Is 1200 Calories Too Low - (2023)

Youre Tired And Cranky

Are 1200 Calories A Day Necessary To Lose Stubborn Weight? (The Scientific Truth)

Hanger is one of my favorite terms for feeling so hungry, you are borderline angry. Im sure this is relatable to many people, and there is some science to explain it. When you go long periods without eating, blood sugar tends to drop. If you dont eat something to raise blood sugar, and it remains low, your ability to concentrate, be patient with others and mentally focus diminishes. Enter crankiness, which can easily be reversed by eating something. Tiredness and fatigue also go hand in hand with not eating enough, because youre simply not providing the body with enough energy. These cues are often our bodys way of innately telling us what we really need.

Sallys Weight Loss Story

Sallys calorie needs are 2,500 calories per day. This means she was consuming around 2,500 calories each day to maintain her weight where it was. She decided to lose weight by going on a diet. The diet program estimated her calories at 1,000-1,200. She lost 10 pounds in two weeks. She was, of course, very happy about this weight loss. What success! What she didnt know is that part of that rapid weight loss was not all fat and included muscle loss. Sally then had a hard time staying on the strict routine after the first month, which is very typical for this type of regimen, and she went back to her old eating habits.

What happened to Sallys body during this diet? She lost lean body mass along with body fat. Muscle is one of the most important factors in keeping your metabolic rate high since it burns more energy than fat. During her weight loss in the last month, Sally lost approximately 5 pounds of muscle mass .

Why Does Everyone Think Its Universally Ideal

See, I often come across two different kinds of people:

  • Those who think a 1200 calorie diet is right for EVERY woman.
  • Those who think its never right for ANY woman.
  • Both groups are wrong , but its the first group that confuses me the most.

    Why do so many women regardless of their different heights, weights, ages, body fat percentages, and activity levels think that a 1200 calorie diet is ideal for them when it comes to losing weight?

    How is it possible that so many women who range anywhere from 95 lbs to 400 lbs, from 410 to 64, from physical jobs to desk jobs, from extremely active to completely sedentary, from hyperthyroid to hypothyroid, from 18 to 80 years old, with 10 lbs to lose to 100 lbs to lose have all come to the same caloric conclusion that 1200 is their ideal number?

    How did this one size somehow come to supposedly fit all?

    You May Like: What Is The Recommended Daily Calorie Intake

    It Can Negatively Affect Physical And Mental Health

    In addition to being problematic for both short-term and long-term sustainability, there are two potential health-related problems that become increasingly more likely to occur the lower your calorie intake gets

  • Nutrient deficiencies.We all have a certain amount of macronutrients and micronutrients we need to eat each day to sustain life and proper function. And the thing about eating 1200 calories a day is that its a small amount of food. So, if youre not planning things out just right, it becomes easy to fall short somewhere.
  • The potential for eating disorders.Another big problem with unnecessarily/excessively low calorie diets is that they often come with/lead to an unhealthy obsession with food. And once that happens the doors are open to the potential for disordered eating habits to develop or worsen plus all of the problems that come along with it.
  • While some may assume that an unnecessarily/excessively low calorie diet will lead to better/faster weight loss than something more moderate, the reality is that the opposite often happens. There are various factors that can make it too hard to sustain in the short-term, additional factors that can prevent successful weight loss progress from being maintained for the long-term, and the potential for problems involving physical and/or mental health become more likely. For all of these reasons, I dont recommend eating any less than you truly need to.

    Will I Lose Weight If I Stop Eating

    Is 1200 Calories Too Low - (1)

    It can help with weight loss Fasting one or two days a week may be a way for you to consume fewer calories over time. You may find this easier to do than cutting back a certain number of calories every day. The energy restriction from a 24-hour fast may also benefit your metabolism, helping in weight loss.

