercises shouldn’t be intense.

The second thing that you need to be aware of is that there are ways to circumvent hunger pains. Many people quit this diet before they ever achieve any weight loss because they’re tired of feeling hungry all of the time. The thing is there are plenty of filling foods that you can eat while still maintaining your 1200 calorie count, you just have to know what those foods are (check out the ingredient suggestions for a 1200 calorie meal plan). One trick to eliminating hunger pains is to eat a lot of low calorie vegetables such as cucumber, lettuce, tomato, celery, spinach, onions, bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower.

In the 1200 calorie diet, you have to be organized and regimented in order to successfully maintain the diet. You may also have low energy levels depending on what you eat. Remember to maintain moderate exercise, eat healthy and include vitamins to ensure that you get all the nutrition that you need.

The 1200 calorie diet really does work if you can stick to it. And the key to sticking to the 1200 calorie diet long-term is to not get hungry, not feel deprived, and to get sufficient nutrition. It will probably be hardest in the beginning when you cut down your calories, but soon you will get used to eating less calories and for most people less volume of food. Again eating lots of vegetables is recommended along with some meat and fish for feeling of satiety.

Lastly, if you are constantly hungry with the 1200 calorie intake even after incorporating tons of whole foods, try increasing your calories up to 1500 or 1600 calories. Check the weight loss calculator to make sure that will enable you to lose weight.