Maximize your weight loss by following a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate meal plan. Set at 1,200 calories and under 25 grams of carbs per meal, this plan is considered very low-calorie and moderately low-carbohydrate. It's important you eat at least 1,200 calories per day in order to support your body's basic metabolic needs.
Free Printable Meal Plan
To use the meals below, select one breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks. If you need help downloading the printable meal plan or shopping list, check out these helpful tips.
The diet relies on lean protein, berries, and vegetables as well as the use of cooking spray. A tablespoon of oil or butter contains up to 120 calories, calories you cannot afford to add if you are sticking to the 1,200 calorie plan.
To make shopping easy, download this shopping list and take it with you to the store. It has everything you need to create the 1,200 calorie meal plan.
If you decide to make other substitutes, bear in mind you will need to reduce the portion size of some items because of differences in calorie counts. An online calorie counter and reading food labels can help you make good choices while staying within the calorie limit using low carb foods.
How to Use the Plan
Each meal and snack includes a few options to give you some variety. For maximum nutritional benefit, try to vary your meal plan each day. Variety helps ensure you do not become bored with your diet, and eating a variety of foods across the spectrum of color will ensure you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need.
The diet plan is low carb rather than no carb. Carbohydrates are essential for metabolism and many other vital body processes. Because vegetables, particularly leafy greens, are low in both carbohydrates and calories, they figure strongly into these meal plans.
Low-carbohydrate meals are those with less than 25 grams of carbs per meal. In many cases, the meals listed above have lower effective carbohydrate counts because fiber is counted as a carbohydrate as far as nutritional information goes, but it does not affect blood sugar the way other carbohydrates do. Carbohydrates listed are total and not effective carb rates.
Meals are between 250 and 300 calories with snacks totaling the same. Feel free to mix and match for a meal plan that will maintain you at around 1,200 calories per day with low carbohydrate counts.
Benefits of Low-Calorie Low-Carb Eating
These meal plans combine the advantage of a low-carb approach with a low-calorie meal plan. These two strategies together can accelerate weight loss, helping you achieve quick results.
A 2011 study showed that eating a low-carb diet can help reduce hunger, which is essential if you are following a very low-calorie plan of 1200 calories per day. If you can see results for your efforts while experiencing minimal hunger, you are more likely to stick to the plan and less likely to stray down paths with foods higher in calories. Motivation is a key factor in any weight control plan.
Following the Plan
To follow this plan, divide your allotted 1200 calories into three meals of 300 calories each and three snacks of 100 calories each. The steady flow of food keeps you feeling sated throughout the day. The best way to ensure you are adhering to calorie and carb counts is by weighing your food on a kitchen scale or measuring it carefully.
Snacks are important. It is imperative to ensure you never get to a point where you feel starved or shaky. You are also less likely to feel deprived if you eat every couple of hours. You may notice this plan does not include alcohol. In order to maximize nutritional intake, the 1200 calorie meal plan leaves no room for empty calories. Every calorie must have value when you reduce caloric intake to this level.
Limiting your calorie intake is one effective way to lose weight. Combining low-calorie options with foods low in carbs can help you achieve your weight goals even more quickly.