1200 Calorie Meal Plan for Weight Loss

A 1200 calorie meal plan is a great way to lose as much weight as possible, quickly. But 1200 calories a day can also be a baseline on which to build upon. 

Even the National Institutes of Health advocates a 1200 calorie diet plan as part of a healthy reduced-calorie meal plan. (1)

1200 calorie meal plan for weight loss

No matter what your average calories per day should be, 1200, 1350, 1500, this simple 1200 calorie meal plan can help you plan better, and have a more successful week!

So here it is: The Lose Weight by Eating 1200 Calorie Meal Plan. This is a “do-it-yourself plan” meaning you pick recipes and fill out the weight loss meal plan yourself. If you’re looking for a pre-prepared printable 1200 calorie diet plan, make sure to see below as I have supplied several to make your life easier. 

With a 1200 calorie meal plan you can limit your calories easily without going under the calories per day recommendation.

You can also use a 1200 calorie weight loss meal plan to act as a baseline for a 1500 calorie diet or any average calories per day. 

1200 Calorie Meal Plan for Weight Loss

You can make a weight loss meal plan simple by starting with a baseline… and that is why this article focuses on a 1200 calorie diet plan.

For instance, if you are trying to follow a 1500 calorie diet plan, then start at 1200 calories a day and add in 2 snacks… viola, you now have a 1500 calorie meal plan.

More on how to add calories per day, how to find out your calories per day to lose weight, and more below.

In this Low Calorie Meal Plan article you will find:

  1. How to do a 1200 Calorie Meal Plan Diet
  2. How many Calories Per Day to Lose Weight
  3. Calories Per Day Calculator
  4. The 1200 Calorie Meal Plan
  5. 1200 Calorie Diet Basics
  6. 1200 Calorie Diet Meal Plan Options
  7. 3 Sample 1200 Calorie Meal Plan Menu
  8. 1500 Calorie Diet and adding more calories as needed
  9. Weight loss Meal Plan Video
  10. Final Thoughts on the 1200 Calorie Diet Plan

Below you will find everything you need to set up a low calorie meal plan!

Find options to try a 1200 calorie diet plan, a 1500 calorie meal plan, and a 30 day meal plan for weight loss PDF.

How To Do A 1200 Calorie Meal Plan Diet

Starting a Low calorie meal plan is simple and easy… follow my steps in this section and before you know it you will be all set up with your meal plan to lose weight.

weight loss meal plan simple

1. Find out your calories per day recommendation – In the next section we will discuss how many calories per day you should have with the help of our extra simple Calories Per Day “Calculator”.

A low calorie meal plan can be created for any calories per day recommendation (including 1200, 1300 or 1500 calories a day). So this is where we will start… find out how many calories per day to lose weight.

2. Get your calories per meal calculation – Once you know how many calories per day you should have, you can figure out how many calories per meal you will need.

3. Click on the printable meal planner in the link below – Once you click on the low calorie meal planner below, you can start filling it out. You can easily print it, or screenshot/PDF save the low calorie meal plan for quick referencing.

4. Pick out your low calorie meals – All of the recipes in my 4 cookbooks will fall inline with your calories per day recommendation. So will all the low calorie meal options below.

Add these meals to the meal planner, I like to alternate two breakfast recipes every other day to save money and time. I also do this with lunches, and snacks.

  • Pick 2 breakfasts
  • Pick 2 lunches
  • Pick 7 dinners (or leave one night blank to go out)
  • Pick 2-4 snacks

5. Print out your low calorie meal plan – Place it on your fridge for easy access, or if you don’t have a printer make a screenshot, or save as a PDF.

Here is an example of a Low Calorie Diet Meal Plan:

I created this meal plan for one of my weight loss coaching clients, I like to add page numbers so for easy referencing.

 calorie diet plan

On this particular weight loss meal plan, my weight loss client wanted to try out a modified Detox Week, we used lots of yummy recipes from the Detox Week Cookbook, and as you can see, made it easy by alternating meals and snacks.

Try a 1200 calorie diet for a few weeks (or months) or add in a 100 or more calories per day to lose weight.

Below you will find a “calculator” for calories per day… it’s so easy you can do the math in your head!

