Breaking the 1200-Calorie Standard

February 20th, 2014 by

I’ve seen some posts floating around on Facebook that seem to be suggesting that women should not consume anywhere near as low as 1200 calories when dieting.

Instead, these posts appear to be supporting the idea that people should just focus on eating nutrient-dense “clean” foods and lifting weights.

While I generally agree with the sentiment that people should focus primarily on nutrient-dense whole foods and lifting weights (and that this might initially cause some fat loss if it resulted in a decrease in caloric intake), I still think it is important to monitor HOW MUCH you are actually consuming.

There is no hard and fast rule that nobody should be dieting at 1200 calories or that eating at that intake won’t allow for someone to have a lean and muscular physique. In fact, some people REQUIRE it for fat loss to progress.

Generally speaking, we typically recommend that someone starting out should set their calories at about 10-12 X bodyweight (in pounds) for fat loss.

This means that a woman who is 170 pounds might be consuming between 1700 and 2040 calories whereas a person who is 120 pounds could easily be consuming between 1200 and 1440 calories.

And while some (like those posting about this lately) might argue that a 120 pound woman shouldn’t be eating 1200 calories, the reality is that she’s probably not going to be losing much body fat if she doesn’t.

If she tried to lose fat consuming 1700 calories she probably wouldn’t get anywhere (unless she happened to be one of those blessed with a freakishly high metabolism).

On the other hand, a 170 pound woman should probably not be consuming 1200 calories as that would be too much of a deficit.

So what I’m really driving at here is that each person is different and you have to consider each circumstance by itself to determine the appropriate caloric intake based on a persons body weight, dieting history, training volume, etc.

You can’t just go around suggesting that 1200 calorie diets aren’t appropriate or that setting intake that low is not going to allow women to have shapely, muscular physiques because that is simply note the case.

The deficit and therefore the caloric intake of each person needs to be determined individually not based on a blanket statement that precludes people from going to 1200 calories when it is specifically required for their progress.

This intake can be perfectly appropriate for some, but wildly inappropriate for others.

– Coach Mark

PS: Before someone flips out here and tries to suggest that we’re starving people, our goal is always to get our clients to be able to diet in the highest amount of food possible with the least amount of cardio possible. It just so happens that some people are smaller than others and require less food.