Whether you are getting ready for a summer holiday in Europe or trying to get the body you once had, you may find yourself trying a low-calorie diet to lose weight.

Most people choose the 1200 calorie diet as it’s gaining popularity.

But there are times where you are intaking 1200 calories and not losing weight.

1200 calories diet - feature

Low Calorie Diet

Is such a thing possible? Are there any ways to fix it?

It might seem like a complicated subject, but it’s an easy one to understand and easier to solve.

Is It Possible to Eat 1200 Calories but Not Lose Weight?

Yes, it is. You may be undergoing a 1200 calorie diet and not losing weight.

But before making any assumptions, you need to be sure you are dieting correctly. 

#1. Double-check your diet

You should make sure you are eating 1200 calories per day and not more. 

Several studies have shown that people grossly overestimate their food intake when they diet.

You may think you are eating 1200 calories per day, but you may be eating over 1500, leaving little margin for weight loss. 

You may think you are eating 1200 calories and gaining weight but you may be doing an 1800-2000 caloric intake.

#2. Stick to your meal plan rigorously

You may be snacking around without giving it much importance.

Drinking one beer here, having a little cheese there might end up increasing your caloric intake to 2000 calories with little to no effort.

#3. Don’t eat less than 1200 calories

Everyone tries to watch carefully not to go over 1200 calories and that’s okay.

But using such a rigorous method may result in grossly underestimating your caloric intake.

Instead of 1200 calories or more, you might be under 1000 calories.

This can put your body in starvation mode.

Starvation mode happens when your body doesn’t get enough calories to function and starts saving energy and fat to avoid health issues.

Thus stalled your metabolism.

And also, this high-stress situation (extended periods of low caloric intakes) for your body may lead to high cortisol levels. 

Studies correlate high cortisol levels with the inability to lose weight.

You could also have a medical condition that doesn’t allow you to lose weight like hyperthyroidism.

You should always check with your doctor just to make sure everything is right.

#4. Exercise is still necessary

If you are exercising to complement your diet, great! But you have to keep in mind three things: 

  1. You shouldn’t overdo it if you are under a 1200 calorie diet, you are on a deficit. This means you won’t be able to do the same physical efforts as before. 
  2. You should also keep in mind your body adjusts to stimuli if you are doing the same gym routine every day, your body might have adapted to it already. Change it up. 
  3. Don’t neglect strength training, it’s really important to build – or at least maintain – muscle even on a diet.

If you are not exercising, you should. Will you lose weight eating 1200 calories a day without exercise?

Yes. but it’s always better to help yourself with fitness activities.


Yes, it will.

Therefore you need to double-check and stick on  your diet.

Keep your calorie intake within reasonable limits. And keep exercises.

How to Eat 1200 Calories Per Day

If you haven’t started your diet yet, remember that most people need around 1500 to 3000 calories to maintain their weight.

1200 calories might be too little and can lead to things ranging from not losing weight to serious health issues. 

But if you are dead set about the 1200 calorie diet, there are a couple of things to keep in mind to do it right.

1. Plan your meal ahead of you

If you can, prep them before as well, it’s best the way to avoid any trouble.

It’s a good choice to get your meals ready for the week on the weekends. You can plan and cook them on a Sunday.

If you don’t have the time or just don’t feel like doing that, at least have a rough guideline on what to eat for breakfast lunch, dinner, and snacks.

A quick example of this would be: 

  • For your morning breakfast, you can eat one slice of whole-grain bread with some peanut butter.
  • For lunch, a roast beef sandwich with tomatoes, lettuce and low-calorie mayonnaise. 
  • For dinner, grilled chicken with a side of sweet potatoes. 
  • And for snacks, you can have a few nuts, avoid the flavored or salty kind.

Of course, you are going to have to mix it up and eat different things every day.

Otherwise, it will be a tough diet to go through. 

But as you have seen, planning one day is easy to do and the week only has seven days.

You can repeat the weekly plan and it won’t be as tiresome as eating the same thing every day.

2. There’s no need to be a ‘light’ food versions binge

You can eat whatever you want as long as it is 1200 calories a day.

Of course, healthy foods are favored over ‘bad’ foods, especially when you realize healthy foods have way fewer calories and fill you up faster than, for example, fast food.

It’s up to you to choose the right way to fulfill your daily 1200 caloric intake.

3. Take supplements to stay healthy

There is another important thing to consider when you are doing a 1200 calorie diet.

You are going to need to take supplements to ensure you stay healthy during your caloric intake decrease. 

Remember, since you are eating less than your body is used to, you won’t be getting the same amount of essential macro and micronutrients you need to function properly. 

Protein shakes help a lot as they are low in calories but have high protein.

Multivitamins will also help to supplement the micronutrient loss during the caloric deficit.

