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1,200-Calorie Menu Planner

author image Jamie Yacoub
Jamie Yacoub is a clinical outpatient Registered Dietitian, expert in nutrition and author of her cookbook "Modern Guide to Food and Eating: Low Glycemic Recipes". She obtained a Bachelor of Science in clinical nutrition from UC Davis and an MPH in nutrition from Loma Linda University. Yacoub then completed her dietetic internship as an intern for a Certified Specialist in sports nutrition and at a top-100 hospital.
1,200-Calorie Menu Planner
A meal planner with two green apples sitting on it. Photo Credit RooIvan/iStock/Getty Images

Seeing a registered dietitian for an individualized weight loss plan is always your best option. However, it is good to know that, for most people, eating 1,200 calories per day results in weight loss while providing adequate nutrition. Eating around 1,200 calories per day can actually benefit your metabolism while eating less than 1,200 calories per day can result in a slower metabolism.

Planning Your Meals and Snacks

1,200-Calorie Menu Planner
Planning meals and keeping a food diary can help you stick to your 1,200-calorie meal plan. Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Planning your meals is essential when it comes to a reduced-calorie diet. Keeping a food diary or an online journal, such as MyFitnessPal, can help. Try to eat three meals and one or two snacks per day to stave off hunger. Aim for around 300 calories at breakfast, lunch and dinner. That will give you the option of having two snacks that contain 150 calories or one snack that contains 300 calories.


1,200-Calorie Menu Planner
To control the calories, add vegetables with only one fruit serving in your smoothie. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

For breakfast, an 8-ounce blended shake or a breakfast sandwich will satisfy you until lunch. For a shake, use ½ cup of light or unsweetened almond or soy milk, which are heart healthy. Add ½ cup of nonfat Greek yogurt for protein. Use 2 cups of spinach or kale. Add 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds for a healthy dose of fiber, protein and healthful fat. To add a bit of sweetness -- as well as up your vitamin and mineral intake -- add one fruit serving. Options include half a large banana or 1 ¼ cup of strawberries. In total, this smoothie has only 280 calories.

If shakes are not for you, try a breakfast sandwich. Here's a good example: four cooked egg whites or ½ cup egg substitute, two slices of turkey bacon, ½ cup of spinach and one slice of tomato on a toasted whole wheat English muffin. This sandwich has 275 calories.


1,200-Calorie Menu Planner
Chicken and turkey are low calorie and packed with protein to keep you feeling satisfied after lunch. Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

When lunch comes around, think salads and lean protein. For fiber and nutrients, have 1 ½ cup lettuce, ½ cup of cherry tomatoes and one small cucumber. For filling protein and fiber, have ½ cup cooked quinoa or black beans and 3 ounces of lean chicken breast. For added flavor, use low-calorie dressing or 2 teaspoons olive oil with 2 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar. In total, this lunch option has 205 calories.


1,200-Calorie Menu Planner
How much you should eat at dinner depends on how much you already ate during the day. Photo Credit Nick White/Photodisc/Getty Images

Four ounces of lean chicken, fish or beef for dinner will provide you with 150 to 200 calories. Your starch, which should provide around 70 calories, can be either one small potato or one whole-wheat dinner roll, or one-third cup of cooked brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Eat non-starchy vegetables on the side, for example, ½ cup cooked asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower, which provide 20 to 40 calories. Use 1 teaspoon olive oil or cooking spray, which provides approximately 40 calories, to cook the entire meal.


1,200-Calorie Menu Planner
A vegetable serving paired with light cheese for protein is a low-calorie snack and gives you important nutrients for energy. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Snacks should include fruit or vegetables with a serving of protein. For a 150-calorie snack, have a small apple paired with two wedges of light brie or string cheese. If you want a 300-calorie snack, pair a small banana and one large celery stalk with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter.

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