Jump-start weight loss with this 1,200-calorie high-protein, low-carb meal plan.

Alexandra Caspero, M.A., R.D.
Updated February 27, 2020
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Research shows that following both a low-carb diet and a low-calorie diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight quickly. Better yet, a low-carb, low-calorie diet that's also high in protein can help get you on the path to weight loss. While low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet and Atkins diet restrict carbs to as low as 20 grams per day, you don't have to go that low to see weight-loss benefits.

In fact, eating too few carbohydrates can actually make weight loss harder because you miss out on key nutrients, like fiber from whole grains and legumes, that help you to feel full and satisfied on fewer calories. So what can you actually eat on a high-protein, low-carb diet? Thankfully, there are plenty of delicious, healthy foods to fill your day with while following this eating plan.

In this high-protein, low-carb meal plan, we keep the carbs at no more than 120 grams per day while still meeting the recommended amount of fiber each day (30 grams) from fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, like berries, edamame and hearty kale. You'll still see some traditional carbs in the plan, like beans and chickpeas, because they are healthy foods that you don't need to fully exclude in order to eat low-carb.

To make up for the lower amount of carbs, we packed in high-protein foods (like chicken, eggs and lean beef) to exceed the daily recommended amount of 50 grams per day, and added healthy fat sources (like almonds, olive oil and peanut butter) to get the calories up to 1,200. Packaged into an easy-to-follow meal plan, with simple meal-prep tips you can follow at the beginning of the week to set yourself up for success during the busy weekdays, this low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein combination will help you lose weight without feeling deprived or starved. With the calorie count set at 1,200 calories, you can expect to lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week.

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make the Flourless Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins to have for breakfast on Days 2 and 3 and as a snack on Days 1 and 4. Buy it! OXO Good Grips 12 Cup Muffin Pan, amazon.com, $28. For easy clean up, use these reusable silicone muffin cups: Buy it! AmazonBasics Reusable Silicone Baking Cups, amazon.com, pack of 12
  2. Prep the Chicken Satay Bowls with Spicy Peanut Sauce to have for lunch on Days 2, 3, 4 and 5. Refrigerate lunches in a meal-prep container to keep fresh. (To buy: amazon.com, $26 for 5)

Day 1

In order to keep your carbs on the lower end, you are most often cutting out fiber-rich foods like whole grains, beans and legumes. Therefore, we made sure to pack this low-carb plan with at least 30 grams of fiber per day, mostly from fruits, vegetables and some whole grains and legumes. This ensures that you are still getting the nutritional benefits of fiber (gut health and satisfaction) while keeping carbs in check.

Breakfast (320 calories, 23 g carbohydrates)

A.M. Snack (84 calories, 21 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 cup blueberries

Lunch (322 calories, 11 g carbohydrates)

P.M. Snack (78 calories, 11 g carbohydrates)

Dinner (389 calories, 36 g carbohydrates)

Daily Totals: 1,194 calories, 69 g fat, 32 g fiber, 103 g carbohydrates, 50 g protein, 1,565 mg sodium

Day 2

To keep carbs low today, we included these healthy flourless banana chocolate chip muffins made from oats, banana and eggs, and swapped in zucchini noodles for regular pasta in tonight's dinner. To make sure you are still getting adequate amounts of both carbohydrates and fiber, we filled in the rest of the day with nutrient-rich foods like blackberries, edamame and a serving of whole-wheat baguette at dinner to sop up any of the delicious leftover juice from the scampi.

Breakfast (286 calories, 41 g carbohydrates)

A.M. Snack (62 calories, 14 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 cup blackberries

Lunch (351 calories, 14 g carbohydrates)

P.M. Snack (100 calories, 9 g carbohydrates)

  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame, seasoned with a pinch each of coarse salt & pepper

Dinner (406 calories, 34 g carbohydrates)

Daily Totals: 1,205 calories, 48 g fat, 29 g fiber, 112 g carbohydrates, 85 g protein, 1,621 mg sodium

Day 3

Just a single cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of filling fiber with only 15 grams of carbs, which is why you'll see them often on this simple high-protein, low-carb meal plan. High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you're likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer, which is especially important when cutting calories to lose weight.