What a 1200 calorie diet looks like? Watch this video.

Simple 1200 Calorie Meal Plan

If you are at a loss on what to eat every day under 1200 calories for the week, do not worry!

Here’s a simple weekly plan you can follow to achieve your goals.


Breakfast: One banana and three-quarters of bran flakes mixed with one cup of fat-free milk.

Lunch: Three ounces of turkey breast half roasted pepper, one teaspoon of light mayonnaise and lettuce in a sandwich, use one mini wheat pita instead of bread.

Dinner: One broiled flounder with two sliced tomatoes (you can grate them with parmesan cheese if you’d like).

1200 calories diet - day1



Breakfast: Two hard-boiled eggs and a strawberry, banana and low-fat milk frozen smoothie.

Lunch: One veggie burger, a bowl of veggie soup and an English muffin.

Dinner: Four ounces of chicken breast and one sweet potato.

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Day 2


Breakfast: Half a cup of oats mixed with low-fat milk mixed with half an apple. You can add honey or cinnamon if you like.

Lunch: A chicken salad made with four ounces of chicken breast, one-quarter of a cup of sliced red grapes, one tablespoon of slivered almonds, one tablespoon of mayonnaise and one tablespoon of Greek yogurt.

Dinner: Four ounces of steamed shrimp with a side of one sweet potato mixed with three tablespoons of salsa and one tablespoon of Greek yogurt. You can eat 100 calories of anything for dessert, for example, a light ice cream bar.

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Day 3


Breakfast: Microwave for 30 seconds half a toasted English muffin, half apple, an ounce of shredded of reduced-fat cheese mixed in a bowl.

Lunch: A whole wheat mini pita sandwich with three ounces of roast beef mixed with mustard. Serve it with one cup of tomato soup.

Dinner: Four ounces of grilled salmon with a vegetable salad of your choice.

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Day 4


Breakfast: Mix one cup of cheerios with six ounces of Greek yogurt, half a cup of berries and one tablespoon of slivered almonds.

Lunch: A quesadilla with fat-free refried beans and stone-ground corn tortilla.

Dinner: Three ounces of roasted pork tenderloin served with one cup of baked acorn squash. Finish the day with a 150 calorie ice cream bar for dessert.

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Day 5


Breakfast: One whole-grain toasted waffle, spread two tablespoons of nut butter on it and top with one sliced banana.

Lunch: 2 ounces of water-packed light tuna, one tablespoon mayonnaise, mustard, cucumber and sliced onions in a mini whole-wheat pita.

Dinner: A jambalaya with a three-quarter cup of brown rice, two ounces of turkey, one-third cup of salsa and one-quarter cup of beans with no salt added.

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Day 6


Breakfast: One English muffin with one ounce of low-fat cheese.

Lunch: Mix half a cup of canned black beans half a cup of orange slices, chopped red bell peppers, red onion, scallions, and any other desired veggies and vinegar. Eat with one stone-ground corn tortilla and one fruit for dessert.

Dinner: Three ounces of grilled steak and one baked sweet potato.

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Day 7


How many pounds can I lose if I eat around 1200 calories per day?

There is no exact number of how many pounds you can lose consuming 1200 calories per day.

Other factors come into play when trying to losing weight – such as sleep (resting is important!) and exercise – but you can normally expect to lose up to 3 pounds per week. 

Other people go even lower with their calorie consumption, undergoing an 800 calorie diet with the help of shakes, bars, and soups to replace meals and add an extra dose of vitamins.

With such a low-calorie diet, you can lose up to 5 pounds per day. But you also risk letting your body go into shock and losing no weight at all.

How many calories should a woman eat per day to lose weight?

Your caloric intake depends on your height and weight. But in most common scenarios, women eat around 2000 calories to maintain. 

If a woman wanted to gain weight, she should eat more than 2000 calories, usually around 2300-2500 calories for healthy weight gain. 

If a woman wanted to lose weight on a steady basis, she should decrease the 2000 calorie intake to around 1500-1700 calories per day. 

In contrast, a man needs around 2500 calories to maintain weight. 3000 calories to gain a couple of pounds and around 2000 calories to lose weight.

Is eating 1200 calories per day healthy? Isn’t it too little?

Normally speaking. 1200 calorie diet isn’t ideal but it will keep you healthy if you live a sedentary lifestyle. 

If you have an active job – like most blue-collar jobs – or perform any strenuous physical activity – like Crossfit, martial arts or long gym routines – it’s more likely that 1200 calories are not enough.

You will need way more calories in that scenario.

If you go below 1200 calories you may lose weight faster but you will also hurt your body in the process.

You could also stall the weight loss altogether. 

If you are not losing weight when you exercise or diet, you might be eating fewer calories than recommended and may need to increase your caloric intake to reboot your metabolism.