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1200 Calorie Keto Meal Plan for Weight Loss

Calorie cutting is a popular weight-loss tactic, but does it work long term?

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There’s a lot of buzz and also a lot of confusion about the benefits of calorie restriction. Some claim that it’s the key to longevity and weight loss, while others attest that cutting calories will destroy your metabolism. 

The old calories-in calories-out dietary approach has been questioned by many health professionals, and for good reason. Research shows that cutting calories short term may help you shed some weight, but long term research is scanty at best[*]. 

But what about all the claims surrounding calorie restriction and longevity? 

There are, in fact, many studies show improvements in health and markers for longevity when calories are reduced[*][*]. Some researchers even claim that calorie restriction is the key to anti-aging. But what they don’t explicitly communicate is the amount of calorie restriction necessary to achieve these benefits. 

Taking a closer look at the research, most studies reduce calories by around 15%, which puts the average person between 1500 to 1700 calories per day[*][*]. 

What’s more, many of the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction are similar to those you experience following a ketogenic diet[*].

When And How To Follow A 1200-Calorie Meal Plan

You may wonder if there is any situation in which a 1200 calorie diet would be appropriate. In fact, there are a couple of instances where this level of calorie restriction may be beneficial. 

#1 Cutting Weight Quickly

One of the benefits of a keto diet that many people experience is an increased ability to burn fat. If you’re looking for permanent long-term weight loss, however, doesn’t happen overnight. 

As previously mentioned, research does support strict calorie restriction for cutting weight quickly. However, it should be noted that this weight will likely come from water, along with fat and some muscle[*]. 

Research shows that if you’re looking for long term, sustainable weight loss, a 500 to 600 daily calorie deficit is more beneficial than a 1200 calorie diet. The only caveat — it will take longer to hit your weight goals when you follow this type of calorie restriction[*]. 

The reality is, sometimes you want to drop weight fast. Whether you need to hit a goal weight for an athletic endeavor, or you just want to feel good in your swimsuit, these situations arise now and then. 

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#2 Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is associated with a myriad of health benefits. Research shows that taking a break from food can affect everything from heart health and weight loss to reducing inflammation and improving neurological function[*][*].

IF is often used in combination with the keto diet because being in ketosis helps to curb the cravings that make fasting so difficult for most people.

There are several different protocols for IF, including 24-hour fasts, alternate-day fasting, and 16:8 or 18:6 fasts (eating windows).

Depending on when you schedule your eating windows or set up your 24-hour fast, you may find that some days are much lower in calories than others. For instance, if your 24-hours starts at 3 pm on a Monday and ends at 3 pm on a Tuesday, you may find that Monday’s meal plan only includes 1200 calories since you’re skipping dinner. 

Similarly, if you are following a 16:8 eating window plan and you’re fasting for 16 hours, you may find that you only need to consume 1200 calories during your 8-hour feeding window. 

However, if you follow an eating window plan every day, then some days should be higher in calories than others. Continually sticking to 1200 calories for weeks on end may result in nutrient deficiencies[*].

Sample 7-Day 1200 Calorie Keto Meal Plan

Below is a sample 7-day meal plan full of delicious high-fat and high-protein keto-friendly recipes. If you’re using this meal plan for intermittent fasting, simply move the meals around to fit your intermittent fasting schedule. For instance, you could make breakfast a snack, or have a larger lunch and omit dinner — whatever works for you. 

Meal prep can be done on a Sunday, or any day that you have an hour or two get your shopping list and cook ahead. 

Monday

Breakfast

Two eggs with sauteed veggies and two tablespoons of cheese  

Lunch

4 oz grass-fed ground beef burger in a lettuce wrap with one tablespoon chipotle mayo, and sliced tomato 

Snack

¼ cup almonds 

Dinner

1 cup egg drop soup  

Tuesday

Breakfast

3 blueberry protein pancakes  

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Lunch

1 cup keto chili with sour cream

Snack

¼ cup almonds

Dinner

BLT lettuce wrap (3 slices of bacon, sliced tomato, ¼ avocado wrapped in lettuce) 

Wednesday

Breakfast

Avocado toast (¼ avocado, 90-second keto bread, and sliced tomato with olive oil drizzle)

Lunch

½ cup chili lime tuna salad with a side of sauteed cauliflower rice 

Dinner

1 serving Instant Pot carnitas  

Thursday

Breakfast

1 cup Mocha chia pudding 

Lunch

BLT lettuce wrap (3 slices of bacon, sliced tomato, ¼ avocado wrapped in lettuce) 

Dinner

1 cup garlic lemon zucchini pasta with parmesan or cheddar cheese and a side of sauteed kale

Friday

Breakfast

Two eggs with sauteed veggies and two tablespoons of cheese  

Lunch 

1 cup keto chili 

Dinner

2 cups loaded keto coleslaw 

Saturday

Breakfast

2 avocado keto egg bowls 

Lunch

4 oz grass-fed burger in a lettuce wrap with one tablespoon chipotle mayo, and sliced tomato 

Snack

¼ cup almonds 

Dinner

1 serving Instant Pot pork chops

Sunday

Breakfast

2 blueberry muffins

Lunch

Avocado toast (¼ avocado, 90-second keto bread, and sliced tomato with olive oil drizzle) 

Snack

¼ cup almonds

Dinner

1 cup garlic lemon zucchini pasta 

The Takeaway

Once you start following a ketogenic diet, the need for calorie counting typically subsides. This is due to the naturally satiating effect that keto has and the drastic reduction in cravings that results from omitting carbohydrates. 

With that being said, there are always exceptions to the rule, and you may find yourself in a situation where you want to cut back on your calories for a short time. 

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually quite a few low-carbohydrate and low-calorie keto recipes. The key to a keto diet meal plan that doesn’t push you over your calorie goals is to consume healthy fats like guacamole, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and so on, in moderation. 

It’s also vital to understand that a reduced-calorie meal plan should only be used short-term or intermittently.

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Join 90k+ people who are losing weight with Keto Kickstart, our doctor-developed program designed to give you real weight loss results.

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