Sample Diabetes 1200-Calorie Meal Plan

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There is no one diet fits all for diabetes, and all meal plans should be individualized, but regardless of your meal plan, reducing calorie and carbohydrate content can help you to lose weight and reduce blood sugars. Depending on your height, weight, age, and activity level, a 1200-calorie meal plan may be right for you. If this was suggested to you by your healthcare provider and you don't know where to begin, it's a good idea to have an understanding of what a days worth of food would look like. Having a rotating three-day meal plan can help you to eliminate decision making, while keeping calories, carbohydrate, and fat controlled.

sample 1200-calorie meal plan: diabetes
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

What to Think About When Meal Planning

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the bodies' main source of energy and the nutrient that impacts blood sugar the most. People with diabetes need to monitor their carbohydrate intake because excess carbohydrates, particularly in the form of white, refined, processed and sugary foods, can elevate blood sugars, triglyceride levels and ultimately result in weight gain. When thinking about carbohydrates, you'll want to think about portions as well as type.


7 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Diabetes Diet

Choose carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, such as whole grains, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, low-fat dairy such as Greek yogurt, and low-glycemic index fruits such as berries. Most people benefit from eating around 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and 15 to 20 grams per snack, but this will depend on your blood sugar control, physical activity, and weight among other individual factors. It's always a good idea to meet with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to determine how many carbohydrates are right for you. Keep in mind that every gram of carbohydrates contains about four calories. Therefore, if you are eating 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and 30 grams per snack, you'll be ingesting 660 calories from carbohydrates per day.

Protein: Protein is a macronutrient and another form of energy for the body. Adequate protein intake is important for boosting immunity, wound healing, muscle recovery, and has satiating power. When eating a calorie-controlled diet, it's important to choose lean protein (as these types will have less calories and fat). Lean protein sources include white meat chicken, pork, turkey, lean beef (95% lean), egg whites, and low-fat dairy. If you are vegan or vegetarian, beans, and soy-based protein, such as edamame and tofu, are also sources of protein - but keep in mind they contain carbohydrates, too. Protein also contains four calories per gram. Some studies suggest that eating a higher fat, higher protein breakfast can reduce hemoglobin A1C in people with diabetes. 

Fat: Fat is another macronutrient. Fat plays an important role in the body and is necessary for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, have anti-inflammatory properties and are the building blocks of hair, skin, and nails. These fatty acids also help support brain health. When choosing sources of fat, you'll want to choose unsaturated fats such as oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish like sardines, and salmon. Limit saturated fat and trans fat as often as possible, such as full fat cheese, fried foods, high fat meats like sausage and bacon, butter, cream, and sweets such as cookies and cakes. Portions of fat should also be monitored, even healthy fats, as fat calories can add up quickly. One gram of fat contains nine calories. 

1200 Calories Is Not Right for Everyone

First, we will begin with a word of warning: a 1200-calorie diabetes diet is not appropriate for every person with diabetes. For weight loss, this calorie level is low enough that it may cause a negative effect on the metabolism for many people. Also, this calorie level may not provide enough carbohydrates to complement medication regimens or prevent hypoglycemia.

However, 1200 calories will meet the energy needs of some people with diabetes. It's probably best if you are small in weight and stature, older than 65, and/or less active. If you've received a 1200-calorie diabetes diet prescription, your healthcare providers will have taken all of these factors into account.

If your healthcare provider prescribed you a diet other than 1200 calories, we have sample meal plans for you as well.

What a Daily Menu Looks Like

This meal plan should give you some ideas for your new diet. It provides around 1200 calories a day, with about 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and 15 to 30 grams per snack.

