So you’d like to lose some weight and the faster the better. Right? Yes, you and millions of other people! If you are choosing to get started with a 1200 calorie diet plan to lose weight without lowering your metabolism, there are a number of things to keep in mind to be successful.
For starters, take the time to determine your basal metabolic rate. (BMR Calculator) This is how you determine if 1200 calories will work for you. Your basal metabolic rate may be lower than 1200 calories a day but more likely than not it will be more than 1200. Make sure your caloric intake each day is not less than your estimated BMR.
You will also need to add additional calories each day to cover the energy cost of exercise. In addition, for added insurance, to keep your metabolic rate from slowing down and making it even more difficult to lose weight, consider cycling your calorie intake a little higher (more than BMR + energy cost of exercise) every third day.
Something else to keep in mind is to distribute your calories throughout the day. Do eat breakfast! Keep your meals small and allow for snacks. Doing this will help keep your metabolism running well and you will be less likely to become famished and resort to eating everything in sight!
Choose nutritious foods. 1200 calories is very little and getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy can be a challenge. There’s no room for “empty calorie” foods such as candy that provide calories with few if any nutrients (save candy for occasional treats).
I’ve designed a basic 1200 calorie diet plan that will help you make good choices (You can find the plan with this link or click on the link in the menu at the top of this page). Adhering as closely to this plan as you can will help you achieve weight loss success and give you a more balanced intake of nutrients than otherwise. I recommend that you choose foods that are not only a good source of nutrients but also those which are high in water and/or fiber. Both water and dietary fiber will help you fill up and not feel as hungry as you might with other plans.
To learn more about high fiber foods and weight loss read my article on dietary fiber that I posted earlier. (High Fiber Diet for Weight Loss) Remember to drink plenty of water when you choose high fiber foods.
Foods you will want to limit include refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice, sweets, and high fat foods. Also limit nutritious choices such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruit because they tend to be high in calories.
Here is a sample 1200 calorie menu:
1 cup Oatmeal Squares by Quaker
4 oz. skim milk (nonfat)
4 oz. orange juice
½ cup blueberries
8 TLC Crackers – Kashi Original Whole Grain
1 piece mini Babybel light cheese
1 slice Flax & Fiber bread by Arnold
1 tbsp. peanut butter – natural creamy
1 medium apple
8 carrot sticks
water, unsweetened tea or coffee, or diet soda
Your choice of a 100-calorie snack
Make a large salad
1-3 cups spinach leaves with salad greens
½ chopped ripe red tomatoes
½ cup drained and rinsed chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
½ cup lowfat 1% cottage cheese
½ tbsp. salad dressing light Ranch
water, unsweetened tea or coffee, or diet soda
½ cup light vanilla ice cream
Total calories about 1215
(Remember to add additional calories to cover YOUR basic energy needs (BMR + Exercise)
A 1200 calorie diet is a challenge. However, you may have learned that your caloric needs are higher than 1200 calories by two to three hundred or more. This is good news! You get to eat more food right? And your metabolism will not be as likely to slow down.
As you lose weight just be sure to recalculate your BMR and make adjustments over time. Why? Because your BMR will be lower as you lose weight. This change in BMR with weight loss is not a slow down in metabolism but rather a reflection of less body mass.
So that’s the gist of it. Keep track of your BMR as you lose weight. Choose healthy nutritious foods that are high in water and/or fiber. Cover the energy cost of exercise. Cycle your calorie intake up by a little every third day. And remember to distribute your calories over the day.
If you intend to follow a low calorie diet, I highly encourage you to keep track of your caloric intake with some of the tools online. Fitday is free but I prefer the Calorie Counter at MyFoodDiary.com for many reasons (read my review here).
I hope to provide more sample menus for a 1200 calorie diet over time. (Update: I’ve added links for more sample menus at the bottom of the page for the 1200 Calorie Diet Plan.) If you need more ideas, I encourage you to join the Anne Collins weight loss membership site. Anne provides dozens of low calorie plans with menus for different types of diets. For only $1.66 a month it is by far the bargain on the web (read my review).
To learn lots more about the ins and outs of being on a low calorie diet see: 1200 Calorie Diet
Have any questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to ask!
[Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. You are responsible for checking with your medical doctor before going on any low calorie diet. Also, this plan may or may not be appropriate for diabetics. Check with your doctor or dietitian for appropriate plans for diabetes.]