What 1200 Calories Actually Looks Like

Over the last couple of months I've put on a bit of weight. My lean body mass dropped and my body fat % rocketed. I'm not sure how much exactly (I asked my PT not to tell me!) but it was enough to need a dress size up in my work uniform and not be able to squeeze into my old faithful jeans. ("These sweat pants are all that fit me right now!") I wrote back in July about trying to find a healthier balance in my lifestyle but not tracking my diet meant that I just didn't stop eating! I'm a comfort eater and a serial (sometimes cereal!) binger, and I really let things get on top of me.

After the SFN Expo I was ready to get back on track, so I booked a sesh with my PT and got myself back in the gym. The training isn't usually something I struggle with as I actually really enjoy it - I like getting sweaty and building my strength, along with the social aspects of the gym/exercise classes. Plus, I love that feeling when you smash your workout and leave the gym high on endorphins!

As part of the plan to get back to my usual body composition my PT reset my calorie/macro goals... To 1200 calories (You mean breakfast?). Yep I've gone from a 1700-3000 calorie carb cycling plan to 1200 calories per day on a 40/40/20 macro split. In all fairness, I wasn't sticking to my original plan anyway (it worked when I did!) - I was working more of an eat as much as you can til you feel sick kind of method. Which resulted in that extra dress size, naturally.

Anyway, 1200 calories. I moaned from the second he announced this idea and adjusted MFP on my behalf. While I wouldn't normally advocate such a low calorie diet, especially for an active person, it's only temporary and drastic measures were needed! To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit and I was overeating and under training. If you are going to drastically reduce your calorie intake, you have to be clever about it. You can either have one cheeseburger meal for the whole day (if you're lucky) or you can have 3-6 well planned, tasty, nutritious meals spread throughout the day to stop you going hungry! Good nutrition will also help you drop fat rather than muscle mass and/or water weight. Here's what my 1200 calorie diet has looked like so far...

(1213 Calories - 42% carbs, 40% protein, 18% fat. Circuits & kettlebell class.)
(1194 Calories - 42% carbs, 40% protein, 18% fat. Weight training.)
(1191 Calories - 40% carbs, 42% protein, 18% fat. PiYo.)
(1202 Calories - 41% carbs, 37% protein, 22% fat. Weight training.)

It isn't as bad as I thought it would be! I'm not starving! I think I'm just used to eating loads of calories so I was eating them even when I wasn't training, despite the fact that I wasn't hungry and my body didn't actually need that much fuel. Although I have to admit to feeling weaker in the gym and especially at my kettlebell class, In the first week I lost almost 2lbs and that was entirely body fat, so I feel it's worth it! I did muck up slightly the next couple of weeks but I'm back on it, sticking to my 1200 calories, hitting my macros and timing my carbs around my training... Wedding body here I come!

Could you survive, happily, on 1200 calories a day? What would you eat?

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