You’ve probably heard the term 1200-calorie diabetic diet being thrown around. Maybe you’ve even tried using one, but you don’t really understand how they work. These diets are specifically designed to help manage the blood glucose levels of diabetic patients. However, they can also be useful in helping patients lose weight as well (3). This article will explain everything you need to know about the 1200-calorie diabetic diet.
The 1200-Calorie A Day Diabetic Diet
The basics of a 1200 diet are very simple; this amount of calories could help you to have your blood sugar levels under control. Depending on your daily routines, you may actually be able to stick to a 1200-calorie diabetic diet plan without any sort of problem.
This diet plan assumes that the patient is not exercising and will primarily only eat foods that are low on energy density. This means avoiding foods that contain a lot of calories per serving like most processed foods, potato chips, nuts, and fast food.
This diet also assumes that the patient is not attempting to lose weight, so they may need to be a little more vigilant in order to make sure that their calorie intake stays at 1200 calories or below. Studies show that people who reduce their calorie intake to 1200 per day were able to lose up to 1.5 lbs per week, but the rate of weight loss varies from person to person (2).
This diet is not intended for patients with type 1 diabetes or any other dietary restrictions. It is a diet plan that has been proven to be effective at helping manage the glucose levels of diabetic patients. If you are not diabetic, you should speak with your doctor before starting this diet.
The 1200-calorie diabetic diet, like many other diets, is a matter of personal choice and will depend on the preferences of the individual patient. A commonly recommended food for this diet are those items found in the fresh produce aisle. These foods have very few calories per serving while also providing important nutrients that are essential for overall health.
The diet will also involve avoiding the consumption of foods that have a lot of calories per serving and generally are not good for overall health, like chips, nuts, fried food, soda, etc. This entails patients to read the nutrition labels on food packaging and pay close attention when they are eating out so that they can count their calories accurately.
This diet has also been proven to be effective at helping with weight loss. However, it is important that the patient does not set out on this diet in order to lose weight but instead sets it up for the purposes of controlling their diabetes and blood glucose levels (2).
People who follow the 1200-calorie diabetic diet are encouraged to eat a wide variety of food and maintain a balanced diet. This is particularly important for patients with diabetes as they need to make sure they are getting enough nutrients in order to manage their disease.
This diet is particularly effective for persons with type II diabetes. This is the most common form of diabetes and can be managed through proper nutrition, exercise, medication, weight loss, etc (2). Keep in mind that it doesn’t replace your dietitian’s advice or any medication prescribed by your doctor.
How many carbs in a 1200-calorie diabetic diet? According to the CDC, people with diabetes should aim to get about half of their calories from carbs. That means if you normally eat about 1,200 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight, about 600 to 700 calories can come from carbs. At 4 calories per gram, that’s at least 150 grams of carbs per day (1).
How much meat can someone with diabetes eat on a 1200 calorie diet? While the answer comes down to personal preference, it is advisable to put 0.8g/kg of protein into your body each day. The source of this protein can be meat, eggs, milk, or lentils (4).
Also, it’s recommended that you try to get at least 25-35g of fiber in your body each day. This all helps to control your blood sugar levels and keeps them from spiking.
While a 1200-calorie diabetic diet plan for weight loss or insulin control may seem very restrictive, this is not the case when you look at how much food you actually need in order to keep control of your blood sugar levels. You can eat whatever you want, just make sure that it’s something approved on the list and keep track of how many calories are in each one if you need to.
However, a word of caution: this low-calorie diet may not be appropriate for every person with diabetes. For weight loss, this calorie level is low enough that it may cause a negative effect on the metabolism of some people. Also, this calorie level may not provide enough carbohydrates to complement medication regimens or prevent hypoglycemia (2).
It’s best to consult your doctor before going on this diet. If your doctor prescribes this diet, he or she will have taken all important factors into account.
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What Does A Diabetic 1200-Calorie Diet Look Like?
You’re probably wondering what foods will be allowed on the 1200-calorie diabetic diet plan. Even though this may seem like a difficult question, it really isn’t. These are some of the foods that you can eat on a 1200-calorie diabetic diet plan:
- Meat – Lean cuts like chicken and turkey breast
- Vegetables – Frozen mixed vegetables are very good for you as long as they’re not covered in cheese or cream sauce
- Fruits – Can be eaten; but you should stick to the low-sugar ones
- Nuts – All nuts are allowed as long as they’re unsalted
- Breads and Grains – Whole grain bread, pasta, quinoa and brown rice are all very good for you on a 1200 calorie diet
- Fats – Margarine is the main source of fat that is accepted in this diet
- Snacks – It can be difficult to choose snacks on this diet plan. You’re best off eating fruits and vegetables as snacks in order to keep your sugar levels down
Inevitably, you’ve probably been wondering about the beverages that will be allowed with a 1200-calorie diabetic diet plan. This is actually very simple as well:
- Fresh Fruit Juice
- Soda Water (no sugar or additives)
That’s really all that you’re going to be able to drink while on a low-calorie diet. Since water is best drank without any additions, it’s always the best choice for your 1200-calorie diabetic diet menu.
Coming up with a 1200-calorie diabetic diet menu can be stressful. From counting the calories to ensuring you have a variety of tasty options, it can seem like a lot of work to do. Use this 1200-calorie diabetic diet sample menu for inspiration.
- Breakfast: One slice of buttered wholewheat toast with jam. A bowl of low-sugar cereal (60 calories) and skimmed milk (25 calories). Coffee or tea, without sugar (0 calories). Total 75 Calories.