How Many Calories Per Day to Lose Weight

Everyone is a little bit different when it comes to an average calories per day recommendation. Some people will need 1200 calories, others need 1500 calories a day.

In this section we will talk about how to find out how many calories per day to lose weight, maintain weight, and how to find out your personal calories per day to lose weight.

Below in the 1500 Calorie Diet and adding more calories section we will talk about adding calories mid-week or mid diet as needed…

Calculator for calories per day:

printable 1200 calorie diet plan

There are plenty of fancy calculators to find the calories per day to lose weight… but this one is so simple I suppose I need to correct it to “Calculator” for calories per day, because you can do the math in your head!

1. Step #1 – what is your goal weight?

2. Step #2 – add a zero to the end of your goal weight.

3. Step #3 – that is your calories per day to lose weight

So… if your goal weight is 120 LBS, your daily calorie goal is 1200.

And if your goal weight is 150 LBS, a 1500 calorie diet is right for you.

Again: Goal weight: 120 pounds add a zero to the end, calorie goal is 1200

How many calories per meal?

Now that you know how many calories per day to lose weight, it’s time to do a bit of division so you know how many calories per meal, and per snack.

Before we dive into math, follow these easy steps for better success in following your weight loss meal plan:

1. What can you not live without? – For me that’s coffee, two cups per morning, with cream and sugar. I KNOW I cannot succeed in a weight loss meal plan without adding these calories at the beginning, then working around them.

For instance, if you simply MUST have 2 cups of air popped popcorn each night, or can’t live without a glass of wine after work, write those down!

I add the coffee to my breakfast calories per day, you can add the popcorn or the wine as snacks, or add on one of the meals.

2. Subtract your snacks – Say you are working on a 1200 calorie diet plan for weight loss, and you simply must have a glass of red wine every night, take 120 calories out of your 1200 calories a day goal, now leaving you with an easily divisible number.

So set two snacks, or one snack and a glass of wine, or one snack and a healthy dessert. Subtract the total of the snacks from your calories per day recommendation.

I recommend adding 2 snacks a day (100-150 calories each) to your low calorie diet plan, you don’t have to eat them both, but you will be less likely to fall off plan if you have them available to you.

3. Divide the remaining calories by 3 – Now that you’ve subtracted snacks you can take the total calories per day recommendation, and divide it by 3.

For instance, say you are working on 1200 calorie meal plans, your snacks total 200 calories… you then have 1000 calories for meals.

1500 calorie diet plan

Here are two options to find your calories per meal:

  • Take the total and divide by 3: (For Instance) 1000 \ 3 = 333 calories per meal
  • Start with your largest meal and work backwards: (For instance) Dinner is 400 calories, so with 600 calories left, breakfast and lunch will be 300 calories.

Finding out your average calories per day recommendation is simple… take your goal weight and add a zero to the end of it. So if your goal weight is 135 pounds, your calories per day goal is 1350.

Now that you have your calories per day, your ready for the simple 1200 calorie meal plan PDF…

The 1200 Calorie Meal Plan

I want to empower you to make your own 1200 calorie diet menu. So I will give you EVERYTHING for FREE! Here is a 1200 calorie diet menu plan in PDF format for you to print out, then click on the links below it to choose your own 1200 calorie meal plan meals.

1200 calorie meal plan for weight loss

The great thing about this printable 1200 calorie diet plan, is that you can fill in on your computer, or print blank and hand write in!

This free 1200 calorie meal plan PDF is meant to make your life easier, you can click the photo for the meal planner above, or the link below:

Click Here To Download The 1200 Calorie Diet Meal Plan Worksheet

This weight loss meal plan free access to all, and easy to access here on the Lose Weight By Eating website.

For more 7 day weight loss meal plan forms filled out already, scroll below to find one for each of my best selling cookbooks, as well as a weight loss meal plan easy 7 days of recipes from this website.

If you’re looking for guided support, I offer personalized weight loss plans

1200 Calorie Diet Basics

We’re working with a number here, which can be divided between 3 meals, or 3 meals and 2 snacks, or 3 meals and 1 snack… sounds overwhelming, right? Here’s what I recommend:

First off let’s look at food for our bodies like fuel for a car. You wouldn’t drive your car around all day on empty, then fill it up before you pack it away for the evening. Heck, your car would break down and refuse to do what you’re asking it to do (like drive, or in the case of weight loss, shed excess fat). 