    Don’t Miss: How To Find Net Carbs

    Jillian Michaels: 3 Popular Weight Loss Myths Busted

    Cutting calories is the approach most dieters must take to meet their weight-loss goals. But every once in a while people take calorie restriction too far, ultimately making weight loss slower and more difficult by slowing your metabolism.

    Figuring out the right number of calories for you on a daily basis depends on your age, gender, and activity level. In general, the younger and more active you are, the more calories you can consume. And men are able to eat more calories daily than women. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines says that women 19 to 30 years old should consume 2,000 calories if they have a sedentary lifestyle or 2,400 calories if they have an active one for men of the same age the range is 2,400 to 3,000 calories.

    Defining the Low-Calorie Diet

    It seems logical that if calories are the problem, you would want to eat as few of them as possible to speed weight loss. As a general rule, people need a minimum of 1,200 calories daily to stay healthy. People who have a strenuous fitness routine or perform many daily activities need more calories. If you have reduced your calorie intake below 1,200 calories a day, you could be hurting your body in addition to your weight-loss plans.

    Tempting as it may be to continue with your low-calorie weight-loss plan and simply take a supplement, Spivack points out that there are some key nutrients which are only available through your diet.

    Why Low-Calorie Diets Slow Your Metabolism

    Should I Only Be Eating 1200 Calories Per Day To Lose Weight

    My mom lectured me today that if I want to lose weight, I need to limit my calories to 1200 per day and exercise more. She thinks I’m not doing enough cardio.

    I told her I am counting every calorie I eat and exercising 5 days per week with Daniel and Kelli but she didn’t listen.

    Should I be only eating 1200 calories per day? I’m a 34 year old woman who is currently 5 foot 9 and 234 pounds roughly. Every website I’ve seen says that I should be having between 1700 and 1800 per day if I want to lose weight.

    You May Like: Low Carb Breakfasts That Aren’t Eggs

    Should You Adjust Calories For Exercise

    However, its best not to adjust calories to reflect your energy expenditure during exercise if you want to lose weight.

    Which exercises burn the most calories?

    Running is the winner for most calories burned per hour. Stationary bicycling, jogging, and swimming are excellent options as well. HIIT exercises are also great for burning calories. After a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours.

    Is it safe to eat 1, 200 calories a day while exercising?

    To stay within the maximum recommended deficit of 1,000 calories, her calories burned through exercise should not exceed 250 daily. Your current weight, therefore, is the determining factor on whether or not it is safe to eat 1,200 calories per day while burning off 300 exercising.

    How much exercise should I do in a day?

    As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more.

    How often should I increase my Calorie Intake?

    If a 1,200-calorie diet produces a loss of more than 2 lbs. per week, increase your calorie intake in increments of 100 to 200 calories until you find a calorie goal that supports a healthier rate of weight loss. A 1,200-calorie diet works well for some people, but isnt the magic number for everyone.

    How long does it take to burn 300 calories a day?

    The Weight Loss Industry Makes Billions


    The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry filled with meal plans that target low or very-low-calorie levels. This is the magic bullet because for many people who follow these meal plans closely, they will lose weight. Theyre happy, and the company can say they gave the consumer what they promised. Physiologically we know that very-low-calorie diets work for short term weight loss, but the question is, what are we doing to ourselves in the long run?

    Also Check: Are Grapes High In Carbs

    Risks Of Having Too Low A Calorie Intake

    If you’re eating 1,200 calories a day and not losing weight, you may be tempted to restrict your intake even more. But this can be harmful to your health.

    Remember, eating fewer than 1,200 calories typically doesn’t provide enough fuel or nutrients, according to Harvard Health Publishing. In fact, calorie intake should not fall below 1,200 per day for people AFAB or 1,500 per day for people AMAB unless under the supervision of a doctor.

    Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, if you don’t get enough nutrients while following a low-calorie diet, it can lead to malnourishment and side effects like:

    • Pale, thick and dry skin
    • Bruising easily
    • Thin hair that is tightly curled and comes out easily
    • Bones that are soft and tender
    • Gums that bleed easily
    • Swollen, shriveled or cracked tongue
    • Night blindness
    • Increased sensitivity to light and glare
    • Weakened immune system

    Frequent Question Is A 1250 Calorie Diet Healthy Megan Ann Blog

    A 1250 diet plan may work for helping you lose weight, but it should not be considered a long-term diet plan, simply because it wont provide adequate nutrients and energy for active individuals. How much weight can you lose a week on 1200 calorie diet? And then, of course, everybodys metabolism is slightly different. But

    Recommended Reading: How Many Carbs In Banana

    What Are The Side Effects Of Very Low

    People on a very low-calorie diet for 4 to 16 weeks report minor side effects such as fatigue, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. These conditions usually improve within a few weeks and rarely prevent people from completing the program.

    Gallstones are the most common serious side effect of very low-calorie diets. Gallstones are more common during rapid weight loss. When the body experiences a calorie deficit, it starts to break down fat for energy. The liver then secretes more cholesterol and when combined with bile, can form gallstones.

    Your Weight Plateaus Or Increases

    Is 1200 Calories Too Low - (2)

    When the scale wont budge or if you start to gain weight while on a diet, the answer is not to eat even less. Instead of providing the body with less energy, perpetuating the metabolic response that fights against weight loss, the solution is often to eat more.

    Start by adding a snack or two between meals and make sure to include all of the macronutrients protein, fat and carbs. Once youre fueling the body correctly, your weight ends up where it should be.

    Also Check: Carbs In Gluten Free Pizza

    Calorie Needs Can Vary Based On Activity Level And Current Weight

    Losing weight requires a calorie deficit, burning off more calories than you eat.

    Some people may need fewer daily calories for weight loss, Zeitlin said, depending on gender, body size, and exercise habits.

    Zeitlin said the app doesn’t seem to account for individual calorie needs or differences.

    “The problem with Noom is that they’re not giving you that number based on you,” Zeitlin. “The right calorie amount to lose weight is different for everyone. There shouldn’t be a standard. It’s detrimental, unrealistic and restrictive.”

    What Does A Sustainable Approach To Dieting Look Like

    In general, daily calorie requirements for a healthy Australian individuals ranges from 26-45 calories per kilogram of body weight per day. For healthy weight loss, reducing your calorie intake by around 500 calories per day can lead to ½ kg weight loss per week.

    This number can be used as a starting point when planning and developing a sustainable intake for the long term. It allows each person to have an intake individualised for their body weight. This can be altered depending on how your day looks. For example, you may choose to slightly lower your total intake on rest days or less active days or increase it on days where you may be exercising.

    There are a few key guidelines to follow when following a sustainable weight loss approach. These include:

    Overall it is important to build a healthy habit around your approach to weight loss and overall health by prioritising nutritious foods, movement and finding a balance you can maintain consistently.

    Read Also: How To Know How Many Calories I Eat

    How Do I Explain This

    Well, assuming there is no untreated health issue present, its actually pretty simple, and it comes down to two extremely common mistakes

  • You were doing a poor job of accurately tracking your progress.So, you WERE losing fat on higher calorie intakes, you just didnt track your progress well enough, accurately enough, consistently enough, or long enough to actually see that it was happening. Or, you had unrealistic expectations for what that progress should be.
  • You were unknowingly eating more calories than you thought.When you were eating 2000, you were really eating 2500. When you were eating 1800, you were really eating 2300. 1600 was really 2100. 1400 was really 1900. And 1200? Thats really the 1700 you may have truly needed to be eating in order to be in a deficit and make weight loss happen.
  • How is it possible for these types of mistakes to be made, you ask?

    Stay tuned, were going to cover that in a minute.

