1200 Calorie Diet Plan

Can You Follow the 1200 Calorie Diet Plan Recommended by Dr. Nowzaradan?

8 min read


04 Jun 2019

Are you thinking of trying out Dr Nowzaradan’s 1200 calorie diet? Perhaps you’ve seen it on TV or heard about its use with weight loss patients but aren’t sure if it’s safe. After all, 1200 calories doesn’t really sound like a lot to survive on! If you’re keen to learn more and find out whether its truly effective, then this article is for you. In it, we explore the Dr Nowzaradan diet in detail including why he recommends it, the foods that are allowed and restricted, along with a 7-day meal plan.

What You Should Know About The 1200 Calorie Diet Plan

The 1200 calorie diet is a restrictive eating plan that limits food and drink consumption. Participants must not consume more than 1200 calories each day in order to create an energy deficit. The average American consumes over 3600 calories daily so this is a sharp decrease for most people. Because of its extreme nature, it is only recommended for people who are morbidly obese (those who weigh 600+ pounds). The diet is used in preparation for bariatric surgery and not recommended as a long-term lifestyle change for those looking to lose weight.

Who Is Dr Nowzaradan and Why Does He Recommend A 1200 Calorie Diet Plan?

Dr Nowzaradan is a surgeon who specializes in bariatric procedures. He has over 40 years of experience and gained popularity as the consultant in a TV show called ‘My 600-Lb Life’. In it, he helped people struggling with morbid obesity to lose weight and improve their health. These patients were given super-strict diet plans, exercise programs, and underwent surgical procedures in order to shift their life-threatening excess weight.

Dr Nowzaradan’s 1200 calorie diet plan was created for bariatric surgery patients. It was designed to help them lose as much weight as possible prior to the surgery taking place. Any medical procedure has an element of risk but those carried out on obese patients come with greater risk factors. By helping patients to lose weight in advance of the surgery, Dr Nowzaradan minimizes some of the risk involved.

You might be asking yourself what’s so special about the 1200 calorie target? Why not 1500 or 900 instead? Well according to research, following a 1200 calorie diet has been proven to be highly effective for weight loss in obese patients. Another study also found that limiting calories to 1200 led to a reduction in the hunger hormone, leptin, which likely makes it easier to stick with. However, restricting calories in this way has also been shown to increase stress hormone levels and negatively affect mental wellbeing, so it’s not ideal for losing weight in an unsupervised environment.

1200 Calorie Diet and Bariatric Surgery

The Dr Nowzaradan diet isn’t just about reducing surgery risks. Although this is a vitally important element, it also has other benefits for his patients. Here are a few of the advantages of his 1200 calorie diet…

  • Helps people to lose weight quickly which reduces surgery risks
  • Enables them to develop healthier eating habits involving whole foods
  • Helps people to get used to smaller portions which they’ll need to stick with following surgery
  • Forces patients to demonstrate their commitment to a healthy lifestyle

Bariatric surgery is a serious weight loss procedure. The diet helps patients to prepare for it and the life they’ll have afterwards too. The surgery reduces the volume of the stomach so people can’t eat as much. This is why it’s important to develop healthy eating habits and get used to smaller portion sizes. Addressing these issues in advance helps patients to adjust to their new post-surgery body much more quickly.

Some people also believe that it’s a way of testing patients to see if they’re really committed to improving their health. It’s easy to think that surgery is a quick fix that doesn’t involve any willpower. But the truth is that all those cravings, emotions, and triggers will still be there after the surgery. So, it’s vital to be proactive about resolving them head-on. People who stick to the 1200 calorie diet demonstrate their ability to stick with the eating plan. This makes them a better candidate as the surgery is more likely to result in successful weight loss for the long-term.

Foods to Eat on A 1200 Calorie Diet

The Dr Nowzaradan diet encourages people to consume whole foods like vegetables and lean proteins. Eating a diet high in vegetables has been shown to increase life expectancy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Veggies are filling and nutritious yet don’t contain many calories which makes them ideal for those wanting to lose weight in a healthy way. Protein is also rich in amino acids which support lean muscle mass and tissue recovery after surgery. However, Dr Nowzaradan recommends that patients cut carbohydrates from their diet to reduce portion sizes.

A 1200 calorie high protein low carb diet will mainly consist of eggs, meat, and low-carb vegetables. Here are some foods that you can eat on this type of diet…

  • Eggs – including the yolk or just egg whites.
  • Plant protein – tofu, tempeh, etc.
  • Fish and seafood – shrimp, salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.
  • Meat and poultry – turkey, chicken, lean beef, etc.
  • Nutrient-rich veggies – spinach, broccoli, kale, peppers, tomatoes, etc.
  • Low-Sugar Fruit – apples, berries, etc.
  • Dairy – cheese, yogurt, kefir, milk, etc.
  • Low-calorie drinks – water, green tea, coffee, etc.

