How To Eat 1200 Calories & Feel Full (8 Tips + Meal Plan)

One of the most frustrating things about eating 1200 calories is feeling like you are always hungry.  If you never feel full or satisfied, it can be very difficult to stick to a 1200 calorie meal plan. 

So, how can you feel full on a 1200 calorie diet? 

You can feel full when eating 1200 calories by picking foods that digest slowly.  High fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; lean proteins, such as poultry and white fish; and healthy fats, such as nuts and avocado, all take longer to digest and therefore provide a sense of satiety.

The biggest fear when “dieting”, especially if you’re on 1200 calories, is failure.  You fear that you won’t be able to stick to the plan and therefore will not reach your goals.  

The best way to achieve your goals is to ensure you are satiated with the diet you have chosen.  Feeling hungry all of the time will only lead to cheat meals, and then cheat days, that ultimately lead to throwing in the towel.

In the article, I will:

  • Give you tips for feeling full on 1200 Calories
  • Provide a list of foods that help with satiety
  • Provide a 1200 cal meal plan that will help you feel full
  • Provide recommendations on what you should do if all else fails

Tips For Feeling Full On A 1200 Calorie Diet

tips for feeling full on a 1200 calorie diet

My top 8 tips for feeling full on a 1200 calorie diet are: 

  • Increase fiber intake
  • Eat water-dense foods
  • Eat sufficient amounts of lean protein
  • Consume healthy fats
  • Drink water
  • Eat slowly
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep

1. Increase Fiber Intake 

Fiber prevents food from moving too quickly through the digestive system. When digestion is slowed down on a 1200 calorie diet, you will have improved satiety.

There are two types of fiber that are both necessary to mitigate hunger and ensure optimal health.

Soluble fiber (which is found in oatmeal, nuts, beans, and berries) dissolves in water and forms a gel that slows down the emptying of the stomach and the transit time of food through the digestive system.  When food stays in your stomach longer, you feel more full.

Insoluble fiber (which is found in seeds, whole wheat bread, and brown rice), does not dissolve in water or intestinal fluids and therefore moves through the digestive tract virtually intact.  Due to this, insoluble fiber takes up space within the stomach and intestines, furthering the sensation of being full.

Choose to add a variety of high-fiber foods into your daily diet can help you feel satiated when calorie intake is low.  

Examples of high fiber content foods are:

  • Grains: oats, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice

Women should ingest 22-25g of fiber and men should ingest 30-38g of fiber per day from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains.

If you want to learn more about how fiber’s role in the weight loss process, then check out my other article on should bodybuilders eat fiber.  

2. Eat Water-Dense Foods

Foods containing a high water content tend to have a lower calorie count. Therefore, they allow you to eat a higher volume of food without a high calorie count to stay within your 1200 calorie limit.

Fruits and vegetables including melons, strawberries, peaches, oranges, pineapple, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, and zucchini all have a higher water volume and will allow you to eat more food for fewer calories.

Aim to fill at least half your plate with water-dense fruits and vegetables.

If you want a 1200 calorie meal plan, then check out my other article where I break down step-by-step the foods you should eat with the exact portion sizes and macronutrient split.

3. Eat Sufficient Amounts of Lean Protein  

Protein takes longer to move through the digestive system, which means it stays in your stomach for longer. Therefore, it will keep you feeling more satiated when following a 1200 calorie meal plan. 

Protein should make up 20 – 40% of your caloric intake. When eating 1200 calories per day, that means approximately 60 – 120g.  Lean proteins allow for higher volumes of consumption without the calories that come from higher-fat protein sources.   

On a 1200 calorie diet, start by consuming an average of 90g of protein from sources such as poultry, white fish, lean red meats, pork tenderloin, egg whites, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cottage cheese.

If you’re still not feeling full after a few days of eating 90g or protein, you can experiment with bringing your protein intake up to 120g per day.  

We’ve provided a list of foods that can help you increase your protein intake without increasing your fat intake.

