Dear female athletes: Please don’t follow Tara Lipinski’s 1,200-calorie diet


This is just a short love note about a piece I wrote for PhillyVoice, regarding the 1,200-calorie (starvation) diet endorsed by former Olympic figure skating champion Tara Lipinski in People magazine.

The print version of Tara’s diet is just shy of 1,500 calories, which is still nowhere near enough fuel for a young, active woman.


The Cliff Notes: 1,200-1,500 calories is not enough fuel for any active young woman. It is especially not enough fuel for a female athlete. I personally need to consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories a day to support the relatively low milage I run (compared to other runners, who need even more fuel).

I do hope you’ll read (and share!) the whole story. I believe it’s critically important to debunk potentially deadly celebrity dieting advice. Girls, especially active girls, need to hear that athletes must consume more, not less. 



Add yours →

  1. I’m 5’2, and I use MyFitnessPal to keep track of my food and they only give me 1200 calories! I don’t totally follow it though – I eat all of the calories I get for running and on days when I do less of a workout and “get” less calories for being active, I go over the 1200 mark without thinking twice!


    • I used MyFitnessPal briefly a few years back before deciding “Nope, not for me.” I also have to double the “calories burned” on my heart rate monitor when it comes to deciding how much I’ll need to refuel after a workout. I’m glad you don’t listen to that 1,200 calorie recommendation! It’s a shame so many “fitness” apps are geared towards weight loss instead of adequate fueling for athletes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So inadequate! And people believe it, which is the sad part! I eat way more than the apps say I should. But to do the kind of things we do, we need to fuel to have the energy!


  2. Jessica @ VEGGIE RUNNING MOMMA July 3, 2015 — 3:25 pm

    You wrote this.!? awesome job.!!! I knew you were a freelance writer, but girl you killed it.! I SO SO agree with you.
    I’m 5’6 and a half, eat probably more like a 6 foot guy, running makes me so hungry.! if I eat under 2000 for a couple days than I start to lose weight..not a good thing. yea she’s blowing smoke..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read this the night it came out and I found out you wrote it. It’s a great article. I don’t know how anyone can just eat 1,200 calories and question anyone who says they do, it’s not a good idea but I just can’t even imagine eating that little. Who eats just 2 Hershey kisses at a time and takes the insides out of the bagel? The “nutritionist verdict” on her diet is about as puke worthy :(.

    Allison is right about My Fitness Pal. I’ve used that to track food before, usually just a few days at a time to get an idea of how I’m eating. I eat fruit at breakfast and it takes me over the sugar count in one meal because of course it can’t differentiate between that and candy. I also hate how it says “if you ate and exercised like this every day, in so long you’d weigh X” because that’s not really true either…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Amy! The “If you ate and exercised like this everyday” advice from MyFitnessPal is one of its worst features. It teaches people to flip out over two hundred calories here, two hundred calories there. The body is actually so much better at maintaining homeostasis than nutritional apps give it credit for. If you eat nutritionally balance meals/snacks according to your physical hunger, your body will maintain its natural “set point” just fine on its own.

      Liked by 1 person

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