Weight loss usually occurs when consuming 1,200-calorie diets, which is good news if you’re overweight or obese. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests many inactive women need 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day for effective weight loss, while those who hit the gym regularly and women weighing more than 164 pounds need 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day to lose weight safely. Meeting your recommended daily values when eating 1,200 calories a day will help you look and feel your best while shedding extra pounds.
Getting recommended daily doses of protein will help you stick to your 1,200-calorie weight-loss meal plan. Protein increases satiety and can decrease muscle loss during your weight loss venture, according to a study published in a 2010 issue of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.” According to the Institute of Medicine, the protein recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, is 46 grams for women. However, you can safely obtain up to 35 percent of your total calories from protein, which is 105 grams of protein daily when eating 1,200 calories a day. Healthy, protein-rich foods include skinless poultry, seafood, egg whites, soy products, seitan, low-fat dairy foods, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Carbs fuel your body and mind with energy and are essential – even during weight loss. Carb RDAs are 130 grams for adult women, 175 grams during pregnancy and 210 grams during lactation, notes the Institute of Medicine. Non-pregnant, non-nursing women should aim to get 45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbs daily, or 135 to 195 grams per day during 1,200-calorie-a-day dieting. Nutritious, carb-rich foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat milk.
Fats are important for a healthy mind, skin and hair, notes MedlinePlus. Aim to obtain 20 to 35 percent of your 1,200 calories from fats, suggests the Institute of Medicine. Since fat provides 9 calories per gram, shoot for 26 to 47 grams of fat daily when eating 1,200 calories a day. Pick heart-healthy options, such as plant-based oils, nut butters, soy butter, nuts, seeds, avocados and olives, and avoid saturated and trans fats.
Your vitamin and mineral needs are based on your age, not total calorie intake. However, getting recommended doses of healthy protein, carbs and fat means you’ll likely meet your needs. Important micronutrients for women of childbearing age include vitamin D, calcium, iron, iodine and folate. Ask your doctor if a multivitamin supplement is right for you.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How Are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Increased Protein Intake Reduces Lean Body Mass Loss during Weight Loss in Athletes
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.