Maintaining a 1,300-calorie diet can be challenging, but sticking to that calorie intake can make it easier to achieve a healthy weight. The key to success lies in careful meal planning and, in some cases, working hand-in-hand with a physician or dietician to keep you on track.
Maintaining a 1,300 calories a day diet can help some women safely lose weight a little bit at a time.
Why a 1,300-Calorie Diet?
According to the Mayo Clinic, maintaining a diet of roughly 1,200 calories per day can have several benefits. In the short term, people following this eating plan may lose six to 10 pounds during the first two weeks. Not only does this initial weight loss provide a psychological boost as you begin your journey, but it can also help break prior bad habits that may be contributing to weight gain.
Read more: Poor Man's Diet Plan
As you move forward with your diet plan, you can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week until you achieve your target weight. Skills like meal planning and food portioning may also become easier as you pay more attention to your daily caloric intake. As always, it is important to stay physically active for at least 30 minutes a day to maximize your progress.
Over time, following a 1,200- or 1,300-calorie diet like the Mayo Clinic Diet may lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other obesity-related conditions. As your weight decreases, it can also help reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with sleep apnea. Ultimately, achieving a healthy body weight can help you live a longer and happier life.
Plan Your Day
To ensure you stick to your 1,300-calories-a-day goal, meticulous food planning may be necessary early on in your journey. Learning how to break up your day calorically can keep you on track and maintain your health throughout. It may also prevent you from falling off the wagon the first time you drive by your favorite restaurant or see that dessert in the back of the cabinet. An online calorie database, like the one compiled by the USDA, can make everything easier.
Ideally, try keeping your breakfast, lunch and dinner to about 300 calories per meal. Maintaining these portion sizes also allows you to eat up to three snacks of approximately 150 calories each throughout the day.
Read more: 1,200-Calorie Indian Diet Plan
Not only do frequent snacks keep you full in between meals, but they also prevent binge-eating and elevate your metabolism to a rate appropriate enough to power you throughout the day. As with any diet, the most important thing is keeping consistent and finding healthy foods that fit into your lifestyle.
Fill Up on Protein
Whether in the morning, midday or during dinner, incorporating protein into your day is an important part of staying on track. According to a review published in the British Journal of Nutrition in August 2012, high-protein diets increase satiety, preserve lean mass and keep your metabolism up.
There are plenty of delicious, healthy protein-rich foods to include in your diet. For example, you can start the day with two eggs prepared however you like. According to the USDA, two large eggs ring in at about 150 calories and provide over 12 grams of protein. Plain Greek yogurt is another good choice (90 calories and 16 grams of protein per 5.3 ounces) and can be sprinkled with the fruit of your choice for a tasty breakfast.
Read more: The 28-Day Diet Plan
For lunch, the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests incorporating lean roast beef into a sandwich. When made with whole wheat bread, tomato, lettuce and low-fat mayo, this delicious and satiating recipe provides 225 calories and can be paired with fruit and water for a complete meal.
At dinner time, a 2-ounce salmon filet cooked in vegetable oil is a good option as it provides just 163 calories. Serve it with cooked carrots and a baked potato for a meal that keeps within the 300-calorie guidelines, advises the NIH. Other sources of protein, such as chicken, turkey and lean ground beef, can also be incorporated into your weekly dinners for variety.
Reach for Fruits and Vegetables
When looking to round out your meals, incorporating fruits and vegetables into breakfast, lunch and dinner is a smart choice. These foods are not only nutritionally dense and filled with vitamins and minerals, but they're often lower in calories than other popular side dishes, such as white rice or mashed potatoes.
A medium-sized apple, for example, is ideal for breakfast and has only 80 calories, according to the NIH. Cooked veggies like six ounces of broccoli (roughly 50 calories) or a cup of cauliflower (25 calories) are also nutritious and diet-friendly.
To stave off boredom, try mixing your favorite veggies into a side salad. Consider pairing 1 cup of leafy greens, 1 cup of mixed vegetables and 1 tablespoon of low-calorie, low-fat dressing to create a tasty side dish for lunch or dinner. The diverse range of fruits and vegetables available every season allows you to frequently switch up the produce you eat while staying within your caloric guidelines.
Watch Your Snacks
Sticking to a 1,300-calorie diet doesn't leave much wiggle room for empty calories. Therefore, it's important to carefully check the nutrition labels on foods as you choose what to snack on. What you may come to realize, unfortunately, is that seemingly healthy snacks like pretzels, dried fruit or granola bars pack a large caloric punch.
Luckily, there are plenty of healthy snacks that not only taste delicious but also fit into a 1,300-calorie meal plan. Carrots dipped in hummus, two large graham crackers with natural peanut butter or a handful of almonds or cashews are all low-calorie options. String cheese or a small serving of tuna salad and three saltine crackers are good choices too.
Plus, many stores sell 100-calorie snack packs of popular crackers and cookies. These pre-portioned snacks are a great option for when you get hungry at work or while you're on the go. Just make sure they're not loaded with sugar and empty calories.
Work With an Expert
For many people looking to lose weight and get healthier, it is important to take the next step and reach out to a doctor or nutritionist to develop a custom eating plan. For some individuals, 1,300 calories a day is not nearly enough food. A dietician or nutritionist will assess your energy requirements and overall health and then create a meal plan that meets your needs.
For active people, especially athletes and those who do physical work, this caloric level is not high enough to properly fuel their day-to-day activities and maintain proper energy levels. If you fall into these categories, you may also need more protein and carbs than the average person. Therefore, low-calorie diets may not be an option.
Whether you're having a hard time losing weight or sticking to a 1,300-calorie meal plan, it's a good idea to reach out to an expert for help. These professionals are skilled at matching your nutritional needs with a diet plan that fulfills them. This is particularly important for individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, who may have special dietary requirements and may not benefit from the standard, one-size-fits-all approach to dieting.
- Mayo Clinic: “The Mayo Clinic Diet: A Weight-Loss Program for Life”
- USDA: “Eggs, Grade A, Large, Egg Whole"
- USDA: “Greek Yogurt Plain”
- The National Institute of Health: “Traditional American Cuisine: 1200 Calories”
- Health.gov: “A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Patterns”
- USDA: "Broccoli"
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Cauliflower"”
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Dietary Protein – Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health"
- USDA: "FoodData Central"
- American Society for Nutrition: "Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight"
- Colorado State University: "Macronutrient Needs for Athletes"