Why aren’t I losing weight on a 1200 calorie diet?

If I had a dollar for every time a client has told me they’ve gone on a 1200 calorie diet and failed, I could retire! So many women believe that it’s a failure on their part. They think that they’re lazy, unmotivated or too greedy to stick to a low-calorie diet. But there’s more to this situation than you might realise.


1200 calorie diets are by definition, low in nutrients

When you restrict calories, you’re restricting nutrients. You’ll be taking in a lower amount of macronutrients – protein, carbohydrate and fat. Each of these nutrients plays a role in your overall wellbeing. 

Protein is the main building block of the body, and is needed to maintain the body’s tissues. Fat is essential for absorbing specific vitamins, as well as being vital for the production of hormones. Carbohydrate is a source of energy for the body, and often comes hand in hand with fibre, which is essential for gut health and satiety.

But you’ll also have less of an opportunity to include micronutrients. Micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts, but not consuming them can have all sorts of consequences for your health. Your immune system, digestion, metabolism and brain function all rely on micronutrients.

If you’re eating a 1200 calorie diet, it’s almost impossible to get sufficient nutrients to support optimal health. More often than not, it leads to nutrient deficiencies. And what does your body do when it’s getting low on nutrients? It sends out signals telling you to eat more!

1200 calorie diets make your body more efficient at conserving energy

We all dream of eating whatever we want and burning it all off! But 1200 calorie diets do the exact opposite. When you restrict your calories and start to lose even a little bit of weight, your body kicks in to protect you. Your thyroid hormone stops converting to an active form, so your system has to learn how to cope with less energy. 

But then when the diet ends, say you go back to what used to be your maintenance calories – the amount you used to eat that kept your weight steady. Your body takes time to adjust to an increase in calories. So you can put weight on even when you’re eating what used to be maintained for your body! 

If you are eating low calorie and not getting enough protein to maintain your muscle mass, your metabolic rate can drop even further. Put simply, dropping to low calories will teach your body to function at that level – any higher can lead to weight gain.


1200 calorie diets are unsustainable

At the end of the day, the biggest problem is that this kind of diet is just not sustainable. Only the most petite person could eat this little energy for an extended period of time without serious health consequences.

If you want to lose weight, a quick fix is not the way to go. If you aren’t willing to follow a low-calorie diet for the rest of your life, it’s not how you should lose weight! As soon as you increase your calorie intake, your weight will follow.

Instead of restricting your diet, it’s best to look to a long-term solution. You might not shed 10kg in a month. But it took you longer than that to put on the same amount of weight. Look for a way that is sustainable for the rest of your life.

Want to save time, get clarity and clear direction on the best steps for your health journey? The Busy Women’s monthly membership includes all this plus more. The membership moves you through my 5 pillars of health; Exercise Nutrition Sleep Stress Reduction Mindset.

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