A low calorie diet can be used to kick-start a more balanced nutrition plan. Since such a limited calorie intake can lower your metabolism, it should be used for a short time only. A 1200 calorie diet per day is the lowest intake recommended by nutritionists, with any lower amount requiring medical supervision. But in all cases it is critical that you get your calories from sources as nutrient rich as possible, and supplement them with at least a good multivitamin.
Planning your menu
On this diet you must be especially careful to get enough protein from complete sources. Eggs, fish, meats, soy, amaranth and quinoa should form the staple of your diet. At least 40 per cent of your calories should come from protein, in order to prevent your body from breaking down your muscle tissue.
Some people find better results with a very low carbohydrate intake and a relatively high fat intake, and others are the reverse. If you find you do better and feel more full on a low carb diet, keep your carbohydrate intake to less than 10 per cent of total calories. If you feel better on low fat diets, get 15 per cent of your calories from fat. Don't decrease it below that, since your body needs at least that much to produce necessary hormones and cell walls.
Timing is important. No matter how little appetite you have in the mornings, it is critical for your metabolism that you eat within an hour of waking. For the rest of the day, divide your calories into five or six small meals of 200 to 300 calories apiece.
This is a sample plan that includes 1,200 calories: 452 calories come from protein (113g), 405 from fat (45g), and 304 from carbohydrate (76g).
Meal 1: 1 cup cottage cheese (215 calories, 9g fat, 26g protein, 6g carbohydrate)
Meal 2: 28.4gr. almonds (165 calories, 15g fat, 6g protein, 6g carbohydrate), 1 nectarine (65 calories, 1g fat, 1g protein, 16g carbohydrate)
Meal 3: 85.1gr. chicken breast (140 calories, 3g fat, 27g protein, 0g carbohydrate), 1/2 cup brown rice (115 calories, 1g fat, 3g protein, 25g carbohydrate), 1 pat butter (35 calories, 4g fat, 0g protein, 0g carbohydrate)
Meal 4: 85.1gr. sliced roast beef (150 calories, 6g fat, 22g protein, 0g carbohydrate) on whole wheat toast (65 calories, 1g fat, 2g protein, 12g carbohydrate)
Meal 5: 85.1gr. salmon (140 calories, 5g fat, 21g protein, 0g carbohydrate), 1 cup green beans (65 calories, 0g fat, 5g protein, 11g carbohydrate)
Meal 6: 1/2 cup raspberries (30 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 7g carbohydrate)
Sticking to it
It's not easy to stick to a very restricted diet. Before you start, make sure you have adequate support from friends and family. Drinking a lot of water and eliminating any beverages with calories in them, including fruit juice, soda, and alcohol, will help your progress. And avoid temptation--get the junk food out of the house!