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...

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

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 just want to lose a few (maybe 8) lbs and I used the calculator which says I need 1344 cals/day to maintain my weight, so if I cut 500 calories out each day I am not going to be giving my body what it needs, just sayin'.


06/28/2013 - 12:55am

I think several of you could use to study up on human physiology. I graduating with a degree in human physiology this December and I like to think I have a good understanding of it. From what I've seen on the comments there are two misconceptions I'd like to address. First, it is true that you have to cut your caloric intake to loose wieght. But if you cut it by too much, you will stop loosing wieght. This is largely due to the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released when your body is under stress. This can be in a simple fight to flight response or under long term stress, such as a diet that has too few calories. Individuals who have chronic stress induced cortisol release have been clinically found to increase fat stores in the abdomin regardless of how few calories are taken in. In long turn situations cortisol will even trigger the oxidation of amino acids from muscle fibers. Meaning your body will eat your muscles in order to stay alive if you don't have enough calories.
Next, the calculation posted on this site is incorrect. It is a base number to calculate someone's basal metabolic rate, the number of calories you body would consume if all you did was sit on a coach all day long. The only perfect way to measure someone's caloric needs with some accuracy is to hock the up to a respirator and measure their oxygen consumption. I have a better equations fora general calculation that I will post tomorrow. But remember, it's an estimate that you can start from, not a for sure number.


07/09/2013 - 1:02am

I'm 28 and I weight 90kgs... what is the best calorie level for me??


07/10/2013 - 7:25am

I weigh 118 lb. x 12 =1,400-1,000=400, how can i live on 400 calories a day?!


08/26/2013 - 5:22am

the article specifically states not to go below 1200 kcals a day, SPECIFICALLY states that. so for those of you going on about surviving on 400 or 500 kcals a day, READ the whole article.
this article also specifically states that this is just a GENERAL starting point, as in a way to get you heading in the right direction. READ the whole article. sheesh.


09/05/2013 - 3:28pm

1 Calorie = .001 kc soooo your saying not to live off 1.2 Calories, which is obviously impossible


10/04/2013 - 8:05pm

If you weigh 118 pounds you dont need to lose weight, how selfish!!!!


10/11/2013 - 6:35am

well I'm 29 and weigh 250 lbs, I gain weight weekly so I probably have a 3000+calorie diet. The hardest part for me will be changing and planning my food. cutting my diet to 1500 is going to be murder


11/10/2013 - 8:11pm

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