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What Is a 1200 Calorie Diet Plan?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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A 1200 calorie diet plan is a diet designed to usually reduce the amount of calories a person consumes every day, but ensure that a healthy level of daily caloric intake is maintained. Many doctors and dietitians suggest a diet plan that starts off with 1200 calories as the core, because this is typically viewed as the safest minimum amount of daily calories a person can consume. While the specifics of such a plan may vary from person to person and on the advice of a specific doctor or nutritionist, the basic structure is built on the idea that in a 1200 calorie diet plan, a person will eat as close to 1200 calories each day as possible.

The basic idea behind a 1200 calorie diet is for a person to supply his or her body with enough calories to function and remain active, but without consuming excessive calories to allow the body to lose excess weight. For women, 1200 calories has been found in multiple studies to be the safest minimum daily caloric intake, while for men the number can sometimes be higher and may be considered closer to 1500 daily calories. The term 1200 calorie diet plan is still often used for both men and women, though men should consider the differences in their physical needs.

Calories refer to how much energy is produced in the human body based on the food eaten. As such, cutting daily calorie consumption below 1200 can be dangerous and not provide a person with enough calories for physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. A 1200 calorie diet will usually involve the eating of fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, as well as lean proteins, and whole grains. Initial adjustment to any diet regimen can be difficult, and the 1200 calorie diet plan is often helpful because it does not require a person to starve himself or herself and allows for continued eating of many foods.

As with any other type of diet and exercise routine, a doctor should be consulted before beginning a 1200 calorie diet plan. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also typically require a higher-calorie diet and should not start such a regimen. While daily exercise and physical activity are important for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, excessive physical exercise should be avoided by anyone on a 1200 calorie diet plan as such activity may require more calories than he or she is currently consuming.

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Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Jan 28, 2015

@rundocuri- I agree with you, because constantly counting calories takes a lot of the joy out of eating. What works for me is eating certain foods in moderation, and splurging on some while avoiding others.

For example, if I am planning to eat a rich dessert like chocolate cake or ice cream, I will avoid other sweets like soda pop or candy for the day. This way I can enjoy what I like to eat without overindulging and gaining weight.

By Rundocuri — On Jan 27, 2015

I tried sticking to a 1200 calorie diet meal plan once, and it was very difficult to do. It is surprising how quickly calories add up!

My advice to anyone who wants to cut calories and lose weight is to eat sensibly and increase the amount of exercising done each week. This is a much easier diet and weight loss plan to stick to than counting every calorie.

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