What Does a 1,500-Calorie-Day Look Like?

Create your own 1,500-calorie day with these healthy, satisfying meals to help you lose weight.

Most people will lose weight on a daily diet of 1,500 calories, which is the total calorie count for all the food pictured here. If you want to be even more precise about cutting calories, this simple calculation will give you a daily calorie goal that can help you lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week.

—Nicci Micco, M.S., editor-at-large for EatingWell Magazine

Watch us make a 500-calorie meal

Calculate Your Calorie Goal

Calculate Your Calorie Goal

YOUR CURRENT WEIGHT X 12 = calories needed to maintain your weight

To lose 1 pound/week: Cut 500 calories/day
To lose 2 pounds/week: Cut 1,000 calories/day

Note: For healthy weight loss, we don't advise losing more than two pounds per week. If you calculate a daily calorie goal that's less than 1,200, set your calorie goal at 1,200 calories. Below that, it's hard to meet your nutrient needs—or feel satisfied enough to stick with a plan.

Multi-Grain Waffles

Pictured Recipe: Multi-Grain Waffles


For breakfast, choose one of these 300- to 350-calorie breakfast options.

A sample breakfast:

Multi-Grain Waffles - 188 calories
Strawberries, sliced, ½ cup - 41 calories
Low-fat vanilla yogurt, ½ cup - 104 calories
TOTAL: 333 calories

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque

Pictured Recipe: Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque


Aim to make lunch 325 to 400 calories. Try some of these options.

A sample lunch:

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque - 291 calories
Apple, medium - 95 calories
TOTAL: 386 calories

Mediterranean Picnic Snack

Pictured Recipe: Mediterranean Picnic Snack


Add in a couple of healthy snacks. How about some of these options...

A sample snack:

Mediterranean Picnic Snack - 201 calories
TOTAL: 201 calories

Tuna Steaks Proven?al

Pictured Recipe: Tuna Steaks Provençal


Browse through these 500-calorie dinners, organized by Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Seafood, Fish, Vegetarian, Chicken, Beef, Pork and Lamb and 30-Minute Dinners, then pick from the suggested side dishes, desserts or drinks to round out your meal.

A sample dinner:

Tuna Steaks Provençal - 214 calories
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon-Horseradish Cream - 80 calories
Pearl barley, 1/2 cup - 97 calories
Baby Tiramisù - 107 calories
TOTAL: 507 calories

Editor's Note:
For questions about the daily calorie calculation: This formula is used in many clinical weight loss trials—and, it's true—it assumes that the person using the equation is sedentary. If you're an active person and you're finding that your result (say 1200 calories) is too low, bump it up gradually to one that feels satisfying to you. The point is NOT to starve yourself. Most people will lose weight on a 1500 calorie diet, some on an even higher caloric level. The best gauge for whether you're at the right level is how satisfied you feel (you shouldn't be hungry all day!) and whether you're losing weight. If you're losing weight on 1800 a day and you feel great, stick with that. The calculation is just a suggested starting point.
Nicci Micco, M.S., Deputy Editor of Nutrition