Eating 1, 500 calories per day can help you meet your weight loss goals.
Eating just 1, 500 calories per day while following a regular exercise program will likely lead to a healthy weight loss. However, 1, 500 calories per day is too low for some regular exercisers, especially those trying to maintain or gain weight. In fact, if you significantly boost the calories you burn by exercising, you may not even have to cut your calorie intake to lose weight.
Weight Loss Diets
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1, 500-calorie diets - more specifically, diets containing 1, 200 to 1, 600 calories per day - are appropriate weight loss diets for women who weigh more than 164 pounds, active women who exercise regularly and most men. The same source reports that effective weight loss diets for sedentary women weighing less than 165 pounds often include 1, 000 to 1, 200 calories per day.
Weight Maintenance Diets
To maintain a healthy weight while exercising regularly, you’ll likely need to eat more than 1, 500-calories per day. In fact, even sedentary men and women need between 2, 000 to 2, 600 and 1, 600 to 2, 000 calories per day, respectively, to maintain their body weights, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. According to Harvard Medical School, moderately active adults need 16 calories per pound of body weight each day, and active adults who regularly exercise at high intensities need 18 calories per pound of body weight each day. This is equivalent to 2, 160 calories per day for a moderately active, 135-pound woman and about 2, 880 calories each day for an active, 160-pound man.
If your body requires more than 1, 500 calories per day—even when you’re trying to lose weight—you could experience negative side effects, especially during your workouts. These may include lightheadedness, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and even hair loss. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a safe rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, which you can accomplish by reducing 500 to 1, 000 calories per day through exercise, dietary changes, or a combination of both.
1, 500-Calorie Menu
If a 1, 500-calorie weight loss diet is right for you, following a healthy meal plan can help you meet your nutritional needs and calorie goal. For example, a sample 1, 500-calorie meal plan - provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - contains about 1.5 cup of fruits, 1.5 cup of vegetables, 5 ounces of grains, 4.5 ounces of protein-rich foods, 2.5 cups of dairy foods, 5 teaspoons of healthful oils and 120 extra calories each day. Using this meal plan, a sample 1, 500-calorie menu would include two scrambled egg whites, one-half slice of reduced fat cheese, one slice of whole-grain toast, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and one small orange for breakfast; 1 cup of low-fat yogurt and one-half cup of blueberries for a morning snack; 1 cup of brown rice, 1 cup of steamed broccoli and 2.5 ounces of grilled salmon cooked using 1 teaspoon of olive oil for lunch; and 1 cup of whole-wheat pasta, with pesto sauce made using 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 ounces of grilled chicken breast, one-half cup of sliced tomatoes and 1 cup of low-fat milk for dinner.