Is Lori Harvey’s 1200-Calorie Diet Safe? An RD And Trainer Say No

  • Model Lori Harvey, 25, just got honest about her weight loss journey before the 2022 Met Gala.
  • Lori said Pilates workouts and staying in a strict calorie deficit helped her drop weight leading up to the event. But is a 1200-calorie diet a safe way to lose weight?
  • Women’s Health asked a registered dietician nutritionist and trainer. Here’s what you need to know:

    Lori Harvey is opening up about her recent weight loss journey. The 25-year-old model and influencer recently posted a TikTok explaining how she lost weight ahead of the 2022 Met Gala.

    “Everybody’s been asking like what it is I specifically did to get my body to this point,” Lori said. “So when Mike and I got together, I gained like 15 pounds of relationship weight.” (ICYMI, she’s been dating actor Michael B. Jordan for over a year.)

    Lori continued, “I’ve been consistently doing Pilates for like the last year. I’ve done it for a few years, but I’ve been really consistent the last year. And when I was trying to drop weight, I was working out like five, six times a week, and I would even do, for the first month and a half, I would even do two-a-days,” aka twice daily workouts.

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    Those second sweat sessions were usually cardio, she explained. Sometimes, after a Pilates session, Lori said she would head to the gym and hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Other days, she’d do a sprint interval workout, go hiking, or run up and down some stairs.

    While describing her diet at the time, Lori said “I was in a calorie deficit. I think I maybe was consuming 1,200 calories in a day, max. And I wasn’t on a specific eating regimen.” She added that she mostly ate meat, vegetables, and “minimal carbs.”

    Lori captioned the video, “Before y’all start your shit this is what worked for me and MY body..everyone is different so tailor your needs to meet your goals 🙏🏾.”

    It’s a pretty specific fitness routine—but is it safe? Women’s Health asked the experts. Here’s everything you need to know about Lori Harvey’s workout, according to a personal trainer and a registered dietician nutritionist:

    Lori Harvey at the 2022 Met Gala.

    Jeff KravitzGetty Images

    No, Lori’s workout routine is not a safe way to lose weight.

    “We all need different amounts of calories,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. “And that changes based on your age, your gender, your height, your weight, your genetics, your physical activity.”

    Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “the 1,200 calorie mark is listed for the recommendation for a moderately active three-year-old girl,” Blatner says. But a 5’4″ woman who weighs 126 pounds (someone similar to Lori’s height and build) needs to eat anywhere between 1,600 and 2,200 calories. Meaning, “it is very difficult on a 1,200 calorie diet to get all the vitamins and minerals a human adult woman would need,” she adds.

    According to Blatner, while it’s true that staying in a calorie deficit can be a safe way to help you lose weight, overly restricting your daily food intake can cause some serious side effects. It can impact your mental health, drain your energy, and affect your mood—you might feel irritable or “hangry,” she explains. Also, after starting a dramatic calorie deficit, “your body is going to try and fight back—meaning, your appetite is going to soar,” Blatner says.

    In the long run, there are some “vitamins and minerals that you really can’t get enough of when you drop your calories too low for any extended length of time,” which is unsafe and can lead to other health issues in the future.

    Two workouts per day is ‘excessive.’

    Kara Liotta, CPT, co-founder of KKSWEAT, says that doubling up your workouts is unnecessary if your goal is to lose weight. Plus, sticking to such a rigorous schedule means “you would actually need to be taking in more calories” instead of being in a strict calorie deficit like Lori did, she adds.

    That’s not to say it isn’t safe to hit the gym twice in one day—it just depends on the kind of exercise you’re doing. Lori’s Pilates and cardio combo is extreme: “At some point, you’re going to overtax your muscles,” Liotta says.

    But if you’re sweating it out in a morning strength training class and cooling down at the end of your day with a quick yoga session, then you should be good. Just make sure you’re targeting different muscle groups and leaving plenty of time for your body to recover in between workouts, Liotta explains.

    Instead, it’s better to calculate a calorie deficit based on your current lifestyle.

    There are two ways to create a calorie deficit that works for your body, Blatner says. First, you can do the math and stick to a number of daily calories. Blatner recommends using the DRI deficit calculator from the USDA to estimate how much of a calorie will work for you.

    Or, you can take more of a lifestyle approach. “Look at what you’re doing now and just make small changes to it,” she suggests. For example, if you would usually order a six-ounce burger with fries for dinner, consider switching things up by opting for a four-ounce burger and a side salad instead. Small changes like these are “lifestyle-based. They’re not counting in numbers and dieting.”

    “But,” Blatner adds, “You do get a calorie deficit when you take whatever you’re currently doing, and you make small changes to it. You will get this calorie deficit in a more natural, holistic lifestyle way.”

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