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Ever notice how 1,200 calories seems to be the magic number for so many women who are looking to lose fat?

While it’s unclear exactly why 1,200 become such a go to calorie count for dieters, it may be because it’s the absolute lowest you’d ever want to go if you’re counting calories.

If you consume any fewer calories than that, you risk depriving your body of the nutrients it needs and throwing your body into starvation mode, which will ultimately backfire and slow down your metabolism, says Keri Glassman, R.D., founder of NutritiousLife.com and author of The New You (and Improved) Diet.

“I would say about 1,200 to 1,500 is what you’d want to aim for if you’re trying to lose fat,” Glassman adds.

Of course, how many calories you need depends on how active you are and your unique metabolism. That’s a big part of why Glassman actually discourages people from counting calories at all.

“I’m more about thinking about proportions, eating the right types of foods,” she says. “When you listen to your body and pay attention to proportions, you don’t really need to count calories.”

That said, we know that a lot of women find calorie counting helpful for getting to and staying at a healthy weight.

And calorie counts can look very different, depending on which eating plan you’re following.

Take the Mediterranean diet, for example, which is inspired by the way Mediterraneans eat: “lots of fish, lots of healthy fat, wine [in moderation], lots of olive oil, lots of vegetables and fruits, very little packaged, processed foods,” says Glassman.

Rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants and healthy fats, the Mediterranean diet is consistently linked to health benefits.

For example, while research shows that the Mediterranean diet significantly improves health, one study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the diet is also better than low fat diets at spurring fat loss.

If you’re thinking about trying the Mediterranean diet, use this 1,200-calorie one-day eating plan that Glassman put together as a baseline for the absolute minimum amount of food you would want to eat in a day.

1,200 CALORIES ON THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET

Breakfast

Start your day with 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt (276 cal), mixed with 1 cup blueberries (85 cal) and 2 Tbsp chopped pistachios (88 cals).

Total: 449 calories

Note: Getting full fat yogurt here is important because it will help you feel satiated, says Glassman.

Mediterranean diet, breakfast

Lunch

Serve up a salad with 4 cups spinach tossed in 1 tsp olive oil (80 cal), with 1 tomato (11 cal), 1/4 cup sliced cucumber (4 cal), 3 Tbsp crumbled feta (75 cal), 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette (45 cal), and 5 large roasted shrimp (40 cal).

Total: 255 calories

Note: You can overdo it with ingredients like oil and feta, so just be sure to be conscious of your portion sizes when you’re trying to lose weight, says Glassman.

Mediterranean diet, lunch

Snack

This one is super easy: 1/4 cup almonds (152 cal).

Total: 152 calories

Note: Nuts contain healthy fats, but they’re another ingredient that people often go overboard on, says Glassman. A quarter-cup is about the right portion size for a snack.

Mediterranean diet, snack

Dinner

Cook 4 oz whitefish (like cod or halibut) with oregano (196 cal), and pair with 1 cup tenderstem broccoli sautéed in 1 tsp oil (49 cal) and 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (111 cal).

Total: 356 calories

Note: Make sure to measure your olive oil! It’s easy to over-pour!

Mediterranean diet, dinner

Daily total: 1,212 calories

Now that you know what the lower end of the calorie spectrum looks like on a Mediterranean diet, you don’t really have to worry about calorie counting so much.

And remember, you can always add 200 or 300 calories’ worth of food if you’re feeling extra hungry, and definitely add more calories if you’re hitting the gym.

Mediterranean diet, total calories

This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.

Want more Mediterranean diet advice? Well find out the answers to your burning questions: are nuts good for weight loss and is coconut oil healthy to cook with.

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