1200 Calorie High Protein Low Carb Diet
Have you heard about the 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet? Are you wondering if this is the best diet to help you achieve the body of your dreams? You are not alone. When it comes to weight loss and trying to shed the excess pounds, the options on what you can do to help you achieve this can seem endless. After all, there is not one diet option that seems to work the same for everyone. Read on to find out if this meal plan could be perfect for you and your goals.
What is a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet?
Before defining what a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet is, you must first realize that there are numerous options and variations of low carb – high protein diets out there. Common examples include the Atkins diet, Protein Power, SugarBusters, and many more (6).
In this case, however, a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet simply means; an eating plan that restricts your calorie intake to 1200 a day. It also requires you to consume meals that are relatively high in protein, have moderate/adequate amounts of fats, and have very little carbohydrates.
How does the 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet work?
Generally, the average woman and man needs about 2000 to 2500 calories, respectively, to maintain their weight. This number may increase or decrease depending on age, lifestyle, and level of fitness (11). When you consume just 1200 calories a day, you are putting yourself on a calorie deficit, which makes it that much more likely for you to lose weight.
On the other hand, a high protein low carb diet means that your carbohydrates intake is quite restricted. With no carbs to be transformed into glucose to use as energy, the body uses fat storage, which it uses as fuel. This, in turn, puts your body in ketosis state where your body starts using ketones as an energy source, causing more weight loss (4).
What does a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet consist of?
Before jumping headfirst into this way of eating, you must familiarize yourself with the kind of foods and drinks you can consume and those you must avoid. This will ensure that you do not deviate from the meal plan and can reap all the fantastic benefits of the diet.
What to eat on a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet
Being on this diet does not mean that you will have a hard time finding meals to consume and being full and energized throughout the day. However, if you are unsure, this 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet food list will give ideas of what foods to shop for and which ones to avoid.
1. Non-starchy vegetables
Vegetables might not be high in protein, but they should always be included in every meal as they are high in other nutrients like vitamins and fiber. Veggies are also quite low in carbohydrates and thus will not greatly affect your diet. Some fantastic examples of vegetables include leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and Romaine lettuce. Other very low carb vegetables include bell peppers, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage, eggplants, cucumber, and Brussels sprouts.
2. Beans and lentils
While these foods are high in protein, they are also quite high in carbohydrates. In light of this, you should ensure to measure and carefully track your intake of beans and lentils to avoid going over your allowed carbs for the day.
You can never go wrong by adding fish and other seafood to your meals, no matter what diet you are on. Some amazing examples of seafood that are packed full of proteins include salmon, tilapia, cod, flounder, shrimp, pollock, and halibut.
4. Lean cuts of beef
These will ensure that you are getting your required amount of protein for the day without ingesting a lot of fats.
5. Chicken and turkey breasts
These are full of protein and have less fats as compared to other parts such as the thighs.
They are very high in protein and should always be part of your 1200 calories high protein menu.
7. Nuts and seeds
Examples such as hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and cashews are full of protein and healthy fats.
While some fruits are high in carbs, you can still opt for options with lower sugar contents, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
9. Whole grains
The diet is a low carb high protein one, and therefore you will still need to eat some carbs, albeit in very small amounts. Some options that you can consume include quinoa, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, and bulgur as they have a higher fiber content, which will help with the absorption of glucose.
10. Vegan protein powders
You could also have plant-based protein powders if you are vegan or vegetarian. Pea and soy protein powders are among the most popular options.
11. Plant-based protein sources
Tofu and tempeh, are perfect for anyone who does not eat meat or eggs.
12. Dairy products
Such as milk, cheeses, and yoghurt. Not only are they a good source of protein, but they also provide calcium for your bones.
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What to avoid on a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet
Always make sure to count your calories to ensure that you are eating the right amounts to avoid undereating and overeating. On the other hand, foods you should completely avoid on the 1200 low carb high protein diet plan include:
1. Refined carbohydrates
Also known as simple carbs, they include sugar and refined grains that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Some common examples include bagels, waffles, and pastries, most breakfast cereals, white rice, bread, tortillas, and pizza (9).
2. Saturated fats and fried foods
Saturated fats can be found in animal-source foods like beef, lamb or pork, dark chicken meat such as thighs and drumstick and high-fat dairy foods like whole milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, ice cream.
From candy and sweetened condiments. Always check the nutrition fact labels on your condiments before you buy them.
