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The Recommended Daily Values for a 1,200-Calorie Diet

author image Chelsea Flahive, RDN, LD
Chelsea Flahive is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian with a passion for health and wellness, weight management and disease prevention. She received a Bachelor of Science in human nutrition, foods and exercise from Virginia Tech and completed her dietetic internship through the University of Delaware. Flahive is completing a certificate of training in weight management through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The Recommended Daily Values for a 1,200-Calorie Diet
Grilled chicken drumsticks with vegetables. Photo Credit: annata78/iStock/Getty Images

By eating a balanced diet with the appropriate amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat, you can reduce your risk for chronic disease and still get the essential nutrients you need. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 provides appropriate macronutrient ranges for carbohydrates, protein and fat.

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According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, the majority of your calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should make up 45 percent to 65 percent of total calories. For a 1,200-calorie diet, this would be anywhere from 540 calories to 780 calories per day. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are healthy carbohydrate foods.


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that protein should be 10 percent to 35 percent of total calories. If you are following a 1,200-calorie diet, 120 to 420 calories should come from protein foods. Healthy protein foods include lean meat, poultry, fish, beans and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.


Fat should be 20 percent to 35 percent of your total daily calories, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. If you’re aiming for 1,200 calories, anywhere from 240 to 420 calories should come from fat. Fat is found in oils, nuts and meat, and you should get more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than saturated fats.

Vitamins and Minerals

The recommended daily values for vitamins and minerals are based on age. Due to low intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk products and seafood, some vitamins and minerals are of public health concern. Adults should aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium, 25 to 38 grams of fiber, 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 15 micrograms of vitamin D.

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