We have to stop eating all of our calories at dinner, and either spread them out more with calorie-heavy breakfasts and lunches and low-calorie dinners. Or through Intermittent Fasting

Here is a healthy way to divide your 1200 calorie diet meal plan so that you boost metabolism and reduce fat:

  • 8:00 am Breakfast: 400 calories
  • 12:00 pm Lunch: 350 calories
  • 7:00 pm Dinner: 300 calories
  • Snacks: 150 calories

If this seems too difficult, try a 16:8 Intermittent Fast, you don’t eat fewer calories… just less time per day. 

1200 calorie diets are just as easy as meal planning and calorie dividing. If even that seams too much, try Intermittent Fasting. The easiest way to stick to a 1200 calorie meal plan!

1200 Calorie Diet Meal Options

Pick 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 5 dinners (click on the links). Alternate the breakfasts and lunches every other day and use leftovers for the last two dinners.

  • Snacks should be fruit and veggies, no pre-packaged junk, just what comes from nature.

Here are some Healthy Breakfasts to add to your low calorie meal plan:

Below, in the Sample 1200 Calorie Mean Plan Menu section there will be more information and a printable 1200 calorie diet plan using all the following recipes.

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa
Did you know apples and cinnamon naturally boost metabolism? I love the crunchy, nutty texture of breakfast quinoa, it’s a great substitution for those of you who don’t like oatmeal. Plus quinoa is the only grain that is also a complete protein.  Try this metabolism boosting, delicious apple pie flavored breakfast this week and curb your sweet tooth early in the day.
Check out this recipe
Peaches and Cream Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie
This Peaches and Cream Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie recipe is one of my favorite breakfast shake recipes. It’s full of protein, and contains oatmeal, which studies have shown can help lower cholesterol.
Check out this recipe
weight loss smoothies
Banana and Almond Butter Oatmeal
This metabolism boosting breakfast oatmeal will quickly become your favorite “go to” meal in the mornings!
Check out this recipe
oats for weight loss

Here are some Healthy Lunches to add to your low calorie meal plan:

In the Sample 1200 Calorie Mean Plan Menu section below you’ll find a printable 1200 calorie diet plan using all the following recipes.

Roasted Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Not a fan of beets? Try this salad! The citrus and the creamy avocado play so well off the root vegetables!
Check out this recipe
salad recipes with fruit
Vegetarian Lunch Wraps
These filling salad wraps go great as is, or should you be looking for some added animal protein, with some shredded chicken added in.
Check out this recipe
Vegetarian Lunch Wraps
Chopped Greek Salad with Mustard Lemon Vinaigrette
This chopped Greek Salad makes a great side dish, starter, or main course!
Check out this recipe
Healthy Salad Recipes for Weight Loss

Here are some Healthy Dinners to add to your low calorie meal plan:

Further in this article under Sample 1200 Calorie Mean Plan Menu section I’ll share a printable 1200 calorie diet plan using all the following recipes.

Healthy Chicken Fajitas
The easiest way to make this Healthy Chicken Fajita recipe is to slice the chicken and marinate it when you first bring the chicken home from the store and just toss in the freezer, this way when it’s time to make them the hard part is done and they have marinated for a long, long time which makes for a really delicious meal.
Check out this recipe
Garlic Chicken- Whole Roasted Chicken
Garlic and sage perfume this chicken (and your house) in this ultra chic, impressive dish. If you’re looking to impress someone this is the dish to do it. Sage and garlic are such an old fashioned, comfort food combo. Serve with salad and roasted potatoes, yum!
Check out this recipe
Steak, Avocado, and Cheddar Panini
This panini can be made with, or without a panini maker! Read the directions for my homemade panini maker, using two pans.
Check out this recipe
Steak, Avocado and Cheddar Healthy Panini Sandwich
Caesar Salad with Avocado and Rustic Chips
I cut the calories by adding the Parmesan cheese to the chips, this way you get tons of Parmesan flavor without all the calories. Only 7 calories of cheese here thank you very much!
Check out this recipe
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Strawberries, spinach and walnuts all boost metabolism!
Lose Weight By Eating is all about making your food work for you, with so many to choose from you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner all while boosting your metabolism.
Check out this recipe
Healthy Salad Recipes for Weight Loss
Drunken Yardbird Taco Ingredients:
Try these Tequila Lime tacos tonight. They are healthy, low calorie, and quick.
Check out this recipe
Overloaded Baked Potatoes
I got to make this recipe with Rachael Ray, and it was a HIT! It's so packed full of flavor that you don't even notice it's also packed full of nutrition.
Check out this recipe
OVERLOADED BAKED POTATOES
Red Wine Steak Marinade
This recipe is part of the Red Wine Pepper Steak in the above recipe.
Check out this recipe
healthy recipes with steak