    But first

    Signs Youre Eating Too Little For Weight Loss

    1200 Calorie Diet Plan | Too Low?

    If youre trying to lose weight, it seems to make sense to cut as many calories from your diet as possible. Unfortunately, its possible to eat too little, which not only makes it harder for you to achieve a healthy weight, but it can also cause other health problems. In other words, eating below your needs can backfire big time.

    Everyone has a set amount of calories, or energy, they need to simply be alive. Consistently eating less than this can cause your metabolism to slow down and your body to begin preserving what it can to survive. Hunger and feeling full arent the only indicators of whether youre fueling your body appropriately. Indeed, short and long-term dietary restrictions on weight and the traditional weight-loss methods of calorie cutting and deprivation may actually be a hindrance to many health goals.

    Beyond calories, Ive had countless clients come to me after trying fad weight loss diets, none of which worked in that any weight lost was regained once they stopped the diet. Diet culture, in general, does a good job of making people feel like failures if they dont have long-lasting success from a diet when its the diet that fails us. There is little to no research showing any fad diet results in sustained long-term weight loss. This is the first thing I explain to clients so they dont feel defeated or ashamed because they did nothing wrong.

    Also Check: Low Fat Low Carb Desserts

    Its Not Sustainable In The Long

    Now lets pretend that a person someone managed to stick to their unnecessarily/excessively low calorie diet long enough to reach their long-term weight loss goal.

    Congrats. All thats left to do now is maintain these results for the rest of your life.

    And therein lies the second big problem.

    How do you maintain your results for the long-term after getting those results using a method that isnt actually maintainable?

    This, right here, is why so many people regain the weight they lose. This is why yo-yo dieting is so common.

    People approach weight loss using unnecessary methods that conflict with their personal needs or preferences , or an extreme method that isnt ideal for overall physical/mental health , or really any method that simply cannot be permanently maintained and then when the time comes to permanently maintain those resultstheyre screwed.

    Instead of learning the fundamentals of weight loss, and how to properly adjust things based on their specific needs and preferences, and developing the necessary habits and dietary skills required for long-term success, they just went with a short-term method that doesnt really help them at all with long-term maintenance.

    So even in cases when a person might be able to do this long enough for it to actually work, theyre likely to eventually end up right back where they started.

    Your Weight Won’t Budge

    If you’re aiming for long-lasting weight loss, drastically slashing your calories may not be the best way to go. “Because your body is in survival mode trying to hold on to as many calories as it can instead of burning at its usual rate, your weight might plateau,” says Zeitlin. The good thing is that this process isn’t instantaneous, so don’t worry that you’ve messed up your metabolism for life because you haven’t been eating enough lately. “It takes a significant amount of time and a significant amount of weight loss to put your body into starvation mode, says Pojednic. Theres no set amount of time or weight loss it takes to enter starvation mode its an individual thing.

    Read Also: High Protein Low Calorie Meal

    How To Follow A 1200

    While you may not need any gadgets or gizmos to follow the 1200-calorie diet, theres one thing you definitely will need, and thats a plan! For most people, limiting daily caloric intake down to 1200 is a pretty drastic cut. So in order to avoid mood swings and blood sugar imbalances, its a good idea to draw up a meal plan to follow, even if its just a rough idea of what youll eat as you follow the 1200-calorie diet.

    The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has put forth a healthy guide with examples for all three meals, and includes small amounts of fats like margarine and mayonnaise to keep you feeling fuller. Their recommendations also include several glasses of water each day. Need more inspo? is a great place to search for 1200-calorie diet ideas.


    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

    Last Updated: 09/30/2023

    Views: 5735

    Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

    Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

    Birthday: 1996-05-19

    Address: Apt. 114 873 White Lodge, Libbyfurt, CA 93006

    Phone: +5983010455207

    Job: Legacy Representative

    Hobby: Blacksmithing, Urban exploration, Sudoku, Slacklining, Creative writing, Community, Letterboxing

    Introduction: My name is Merrill Bechtelar CPA, I am a clean, agreeable, glorious, magnificent, witty, enchanting, comfortable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.