- Mid Morning Snack: Handful of dried apricots, one thin cucumber and tomato salad on a bed of lettuce leaves – topped off with olive oil dressing (2 tablespoons), made from extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Total 57 Calories.
- Lunch: Half a large baked potato without butter. Served with steamed vegetables such as broccoli and carrots, drizzled in rapeseed or sunflower oil (1 teaspoon each), again no added sugar (0 calories). Half a small low-fat chocolate bar. Total 155 Calories.
- Afternoon Snack: One plain bagel, no butter or spreads. A tomato and cucumber salad without dressing – made from half a large tomato and one thin cucumber; drizzled in lemon juice (2 tablespoons), again no sugar added (0 calories). Total 140 Calories.
- Dinner: Low fat cottage cheese with 2 teaspoons of honey (30 calories) All mixed up with spinach leaves, tomatoes and peppers. Dressed with red wine vinegar (1 tablespoon), olive oil (1 teaspoon), and black pepper. Served with warm wholewheat rolls spread with avocado pate (28 gms.), made using extra virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon), lemon juice (2 tablespoons) and mashed avocados- again no sugar added. Served with a side salad made from chopped tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce leaves. Dress in balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoons) and olive oil (1 teaspoon). Total 135 Calories.
- Late Evening Snack: Yogurt with fresh fruit slices served with low fat granola cereal – make sure it is a low GI variety such as oats or wholegrain rice cereals (30 gms.). Drizzled in honey to add sweetness – again no added sugar needed as the cereal is naturally sweetened; plus one tablespoon of ground flaxseed for healthy fats. Total 93 Calories.
Total Daily Calories – 1,230.
- Breakfast: A mug of tea or coffee without sugar. Half a grapefruit, cut in half. Two slices of wholegrain or sourdough toast with unsalted, unhomogenised butter (1 tsp), served with fried silver fish and chili mayonnaise made from organic low fat mayonnaise (4 tablespoons) blended with fresh lemon juice to taste and chopped cayenne pepper. Total 91 Calories.
- Mid Morning Snack: Carrot-ginger soup – make sure it is low fat; add honey to sweeten if needed. Sweeten with dried fruit such as dates (check they contain no added sugar) for natural sweetness instead of sugar. Total 200 Calories.
- Lunch: Two veggie burger patties made with quinoa and split peas, served on a wholewheat bun with low fat mayonnaise (2 tablespoons), chopped lettuce and tomatoes, no added sugar. Served with vegetables – choose from roasted mixed peppers or fried cabbage tossed in olive oil (1 teaspoon) and herbs such as coriander/cilantro. Total 372 Calories.
- Afternoon Snack: Keep it light – yogurt or cottage cheese topped with fresh fruit slices will do the trick. Serve with a handful of unsalted nuts like almonds without adding salt or sugar – to control your calories consume one serving per day only. Total 106 Calories.
- Dinner: Low-fat minestrone soup made from mixed vegetables such as carrot, celery and cabbage with small beans (1 cup), fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme. Again serve without added sugar to add sweetness. Total 235 Calories.
- Late Evening Snack: Yogurt with granola, one teaspoon of ground flaxseed and a handful of raisins – low GI option like oats is preferred (40 gms.). Total 88 Calories.
Total Daily Calories – 1,231
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- Breakfast: One slice of buttered wholewheat toast served with jam. A bowl of low-sugar cereal (60 calories) and skimmed milk (25 calories). Coffee or tea (no sugar). Total 227 Calories.
- Mid Morning Snack: Low fat cottage cheese with one teaspoon of honey. Total 61 Calories.
- Lunch: Hummus with warm wholewheat pitta breads (8 gms.). A small salad made from chopped tomatoes and cucumbers dressed in lemon juice (1 tbsp.) and olive oil (1 tsp.), served with cucumber sticks, no added sugar. Total 150 Calories.
- Afternoon Snack: One poached egg on a bed of mixed salad leaves – again make sure the mayonnaise is low-fat. Dress with black pepper and red wine vinegar. Total 163 Calories.
- Dinner: Oven-roasted sausages made with spelt, wholemeal breadcrumbs (2 tablespoons), fresh herbs, garlic and extra virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon). Roast with chopped tomatoes and red onion. Serve with a baked potato made from white potatoes without added fat. Total 180 Calories.
- Late Evening Snack: Sunny-side up egg on whole grain toast – make sure the bread is not sweetened! Also, eat black grapes (10 gms). Total 81 Calories.
Total Daily Calories – 1,223
The Bottom Line
The 1200-calorie diabetic diet is a low-carb, high-protein diet. This type of diet can be beneficial for those with diabetes because it has been shown to help regulate blood sugars. It can also be used by people who are looking to lose weight or just want to eat healthier. For the best results, you should combine this diet with exercise and limiting your sugar intake. You will also need to make some changes in order for this type of diet plan to work for you – like cooking at home more often and not eating out as much.
Apart from following a proper diet, physical exercise is also essential for your body and health. Take up a challenge and try this 20-min Full Body Workout At Home to get a snatched body.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Carb Counting (2019, cdc.gov)
- Clinical efficacy of a medically supervised outpatient high-protein, low-calorie diet program is equivalent in prediabetic, diabetic and normoglycemic obese patients (2014, nih.gov)
- Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults (2018, nih.gov)
- Meal Planning Guide 1200 calorie (n.d., usouthal.edu)