Broccoli on plate of food

Foods to Avoid on This Diet

Following a 1200 calorie diet plan means being super-strict with your food choices. Limiting yourself to this many calories will be tough so it’s important to be smart about what you eat. Energy-dense foods and sugar should be avoided to help keep the calorie intake low. Here is a list of foods that shouldn’t be eaten when following this diet…

  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Desserts, candy, chocolate, or anything sweet
  • Sugar-rich fruits – bananas, melon, cherries, mangoes, pears, grapes, anything dried or candied
  • Sugar-laden spreads – syrup, honey, molasses, jellies, jams
  • Processed snacks like crackers and chips
  • Starchy veg – carrots, butternut squash, beans, peas
  • Nuts or nut butters
  • Carbohydrates – rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes, popcorn
  • Calorie-rich drinks – soda, juice, energy beverages, sports beverages, alcohol
  • Meal supplements or meal replacement shakes

Although most carbohydrates are discouraged, a small single ounce portion of whole grain bread is permitted if it’s eaten in the morning.

1200 Calorie 7-Day Meal Plan

Following a 1200 calorie diet is challenging for most people. It can leave you feeling hungry, deprived, and cravings all those satisfying foods that you’re not allowed! The key to success is having some meal ideas planned in advance so that you always know exactly what you’re eating. Here is a sample 1200 calorie diet menu for a week…

Two fried eggs in black frying pan


Breakfast – Poached Egg on Toast

  • 1 egg, 1 slice of wholegrain toast

    LunchVegetable Soup

    Dinner – Grilled Chicken Salad

  • 1 grilled chicken breast, 2 cups of spinach


    Breakfast – Berry Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 handful of leafy greens

    Lunch – Vegetable Wrap

  • 1 sliced tomato, 1/2 avocado, handful of salad leaves, 1 large lettuce leaf to wrap everything up in

    Dinner – Baked Salmon with Broccoli

  • 5 ounces of baked salmon, 2 cups of roasted broccoli


    Breakfast – Omelette Muffins

    Lunch – Tuna Salad

  • 1 can of tuna, 1 stick of celery (chopped), 2 cups of mixed greens, 1/2 apple (sliced)

    Dinner – Steak with Cauliflower

  • 1 beefsteak, 2 cups of steamed cauliflower


    Breakfast – Berry Yogurt Bowl

  • 1 cup of plain yogurt, 1 cup of berries

    Lunch – Tomato Soup

  • 1 tin of tomato soup, 2 boiled eggs

    Dinner – Salmon and Roasted Cabbage

  • 4 ounces of cod, 1 cup of roasted cabbage


    Breakfast – Boiled Egg with Toast

  • 1 egg, 1 slice of wholegrain toast

    Lunch – Chicken & Kale Salad

  • 4 ounces of grilled chicken, 2 cups of kale, 1 sliced tomato, balsamic vinaigrette

    Dinner – Mexican Fajita Bowl

  • 4 ounces of grilled shrimp, 2 cups of sautéed peppers and onions, 1 ounce of grated cheese, 1 tablespoon of full-fat sour cream


    Breakfast – Green Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 apple, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 handful of leafy greens

    Lunch – Light Chicken Soup

    Dinner – Grilled Turkey Salad

  • 1 grilled turkey breast torn into strips, 2 cups of kale, squeeze of lemon juice


    Breakfast – Spinach Omelette

  • 2 eggs, 1 cup of spinach, 1 ounce of grated cheddar cheese

    Lunch – Tuna Wrap

  • 1 tin of tuna, 1/2 avocado, 1 sliced tomato, handful of salad leaves, 1 large lettuce leaf to wrap everything up in

    Dinner – Eggplant Melts

    Aid Your Weight Loss with Natural Supplements

    When following a low-calorie diet, it can be helpful to take supplements too. They can suppress your appetite and help you deal with hunger pangs. They can also give your metabolism a boost so that it doesn’t slow down due to decreased food intake. Here are a few supplements that can be helpful…

    • Caffeine – boosts your metabolism so that you burn more calories at rest. Drinking coffee can also be filling and satisfying so that the 1200 calorie diet is easier to stick with.
    • L-carnitine – found naturally in meat and vegetables, it boosts fat loss and increases energy to off-set any tiredness caused by the smaller meal sizes.
    • PhenQ – contains α-Lacys Reset®, along with caffeine, L-carnitine, capsicum, vitamin B3 and a host of other nutrients to decrease appetite, increase fat-burning, improve energy levels, and enhance mood.

    Dr Nowzaradan’s 1200 Calorie Diet – Summary

    The 1200 calorie diet plan was made famous by Dr Nowzaradan on the My 600-lb Life TV show. It’s aimed at morbidly obese people who want to lose weight. The plan involves restricting calories to kick-start rapid weight loss in preparation for bariatric surgery. This requires cutting sugar and carbohydrate from the diet so that meals mainly consist of lean protein and nutritious veggies. Following a weekly meal plan and taking high-quality supplements can help people stick to the rigid program more successfully.