Beside considering this 1200 calories high protein low carb food list, always be sure to first consult a doctor and dietitian if you are looking to make changes to your diet. They will help you make these changes without putting your health at risk.
Pros of a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet
Some benefits of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet include:
Eating 1200 calories a day, regardless of your type of diet, puts you on a calorie deficit, which means that you should start losing weight eventually if you maintain this diet for an extensive period of time.
You will feel full longer
Despite eating on a calorie deficit, you are likely to remain full for a longer amount of time. This is because proteins take a longer time to be fully digested. Due to this, you are also less likely to snack, keeping your energy intake intact for weight loss.
Building and maintaining muscle mass
Increased protein intake contributes to greater strength and muscle mass gains when coupled with resistance exercise. It also allows for greater muscle mass preservation when consumed during periods of negative energy balance, i.e, when you are not working out (2).
Increased bone health
Most people reach their peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 30. By the time we are 40 years old, we slowly start losing bone mass, and this can lead to weak and brittle bones, which can further deteriorate to osteoporosis. However, clinical studies have shown that a high protein intake could delay this by increasing muscle mass, calcium absorption, suppressing parathyroid hormone, and augmenting insulin-like growth factor 1 production (3).
Controlling blood sugar
This is especially beneficial to people at risk or those already suffering from type 2 diabetes (7).
Cons of a 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet
Despite the above benefits, a 1200 calories low carb high protein diet plan can have some cons and drawbacks. They include:
- Bloating and constipation. Due to consuming small amounts of carbs, your body tends to lack fiber. Fiber plays a vital role in keeping the digestive tract flowing and healthy, and without it, you are likely to suffer from bloating and constipation.
- Weight gain. This will most likely happen if you are not paying attention to your 1200 calorie limit. Healthy foods can make you gain weight because extra calories will still be converted into fat regardless of whether they are from healthy or unhealthy food sources.
- Heart disease. When choosing high protein low carb foods, some people choose options that are quite high in fats such as red meat and full-fat dairy products. These foods cause high cholesterol leading to clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes. Always go for lean cuts of meat and low fat dairy products.
- Increased risks of kidney stones (5).
- Worsening kidney problems. Anyone with a kidney problem should not try a high protein low carbohydrate diet because your body may have trouble eliminating all the waste products of protein metabolism (1).
While the 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet is a relatively safe eating plan for most people, it is always a good idea to first speak to your doctor or dietitian before deciding to undertake it.
How to make an effective 1200 calorie low carb high protein diet plan
Many diets fail because people fail to plan appropriately. For you to actually achieve your weight loss goals, you must be dedicated and plan accordingly. Some things that you could do include:
Always knowing what you are going to eat before you have to consume it prevents you from making wrong and unhealthy decisions when you are hungry, especially after a long day.
Meal prep or food prep
When you choose to meal prep, you pick a day of the week to make and portion out all the upcoming meals for the week. These meals are then frozen so all you have to do is take them out and reheat them. This keeps you on your diet as you always have something healthy to eat that sticks to the diet.
If eating the same meals all week does not appeal to you, food prepping is the way to go. Unlike meal prepping, you do not have to cook all the meals. Here you can just cook the food options that take the longest to prepare. Everything else is chopped or grated and kept in airtight containers for future use. This cuts down the amount of time spent cooking, but it also gives you more leeway on the types of high-protein, low-carbohydrate meals you can consume in a week.
Carry the appropriate snacks
Many people can confess that they are snackers. However, choosing the right diet-appropriate snack can be hard to do when faced with more options. To prevent this, choose to carry low carb high protein snacks such as hard boiled eggs, unsweetened yogurt, a handful of nuts, and cheese slices; as long as they are counted within the 1200 calorie intake for the day.
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Sample 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet
Here is a two-day menu that you can use as your guideline of what a high-protein low-carb diet should look like:
Day One (8)
- Breakfast – Spinach and Egg Muffin Cups
- 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 cups chopped bell peppers, 1 cup onion, 2 cups baby spinach, 1 cup mushrooms, 4 whole eggs, 4 egg whites, 2 garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste.
- Calories: 167. Fat: 8 g, Proteins: 18 g, Carbs: 7 g.
- Snack – Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake
- 1/2 scoop pumpkin spice protein powder, 1/4 cup nonfat milk, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 1/4 banana, 1/4 cup plain 0% Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup water
- Calories: 183. Fat: 1 g, Proteins: 23 g, Carbs: 23 g.
