A 7-Day, 1,200-Calorie Weight Loss Meal Plan


Design by Betsy Farrell

To put together this weight loss meal plan that takes the guesswork out of prepping a full week’s worth of healthy and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas, we consulted with registered dietitians. While 1,200 calories may be the right amount for some people, it can be very restrictive for most, says Stefani Sassos, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, deputy nutrition director for the Good Housekeeping Institute. Depending on your daily activity level, we suggest checking out our 1,300-, 1,400-, 1,500- and 1,800-calorie meal plans as well.

While this plan covers just seven days, many experts agree that long-term weight loss is only possible if you make healthy food choices on the regular and that yo-yo dieting can be hard on your health. It’s true that maintaining a healthy weight is associated with a lower risk of certain chronic diseases and health issues, but your weight is just one of many factors that impacts your overall health. Implementing nutrient-dense foods into a well-balanced diet and staying hydrated are key and can have health benefits that go far beyond a number on the scale. When it comes to improving your eating habits, the simplest, fastest way to make impactful, lasting change is to form habits you can actually stick with for life.

It’s also important to note that this plan uses 1,200 calories as a base; it is designed to be built upon by doubling, tripling or even quadrupling your servings of veggies at any opportunity and adding more fruits at snack time, too. You can also add on 1-5 ounces of protein at all meals if at any point you’re feeling like it’s just not enough food to keep you satisfied. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that’ll help you lose weight safely — one meal at a time. You can consider complementing this plan with a daily multivitamin, too.

Weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to go on this diet, we invite you gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.

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Build a pita sandwich with 1 mini whole wheat pita, 3 ounces turkey breast, 1/2 roasted pepper, 1 teaspoon mayo, mustard and lettuce. Serve with 1 stick part-skim mozzarella string cheese and 2 kiwis.

Serve 4 ounces broiled flounder or sole with 2 sliced plum tomatoes sprinkled with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, broiled until just golden. Eat with 1 cup cooked couscous and 1 cup steamed broccoli. Enjoy with a single-serve ice cream for dessert.

Brush 4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast with barbecue sauce and grill. Garnish chicken with chopped scallions and a squeeze of lime juice. Combine 2 heaping cups of sautéed spinach with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes and serve with 1/2 plain baked or sweet potato.

RELATED: 50 Healthy Chicken Dinners for the Best Weeknights Ever

In the microwave, cook 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats with low-fat or unsweetened soy milk. Add 1/2 apple (sliced or chopped), 1 teaspoon honey and a pinch of cinnamon.

To make a chicken salad, toss 4 ounces shredded skinless roast chicken breast with 1/4 cup sliced red grapes, 1 tablespoon slivered almonds or nuts of choice, 1/4 cup chopped celery, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt. Serve over lettuce. Eat with 1 large piece of multigrain toast.

Serve 4 ounces steamed shrimp with 1 baked potato topped with 3 tablespoons salsa and 1 tablespoon unsweetened Greek yogurt, plus 3 cups spinach, steamed. Finish the meal off with 1 ounce of chocolate or a 100- to 150-calorie ice cream bar.

Top 1 cup of plain or low-sugar Greek yogurt with 1 cup berries of choice and 1/3 cup low-sugar granola to make a simple but delectable yogurt parfait.

RELATED: 16 Best Healthy Granola Brands

Heat 1 cup tomato soup and serve with a sandwich made with 1 mini whole-wheat pita, 3 ounces thinly sliced roast beef, 1 teaspoon horseradish, mustard, tomato slices and lettuce. Eat with 2 cups raw veggies and 1/4 cup of hummus.

Serve 4 ounces poached salmon with a slaw made by tossing 1 1/4 cups coleslaw mix and 2 sliced scallions with 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Add spices, herbs and seasoning as desired. Pair with 1 cup of a 100% whole grain, like quinoa.

Combine 1 cup Cheerios, 1/2 cup berries, 1 tablespoon slivered almonds and 6 ounces plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt in a bowl.

RELATED: 9 Best Dairy-Free Yogurts

Make a quesadilla by spreading 1/4 cup fat-free refried beans over a 100% stone-ground corn tortilla. Sprinkle on 1 ounce shredded part-skim cheese. Top with salsa and another tortilla; microwave 45 seconds on high or grill. Serve with cucumber spears and 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese or Greek yogurt topped with 2 clementines.

Serve 3 ounces roasted pork tenderloin with 1 cup baked acorn squash, mashed with a pinch of cinnamon; 2 to 3 cups salad greens with a dash of olive oil and as much vinegar as desired; and chocolate or a 100- to 150-calorie ice cream bar for dessert.

Toast a 100% whole-grain frozen waffle and spread 2 tablespoons nut butter on top. Add 1 small sliced banana plus cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve with 8 ounces fat-free milk.

Make a tuna pita with one mini whole-wheat pita, 2 ounces water-packed tuna, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, mustard, cucumber and onion slices. Serve with 10 baby carrots and 2/3 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt with a small pear.

Make jambalaya by combining 3/4 cup cooked brown rice with 1/2 cup corn, 2 ounces cooked sliced turkey sausage, 1/3 cup salsa and 1/4 cup no-salt-added black or navy beans until heated through. Eat with 3 cups spinach sautéed with garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil.

RELATED: 30 Healthy Canned Foods You Should Add to Your Pantry

Make black bean salad by tossing 1/2 cup canned black beans, 1/2 cup orange slices, chopped red bell peppers, red onion, scallions and any other desired veggies with 1 teaspoon vinegar. Serve over salad greens and alongside one 100% stone ground corn tortilla and a piece of fruit.

1,200 Calories and More: The Complete Guide to Building Your Perfect Weight Loss Meal Plan

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