1,200-Calorie Diet for Menopausal Women

Close-up of a mature woman holding a glass of orange juice and smiling
An older woman drink juice as part of her diet. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Menopause, and the hormonal changes associated with it, often causes weight gain around the midsection, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eating just 1,200 calories a day helps many overweight menopausal women lose weight during a time when it’s often difficult to do so. Using healthy meal plans helps menopausal women meet nutritional needs and stick to a daily limit of 1,200 calories.

Weight-Loss Benefits

Overweight menopausal women who achieve healthy body weights by consuming 1,200 calories daily have reduced risks for developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Postmenopausal women who lose weight are also less likely to experience vasomotor symptoms, such as night sweats and hot flashes, according to a study published in “Menopause” in 2012. A 1,200-calorie diet is the right approach for overweight menopausal women if it leads to a weight-loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drawbacks

Diets consisting of 1,200 calories a day aren’t appropriate for all menopausal women trying to lose weight -- some of these women will feel hungry when consuming 1,200 calories. Active women and those who weigh 165 pounds or more may need up to 1,600 calories a day to safely lose weight at an appropriate pace, notes the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your individualized energy needs for weight loss are often 500 to 1,000 calories less than your usual intake.

1,200-Calorie Meal Plan

Using 1,200-calorie meal plans helps menopausal women trying to lose weight stick to their daily calorie limit. A sample meal plan provided by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 contains 4 ounces of grains, 3 ounces of protein foods, 2.5 cups of dairy foods, 1.5 cups of vegetables, 1 cup of fruit, 4 teaspoons of oils and 121 extra calories daily. One ounce from the grains group equals a slice of bread; one-half cup of cooked oatmeal, rice or pasta; or 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal. One ounce from the protein-foods group equals 1 ounce of meat, poultry or seafood; one egg; one-half ounce of nuts; or one-fourth cup of legumes.

Sample 1,200-Calorie Menu

On a 1,200-calorie menu, breakfast might include 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, one-half cup of blueberries, two-thirds ounce of sliced almonds and 1 cup of low-fat yogurt. A morning snack might be 1.5 ounces of reduced-fat cheese and one-half cup of strawberries. For lunch, try 2 ounces of grilled chicken, 2 cups of leafy greens with 1 tablespoon of Italian salad dressing, and five whole-grain crackers. An afternoon snack may consist of 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese. For dinner, try 2 ounces of grilled salmon, one-half cup of quinoa or brown rice, one-half cup of steamed broccoli and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

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