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 1,500 formula has not been working for me. I'm very frustrated and the more people I talk to, the more confused I get.

I'm a 5'5", 180 lb., 50-yr. old female in menopause. Last year I quit smoking and gained 12 lbs. with no changes to diet. Two months ago, I joined a gym and started doing cardio and strength training 5 days a week and immediately gained another 8 lbs. So I'm now 20 lbs. heavier.

I've been on 1500 (net, after exercise) calories daily for several weeks and the scale will not budge. I am absolutely not underestimating my caloric intake nor overestimating my workout calories burned. (I'm using My Fitness Pal to track, BTW.)

Both a 113-lb. fitness guru client of mine and a body builder who works at GNC recently told me to up my calories to 2,340 (my weight X 13 for my activity level) and eat a 40/40/20 ratio of carbs/protein/fats for weight loss. I'm finding it very very difficult to consume more than 1500 calories--I suspect I've been eating in that range naturally for years.

Does anyone agree with the advice to add so many calories?


06/25/2013 - 9:21am

I think Denise of the 5/14/2013 post needs to study up on human biology and ignore the fads, myths, and rumors that we're bombarded with in health and fitness magazines and from the wealth of "physical trainers and nutritional advisers". The only way to lose weight is to have a net negative daily total on kcal intake. 1 pound of body fat equals 3,500 kcals ("calories"). That's a simple fact. Regardless of exercise plans, fads (high-protein, Atkins, etc.), or whatever, if you want to lose a pound per week, you need to burn 500 calories more per day then you consume (500x7 = 3,500). Once you known your MBR (you need to know your resting metabolic rate, then factor in exercise and regular daily activities), just deduct 500 for 1 pound per week, or 1,000 for two pounds per week, and that's how many total calories you should take in per day. You will not be at risk of anything, despite what you may hear. Yes, you will also go a bit catabolic, meaning you will also burn up some muscle, however the bulk of it will come from fat. That's just how it is. If you have abnormally large muscles, (weightlifters), than that's another case, but for the normal sedentary person, don't worry too much about catabolism. You're body is "smart" enough to know where to take the calories from and won't let you deplete your muscle mass to an abnormal level.

Optimally, to prevent catabolism and greatly increase your resting metabolic rate, you need to throw in a weight-lifting program. Don't bother with cardio too much, you'll only burn the extra calories while you're doing the 30 mins of cardio. Weight-lifting will put you in an anaerobic state for 2 days, (preventing catabolism), and will greatly increase your metabolism for up to two whole days.

Your body is designed to take extra calories from body fat. That's what body fat is, it's like a battery for human energy (glycogen). That's how it's been since we were cavemen. And if you give yourself a daily net total of just -200 calories like Denise mentioned, it'll take 2-3 weeks to lose just one pound, which is, frankly, discouraging and may lead to giving up. I've trained many people over the years, and helped many many people lose over four pounds per week. None of them became uber-thin with little or no muscle mass (in fact, they had plenty of lean muscle mass in the end), and none of them got sick or developed some kind of health problem.


06/03/2013 - 4:58pm

I TOTALLY DISAGREE with the recommendation to cut out 500-1000 kcals a day to lose weight! As some mentioned in this thread, doing so would put them at a VERY LOW caloric intake. When you don't give your body the kcals it needs to function and maintain your metabolic rate, you will lose lean body mass or muscle. Your metabolism slows and your body holds onto body fat! The formula of weight in pounds X 12 is for someone who is NOT exercising, who's pretty inactive in their daily activities and who wants to maintain their current weight. If said person wanted to lose weight they could cut out about 100-200 kcals a day and see some weight loss. Best advice is to start exercising and ADD some kcals to facilitate the exercise but take a little away to facilitate weight loss. So add 300-600 (depending on how much exercise you plan to do) to the number you get from wt# X 12 then take about 250-300 kcals away. Now you'll see fat loss, you'll get in shape with the exercise, boost your metabolism and you won't be HUNGRY!
One Body: One Choise


05/17/2013 - 9:19am

i am 5'9 and 135lbs is that a helthy weight? would it be unhealthy to go to 115lbs and if so would exsersise help me loose the weight.


05/06/2013 - 10:20am

Is there anywhere on the website where i can find a grocery list to make all the foods on the 28 day diet plan?


04/03/2013 - 6:15pm

You said: Yes with my current body weight of 122 pounds following this to lose 2 pounds a week I would be down to eating less than 500 calories a day!

At 122 lbs you probably should go to your doctor if you want to lose weight. You wouldn't want to make yourself ill in the process. Also, the article suggested that if your calculations made your intended calorie intake below 1200, set your intake at 1,200 because its difficult to get the nutrition you need to remain healthy.


03/21/2013 - 10:35am

Yes with my current body weight of 122 pounds following this to lose 2 pounds a week I would be down to eating less than 500 calories a day!


03/12/2013 - 6:38pm

It clearly states, "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." So your daily caloric goal would be 1,200 a day. HTH


02/11/2013 - 4:47pm

This formula makes no sense. It says to multiple your current weight x 12 to maintain your current weight. For me that's 1560 cal. It then says to lose weight to cut out 500 cal. per day to lose 1 pd., to lose 2 pds. cut out 1000 cal. per day! I already exercise 5 days a week. So how many calories can I eat per day if I want to lose 10 pds. in a month or so without starving myself which I know is counterproductive?


01/27/2013 - 9:46pm

my weight is 176 pounds!!!!!! and I want to reduce my weight to 160 pounds in 2 months!!!!! please help me how by dieting I can do that!!!!!!!!
please answer me on my ID:-
thank you!!!!!


01/05/2013 - 4:47am

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