4. Consume Healthy Fats 

Include healthy fats in your 1200 calorie diet as they are the last macronutrient to break down and move through the digestive tract. Therefore, they provide a sense of fullness over a longer time period.

Although fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient (providing 9 calories per 1 gram), it is imperative to include it in your diet in order to achieve satiety.  Your diet should consist of 20 – 30% fat, that being approximately 27 – 40g on a 1200 calorie diet.

In order to consume at least 20% of your calories from fat, you will need to decrease your carbohydrate intake to approximately 40% of your caloric intake in order to stay within your 1200 calorie allowance.

Include an average of 32g of fat into your 1200 calorie diet by adding food such as olive oil, nuts/nut butter, avocado, chia, and flax.

5. Drink Water

Consuming sufficient water throughout your day can help your stomach feel full and prevent the sense of hunger and the desire to overeat your recommended 1200 calories. 

Water naturally takes up space in the stomach and causes you to feel full. 

Dehydration, on the other hand, has been shown to be confused with hunger and can lead to unnecessary calorie consumption and ultimately an increased body mass index.

Drink at least eight glasses (2 liters) of water per day to stay hydrated and mitigate hunger.

6. Eat Slowly 

Research has suggested that your eating rate can affect your body’s ability to effectively release and/or hold various hormones responsible for creating hunger and satiety cues.  Since these hormones interact with the digestive system, they can directly affect how you feel on your 1200 calorie meal plan.

Eating rate affects the hormones responsible for breaking down and absorbing nutrients from food, as well as hormones that trigger a sense of hunger and fullness.

Therefore, eat slowly and mindfully. Avoid eating on the go or with distractions, such as the TV or computer screen in front of you.

7. Exercise Regularly  

Studies indicate that exercise sends messages to the brain to help the body feel less hungry by changing the levels of hormones that drive our state of hunger.

Personally, I have found that if I participate in light exercise, such as walking or stretching, after eating, I tend to feel full longer.  Not only does this reset my hormone levels, but I always find I feel less hungry when I am keeping my mind and body active.

Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day for health maintenance and to prevent you from thinking too much about food when your calories are low.

8. Get Enough Sleep 

Studies have shown that too little sleep can increase feelings of hunger and food cravings.  It can also cause an elevation in ghrelin, a hormone that signals to the body that it is hungry, and leptin, the appetite-regulating hormone. 

Too little sleep is considered 4 hours or less per night. Even one night of sleep deprivation can have negative effects on your body.  

I know that if I don’t get enough sleep I am more inclined to skip my workouts, binge on unhealthy food and avoid proper meal preparation.  

On the other hand, when I am well rested, I have the energy to complete my workouts and therefore, am more motivated to stay within my calroie target ranges.

Aim to get a 7 – 9 hours of sleep per day to prevent food cravings and maintain level hunger cue hormones.

The 1200 Calorie Meal Plan That Will Help Keep You Full

In order to feel full and satisfied, the optimal macronutrient breakdown should be 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat. 

For a 1200 calorie diet, that means approximately 90g of protein, 120g of carbohydrate, and up to 40g of fat.

For more information on tailoring your macronutrient needs specifically for you, contact one of our certified nutritionists.

This plan contains 3 days’ worth of food intake.  Each day contains breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack.

