1200-Calorie Diet: Sample Menu Plan

1200-Calorie Diet: Sample Menu Plan

Consuming only 1,200 calories daily is quite restrictive. In general, this calorie level is most appropriate for toddlers, small children and small elderly women. Even so, many individuals, particularly women, will restrict their total daily intake to 1,200 calories in order to lose weight quickly. You should only consider following such a strict diet under the supervision and direction of a qualified health care professional. In order to make the most of your calories, choose nutrient-dense foods which provide more volume and fewer calories per serving. Foods with a higher water content, such as broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables are a good choice. Choose calorie-free beverages, avoid alcohol and limit your intake of fatty, sugary foods and condiments, which are often surprisingly high in calories considering the small serving size.

This sample meal plan is well-balanced and provides an adequate amount of most nutrients; however, it does come up short on the essential fatty acids (omega-6 and omega-3) and calcium. Choosing fish in place of chicken at dinner, or for lunch, would satisfy your recommended adequate intake (AI) for the omega-3 fatty acids, which is important for heart health and offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Keep in mind that, for most individuals, following a 1,200-calorie diet is not recommended over the long-term, particularly if you engage in moderate to vigorous exercise on a regular basis.


¾ cup Wheaties cold cereal
6 fluid ounces skim milk
¾ cup fresh blueberries
1 thin slice whole-wheat bread
1 tsp. peanut butter
6 ounces herbal tea


2 cups mixed salad greens, raw
½ tbsp. low-calorie salad dressing
1 Lean Cuisine meal (such as Oriental Beef)
12 fluid ounces calorie-free beverage of your choice


1 oz dry-roasted almonds
1 small fresh orange
12 fluid ounces water


4 oz grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast
½ packet barbeque sauce
⅔ cup cooked green beans
½ medium-sized sweet potato (baked, skin not eaten)
1 tsp. light, trans fat-free tub margarine
12 fluid ounces sparkling water with a lime wedge


6 oz container light fruited yogurt

Meal totals: 1,216 calories, 155 g carbohydrates, 23 g dietary fiber, 83 g protein, 37 g fat, less than 200 mg cholesterol and 3,000 mg sodium (approximate caloric distribution: 27% protein, 50% carbohydrate and 26% fat)


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Choose My Plate Meal Tracker
  • Drummond, K.E. & Brefer, L.M.: Nutrition for Foodservice & Culinary Professionals, 7th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, New York, 2010.

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