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

By Nicci Micco, EatingWell 500 Calorie Dinners (2010)

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

"I did a calculation based on my weight of 180lbs and the number of calories needed to maintain my weight was about correct. For a weight loss of 2lb per week it came out at just under 1200 calories and they suggest 1200 as a minimum. I...

The body weight times 12 rule seems precise from everything I've read about how to maintain or lose weight. I'm currently 146 pounds. That's about 1700 calories a day, which is what I eat. I've tried to do the 1200 calorie a day diet, but find I'm ravenous come bed time. I will try 1500 a day instead to see how that goes.


02/22/2012 - 4:37pm

Seems to me y'all aren't looking at the entire equation. Your weight x 12 gives you the number of calories to eat to maintain your weight with a sedentary lifestyle. If you put in walking the dog, pulling some weeds, washing the laundry, etc., normal daily activities, you need more calories to maintain your weight. If you are on a regular, disciplined exercise program you will have a different number entirely. In addition, if you do not change up your daily routine your body will adjust to "normal" and you once again won't be able to loose weight doing your daily activities. It is the entire picture which needs to be considered when looking at calories taken in & weight lost.


02/05/2012 - 2:10pm

The times 12 thing I think is really low. If I followed that I am suppose to eat only 1200 to maintain my weight and I eat close to 1500-2000 a day and maintain while working out.. Does that mean I am suppose to eat only 800 to lose a couple of pounds?


01/23/2012 - 9:47pm

According to your "how many calories I should be eating" chart, I should be eating 800 calories a day to burn 2 pounds a week. I think that is a very unhealthy number.


01/23/2012 - 3:51pm

I use the Bodymedia arm band and use their website to enter in my food intake. I work out on an elliptical each day for an hour. (Resistance set to 3 usually and speed 55 RPMs) My armband usually indicates I burn 3000 calories a day and I keep to right at a caloric consumption of 2500 a day. Doing this from Jan 2011 to Jan 2012, I have lost 49 pounds. I started out at 245 (5'10" now 48 year old male). I just hit 195lbs today. I am not saying that you have to have an arm band like I do with the associated $6.95 monthly fee. (Though I do to keep on track) What you do need to do though is find out how much your body burns each day and then find someway to keep track of your calories each day. From what I have seen I would think the average person should burn between 2000 to 2500 calories by going about their daily activities without adding exercise. So limiting calories to 1500 to 1800 should produce slow but steady results. It took me 10 years to go from 170 to 245....not rocket science that it will take time to take it off. As a side not, my arm band indicates that while I am asleep I burn 1.4 calories per minute. So if I were to sleep all the time, my body would burn 2016 a point is that would be a minimum burn...just sitting burns more.


01/06/2012 - 2:39am

The picture actually is 1500 calories - the smoothie + yogurt/berries/(cereal?) mix is about 300 claories or so. If you think that all that food in the picture is worth 300 clories, you have a big problem on your hands.


12/16/2011 - 4:38pm

the picture above is 300 calories not 1500!


12/12/2011 - 7:17pm

Unless you are actually weighing your food and preparing it all your self you have no idea how much food you are eatting


08/10/2010 - 9:32am

I agree with "calories count'. I am just behind you...have lost 12 pounds in about 8 weeks, I weighed 168, now down to 156..need to lose another 20...and yes, though it's a bit slow, the body responds much better than with a crash diet that has you gain all the weight back in about 1 week!! I also am swimming 2 times a week (only for about 20-25 minutes) and walking for 30 minutes...I feel so much better, I know this is well worth the time!


07/28/2010 - 10:50am

I like the photos of the food to show an example of what a 1500 calorie day could look like. Some folks need a bit of help thinking up some meals, and this looks to be a well-balanced daily menu with a good assortment of items from the various food groups. However, I'm with other writers who suggest the weight times 12 to show calories to maintain weight is low. That would require me at 140 to need to drop below 1200 calories a day just to lose a pound a week, and losing 1.5 pounds or more would be out of the question with other factors not considered.

Of course, there certainly are those other factors, such as age, quality of foods consumed (junk food versus healthy), one's exercise program and daily activity's certanly not a one-size-fits-all mathematical equation! I've heard the figure of 15 times one's weight as an estimate. But as another comment mentioned, that would be quite a high daily caloric intake for an extremely overweight person hoping to shed pounds.

One thought to consider: a healthy, well-planned eating plan of 1200 calories can be more nutritionally- satisfying than a 2,000+ calorie one comprised mostly of unwise choices (consider that one popular fast food "value meal" contains 1400 calories).

Ann (


07/27/2010 - 7:41pm

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