Breakfast (286 calories, 41 g carbohydrates)

A.M. Snack (150 calories, 13 g carbohydrates)

  • 15 unsalted almonds
  • 1 clementine

Lunch (351 calories, 14 g carbohydrates)

P.M. Snack (46 calories, 10 g carbohydrates)

  • 3/4 cup blackberries

Dinner (378 calories, 31 g carbohydrates)

Daily Totals: 1,212 calories, 54 g fat, 38 g fiber, 109 g carbohydrates, 82 g protein, 1,265 mg sodium

Day 4

In addition to being a great source of protein, which helps maintain muscle mass while you're losing weight, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that you must get in your diet. Early research also shows that salmon eaters had lower fasting insulin levels, which can help keep your blood sugar in check and reduce your risk for diabetes. Roasted salmon is served over low-carb veggie-licious kale and chickpeas-a healthy carb you can definitely still be eating, even when following a low-carb diet.

Breakfast (203 calories, 29 g carbohydrates)

  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds

A.M. Snack (128 calories, 20 g carbohydrates)

  • 1/3 cup shelled edamame, seasoned with a pinch each of coarse salt & pepper
  • 1 cup blackberries

Lunch (351 calories, 14 g carbohydrates)

P.M. Snack (78 calories, 11 g carbohydrates)

Dinner (447 calories, 23 g carbohydrates)

Daily Totals: 1,206 calories, 53 g fat, 33 g fiber, 98 g carbohydrates, 89 g protein, 1,304 mg sodium

Day 5

Our high-protein weight-loss meal plan includes fiber-rich carbohydrates, like those from berries, white beans and broccoli. Dinner tonight packs in 15 grams of protein, which not only helps you feel full but also may help with weight loss. In one study, researchers found that for every 10 grams of soluble fiber eaten over the course of a day, there was a corresponding 3.7 percent decrease in abdominal fat.

Breakfast (259 calories, 10 g carbohydrates)

A.M. Snack (64 calories, 15 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 cup raspberries

Lunch (351 calories, 14 g carbohydrates)

P.M. Snack (103 calories, 11 g carbohydrates)

  • 3 Tbsp. hummus
  • 4 celery sticks

Dinner (442 calories, 50 g carbohydrates)

Stir beans into an individual portion of the spaghetti squash and sauce.

Daily Totals: 1,219 calories, 67 g fat, 33 g fiber, 100 g carbohydrates, 64 g protein, 1,867 mg sodium

Day 6

Yes, you can still eat cheese and lose weight! String cheese is a great midday snack, especially when paired with fiber-rich raspberries. The combination of protein and fiber increases satisfaction and can reduce appetite at your next meal.

Breakfast (203 calories, 29 g carbohydrates)

  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds

A.M. Snack (128 calories, 22 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 small apple
  • 1 string cheese

Lunch (351 calories, 14 g carbohydrates)

P.M. Snack (64 calories, 15 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 cup raspberries

Dinner (479 calories, 28 g carbohydrates)

Meal-Prep Tip: Save 1 serving of the Taco Lettuce Wraps to have for lunch on Day 7. When preparing the Pineapple & Avocado Salad, set aside 1/4 of an avocado and 1/2 cup pineapple before dressing with the vinaigrette to have for lunch on Day 7.

Daily Totals: 1,224 calories, 60 g fat, 37 g fiber, 107 g carbohydrates, 76 g protein, 1,129 mg sodium

Day 7

Lettuce takes the place of tortillas in our low-carb, gluten-free taco lettuce wraps. Stuffed with lean ground beef, jicama, avocado and salsa and a whopping 23 grams protein per serving, this lunch will keep you feeling full for hours.

Breakfast (278 calories, 22 g carbohydrates)

Lunch (431 calories, 28 g carbohydrates)

Combine avocado and pineapple with 1 tsp. lime juice and a pinch of salt.

P.M. Snack (31 calories, 7 g carbohydrates)

  • 1/2 cup blackberries

Dinner (480 calories, 45 g carbohydrates)

Daily Totals: 1,220 calories, 58 g fat, 28 g fiber, 101 g carbohydrates, 78 g protein, 1,684 mg sodium