A day in the life of 1200 calories

It’s pretty widely agreed that if you want to lose weight, you have to drop your calories. Where you drop them should be based on how many days a week you are going to exercise restraint.

I’ve got a friend who swears by a 5:2 lifestyle, but I’ve got my hesitations on recommending this. One, she consistently (and perhaps conveniently) forgets what day she’s on, and so it’s more like a 7:1. And two, it’s really bloody hard – 500 calories basically only allows for vegetables and water. I’ve heard it’s good for metabolism, but you feel faint by the end of the day, and when it all comes down to it, by friend hasn’t really lost any weight.

I keep mine to a 2:5, almost a 1:6, and instead allow myself 1200 calories a day, and then allow it to blow out a little on the weekend. I used to count calories with an app (easy diet diary), but I find that now I don’t really need to. I know what my pattern is, and as long as I don’t go nuts on dessert or wine (I need a drink, but I have trained my palate to other choices), I’m pretty much there. It’s an easy pattern to follow – tricky in the first couple of weeks, but you can always start with 1500 and ease yourself into it.

Here’s what I had yesterday. I’ll add more meal plans over time and will link to recipes on the site…

Breakfast: 233 kcal
  • 70g chopped kassler (low fat smoked pork loin, a bit like Canadian bacon) stir-fried in a teaspoon of olive oil with smoked paprika, one small zucchini and a large tomato. Garnished with 20g grated gouda.
Lunch: 421 kcal
  • Asian chicken salad: 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken breast, 1 cup lambs lettuce, 1/4 cup sliced red cabbage, three sliced radishes, 1/2 carrot grated, coriander leaves, 20g roasted cashews, dressing (grated fresh ginger, 1 sliced red chilli, 1/2 tsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, dash sesame oil, juice of 1 lime)
Dinner:  426 kcal
  • 1 cup of steamed broccoli topped with 1 cup of home-made bolognese sauce, fresh chopped chilli and 10g grated parmesan
  • 10 strawberries
Drinks: 119 kcal
  • Coffee with milk (Americano, no sugar) x 3 = 18 kcal
  • Ricard (45ml) with sparkling mineral water = 101 kcal

As you can see, there’s not any staches in there, but there’s still some carbs. They are balanced with a stack of protein, but it’s pretty lean (I also use lean minced beef in my bolognese). I don’t snack, and I don’t drink anything except coffee, tea, water and alcohol. And yes, I need that Ricard at the end of the day – it’s worth every one of those 101 calories. Sometimes I need two, and so I’d go without cheese for the day.

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