Dr. Nowzaradan’s Diet Plan - What It Is and Who Is It For?

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 21, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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As a certified personal trainer, I've seen the effectiveness of Dr. Nowzaradan's 1200 calorie diet from "My 600 lb Life," but it's not a universal solution.

This strict diet requires careful consideration of individual health needs and typically medical supervision.

While it can be effective for rapid weight loss, especially before surgery, its suitability varies greatly for general weight loss journeys.

Read on to discover if this approach could work for you.

Quick Summary

  • Dr.Dr. Nowzaradan's diet plan is a strict 1200-calorie regimen primarily designed for pre-surgical weight loss in morbidly obese patients.
  • The diet emphasizes lean proteins, whole-grain carbs, and low-sugar foods while excluding high-fat, sugary, and refined products.
  • A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website suggests an intake of 1.2 g/kg body weight of protein since it is beneficial for body composition and blood pressure, aligning with Dr. Nowzaradan's diet plan's emphasis on protein and restricted carbs and fats.
  • In my experience, while effective for its intended purpose, this diet requires medical supervision and isn't suitable for general weight loss goals.

Who Is The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet For?

man with huge stomach using a measuring tape on it

Dr. Nowzaradan Diet is for people who are looking to pursue bariatric surgery. It's not just about losing weight; it's about instilling healthy eating habits that my clients can maintain post-surgery, significantly impacting their long-term success.

Many think that the 1200 calorie diet plan is in part a test that Dr. Now uses to test the commitment of some of his morbidly obese patients.

It is not the ideal diet plan for anyone who isn't morbidly obese to lose weight quickly.

Can The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet Help You Lose Weight?

Yes, Dr. Nowzaradan Diet can help you lose weight. But it is specifically designed for those needing surgery.

In my professional experience, the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet is effective for weight loss, particularly for pre-surgical patients. It's tailored to meet the specific needs of those heading into surgery, ensuring they're in the best possible condition for a successful outcome.

The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet is a strict and specialized diet explicitly built for each of his patients.


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Dr. Nowzaradan's 12000 calorie diet plan focuses on teaching healthy habits and building a better food relationship. It can help patients lose weight as a requirement for the surgery and teach them how to keep it off going forward.

What Foods Are Banned On The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet?

bowl filled with candies, close up image of a woman grabbing popcorn from a bowl

Foods banned on The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet are refined products, foods high in sugar, and foods with high-fat content. They make a long list of strict no’s on a 1200-calorie diet plan.

Some are pretty obvious, while others may surprise you. Many of the banned foods are what he refers to as trigger foods, so they're avoided to avoid spirals or binging.

Take a look at Dr. Now's list of banned foods and see how some of these might be hurting your progress.

  • Sugar containing sweets
  • Full fat and sweetened dairy
  • Refined products
  • High fat, carb proteins or sugary protein shakes
  • Most nuts and seeds
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits high in sugar

What Foods Are Allowed On The Dr. Nowzaradan Diet?

bowl of greek yogurt

Any low carb, low fat, and low sugar foods are allowed in the dr. Nowzardian diet. The list of foods you can't eat is pretty strict and extensive.

Recommended breakfast items include portion-controlled low-fat cottage cheese, plain greek yogurt, oatmeal, egg whites, turkey sausage, beans, or whole wheat bread.

Dinner and lunch will include a healthy mix of foods like starchy vegetables, salads without dressing, deli meats, baked, broiled, grilled lean protein, or canned tuna.

Dr. Now's diet strategy allows these products:

  • Lean protein
  • Flax seeds and chia seeds
  • Whole-grain carbs
  • Fats and oils
  • Most vegetables
  • Lower sugar foods
  • Nonfat dairy
  • Zero-calorie sweeteners

The Importance Of Pre Surgery Weight Loss

close up image of a person getting injected

Having worked with clients undergoing surgery, I understand that the risks are significantly higher for those with morbid obesity. Dr. Nowzaradan's 1200 calorie diet is a proactive measure to mitigate these risks, something I've seen work effectively with my clients.

