1,200-Calorie Menu Planner

Don't starve yourself when dieting.
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Cutting your calories to lose weight can feel like a real chore. Meals of grilled chicken breast, egg whites, broccoli and celery over and over again will get even the most dedicated of Nesties down. It doesn't have to be this way though -- provided you hit your calorie targets while eating healthy foods, you can have much more variety in your diet. Even with a lower calorie intake of 1,200 per day, there's plenty of room to include foods you enjoy.

General Considerations

Forget eating five or six times per day to stoke your metabolism -- this is a complete myth, claims Kris Gunnars of Authority Nutrition. You'll feel much more full eating three slightly bigger meals of 400 calories each than you would eating sparrow-sized 150 to 200 calorie portions every few hours.


Your typical cereal and toast breakfast isn't the healthiest -- add in butter and jelly on your toast and a glass of juice on the side and you're looking at a carb-laden, calorie-filled feast. Most people don't get nearly enough protein at breakfast, according to nutritionist Dr. Mike Roussell, but you can solve this by basing your breakfast around eggs or protein powder. Roussell recommends a breakfast consisting of rolled oats, protein powder, almond milk and blueberries. Sixty grams of oats, one level scoop of whey protein powder, 2 cups of almond milk and 1 cup of blueberries provides around 400 calories. Alternatively, an omelet made with two eggs and two egg whites, filled with a cup each of chopped bell peppers, onion and zucchini and topped with 1 ounce of reduced-fat cheddar cheese would give you around 320 calories. Add in a slice of rye bread and you have your 400 calories. Always check with your doctor before introducing supplements, such as protein powder, into your regimen.


Rather than the standard office worker lunch of a high-calorie sandwich, accompanied by chips, a cereal bar or candy bar and a soda, go for something with more protein, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Salads are your best bet, but think outside the box -- use a mixture of leaves, plenty of different veggies and a lean protein source. A salad containing 1 cup each of spinach, lettuce, grated carrot, kale and tomatoes, plus one small sliced chicken breast, 1/3 cup of kidney beans and a tablespoon of olive oil contains 400 calories.


Vary your evening meal every day so you have a tasty dish to look forward to at the end of each day. Include a serving of whole grains, a serving of protein and two servings of fruits or vegetables. Half a cup of cooked whole-grain pasta, brown rice or sweet potato contains just over 100 calories. Three ounces of grilled salmon has 175, as does 4 ounces of 93 percent lean ground beef, leaving you around 125 calories left for vegetables. One cup each of broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, mushroom and five asparagus spears will provide your remaining calorie allowance for your evening meal.

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