How to Eat 1,200 Calories a Day and Feel Full

Set a goal to lose weight this year? Losing weight and getting back in shape is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions. You probably already know that it’s all about calories in vs. calories out.

That said, it’s important to consider cutting down on calories for a bit to jumpstart your progress. The major problem I’ve had in the past when cutting calories has been never feeling full and feeling like I’m on a diet.

If you’re wondering how you can eat 1,200 calories per day and feel full, keep reading.

Quick Disclaimer

I’m not a health professional and the information in this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

It’s always important to talk with your doctor first when you decide to lose weight to see what they recommend for your diet and exercise routine. That said, keep in mind that eating only 1,200 calories per day may not be the best option for some people.

I’m 5’1″ so I can get away with eating this few calories in an effort to lost weight. However, if you’re taller or more active, you may need to bump it up to 1,400 or 1,700 calories per day. It all depends on your goals, body type, and physical activity level.

What You May Need

Before you look into food options you may want to consider if you’re trying to eat 1200 calories a day and feel full, I wanted to share some tools and resources you might find helpful.

Food Scale

Measuring your food is a great habit to develop when you’re trying to track your calories each day. It’s important to get familiar with portion sizes and understand how much you’re eating along with what amount of food makes you feel satisfied.

You can order a basic food scale on Amazon. Here’s the one I bought for less than $10.

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TDEE Calculator

Like I said earlier, you may need or want to eat more than 1,200 calories per day. A TDEE calculator can help you determine how much you need to eat to lose weight depending on your body type.

TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure which is a measure of how many calories you burn per day. Here is a TDEE calculator that you can use for free online.

Healthier Oils

Oil can be one of those ingredients that just adds empty calories to a meal. Odds are, you may be cooking some of these meals below with oil so stick to a spray olive oil or avocado oil.

How to Eat 1200 Calories a Day and Feel Full

Below are some of my best low-calorie meal ideas. When you’re cutting your calories, the key is to focus on the quality of the food you eat. You could eat candy and brownies all day and keep your calories to 1200 but that wouldn’t be healthy.

You’ll feel more satisfied long-term when you focus on eating whole foods that are high in protein and contain healthy fats.

For a healthy 1,200 calorie a day diet, you’ll want to keep your breakfast lunch and dinner between 300 – 350 calories. This leaves some room for a snack or dessert at the end of the day.

Breakfast

Option 1: 2 scrambled eggs cooked with spinach and 3 slices of turkey bacon – 240 – 285 calories

Eggs are a solid source of protein that will fill you up for the morning. While a cup of spinach is only 10 calories, it’s rich in vitamins and iron. The calorie count for the turkey bacon will vary depending on which brand you use. All in all, this breakfast will come out to around 300 calories once you factor in the oil or butter you use for cooking.

Option 2: Egg white omelet with spinach, tomato, turkey sausage and avocado – 345 calories

Egg whites are much lower in calories and fat compared to the yolks. I found this tasty egg white recipe from Kim Cravings and it’s only 167 calories. However, you can add some turkey sausage and 1/3 of an avocado to make it more filling and calorie dense.

Option 3: Triple berry oatmeal – 309 calories

If you want a healthy breakfast that will keep you full for hours, old fashioned oatmeal is a great option. Try different things with your oatmeal like mixing it with dairy-free milk, adding in some frozen mixed berries or pouring a few drops of honey on top for added flavor.

Option 4: Crispy hash browns with spinach, bell peppers, and mushrooms Р200 calories 

The more veggies you add to this hash brown dish the healthier it will be. About 1.5 cups of shredded hash browns is about 105 calories. From there, you can add in all your veggies and seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Bake your hash brown mixture in the oven on parchment paper with no oil to save on calories.

Lunch

Mediterranean pita pockets – 299 calories

Pita pockets have been my new obsession lately. I usually make them with chicken but I really like this lamb recipe to switch it up.

Taco Salad Bowl – 332 calories

This super filling recipe from Wholesome Yum is packed with veggies, protein, and healthy fats like avocado. You can even add some black beans to make it even more filling.

Creamy lentils with spinach and thyme – 300 calories

This lentil dish is hearty and packed with flavor. It’s perfect for those warm days when you just want something warm and savory.

Dinner

Bunless turkey burger and mixed veggies – 250 calories

This is an easy and quick meal to prepare when you don’t have a lot of time to cook. Hold the bun and you can add more filling topics to your burger like cheese, avocado, onions, etc.

Salmon and roasted cauliflower – 315 calories

Keep in mind that 6 ounces of salmon is around 270 calories (hence why your food scale will come in handy). You can even add some cream cheese or cheddar to your cauliflower to make the meal more filling.

Mongolian beef stir fry and rice – 394 calories

Stir fry is another quick dinner that you can prepare with your favorite veggies and protein. This Mongolian beef stir fry and rice recipe from Cooking Light cooks in just 20 minutes.

Snacks

We can’t forget about snacks! I’m a huge snacker and definitely feel like anyone can eat 1,200 calories a day and still snack so long as they make mindful choices. Here are some snack ideas you’ll enjoy.

Greek yogurt parfait – 200 calories

Use the Two Good yogurt brand (can be found in stores like Walmart) which is low in sugar and only 80 calories. Then add in about 1/4 cup of mixed berries and 1/4 cup of granola.

Almond butter on low-calorie toast – 130

Sara Lee has this delicious 35-calorie bread. Pop it in the toaster than add 1 tbsp of Sam’s Choice almond butter for a healthy and filling snack.

Cucumber and hummus – 110 calories

If you want to snack on something crunchy or savory, take your favorite vegetable and eat it 2 tbsp of hummus

Summary

I hope these dishes give you a good idea of how you can eat 1,200 calories a day and feel full and satisfied. You can alter these meals however you like or add to them.

Just keep basic principles in mind to help you succeed like cooking with less oil, eating healthy fats and protein and loading up on all the veggies you can since they’re nutrition heavy but very light in calories. Remember, talk to your doctor to get a healthy daily calorie intake for your body type and additional healthy food recommendations.

Do you have goals to get healthier this year? How are you planning to reach those goals?