DAY 1
127g
carbohydrate / 90g protein / 39g fat = 1196 calories
BREAKFAST
42g carbohydrate /
15g protein /
8g fat = 285 calories
Fruity Oatmeal with a Side of Egg
  • ¾ cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup egg whites
LUNCH
21g carbohydrate /
36g protein /
9g fat = 329 calories
Chicken Fajita Quinoa Salad
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • ¼ cup pre-cooked quinoa
  • 3 ounces chicken breast
  • cooked with fajita seasoning
  • 1 ounce low-fat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
DINNER
37g carbohydrate /
29g protein /
8g fat = 329 calories
Fish and Vegetables
  • 4 ounces sole fish
  • Roast together with
    - 1 teaspoon olive oil and seasonings
    - 1 cup mixed vegetables
    - ½ cup sweet potato
SNACK
31g carbohydrate /
8g protein /
14g fat = 275 calories
1 apple
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
DAY 2
121g carbohydrate / 97g protein / 37g fat = 1201 calories
BREAKFAST
43g carbohydrate /
28g protein /
5g fat = 339 calories
Cottage Cheese and Fruit
  • ¾ cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup melon
LUNCH
37g carbohydrate /
39g protein /
16g fat = 430 calories
Tuna wrap
  • 1 ancient grain tortilla (8 inch)
  • 1 can tuna (packed in water)
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ cup shredded lettuce
  • 2 tomato slices
DINNER
11g carbohydrate /
26g protein /
15g fat = 268 calories
Beef stir fry
  • 3 ounces lean beef
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Ginger, garlic, chili flakes to taste
SNACK
30g carbohydrate /
4g protein /
1g fat = 163 calories
Yogurt bowl
  • ½ cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • Cinnamon to taste
DAY 3
118g carbohydrate / 95g protein / 41g fat = 1173 calories
BREAKFAST
25g carbohydrate /
20g protein /
22g fat = 383 calories
Eggs and Avocado Toast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 slice sprouted grain toast
  • ½ avocado
  • 4 slices tomato
LUNCH
37g carbohydrate /
34g protein /
3g fat = 300 calories
Taco Salad
  • 3 cups mixed greens
  • 3 ounces extra lean ground turkey
  • cooked in taco seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 1 pear or apple
DINNER
31g carbohydrate /
36g protein /
3g fat = 305 calories
Pork and Rice
  • 3 ounces pork tenderloin
  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 10 asparagus spears
  • 1 cup roasted brussels sprouts
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
SNACK
25g carbohydrate /
16g protein /
10g fat = 215 calories
3 cups mixed raw vegetables
4 tablespoons hummus

Still Feeling Hungry?  Try This. 

Still feeling hungry  Try this.

 You’ve tried following all the tips above, including the meal plan, and still feel hungry. 

Here are a few more options to try to help mitigate your hunger.

Change the Timing of Your Food Intake

Be mindful of your hunger cues.  

If you listen to your body, you may find you are naturally more hungry in the mornings, after a workout, or at night.  

Adjust your eating times around your natural hunger cycles to use your food to fill your stomach when it needs it most.

Adjust Your Macronutrient Intake

Every body is different and requires a personal nutrient intake for their bodies, according to Obi Obdake, from Bodybuilding.com. 

Although I recommend a macronutrient breakdown of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% fat, your body type might require a different intake.

Those who are long and lean (ectomorphs) generally tend to burn calories more readily and may benefit from increasing carbohydrate intake to 40-50% and decreasing fat intake to 20%.

If you have a larger bone structure (endomorph), you may not utilize energy as quickly and may benefit from decreasing carbohydrate intake to 30-35% and increasing your fat intake to 35-40%.

Increase Food Calorie Intake By 100-150 Calories

This may seem counterintuitive when trying to reduce body fat, but if you are not meeting your body’s nutrient requirements, you may be doing more harm than good by staying at 1200 calories. 

As your body adjusts to a lower caloric intake, it becomes more efficient at that lower energy provision.  This can lead to your body going into “starvation mode” where it begins to hold onto nutrients for times of need, rather than releasing them to be utilized efficiently in your workouts and daily living tasks.  

When dropping calories to 1200, you need to be aware of your body’s reaction.  Your body type and training loads may dictate that 1200 calories are too low for you.  If you are extra tired, lack energy in your workouts, or are easily sick or injured, these may be signs that your body needs more fuel.

Try taking your calories up to 1300 – 1350.  In doing so, you will likely stave off the hunger and will allow your body to function more optimally overall.  

Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?

Other Articles About 1200 Calorie Intake Goals

Final Thoughts 

It is possible to feel full on a 1200 calorie diet if you choose high fiber, water-dense foods that provide high volumes, low calories, and satiety in your diet. 

Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and listen to your body’s natural hunger cues.  

When in doubt, or if you are struggling, always reach out to us so we can help you achieve your goals.


About The Author

Amanda Dvorak

Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.