See the section above to learn how to divide your 1200 calorie diet into 3 meals and snacks. This section will give you some free recipes for your 1200 calorie meal plan. 

In the Sample 1200 Calorie Mean Plan Menu section below there’s a printable 1200 calorie diet plan using all the following recipes.

Sample 1200 Calorie Meal Plan Menu

In this section I will supply you with three 1200 calorie PDF documents. The printable 1200 calorie diet plans will have recipes from the Lose Weight By Eating website, and the first two Lose Weight By Eating cookbooks.

Three 1200 Calorie Meal Plans:

  • Lose Weight By Eating Website 1200 Calorie Meal Plan PDF
  • Lose Weight By Eating Cookbook 1200 Calorie Meal Plan PDF
  • Detox Week Cookbook 1200 Calorie Meal Plan PDF

Lose Weight By Eating Website 1200 Calorie Meal Plan PDF

In this section I will supply you with a printable 1200 calorie diet plan, using the recipes I shared above.

The great thing is that all the recipes above will bring you to more healthy meal options to help you stay within 1200 calories a day!

Click the photo to view the simple 1200 calorie meal plan PDF:

simple 1200 calorie meal plan

As you can see in the above low calorie meal plan, I have utilized leftover chicken and steak in more meals.

In the case of the lunches where there are two different calorie counts, the lower calorie count is without chicken and the higher count is with 1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken.

Lose Weight By Eating Cookbook 1200 Calorie Meal Plan PDF

In this 1200 calorie diet meal plan I will use recipes from my best selling cookbook Lose Weight By Eating.

This low calorie diet plan for weight loss is full of comfort food made healthy, as the entire Lose Weight By Eating cookbook is all about making the comfort food you crave in healthy new ways so you actually lose weight!

Click the photo to view the simple 1200 calorie meal plan PDF:

weight loss meal plan

Some people need a lot of bread carbs to stick with a low calorie diet plan… But for those of you looking for more salads and smoothies, the next 1200 calorie meal plan is for you!

Detox Week Cookbook 1200 Calorie Meal Plan PDF

My best selling cookbook Lose Weight By Eating Detox Week is full of veggie forward recipes… making it great for 1200 calorie meal plans!

This weight loss meal plan 7 days is great if you’re looking to reset your cravings and start eating healthy foods daily going forward.

Click the photo to view the simple 1200 calorie meal plan PDF:

low calorie diet plan

1500 Calorie Diet and Adding More Calories as needed

Not everyone will be satisfied with 1200 calories a day… and so I wanted to chat quickly about what to do when you needs to add more calories.

For instance, if you did the calculator for calories per day above, and you need 1500 calories a day, or perhaps 1350, this section will help you add calories.

1500 calorie meal planning can be simple and easy! All you need to do is add snacks to the 1200 calorie meal plan above!

Simply add 1-3 snacks to the day, each is around 100-150 calories and will get you to the 1300, 1400, 1500 calories a day you are looking for.

Weight Loss Tip: Try Fruit Infused Water if you’re still hungry!

Often people have a hard time on their first week of a 1200 calorie diet plan, that is when I recommend water… or better yet, Fruit Infused Water!

One thing my site is pretty famous for is my fruit infused water recipes. Drinking infused water-a fantastic way to improve your weight loss by helping you drink more water without artificial sweeteners or other nasty chemicals.