- Lunch – Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
- 4 ounces (113 g) grilled chicken, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/4 cup diced carrot, 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 avocado, 4 large lettuce leaves
- Calories: 255. Fat: 7 g, Proteins: 33 g, Carbs: 15 g.
- Dinner – Pecan Crusted Salmon
- 4 salmon fillets, 1/2 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, 1 tbsp butter, salt and pepper to taste
- Note that these measurements make 4 servings. One serving = One fillet
- Calories: 411. Fat: 30 g, Proteins: 25 g, Carbs: 10 g.
- Dessert – Goat cheese and Basil Stuffed Strawberries
- 340g organic strawberries, 113g creamy chèvre (goat cheese), 1 tbsp finely chopped basil leaves, 1 pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 cup (28g) shelled pistachios
- Calories: 139. Fat: 10 g, Proteins: 7 g, Carbs: 10 g.
- Total Intake for the day: Calories: 1155. Fat: 56 g, Proteins: 139 g, Carbs: 65 g.
- Breakfast – Kale Scramble Breakfast Bowl
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, 113 g organic green kale, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 3 eggs, 2 lemon wedges
- Calories: 310. Fat: 23 g, Proteins: 20 g, Carbs: 6 g.
- Snack – Cottage and Cheese Celery sticks
- 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1 celery stalk, black pepper to taste
- Calories: 55. Fat: 1 g, Proteins: 7 g, Carbs: 3 g.
- Lunch – Low-Carb Nachos
- 226 g halved raw bell peppers, 1 tsp olive oil, 226 g poached chicken breast, 1/2 cup skim milk cheese, 1/3 cup canned black beans, 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, 2 tbsp salsa, 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds, 1/3 cup fresh pineapple, 2/3 avocados, 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- Calories: 211. Fat: 12 g, Proteins: 18 g, Carbs: 8 g.
- Snack – Caprese Snack
- 28 g low-fat mozzarella cheese, 1/3 tomato and 1 fresh basil leaf
- Calories: 80. Fat: 5 g, Proteins: 7 g, Carbs: 2 g.
- Dinner – 1 Steak Lettuce Cups and a Broccoli Salad
- For the steak lettuce cups – 8 oz flank steak, 1 radish, 1/4 tsp chili flakes, 2 tsp brown rice vinegar, 1 medium peeled cucumber, 15 leaf medium butter lettuce, 2 clove garlic, 1 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp tamari soy sauce, 1 tsp Sesame Oil, fresh mint leaves
- These ingredients made 8 lettuce cups. One serving = 1 steak lettuce cup
- Calories: 77. Fat: 4 g, Proteins: 8 g, Carbs: 1 g.
- For the salad – 2 cups broccoli florets, 2 slices turkey bacon, 1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove, 2 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1 onion, 10 grapes, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 3 tbsp cheddar cheese.
- This makes 4 servings
- Calories: 242 Fat: 19 g, Proteins: 5 g, Carbs: 12 g.
- Total Intake for the day: Calories: 1165. Fat: 64 g, Proteins: 65 g, Carbs: 32 g.
Note that this is just a simple guide. You can adjust your amount of proteins, fats, and carbs to suit your needs.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a meal plan to help you lose weight, then the 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet could be a good plan to follow. This eating plan is low in calories and carbohydrates – two things that can hinder your weight loss goals if consumed in excessive amounts.
On the other hand, high amounts of protein keep you fuller for longer, preventing unnecessary snacking and boosting muscle growth when combined with exercising. If you are curious to try this eating plan for your weight loss, please talk to your doctor and dietitian to figure out if this meal plan is safe for you.
If you are interested in healthy meal plans, you may be curious about other methods of supporting your body health. Supplement a proper meal plan with some exercise and take up this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home.
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. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Are high-protein diets safe for weight loss? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary protein is beneficial to bone health under conditions of adequate calcium intake: an update on clinical research (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- High-Protein Diets: Do They Work? (2018, webmd.com)
- High protein diet brings risk of kidney stones (2002, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Low-Carb, High-Protein Diets (2015, health.harvard.edu)
- Very high-protein and low-carbohydrate enteral nutrition formula and plasma glucose control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized crossover trial (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What 1,200 Calories Looks Like (Protein Edition) (2018, blog.myfitnesspal.com)
- What are refined carbohydrates? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Is the High-Protein Diet? (2020, verywellfit.com)
- What should my daily intake of calories be? (2019, nhs.uk)