How Long Will it Take to Lose 50 Pounds With a 1,200-Calorie Diet?

Weigh yourself once each week until you reach your goal.
Weigh yourself once each week until you reach your goal. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Eating 1,200 calories a day is often appropriate for women – and some men – for effective weight loss, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The amount of time it will take to you lose 50 pounds depends on your rate of weight loss, which is determined by your calorie intake. However, not everyone eating 1,200 calories a day loses weight at the same pace.

Safe Pace

Regardless of the number of calories you eat to lose weight, a safe pace for dropping 50 pounds is 1 to 2 pounds weekly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This weight-loss strategy helps keep lost weight off long term, notes the CDC. Therefore, losing 50 pounds safely eating 1,200 calories a day may take you 25 to 50 weeks. Shedding the weight more quickly increases your chance for weight regain.

Individualized Calorie Needs

Some people require more than 1,200 calories a day to lose 1 to 2 pounds weekly and achieve a 50-pound weight loss. Dropping 2 pounds weekly requires you to reduce your intake by 1,000 calories daily, burn off 1,000 calories each day through exercise or do a combination of both. If you normally eat 3,000 calories daily, you can lose 2 pounds weekly eating just 2,000 calories a day if your physical activity level remains the same.

Keeping Weight Off

Although you can drop up to 2 pounds weekly and lose 50 pounds in just 25 weeks, you’ll increase your chance of keeping the weight off by maintaining a 10 percent weight loss for six months before losing additional weight, suggests the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. For example, if your initial body weight is 200 pounds, aim to lose 20 pounds – in as little as 10 weeks -- and maintain that new body weight of 180 pounds for six months before attempting to lose more weight.

Very Low-Calorie Diets

You can drop 3 to 5 pounds weekly using very low-calorie diets, Weight-control Information Network reports. Therefore, you can theoretically lose 50 pounds in just 10 weeks using a VLCD. These diets often contain 800 calories – or less – daily, reports Weight-control Information Network, but are only safe under medical supervision. Obese individuals may be candidates for very low-calorie diets if they are at high risk for obesity-related health conditions. However, a review published in 2006 in “Obesity” reports that long-term, low-calorie diets containing 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day are just as effective as very low-calorie diets.

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