Everyone knows that there is a strong correlation between weight loss and the concept of calories in versus calories out. What may not be known is that for a female, we should not go below 1200 calories and a male, should not go below 1500 calories. Simply stated, we need a certain amount of nutrients and energy from foods to keep us going about our normal daily activities. (If you would like to know your personal basal metabolic rate, the calories needed to keep you going, check out this link here).
If you think about how little 1200 calories is, you need to think in terms of bulk when making your food choices. By this, I mean adding plenty of clean vegetables like spinach, kale and cucumbers. To feel satiated, we need to have a little bit of the good fats as well as plenty of protein while planning the meals and snacks for the day and week ahead.
If you think of your 3 meals throughout the day, you will need to spread those calories out. Striving for approximately 300-350 calories per meal, and reserving the remaining for a few very light snacks is where you should be. If you are like most people, calorie counting can be gruesome and annoying. So here are a few ideas for meals that are going to give you what you need in nutrients while offering you a 1200 calorie diet plan.
1 – Smoothie: 8oz unsweetened almond milk, 1 serving vanilla protein powder, 1/4 cup berries, 1 tablespoon chia seeds; blend and add ice to consistency.
2 – Veggie egg scramble: 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup each of diced onion/red bell pepper/mushrooms, 1 cup fresh spinach, 1 tablespoon feta cheese, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Here you will sauté the onions, peppers and mushrooms in a small amount of coconut oil, season with the pepper and add eggs; cook and stir to scramble. When no longer runny, remove from heat, stir in spinach and allow to wilt; add cheese.
1 – Greens Chicken Salad: 4 cups leafy greens (indulge in variety here by choosing different blends), 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms, 3 oz grilled chicken breast (seasoned with herbs and black pepper only), 2 tablespoons reduced calorie dressing.
2 – Lettuce Wraps: large lettuce leaves (such as romaine and Boston leaf), 1 teaspoon plain Greek yogurt, 3 oz grilled chicken breast (cut into strips), 1/2 apple sliced thinly, Italian herb blend (salt-free); wrap all ingredients up inside the lettuce leaves. A small amount of low-calorie dressing may added here as well.
1 – Grilled Salmon: 4 oz salmon (grilled with a few spritz of lemon and freshly ground black pepper), 2 cups steamed green beans, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (not instant rice), 2-4 cups leafy green variety with 1-2 tablespoons of low-calorie dressing.
1 – Baked Chicken: 3-4 oz baked chicken (seasoned with Italian, salt-free seasoning), 1 cup steamed broccoli, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice with 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cup chopped yellow bell peppers.
1 – 1 cup Sugar-snap peas and 1 oz cheese
1 – 35 in-shell pistachios
When limiting calories for weight loss, it is also good to know that your workouts may suffer. If you are used to long runs or hardcore gym workouts, it may best for you to simply concentrate on the clean meals and lighter workouts such as walking, stretching and using light weights in the gym while performing full-body workouts just a few times a week. Try it for about a week or two, gauge how you are feeling and keep track of your weight. Naturally, as a personal trainer and registered dietitian, I highly recommend working with a professional to keep you happy and healthy and eating what is right for you!