I recommend you drink about a gallon a day, or as close as you can. These detox drinks will keep you full among other health benefits, including making your skin more beautiful and increasing your metabolism. (2)

Weight Loss Meal Plan Video

If you still need help setting up your 1200 calorie meal plans, follow along as I fill one out in the video below:

Final thoughts on the 1200 Calorie Diet Plan

Although this 1200 calorie diet plan is healthy and highly recommended for most people, there are some restrictions– if you are nursing or have other dietary restrictions, you should consult a doctor before starting this restricted-calorie diet.

For some folks cutting calories this low will be too big of a step to take so it is recommended to start with a 1500 calorie a day diet and work your way down to a 1200 calorie diet. The National Institute of Health provides some great tools for calculating your Body Mass Index or BMI, as well as additional 1200 calorie diet menu plans. (3)

Don’t forget to check out my best selling Lose Weight by Eating Cookbook – you’ll love it and lose weight by eating amazing food!

What to Read Next

Lose Weight By Eating cookbooks:

Related Articles:

19 thoughts on “1200 Calorie Meal Plan for Weight Loss”

  1. Pingback: Lose Weight by Eating: The Clean Eating Diet Plan | Fitness Tips & Motivation

  2. Audrey, I love you and what you are doing for me and a friend of mine. Thank you soooooooooooooo very much! I have had weight problems ALL my life, I just lost 20 lbs, following your suggestions I have to lose 80 more to reach a reasonable weight. God be with you all the days of your life. I am 61 years old and have NEVER felt this hopeful about my weight before. –m

  3. Rose Marie Mandato

    have been on your system for a week very happy with the results where do i get the recipe fr my meal plan?

  4. Thanks for the tip on using MyFitnessPal. I use this also and have a group of nurses at work using it too! I’m afraid of carbs, they have never been good to me. I’d love to try your scones, I love them, but I’m not sure I can handle them at this point. I started Jan 3 and have lost 23 lbs in Jan, but February has not been so good. I’m going to get the book you referenced and maybe do the detox. I’m diabetic, started at 285 but have been as high as 315. I want to cry at even having to put those numbers down. I have bad hips, knees, and have had surgery on both shoulders. At least my BS are under control now, I’m usually mid to high 90’s during the day. Fst is still up to 123, but goes down quickly. I’ve been doing a HFLC and am doing lab work for an upcoming Dr appt so we’ll see how my numbers are. I have been drinking at least 24oz upon waking of lemon ginger water, but I thought I’d try your pitcher of water in the frig. I found today that I didn’t taste much of the ginger, I’m used to grating and pressing in my garlic press directly into my large glass. Never used to like ginger, but now don’t want to start the day without it. I think that is the one thing that keeps me from eating from stress, from depression, from anything! I just can’t believe that I’m not hungry all the time! I’m going to start following you on Pinterest too. Thank you for doing this!

  5. Great question Julie! I would only increase your caloric intake by half of the amount of the burned calories. Example: You burn 500, you add 250.

    I would also make an effort to look at the added calories as fuel, not treats as many people do. Go for metabolism boosting foods like my Ranch Dip w/ veggies or Chocolate Banana Smoothie and feed your body.

    http://tonetiki.com/category/metabolism-boosting-meals/

    HAPPY COOKING!
    Audrey

  6. I’m about 131-132 lbs. but my goal is 125. So I should be eating about 1200-1300 calories a day. But what if I go to the gym & burn 300-400 (sometimes even 500) calories? Do you add those calories to your daily calorie intake? I’ve always been confused about that. I have used myfitnesspal app a lot in the past year & it’s great (& convenient to track calories/water intake) but they add those calories that I burned to what I should eat). Thanks:)

  7. Love this! Saw that you posted it on Pinterest the other day and was like “duh!”, but it was great to see it spelled out. Meal planning has always been an issue for me, so this simplification is great 🙂
    P.S. – now that I’ve found your blog I am telling everyone I know about it.

  8. Thank you for this!
    I’ve been using my ruler and sharpies to make my own every week. I like to see at a glance what I have planned for the week, that way I don’t end up just making something fast that isn’t even healthy for me.
    side note: all my meals are from your website and i’m always satisfied with what I eat (:

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