Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Does a 1200-Calorie Diet Look Like?

I'm trying to lose weight, and being that I'm a woman in my 60's I find it harder than ever to get a few pounds off. I am trying to find a 1200-calorie diet to follow as I understand that's what it would take for me to lose this weight. I'm not sure how to go about planning my meals. Can you help?
Doris E.

Hi Doris,
It's likely you may find a 1200 calorie diet challenging, depending on how you normally eat. It's true we need fewer calories as we age, and especially women of shorter stature require precious few calories to prevent weight gain. Here's what a basic 1200-calorie diet would look like, with a few alternatives suggested.

Breakfast: 1 egg or 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 2 slices of "light" bread (40 calories per slice) and 1 cup of berries or melon. [an alternative is a bowl of high-fiber cereal with skim milk and fruit--this saves a protein serving for a morning snack, which could be a hard-boiled egg or string cheese sticks].

Lunch: Salad tossed with lots of fresh vegetables and 2 oz chicken, tuna or turkey (go very easy on the dressing--even lo-cal--as it can add up to over a hundred calories for every couple of tablespoons) and yogurt, saving starch for an afternoon snack, like a granola bar [alternative meal would be (1) lite lunchmeat on light bread with a small salad and fruit, or (2) a baked potato with plain yogurt and veggies--saving some calories for an afternoon snack such as cheese and crackers].

Dinner: 2-3 ounces of meat (preferably fish, chicken, or very lean beef or pork) with a side of about 1 cup of rice or pasta, cous cous, etc and about 1/2 your plate full of fresh vegetables like broccoli, carrots, zucchini, green beans or brussels sprouts. [If you choose to make dinner basically protein and veggies, you can save starches and a few grams of fat for an evening snack of peanut butter and graham crackers or a skinny cow ice cream treat].

Basically it's restricting portions of virtually everything you eat, and very limited in fat and sweets. You could add diet soda and diet jello, in moderation, as well as tea and coffee which have no calories.

Unfortunately most people stay on a diet like this for a few weeks, then go back to the way they were eating before and gain whatever they lost.
My advice is always to first try limiting and cutting back on some of the things you eat, allowing a slow and steady weight loss without suffering.

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