Day 1


  • An omelet made with 2 egg whites and one egg, and 1 slice (1 ounce) low-fat cheese
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 teaspoon nut butter
  • 1 small orange or 2 small kiwi
  • Coffee with 1 tablespoon half & half

Total carbohydrates per meal: ~ 30 grams


  • 2 cups chopped greens with 4 ounces (size of palm of your hand) grilled chicken and 1 tablespoon oil based dressing
  • One small 4 ounce apple
  • One 6-ounce low-fat yogurt
  • 8 to 12 ounces of water or a sugar-free beverage

Total carbohydrates per meal: ~ 40 grams of carbohydrate


  • 3 cups air popped popcorn

Total carbohydrate per snack: ~ 15 grams of carbohydrate


  • Turkey Broccoli Wrap:
  • 4 ounces lean white meat turkey ground, cooked in 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 low carbohydrate whole grain wrap (about 20 grams of carbohydrate)
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli topped with 1 teaspoons olive oil (top with hot sauce)
  • 8 to 12 ounces of water or a sugar-free beverage
  • 1 cup of raspberries

Total carbohydrate per meal: ~ 45 grams of carbohydrate 

Day 2


  • 1 container of low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped unsalted almonds
  • 1 cup coffee with 1 tablespoon half and half

Total carbohydrate per meal: ~ 25 grams of carbohydrate


  • Open Faced Turkey Sandwich:
  • 4 thin slices of roast turkey
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • lettuce, tomato, 1/4 avocado chopped, dollop of mustard
  • 15 baby carrots with 1 tablespoon hummus

Total carbohydrate per meal: ~ 35 grams of carbohydrate


  • 1 1/4 cup strawberries with 1 tablespoon nut butter

Total carbohydrate per snack: ~ 18 grams of carbohydrate


  • Grilled Shrimp Quinoa Bowl:
  • 4 ounces grilled shrimp
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers
  • 1/4 cup shredded low-fat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon salsa

Total carbohydrate per meal: ~ 40 grams of carbohydrate

Day 3


  • Sweet potato strawberry toast

Total carbohydrate per meal: ~ 17 grams of carbohydrate


  • 5 chopped veggies and greens egg salad
  • top on 1 whole grain brown rice cake
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 8 to 12 ounces water or seltzer

Total carbohydrate per meal: ~ 40 grams of carbohydrate


  • 5 ounces baked fish with lemon, garlic powder, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon and 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1.5 cups steamed spinach
  • 8 to 12 ounces water or seltzer 

Total carbohydrate per meal: ~ 30 grams of carbohydrate 

Create Your Own Meal Plan

This menu is only a three-day example of all the delicious foods you can fit into one day and while maintaining a 1200-calorie diet. If you need more variety, there are many nutritious foods you can enjoy, you simply need to learn how to calculate the nutritional value so you stay on track.

Using a recipe nutrition calculator can take all of the guesswork out of what you're eating. To use it, simply input the recipe you'd like to make and it will give you an easy to read the nutrition label. You can also use it for side dishes, snacks, and beverages.

If the results for your recipe show it has too many calories for your diet, you can make adjustments. You can edit each ingredient and the calculator will show you a number of popular options to choose from.

This can be very useful when making out your shopping list. You'll have a clearer idea of which options are lower in calories, fat, and sugar. Having a little knowledge before you hit the store can really help you make better decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should you eat a 1200-calorie diet if you have diabetes?

    Check with your healthcare provider or dietitian. The right number of calories for you will depend on a number of factors, such as your age, activity level, and current weight.

  • How many carbohydrates should you eat in a 1200-calorie diabetes diet?

    Usually with diabetes, you should get about half of your calories from carbohydrates. That means if you're on a 1200-calorie diet, about 600 calories would come from carbohydrates. Since every gram of carbohydrates is about four calories, you would be eating about 150 grams of carbs a day. Remember to talk with your healthcare provider or dietitian to find the right number of carbs for you.

  • What is a good meal plan for diabetes?

    A good meal plan will help you get the right nutrients while keeping your blood sugar levels at the target range. It should focus on whole foods, like nonstarchy vegetables and lean protein, rather than processed foods.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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