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...

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 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

I must be reading this wrong. So to maintain my weight I need 1500 calories. To loose a lb a week I would go down to 1000 calories? And to loose 2 lbs a week I would only consume 500 calories? Really? Seems unhealthy. FYI- I am 4'11 and 125 lbs. I would like to loose 10 lbs. I don't know. It just doesn't seem right to only consumer 500 - 1000 calories a day. Breakfast alone would already have me up to my number.


03/04/2012 - 8:55pm

The body weight x 12 rule pertains to the amount of calories you need to take in to maintain your body weight without exercising. One pound of fat = 3500 calories. Cut out 500 calories a day x 7 days = 3500 calories = 1 pound lost. If you are extremely overweight then cutting 1000 calories a day is doable, but if you're smaller then it's hard. You have to make sure that every calorie you consume counts. You can't starve yourself or you're going to slow your metabolism to a crawl because your body is going to go into starvation mode. You need to evenly space your meals and snacks. If you exercise a little bit more then you can add some extra calories to your diet in proportion to the calories you burned.


03/08/2012 - 8:06pm

In response to - " FYI- I am 4'11 and 125 lbs. I would like to loose 10 lbs. I don't know. It just doesn't seem right to only consumer 500 - 1000 calories a day." You can't survive on 500-1000 calories a day. 1200 would probably be the lowest you could go. You can't drop 10 pounds in a week, but you could lose 10 pounds in about 8 weeks with a diet and exercise plan. Aerobic exercise in addition to strength training. Muscles burn more calories. Just listing a height/weight isn't enough to determine your caloric intake. Activity level is important. You could be exercising and eating more than 1500 calories. You need to track what kind of activity you normally do and what your diet consists of. Don't guess. Actually write it down. There you can find places where you can cut extra calories out from your normal diet to cut calories. Those cut calories in addition to the negative calories from exercise you can lose weight.


03/08/2012 - 8:12pm

in order to lose 1 pound you need to cut 3500 calories. That can be from working out or from eating less. the whole x12 thing is what you take in now not including the exercise you do because the exercise and the and the extra amount you eat cancel each other out. However the average person is not supposed to eat less than 1200 calories because your body goes into starvation mode and you start to gain weight


03/09/2012 - 10:19pm

Question: should I be worried about total calories or my net calories? Currently, my goal is to net 1200 calories / day after working out -- if I'm burning 800-1000 calories / workout, does that mean I should be consuming 2000-2200 calories per day to reach a net of 1200? Or is there some lesser amount I should be consuming to obtain weight loss?


04/03/2012 - 3:28pm

Net calories, as that is the total intake-working would starve yourself if you ate 1200 and burned 800-100/workout


04/19/2012 - 1:01am

BMR is what your body burns naturally in a day, without any exercise at all. Google BMR and go to a calculator and find out what yours is.

Look at the amount of exercise/activity you do for a given day and figure out how many calories you will burn. I play tennis, so my example is going to 1100 calories from a few hours of tennis.

Take your BMR and add in the calories you burn from activity in one day. My BMR is 1750. Activity is 1100 calories. So 1750 + 1100 = 2850 total. I will burn 2850 calories today with tennis thrown in there. To lose a pound in a week, I'd have to eat 500 less than 2850, which is 2350. So that's a pretty ridiculous number of calories.

The point is, you can eat a reasonable amount of calories as long as you have to exercise to back it up, but you have to end up in the negative if you want to lose weight. Plain and simple. How far into the negative you go each day is going to govern how long it takes for you to lose the weight.


04/24/2012 - 12:26pm

I finally went to a dietician to tackle the weight and cholesteral issue. I am 43 with about 80 lbs to lose. She told me that I could do a 1200 calorie diet if I was not going to exercise or 1500 cals if I could do 60 mins 5x a week (i'm doing seven 60 min classes in six days). She showed me the 3500 cal weight loss formula. Numbers give me a better sense of control so this is what I have come up BMR is 1736 and my exercise is 564 for a total of 2300 calories needed per day to maintain. Subtract the 1500 cals I'm taking in and that means I'm 800 cals below maintenance. 800 cals a day x 7 days = 5600 cals. 5600 cals divided by the 3500 (for 1lb loss) = 1.6 lbs a week. I've actually lost 16 lbs since 3/19. I don't know if the math is right, but I'm not hungry and I feel great. Who knew that if you honestly committed to "the old fashioned way" it would actually work?


05/08/2012 - 2:48pm

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner