Delete your fitness apps, 1200 calorie diets aren’t actually doing anything to help you get healthy
‘Magic number,’ my ass
by Una Dabiero
We've all seen it. The "magic number" for women's weight-loss diets: 1200 calories. When you open any fitness app, scroll through any fitspo Instagram feed, or pin any diet, you're told 1200 calories is the perfect way to healthily lose weight.
After all, weight loss comes from a calorie deficit. But it turns out, we've all been living a beautiful body lie. Allow me to explain:
It's true the average woman's body can survive on 1,200 calories without going into starvation mode. But according to a dietician who talked with The Independent, your body makes metabolic changes when its intake is so restricted. These changes can affect your overall physical and health.
She says, "you might get cold hands and feet more easily, and you would be preoccupied with food a lot of the time. You would feel anxious, and you wouldn’t feel well overall." For some women, it can even halt your fertility – which like, for some of us *sounds* awesome but really signals severe health issues.
And these side effects are just because of the low-caloric intake, which isn't the only harmful part of such a small diet. Eating less food can restrict your ability to consume a diverse diet – leaving behind important vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy body.
According to The Daily Mail's interview with Traveling Dietician Kara Landau, "Only 1200 calories doesn’t leave you with a great volume of food in terms of dietary variety and feeling full…You’ll see a lot of diet products which are calorie controlled but devoid of nutrients."
AKA, eating 1,200 calories of bananas, kale and almonds isn't healthy, no matter what your fitness tracker says.
Beyond the health risks of the 1200 calorie lifestyle, it apparently acts much more like a crash diet than most people assume. Travelling Dietician said weight lost from calorie restriction is quick to come back when caloric-intake returns to a more normal number of calories. Also, it is more difficult to keep up with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle – such as regular exercise – when you're exhausted from eating so little food.
So what should we do to get a Khloe Kardashian-like glow-up? SELF says eat nutritious foods, do diverse workouts, and ditch the calorie-counting.
You don't know how many calories you actually need, so focusing on eating whole, healthy foods is much more important than examining your cheese stick for calories and feeling guilty.