You don’t have to starve yourself to successfully lose weight and keep it off. In fact, shedding pounds at a safe pace boosts your chance at keeping the lost weight off long term. Eating 1,200 calories daily helps most adults safely lose weight. However, if you’re feeling hungry on this low-calorie diet – or are losing more than 2 pounds weekly -- it’s time to boost your caloric intake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests a weight-loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week, which should help you avoid starvation and hunger.
The Basics of Weight Loss
While many women need 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily for effective weight loss, heavier women, active women and many men require 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day during weight loss, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Large-framed or very active men may need additional calories to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. Your individualized weight-loss energy needs are 500 to 1,000 fewer calories than your usual intake.
Symptoms of Starvation
It’s time to increase your caloric intake if you’re experiencing symptoms of starvation or malnutrition – including dizziness, fatigue, hair loss and rapid weight loss. Quickly shedding pounds at a pace of 3 to 5 pounds per week can also cause gallstone formation, according to the Weight-control Information Network. WIN reports that weight regain is common with very low-calorie diets – such as diets that contain 800 calories per day or less -- and most people should avoid them, unless they are under medical supervision.
Sample Meal Plan
Using a sample meal plan from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 helps ensure that you stick to your 1,200-calorie daily allotment. This type of 1,200-calorie meal plan includes 3 ounces of protein-rich foods such as lean meats, eggs, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds and soy products; 4 ounces of grains, 2.5 cups of dairy foods, 1.5 cups of vegetables, 1 cup of fruit, 4 teaspoons of oils and 121 extra calories each day.
When using a 1,200-calorie, weight-loss meal plan, try 1/2 cup of strawberries, 1 cup of low-fat yogurt and 3/4 cup of cooked oatmeal for breakfast. For a mid-morning snack, choose 3/4 of an ounce of almonds and 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese. A healthy lunch might include 2.5 ounces of baked salmon, 1 cup of steamed broccoli, 3/4 of a cup of brown rice and 1 cup of low-fat milk. For an afternoon snack, try 1/2 cup of blueberries and 3/4 of an ounce of sunflower seeds. A nutritious dinner may consist of 2.5 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes and one small, whole-wheat dinner roll.