Why You Shouldn’t Eat Fewer Than 1,200 Calories

When you hear the words, “Consult a Dr. before beginning any dietary program….” you probably assume, as most people do, that the program in question is trying to cover themselves for legal purposes. Why would you need to see a doctor if you were trying to get healthier?

Before starting you plan or program, go see your doctor. Let them establish a base weight, check your vitals, and do basic blood tests. Not only will this give you a starting point to reference as you lose weight and regain some of your lost health, but they can also rule out any health issues that would prevent you from diet or exercise.  Take a copy of your program or plan with you and let the doctor look it over and discuss the pros and cons with you. Your doctor knows your health better than anyone, so consult them before you make drastic changes.

Concept image of a woman on a diet, eating a measuring tape, isolated on white

One item that you doctor will discuss with you is your calorie intake. Based on your size and history, the doctor will talk with you about the appropriate calorie intake for you. Many people go into diet programs thinking they need to lower their caloric intake as low as possible, as fast as possible. Some will even go on starvation or fasting type diets to try and lose weight quickly.  This can have detrimental effects on your body. Physicians state that adults should not drop below 1200 calories per day. The following information, given by a physician, helps to explain this more in depth.


The theory behind successful weight loss is simple: you have to burn more calories than you take in. To lose weight, you need to create an energy (or calorie) deficit by eating fewer calories, increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity, or both.

Doctors normally recommend if you want to lose weight, do it through a combination. Eat fewer calories AND increase the calories you burn throughout the day (increase exercise).

Determining your goal caloric intake can be difficult because every person is different. There are several factors that have to be taken into consideration, such as metabolism, body size and composition, level of normal physical activity, sex, and age. The only easy equation is that 3500 calories equals around one pound of fat. Therefore, to burn 1 pound of fat, you have to burn 3500 calories MORE than you take in. A good example is that if you cut 500 calories from your diet each day, in 7 days you would lose 1 pound. If you are exercising daily, you can cut 250 calories per day and lose the same in 7 days. Ideally, you should not lose more than one or two pounds per week, which means you should burn 500 to 1000 calories per day through reducing calorie intake and increasing exercise.  

Figuring out your optimum calorie count per day is difficult for the same reasons as mentioned above. A BIG warning for dieters, however, is that extreme restriction of calories can slow your metabolism to a crawl- causing you to lose less or even NO weight. The reason? When you fast or detox, your body retains calories because, in essence, your body goes into starvation mode. So, it holds on to everything it can hold on to. This is a defense mechanism, and there is NO changing it. With that in mind, doctors state that women should take in at least 1200 calories per day, and men should eat at least 1800.

So- what is the right way to lose the weight? Gradual changes in eating habits that encourage not a dieting mentality, but a lifestyle change. Slow weight loss of only one to two pounds per week through increased activity and lowered calories. And, last but not least, consistent aerobic physical activity to regulate heart rate and burn calories.

Still have questions about your weight loss journey? Well…. Talk to YOUR doctor! Make sure whatever you are contemplating will be safe and effective for YOU! GOOD LUCK!