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1200 calories per day is about the lowest a woman should go when aiming for fat loss. This level of calories has been found to help with weight loss in trials.
For men this figure is around the 1500-1700 calorie mark. This varies greatly depending on your height, weight, and level of physical activity. It is advisable to find your individual calorie needs rather than going by generalized guidelines.
To find your daily calorie needs use the Daily Calorie Needs Calculator.
As a (somewhat sobering) guideline, a Big Mac, Large Fries, and Large Coke from McDonald’s amounts to 1,350 calories!
See also: 1000 calories, 1100 calories or browse all meal plans.
Meal Plan 1
- 1 Cup Orange Juice (55)
- 1/2 Cup Oatmeal (154)
- 1 Cup Low-Fat Yogurt (154)
- Black Coffee or Herbal Tea (0)
- Smoothie (170)
(1 Cup Berries blended with 1 Cup Trim (1%) Milk and Ice Cubes).
- 2 Slices Whole Wheat Bread (200)
- 1/2 Cup Tuna (in water only) (90)
- Salad (1 small tomato,1/2 cucumber, 1 cup lettuce) with 1 teaspoon lite mayonnaise + 1/2 tbsp olive oil. (116)
- 3.5 oz. (~100g) chicken breast (skinless boneless) – cook in griller. (119)
- 1 Cup Broccoli (55)
- 1/2 Cup cooked Brown Rice (108)
Meal Plan 2
- 1 Slice Whole Wheat Toast with 1 tsp Butter (125)
- 1/2 Cup Canned Fruit Cocktail (Fruit Salad) – in natural juice only (54)
- 8 oz. (1 cup) Trim (1%) Milk (100)
- 1 Medium-Sized Banana (105)
- 8 Whole Wheat Ritz Crackers with 1/2 cup Low-Fat (1%) Cottage Cheese. (194)
- Handful Mixed Nuts (.6 oz.)(Almonds, Walnuts, Brazil nuts) (100)
- 1 Medium Apple (96)
- Small Baked Potato (128)
- 3 oz. (~85g) Sirloin Steak (156)
- 1/2 Cup Mushrooms (10)
- 1/4 Cup Onions (17)
- 1 Teaspoon olive or canola oil (cooking) (30)
- 1 Cup Mixed Vegetables (90)
Ensure you drink plenty of water – aim for 8-10 glasses per day.
The Easy Way
The easiest way to follow a 1200 calorie diet is by getting the meals delivered:
- Try BistroMD’s Standard Plan for women (3 meals + 2 snacks). It’s calorie controlled to exactly 1200 calories per day.
- Taylor, C. B., Agras, W. S., Losch, M., Plante, T. G., Burnett, K. (1991). Improving the effectiveness of computer-assisted weight loss. Behavior Therapy, 22(2), 229-236. Link
- Epstein, L. H., Valoski, A. M., Vara, L. S., McCurley, J., Wisniewski, L., Kalarchian, M. A., … Shrager, L. R. (1995). Effects of decreasing sedentary behavior and increasing activity on weight change in obese children. Health psychology, 14(2), 109. Link