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...

OK, I normally weigh about 130 and wish I could go back to the 127 of my 30's when I had to go up a size and have new bras to fit what then was the most I'd ever weighed. As midlife has come on, I edge up to 138-142. I can't go any higher as diabetes runs high in my family., besides that I don't want to, period.

Right now I'm 138 lbs and would at this point be thrilled to hover at 130. But if I do 138 x 12, I am already eating 1656 cals. To lose two pounds a week you suggest I eat 656? I am amazed that I only eat that many calories, as while I eat well, low fat and fairly clean and exercise, I keep gaining weight.

I recalculated three times and get the same number... I was expecting it to say that it took 2500 or 3200 cals to maintain this weight which is 11 lbs heavier than I was just about a decade ago. I was not eating only 1500 cals when I weighed 125 and 127 in my late 30s' and early 40's. though I did get more exercise, living in NYC where you walk everywhere,carrying things with you, as well as go to the gym.

Can you enlighten me as to how this is? Has midlife -- age 47 to now 51 -- made all the difference?


03/03/2010 - 11:07pm

Great article! I enjoyed the reader comments too.

The formula is a well accepted rule of thumb. It's a close approximation for your daily calorie burn, not including exercise or sports activities. In other words, it includes the calories you burn just being alive plus the number of calories you would burn through office work or low intensity household activities. I weight 190 lbs, so my calorie burn is 2280. This is a good number for me to know and here's why:

To lose 1 lb per week, I need to consume 3500 calories less than I burn. That's a 500 calorie differential per day (3500 / 7).

To lose 2 lb per week, I need to consume 7000 calories less than I burn. That's a 1000 calorie differential per day (7000 / 7).

Assuming I want to lose 2 lbs per week, I can't eliminate 1000 calories a day from my diet. I'd starve and be miserable. The only way I can do this is to reduce my intake by a certain amount and commit to burn additional calories through exercise.

For example, I could cut 400 calories from my diet, giving me a calorie target of 1880 (2280 - 400) and burn 600 calories a day in exercise. I can burn 600 calories by jogging on a treadmill for 45 minutes or biking in the 14 - 16 mph for the same duration.

The point is, it's tough as hell to lose weight without exercise. Especially, when you at starting from a lower weight than mine. When you look at these calorie calculators, it's just as important to thing about the calories you burn as well as the calories your consume. Weight Control is my business and 95% of the successful people I work with who have lost weight (and keep it off) Exercise every single day.

They also read Eating Well Magazine and!


02/10/2010 - 12:05pm

To quote the article: "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, therefore, no you're not meant to eat only 700 calories a day to lose weight. That's not at all what they're recommending.


01/14/2010 - 10:57am

How could weight x 12 be right. If you weigh 140 pounds thats about 1700 calories a day. Are you telling me you can only have 700 calories a day if you want to lose 2 pounds a week?


01/13/2010 - 6:45pm

Hi all! Great questions about the daily calorie calculation. This is a formula 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. Good luck! --Nicci Micco, M.S., Deputy Editor of Nutrition


01/12/2010 - 12:42pm

the current weight X 12 does NOT include exercise!


01/12/2010 - 11:43am

The 12 x HAS to be a misprint!


01/11/2010 - 4:17pm

Well, in regards to your first problem, why don't you take the extra portions of the meal and store it in the fridge for another day? If it makes 4 servings and you are only ONE person, you then have a good meal for, um... let's count 'em, 4 days??

Which then brings me to your next issue, scheduling in the cooking time. I don't know about you, but I work multiple jobs, go to school full time and am raising a family, yet I STILL manage to squeeze in time in the evening to make a decent and healthy meal for everyone. Why don't you spend a few more minutes when you come home, cooking and working around your kitchen instead of popping in a frozen pizza and plopping onto your couch for the night! But then again, if you followed the previous advice I gave and stored your food in the first place, then you wouldn't even be whining about such an issue.

The last one I'd agree with you on, but as far as I can tell from most of these recipes, they're fairly basic. Chicken, fish, veggies... when were these foods labeled solely as "Caucasian" cuisine?


01/08/2010 - 12:57am

12 x your current body weight?! where did that calculation come from?? there's no way I could eat that few calories, exercise and maintain my current weight.


01/08/2010 - 12:23am

I understand your complaints, here are a couple tips I use:

If you only want to make 1 serving of a 4 serving recipe, then divide the amount of each ingredient by 4!

Also, I usually cook 2 or 3 meals a week, usually on weekends, and eat leftovers for dinner all week long.


01/07/2010 - 9:29pm

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