Try This 3-Day 1200 Calorie Nutrition Plan


A 1200 calorie nutrition plan calls for some careful planning. Not that higher calorie level diet plans don’t, but when you only have 1200 calories to work with and you want to hit all your nutritional targets, every calorie really counts. This 1200 calorie sample nutrition plan gives you three nutrition-packed daily menus to follow.

Who should choose a 1200 calorie diet plan?

A 1200 calorie diet plan would be appropriate for an adult woman who gets little to no activity and who desires weight loss. If this applies to you, I recommend that you start with a 1200 calorie plan, and that you also begin a regular exercise program as well. A 1200 calorie plan may also be appropriate for small-to-medium framed women over the age of 50 who are only lightly active. This calorie level is probably too low for most men.

A drop of no more than 2 pounds (1 kg) per week is considered a safe rate of weight loss. If you are losing weight more quickly than that, move up to the next highest calorie level. If you are losing more slowly, you should not eat fewer than 1200 calories per day. Instead, you need to step up your activity level.

1200 Calorie Diet Plan Overview

This plan calls for three meals and two snacks each day. Here is the basic breakdown for the 1200 calorie nutrition plan:

Breakfast: 1 Protein + 1 Fruit (+ vegetables if desired)
Lunch: 1 Protein + 1 Vegetable + Leafy Greens + 1 Taste Enhancer
Snack: 1 Protein Snack + 1 Fruit or Vegetable
Dinner: 1 Protein + 1 Starch/Grain + 2 Vegetable + Leafy Greens + 1 Taste Enhancer
Snack: 1 Fruit

Daily Totals: 3 Protein, 2-3 Fruit, 3-4 Vegetable, 1 Starch/Grain, 1 Protein Snack, Leafy Greens – no limit, 2 Taste Enhancers

I’ve structured the meal plan this way so that your meals and afternoon snack will be evenly spaced throughout the day, providing the proper nutrition to help keep your energy level up. However, feel free to move foods around if it suits you better. For example, if you feel that you need a snack mid-morning, you can move the evening fruit snack to the mid-morning instead. As long as you don’t exceed the daily totals for each food group, you’re good!

Take a look at my “How to Create Your Own Sample Nutrition Plan” article which provides all the details on portion sizes for each food group. This will help you when it comes to designing your own 1200 calorie diet plans.

3-Day Menus for a 1200 Calorie Diet

DAY 1

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup (250g) nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup (80g) strawberries
  • sprinkled with cinnamon

Lunch

Large salad made with

  • Leafy greens (lettuce, spinach) – any amount
  • 1 cup (80g) chopped mixed vegetables (carrots, peppers, tomato)
  • 3 ounces (85g) grilled chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) reduced calorie salad dressing

Snack

  • 1 ounce (30g) soy nuts
  • 1 fresh apple

Dinner

  • 4 ounces (100g) grilled salmon with lemon
  • 2 cups (160g) steamed green beans with garlic
  • ½ cup (150g) cooked brown rice
  • large leafy green salad – any amount
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) reduced calorie salad dressing

Snack

  • 1 orange

DAY 2

Breakfast

  • 1 whole egg + 4 egg whites scrambled in a nonstick pan with pan spray
  • Topped with tomato salsa
  • 1 cup (80g) cut melon

Lunch

Veggie Stir-fry. Sauté together

  • 5 ounces (125g) firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (80g) broccoli florets
  • Large bunch fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) oil to stir-fry
  • Season with soy sauce, garlic, pepper and ginger

Snack

  • 4 Tablespoons (60g) prepared hummus
  • 1 cup (80g) baby carrots

Dinner

Grain salad with protein. Toss Together:  

  • 4 ounces (100g) grilled shrimp
  • ½ cup (150g) cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups (160g) chopped mixed vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumber, onion)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) reduced calorie vinaigrette dressing
  • Place on a bed of leafy greens

Snack

  • 1 fresh orange

DAY 3

Breakfast

  • 1 cup (250g) plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Sprinkle with nutmeg

Lunch

  • 4 ounces (100g) grilled halibut
  • 1 cup (80g) steamed asparagus with lemon
  • Mixed leafy greens salad – any amount
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) reduced calorie salad dressing

Snack

  • ½ cup (125g) nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup (80g) chopped mixed raw vegetables season with salt, pepper, dried dill or chives

Dinner

  • 3 ounces (85g) grilled lean steak
  • 2 cups (160g) roasted Brussels sprouts (halve, toss with olive oil, roast at 400 F / 205 C for 20 minutes)
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) olive oil (for Brussels sprouts)
  • Steamed kale, spinach or Swiss chard with vinegar – any amount
  • ½ small sweet potato sprinkled with ginger

Snack

  • 1 cup (80g) diced fresh pineapple