1200 Calorie Diet

1200 Calorie Diet

The 1200 calorie diet is based on recommendations made by medical professionals and nutritionists, who feel that 1200 calories per day is the absolute minimum amount for safe weight loss. Most people will get enough nutrition from 1200 calories a day to avoid malnutrition disorders, while still burning more calories than they consume to lose weight.

The Premise

Nutritionists and medical professionals have been prescribing the 1200 calorie diet for years. Eating fewer than 1200 calories a day leads to malnutrition and severe weight loss. However, most people will be able to get the nutrition they need from 1200 calories a day and still lose weight.

The Diet

The 1200 calorie diet doesn't specify particular foods that dieters can and can't eat. However, to maintain nutritional requirements, those on the 1200 calorie diet should eat mostly whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low fat dairy products; they should minimize or eliminate sources of fat and sugar from their diets.

Because the 1200 calorie diet allows for only a minimum calorie intake, exercise should be minimized on this diet plan. Moderate exercise, for about 30 minutes three times a week, is advisable for those on the 1200 calorie plan. However, excessive exercise can be dangerous, since dieters are eating so few calories each day. If you try the 1200 calorie diet, remember you'll need to significantly increase exercise levels once you're off the diet.

What to Get Excited Over

If you choose healthy, filling foods high in nutrients like protein, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, you'll experience few hunger pains and few cravings on this diet. You're allowed to eat whatever you want as long as you eat less than 1200 calories a day. You're guaranteed to lose weight; you'll lose weight rapidly at the beginning, which can help motivate you to maintain your weight loss in the long term. Since there are no specific restrictions on foods, the 1200 calorie diet can be adapted to suit the needs of vegans, vegetarians, diabetics and anyone with specific dietary requirements.

Things to Consider

You'll need to count calories and weigh your portions when you're on the 1200 calorie diet. You'll need to plan your meals to prevent nutritional deficiencies, or take a multivitamin; if you don't eat healthy foods but continue to simply eat smaller portions of unhealthy foods, you could endanger your health by putting yourself at risk of dietary deficiency. Low calorie diets such as the 1200 calorie diet often cause fatigue, weakness and hunger in dieters. Low calorie diets such as the 1200 calorie diet aren't sufficient for those whose weight loss programs contain high levels of physical activity, since they don't provide the energy your body needs to maintain high levels of activity. 

You're likely to experience a large weight regain when you come off of the 1200 calorie diet, just as you would when finishing any low calorie diet.

The Verdict

The 1200 calorie diet can result in quick, dramatic weight loss, but you could regain that weight easily.