1,200-Calorie Weight Loss Meal Plan

1,200-Calorie Weight Loss Meal Plan

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Following a 1,200-calorie eating plan can help you lose weight.

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Even with all the different diet plans available, calorie counting remains one of the most popular ways to manage weight. The minimum number of calories an adult should consume is 1,200 calories per day. This amount is necessary to preserve lean body mass and get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals each day. Going below 1,200 calories will create too great of an energy deficit. This will cause the body to go into starvation mode and decrease your metabolism. A well-balanced meal plan consists of lean protein, carbohydrates, non-starchy vegetables and healthy fat.


This meal plan includes six 1-ounce servings of lean protein per day. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans and cheese are all considered protein sources. Examples of 1-ounce equivalents of lean protein are one egg, Вј cup egg substitute, one slice of low-fat cheese or 1 ounce of lean meat, fish or poultry without skin. To avoid exceeding 1,200 calories per day, choose lean meats and reduced-fat cheeses. Note that peanut butter counts as a protein and a fat source. One tablespoon of peanut butter is considered one serving of protein and one serving of fat. Also, beans count as a protein and a carbohydrate source. A ВЅ-cup portion of beans is considered one serving of protein and one serving of carbohydrate.


This meal plan includes nine servings of carbohydrates per day. Carbohydrates include bread, grains, fruit, milk, yogurt and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn or peas. Examples of one carbohydrate serving from fruit include a small apple or orange, 17 small grapes, ВЅ cup canned fruit or 1 cup melon or berries. For breads or grains, one slice of bread, 1/3 to ВЅ cup cooked pasta, ВЅ cup oatmeal, 1/3 cup rice or ВЅ cup corn equal one carbohydrate serving. One cup of milk or 6 ounces of yogurt equal one carbohydrate serving from the dairy group. For healthier carbohydrate options, choose whole-grain products, skim or 1 percent milk and light yogurt.


Only non-starchy vegetables are included in this part of the meal plan. Aim for at least three servings of non-starchy vegetables per day. Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, peppers and tomatoes are examples of vegetables that belong in this group. Since these vegetables are low in calories, they do not have to be measured.


Limit fat intake to three servings per day. This includes margarine or butter, salad dressings, oils, mayonnaise, nuts and olives. Since fats and oils are very high in calories, choosing reduced-fat dressings or margarines will help you not exceed your daily limit of 1,200 calories. Examples of one serving of fat would be 1 teaspoon mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons reduced-fat salad dressing or 1 tablespoon regular salad dressing and 1 teaspoon of margarine or 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Free Foods

Any food with very few calories, carbohydrate or fat is considered a free food. Examples of free foods include sugar-free gelatin desserts, sugar-free jams, sugar substitute, fat-free cooking spray, 1 tablespoon fat-free salad dressing, mustard and salsa.

Meal Pattern

Try to spread these food groups as evenly as possible throughout the day. Breakfast should consist of one protein serving, three carbohydrate servings and one fat serving. Lunch should consist of two protein servings, two carbohydrate servings, one fat serving and as many vegetables as desired. Dinner should consist of three protein servings, two carbohydrate servings, one fat serving and vegetables as desired. This leaves room for one snack consisting of two carbohydrate servings.


Weigh meat, fish or poultry after it is cooked. Measure pastas and hot cereals after they are cooked.


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