Dr. Now's 1200 calorie diet is designed as both proofs of the patient's commitment to turning their life around and every pound shed on the diet lessening their risk on the operating table.

The 1200 calories diet is a high protein focusing on portion control and eating whole and natural foods.

This is owing to Dr. Now's belief that a lot of obesity is due to the pre-packaged processed foods prevalent in the modern supermarket.

Weight Loss Tips

In my practice, I've advised clients similar to Dr. Now's recommendation of eliminating snacking. This approach not only aids in weight loss but also helps in developing disciplined eating habits, crucial for long-term health.

Research from the Science Daily website has shown that frequent eating can lead to high blood sugar content and weight retention around the waist. [1]

By focusing on three square meals with appropriate portion control, the 1200 calories diet builds habits to keep the weight off. 1200 calories are significantly less than what most people are used to eating in a day.

This deficit proves dedication to weight loss and a strong base for losing weight before the surgery. According to one of the studies from the PubMed website, the diet plan is made possible by the recommended meals' high protein content helping patients feel fuller for longer. [2]

Other diets: Dominic D'Agostino's Keto Diet Plan

Sample Menu

close up image of an opened poached egg, woman touching her cup of coffee

Now we know what the Dr. Nowzaradan eating plan is and who it's for. Let's look at what we know about what the patients on this diet might be eating.

As we mentioned above, Dr. Now recommends against snacking, and so if possible, most users should eliminate that section.


  • An egg white boiled or poached (not fried): 105 calories
  • A couple of ounces of Turkey sausage boiled or microwaved (not fried): 130 calories
  • A single slice of whole-wheat toast: 90 calories
  • Low-fat cottage cheese: 90 calories
  • Black coffee (unsweetened)

Total breakfast calorie count: 405


close up image of spinach leaves
  • A couple of cups of spinach: 40 calories
  • A can of tuna in water: 200 calories
  • A couple of carrots: 60 calories
  • A teaspoon of light mayo: 50 calories
  • Tea (unsweetened)

Total lunch calorie count: 350


close up image of broccoli in a basket
  • A couple of cups of steamed broccoli: 100 calories
  • 3 ounces of grilled chicken: 130 calories
  • An ounce or less of low-fat cheddar cheese: 50 calories
  • Tea (unsweetened)

Total dinner calorie count: 280


  • A slice of low-fat Swiss cheese: 60 calories
  • A couple of pieces of turkey breast: 75 calories

Total snack calorie count: 135

Total daily calorie count: 1170


What Are the Psychological Challenges of Following Dr. Nowzaradan's Diet and How Can You Stay Motivated?

The psychological challenges of following Dr. Nowzaradan's diet include coping with strict calorie restrictions and limited food choices while staying motivated, which involves setting realistic goals, seeking support, and focusing on long-term health benefits.

How Can Dr. Nowzaradan's Diet Be Adjusted for Different Metabolic Rates?

Dr. Nowzaradan's diet can be adjusted for different metabolic rates by varying calorie intake and portion sizes under medical supervision, ensuring the diet is tailored to individual energy needs and weight loss objectives.

What Role Do Micronutrients and Supplements Play in Dr. Nowzaradan's Diet?

In Dr. Nowzaradan's diet, micronutrients and supplements play a crucial role in preventing nutritional deficiencies due to the low-calorie intake, with healthcare providers often recommending specific vitamins and minerals.

How Should Patients Transition from Dr. Nowzaradan's Diet to a Regular Diet Post-Surgery?

Patients should transition from Dr. Nowzaradan's diet to a regular diet post-surgery gradually and under the guidance of a dietitian, focusing on balanced nutrition, portion control, and healthy eating habits for long-term weight management.


  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140506120036.htm
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23107521/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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2 thoughts on “Dr. Nowzaradan’s 1200 Calorie Diet Plan
Everything You Need to Know

  1. I like his method. Dr. Nowzaradan’s pre-op diet is awesome and is an inspiration to many!

  2. I do a 1200 calorie per day diet that I made for myself. I’m down 60+ pounds so far from 303lbs to 240lbs and still going. But Dr. Nowzaradan’s diet plan menu is definitely helpful.

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