Why 1200 calorie diets don’t work

RM003By Rosemary Marchese

Physiotherapist and mum of 3 fit kids

Why 1200 calorie diets don’t work

The 1200 calorie diet and extreme workouts are definitely the ‘in-thing’ right now. You only have to do a quick Google search and you’ll find one. Or thousands. You won’t even know who’s writing your program or their credentials but hey, if they guarantee a bikini body not many people argue the point.


Weight loss and bikini body truths

And there lies the problem. Aiming for a bikini body. Who defines what a bikini body looks like anyway? I’ve always said you have a bikini body when you put on a bikini. Sure, it can be great to put on a bikini and feel confident. But that doesn’t have to be defined as skinny. And that’s what a lot of these programs will give you. Skinny. Not healthy.

And here’s another truth. Skinny can be fatty. And dangerously so.

I’ll tell you why shortly but let’s look at some other facts about low calorie diets first.


When you put someone, especially someone you don’t know, on a low calorie diet it doesn’t usually work long term. So, if you give a ‘diet’ to a population across the board – so anyone that pays money – this is not a healthy approach. When you start to eat less your body will respond by reducing its metabolism. So, you will be burning less energy at rest than you were before the diet! Your hormone levels change too and you start to feel hungry, tired and even cold. Keeping this up long term is tough, even impossible.

When you start to eat more than 1200 calories again your body will put the weight you lost back on easily. Sometimes even more weight is piled on. Instead of realising that it was the program’s fault, people are often blamed as being ‘failures’. Not having enough ‘self-control’ is often used as a reason for these programs not working out. This is often the case when the person running the program has NO IDEA about how hormones work in the body. They throw together some recipes and hand out a few exercises. Throw in some half-naked selfies and you have yourself a winner. Unfortunately it’s you, the participant, who will often lose out.

Now, back to why skinny is unhealthy.

Someone who is skinny and unfit is not healthy in my books. Exercise improves heart health, for a start. Muscle uses energy and keeps metabolism boosted. When people are skinny without fitness they are often called ‘TOFI’ – thin on the outside, fatty on the inside. Unfortunately that fat is often held in places we don’t want it. Around the vital organs such as the heart and the liver. Not a good thing! So, a person who is skinny and unfit can be pretty unhealthy even though society tends to focus a lot on the ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ category.


Low calorie diets don’t tend to provide enough fuel for someone to build a strong, healthy body. That’s all I am saying. Before you check out on your next extra-pricey purchase of an online program I just ask you to:

  • Check the credentials of who is selling it. Do they have a degree in exercise? Do they have experience? Do they know their stuff about hormones?
  • Do you know what you are getting for the price?
  • Do you know if the ‘diet’ and exercise is appropriate for your needs?

Sometimes all you need to change is habits to get healthier. That’s why I wrote ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’. It’s about health for me. I’ll wear my bikini…stretch marks and all.


Ads-240-x-172Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’.

One thought on “Why 1200 calorie diets don’t work

  • August 9, 2016 at 5:42 pm
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    Good article – I get sick of the “Have This famous Person’s body” recipes. No matter what I do my legs won’t grow as long as Cameron Diaz’s! Better be happy or healthy in my own body.

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