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Calorie restriction can help you look your best.
Calories are the bottom line for losing fat. To lose a pound of fat, you must create a deficit of about 3,500 calories through diet and exercise. The most reliable weight-loss strategy is moderate, regular exercise and a calorie-controlled diet. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes that 1,200 calories per day is an ideal intake for both men and women to lose weight safely. Following a menu can help keep your diet within the 1,200-calorie constraints by eliminating guesswork and sporadic food choices that could put you over limit.
Before you begin a 1,200-calorie diet, consult your physician to ensure calorie restriction is right for you. Once you have clearance, you simply need to keep your total food consumption to 1,200 calories per day. That's enough room for three 300-calorie meals and two 150-calorie snacks, which should be enough to keep you satisfied throughout the day. Design meals that fit these calorie restrictions for your menu, and weight loss is immediately simplified. Don't be afraid to divvy the 1,200 calories differently to fit your preferred eating schedule; for example, if you eat just three times per day, each meal would have 400 calories. Don't worry if you go over your limit by 100 or 200 calories every now and then; it won't destroy your weight-loss efforts.
Simplified 1,200-Calorie Menu: Three Meals, Two Snacks
ChooseMyPlate.gov provides a simple 1,200-calorie menu that doesn't require you to choose specific foods or meals. Instead, the menu consists of healthful portions of the different food groups that will result in a balanced diet consisting of approximately 1,200 calories per day. For breakfast: 1 ounce of whole grains, 1/2 cup of fresh fruit and 1/2 cup of fresh vegetables. For your first snack: 1 ounce of whole grains and 1/2 cup of fresh fruit. For lunch: 1 ounce of whole grains, 1/2 cup of vegetables, 1/2 cup of low-fat or fat-free dairy and 1 ounce of meat or another protein food. For your second snack: 1/2 cup of vegetables and 1/2 cup of low-fat or fat-free dairy. For dinner: 1 ounce of grains, 1/2 cup of vegetables, 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free dairy and 2 ounces of meat or another protein food. This style of menu is often referred to as an exchange list, as it allows you to exchange different types of food in a food group to better suit your tastes.
Sample 1,200-Calorie Menu One: Three Meals, One Snack
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a sample 1,200-calorie menu with balanced nutrition to aid weight loss. For a 389-calorie breakfast: one slice of whole-wheat bread with 2 teaspoons of jelly, 1/2 cup of shredded wheat cereal with 1 cup of 1 percent milk, 3/4 cup of orange juice and a cup of black coffee. For a 305-calorie lunch: roast beef sandwich made from two slices of whole-wheat bread, 2 ounces of lean roast beef, one leaf of lettuce, three slices of tomato and 1 teaspoon of low-fat mayonnaise served with a medium apple and a glass of water. For a 454-calorie dinner: 2 ounces of salmon cooked with 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, 3/4 of a baked potato served with 1 teaspoon of margarine, 1/2 cup of green beans seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon of margarine, 1/2 cup of cooked carrots and a small dinner roll served with a cup of iced tea and 2 cups of water. For a 100-calorie snack: 2 1/2 cups of popcorn with 3/4 teaspoon of margarine.
Sample 1,200-Calorie Menu Two: Three Meals, No Snacks
Eating just three meals per day with no snacks can simplify your menus and make calorie counting easier. For breakfast: half an English muffin topped with 1 teaspoon of margarine served with a smoothie containing 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of fat-free milk and half a banana. For lunch: 1 cup of vegetable soup, 1 veggie burger in a mini whole-wheat pita with salsa and lettuce, 6 ounces of light yogurt and 15 grapes. For dinner: 4 ounces of grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast coated with barbecue sauce, 1/2 cup of baked beans and three small boiled red potatoes served with 1 teaspoon margarine. Drink water and unsweetened tea as calorie-free beverages with your meals.