This 1200 calorie weight loss meal plan is high in protein, low in carbs, and low in dietary fat. Get the free printable high protein template, the 7 day meal plan, and the shopping list here.
A critical habit in being successful with weight loss is to meal plan. This doesn’t need to be complicated, and is the best way to set you up for sticking to your calories. (you can read my weight loss story here)
Most mornings, I’ll sit down with MyFitnessPal and plug in the foods I’m going to eat for the day, until the calories and macros come out to my match my goals.
This week, my goals have been to plan for a daily target of 1200 calories with high protein, and low carbs. The low fat piece is comes naturally, because I prefer foods that are low in fat.
What are the total calories and macros for this weight loss meal plan
A low calorie diet has been shown to result in weight loss, despite the distribution of macros. However, for this 1200 calorie that is high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and low in fats, the totals are: 1151 cal / 153 g protein, 86 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat. If you count macros, that is close to: 55% protein, 30% carbs, and 15% fat
When I create calorie focused meal plans, I meal plan in a way that the calories are a little under, rather than over. I go under on the planned calories for a few reasons.
For one, it’s difficult to get accurate measurements for calories of the foods you eat. Different tools, different reporting methods, and different products vary in calorie range.
But the biggest reason the plan is slightly under 1200 calories is because there is plenty of things we eat that often go untracked. Bites, nibbles, sauces, veggies, vitamins, gum, and even sugar free foods actually do carry calories.
So, at the end of the day, you’ll likely be closer to 1200 calories, even if you think you are eating less.
IMPORTANT: Products will vary on nutrition information. The nutrient counts for the calories, carbs, and protein, as I am reporting them are taken from a report in MyFitnessPal, that you can see here.
Why you might eat high protein
While it’s important to have a balanced diet (which I discuss a lot on my Choose MyPlate articles like this one) protein is often the most difficult micronutrient to get in your diet. (But if you need help, this is my list of favorite high protein foods)
If your goal is fat loss, protein has been shown in research to be important. I’ve noticed with a higher protein diet, that:
- I’m more satiated. I did NOT think this was possible. I always thought it didn’t matter if I was satiated or not, because I rarely ate out of hunger. Turns out, I was wrong. Higher protein really did have me thinking about food less often!
- Protein builds muscle! This is what I tell all the kids I teach nutrition to. If you want to build muscle, you need protein.
- The more protein you can eat, the more efficient your metabolism is.
Why you need carbs
There isn’t really a need to eliminate carbs, even when you are trying to lose weight.
- Carbs fuel your workouts,
- Give you energy,
- and make you feel better!
Why you need fats
Fats, while my diet has been low in fat for a very long time, are also critical for weight loss. Dietary Fats have been shown benefits, such as
- support your hormones
- Give you energy
- Support cell growth.
So, no need to eliminate them. Although this 1200 calorie high protein plan is low in fat, they are still there!
What does 1200 calories look like
This week, after planning a 1200 calorie day, I decided to take some pictures! So, here’s what a 1200 calorie day looked like for me. I like to eat 3 meals a day, with one dessert, so this is picture of what I ate in a day:
1200 Calorie Daily High Protein Template
After eating the foods I planned for, I then went through and modified slightly the fruits and veggies each day to add variety to the meals, but keep the calories and macros constant.
Minimize the groceries, but keep variety in!
While I like variety in a diet, I don’t like to get groceries for every meal being different. I’ll only change up my meal plan weekly, rather than daily. Much less expensive that way!
The Daily 1200 Calorie High Protein Meal Ideas:
373 calories, 52 g protein, 31 g carbs, 0 g fat
- 1 cup Egg whites,
- 1 ounce low fat mozzarella cheese, or fat free cheese
- 1 cup Plain Greek nonfat yogurt (this must be plain, nonfat, at 100 calories per 140 grams)
328 calories, 51 g protein, 21 g carbs, 5 g fat
- 8 ounces of Chicken (must be chicken breasts for the calories to match mine)
- 2 cups greens (can be any variety- romaine, iceberg, spinach, or a mix)
- 2 cups extra veggies (I included a variety in the printable 7 day meal plan)
- 2 TBL Light dressing. I like Bolthouse dressings for 45 calories per two tablespoons, or the Light Olive Garden Italian for 35 calories.
240 calories, 23 g protein, 10 g carbs, 9 g fat
- 4 ounces 93% Ground turkey,
- About 2 cups of a variety of cooked vegetables
- A low calorie pasta (this one called Healthy Noodle I found at Costco, and it’s my NEW FAVORITE!) But I also like the Liviva Brand. I do not like the brand Magic Noodles. If you don’t have low calorie pasta, sub for spiralized zucchini (zoodles) or spaghetti squash!
210 calories, 27 g protein, 19 g carbs, 2 g fat
- Protein ice cream!! I look forward to this after dinner so much! To keep the macros and calories similar to mine, aim for a protein powder that is close to 100 calories per scoop. I used ISOProtein (all the flavors are delish!) Here’s a recipe for strawberry protein ice cream, but I subbed vanilla almond milk for this meal plan.
- I do have a day on the plan that I used peanut butter powder. I love it for a low calorie way to eat peanut butter!
The 7 Day High protein outline:
Which foods to prep
As with any successful weight loss meal plan, prepping food can help you stick with it! (check out my high protein meal prep post here).
This prep was actually super simple. This was all the food for a 1200 calorie day. This is how I prepped:
- I added my fruit to my yogurt. I’m using frozen blueberries here, so putting it in the yogurt and then in my fridge made it so the blueberries weren’t frozen the next morning.
- I made the strawberry protein ice cream so I could get it in the freezer.
- I cooked all the ground turkey for the week, and then measured it into 7 days. then, I just added the veggies raw to the meal prep containers. I didn’t bother cooking them.
- Then I cooked all the chicken on my George Foreman grill!
- Then, I portioned out my salad!
That’s it! Don’t over complicate meal prep!
The 1200 Calorie Diet Shopping List!
And finally, we’re to the shopping list!
I didn’t include seasonings or sauces or anything like that. I’ve been eating things like fat free sour cream and mustard on some of my food, but you do you!