A successful weight-loss strategy includes an appropriate calorie target, a healthy goal weight and a nutrient-rich diet. A plan that focuses on improving overall health and reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is one that limits calories without sacrificing nutrition. The number of calories you consume plays a significant role in an effective weight-loss plan. A 1,200-calorie diet will allow for weight loss in most situations, but it might be too few calories for some people.
Setting your calorie target too low potentially sabotages weight-loss efforts by promoting eating binges or impulsive snacking. Set your calorie target too high and your weight could plateau or increase. Although the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports that a 1,200-calorie diet is safe for most women, and recommends between 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day for men. Your activity level and the amount of weight you need to lose are important considerations when setting a calorie target for weight loss.
A healthy 1,200-calorie diet is one that suits your nutritional needs and weight-loss goals. Appropriate calorie targets for weight loss vary by individual. Reducing your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 results in a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week, which is considered a healthy rate for weight loss. If you maintain your current weight by eating 1,700 to 2,200 calories daily, a 1,200-calorie diet should promote weight loss at a healthy rate. On the other hand, if you regularly need more than 2,200 calories to maintain your weight, following a 1,200-calorie diet might cause you to lose weight too quickly.
Even if a 1,200-calorie eating plan suits your individual needs, the foods you eat to meet your calorie target also play a role in your weight-loss strategy. If you eat 1,200 calories in foods that are high in sugar and fat, you may miss out on important nutrients, enjoy less food for your calories and end up feeling hungry and deprived. You're more likely to stick to a weight-loss plan that enables you to stay within your calorie target, get the nutrients you need and feel satisfied. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend incorporating your less-than-healthy favorites into your eating plan, but enjoying them in smaller portions and less often.
Planning your meals with a focus on filling foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat milk and fiber-rich whole grains, will help you stay within your 1,200-calorie target and reach your weight goals. Eating right while losing weight helps you establish good eating habits that improve your chances of keeping the weight off once you reach your goal.
For a weight-loss strategy to work long-term, you need to make physical activity a part of your regular routine. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that exercise not only promotes weight loss, but it plays a vital role in weight maintenance. Work up to five workouts a week, aiming for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise per session. Generally, you'll need at least 250 minutes of moderately intense exercise weekly for weight loss, and to prevent weight re-gain.