The 1,500-calorie diet is where a person limits their caloric intake to 1,500 calories. By eating a 1,500-calorie meal plan and exercising regularly, people can create a calorie deficit, leading to weight loss.

Some people may choose to restrict their daily intake to 1,500 calories. While factors such as age, gender, and activity level can cause caloric needs to vary, a 1,500-calorie intake is typically less than the average person requires. As a result, this diet may help some people lose weight.

In this article, we discuss what the 1,500-calorie diet is and how to do it safely.

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The 1,500-calorie diet is a diet plan that restricts a person’s daily caloric intake to 1,500 calories. People may try this diet to control their food intake and lose weight.

Some research suggests that the average person assigned female at birth can limit their daily caloric intake to 1,500 calories or less to drop 1 pound per week. The average person assigned male at birth may consume up to 2,000 calories a day to lose the same amount of weight.

However, other research indicates that there is a large variation among individuals in regard to weight loss due to a calorie deficit. Therefore, the above guidelines should only serve as a rough estimate.

Various factors affect how many calories a person needs in a day. These factors include:

  • sex
  • height
  • weight
  • activity level
  • age

A one-size-fits-all method for weight loss is unlikely to be effective for everyone, as each individual has different caloric needs. Setting a goal of 1,500 calories per day may be too low for some people, making it unsustainable over an extended period.

Learn more about creating a calorie deficit for weight loss.

Calories in food and beverages supply the body with the energy that it needs to sustain bodily functions. Eating too many calories can cause weight gain, potentially leading to obesity, and other medical conditions, such as:

Eating too little can also harm a person’s health. On an extremely restrictive diet, the body cannot function properly, and conditions such as anorexia can be very dangerous.

Each person needs a different number of calories to sustain their bodily functions. The following table summarizes the estimated daily calorie needs of adults, according to their age, sex, and activity level.

76 and up2,0002,2002,400
61 and up1,6001,8002,000

These calorie estimates do not include values for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The estimated daily calorie needs suggest that, in order to maintain their weight, the average person will need to consume more than 1,500 calories per day. Consuming less than this may result in weight loss.

To determine how many calories a person needs to sustain bodily functions, they must know their total daily energy expenditure (TDDE). The TDEE is an estimate of how many calories a person needs in a day. To lose weight, people need to eat fewer calories than the calculated number.

The basal metabolic rate (BMR) represents minimum resting energy needs. Physical activity also contributes to the TDEE. To calculate BMR, nutritionists may use the Mifflin-St Jeor equation:

  • Males: 10 x weight in kilograms (kg) + 6.25 x height in centimeters (cm) – 5 x age in years + 5
  • Females: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

People can calculate their BMR using an online calculator. This calculator also allows people to factor in their physical activity level to find their TDEE.

Learn more about how many calories a person needs.

If a person’s goal is to lose weight or maintain health, they may choose to eat nutrient-dense foods. Foods that may be beneficial include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • whole grains and enriched refined grains
  • lean meats, poultry, and eggs
  • unsalted nuts, seeds, and soy products

Learn more about foods for weight loss.

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends avoiding certain foods. These include foods with added sugar, fat, or salt.

Very restrictive diets may be difficult for some people to follow, so nutritionists may suggest:

  • limiting added sugar to less than 10% of daily calories
  • limiting saturated fats to less than 10% of daily calories
  • consuming under 1,200 milligrams of sodium per day

Learn more about foods to avoid when trying to lose weight.

Research suggests that a healthful meal pattern should typically include breakfast, two or three meals a day, and regular fasting periods. It should also involve consuming a higher proportion of the day’s calories early in the day.

The benefits of this meal pattern may include:

  • reduced inflammation
  • improved circadian rhythmicity
  • stress resistance
  • modification of healthy bacteria in the gut

Here is a sample meal plan that is suitable for those aiming for a 1,500-calorie limit:

Energy (calories)
1 slice of whole wheat bread70
half of a whole fruit30
half a cup of shredded wheat cereal104
1 cup of 1% milk102
1 cup of orange juice78
1 cup of regular black coffee5
2 slices of whole wheat bread139
2 ounces (oz) of lean roast beef60
1 slice of low fat, low sodium American cheese46
1 leaf of lettuce1
3 slices of tomato10
2 tsp of low calorie mayonnaise30
1 medium apple80
3 oz of salmon cooked with vegetable oil215
three-quarters of a medium baked potato with margarine134
half a cup of green beans with margarine52
half a cup of carrots with margarine52
1 medium white dinner roll80
half a cup of ice milk92
Popcorn with margarine120

Where possible, choose margarines that are free from trans fat. Some margarines are made with healthy oils, such as olive oil.

Learn more about the different types of fat.

Although the 1,500-calorie diet is a popular weight loss strategy, it may not be effective for everyone because caloric requirements vary among individuals.

For some people, 1,500 calories may be a healthful amount, and it may not lead to weight loss. For other people, it may create an unhealthful deficit.

For a more accurate estimate of the calorie intake likely to aid weight loss, people can calculate their TDEE or consult a dietitian.

Following a weight loss plan can be challenging for some. While motivation may drive healthful lifestyle decisions temporarily, long-term goals require permanent changes in habits.

Therefore, to lose weight safely and effectively and maintain a moderate weight, people may need to make long-term lifestyle changes. A weight loss coach may also help.

If a person is consuming a calorie deficit to lose weight, getting enough physical activity may also help aid weight loss. A doctor may recommend that a person aims for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. People can also gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity.

Some research suggests that daily self-weighing could also help with weight loss. The researchers also found that regular self-weighing was not associated with negative psychological outcomes.

Instead, regular self-weighing was associated with:

  • an increase in dietary restraint
  • improved body satisfaction
  • a decrease in depressive symptoms
  • a decrease in weight and body shape concerns

Daily self-weighing is relatively easy if people have scales at home, and it can work as a positive motivator.

A person can also contact their doctor for advice on how to lose weight safely and how many calories they should aim for per day.

Here are some frequently asked questions about calorie intake and weight loss.

How long will it take to lose 20 pounds eating 1500 calories a day?

How long it takes to lose 20 pounds (lb) on a 1,500-calorie diet will be different for each person. It can depend on factors such as a person’s caloric needs and how much physical exercise they do.

How much weight will I lose in a month if I burn 400 calories a day?

Many people claim that it takes an energy deficit of 3,500 calories to burn 1 lb of fat. However, this may not be accurate for everybody. A person can monitor their weight loss at home using a bathroom scale to get a clearer idea of how much weight they can lose by burning 400 calories per day.

However, a person should also expect fluctuations in their weight loss, even if they consume the same amount of calories each day.

Should I eat 1,200 or 1,500 calories a day?

For some people, consuming 1,500 calories per day can help with weight loss. However, other people may require more calories per day to avoid adverse health effects.

Consuming 1,200 calories per day is a low calorie diet. This may be suitable for some people trying to lose weight, and the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute provides an example of a healthful meal plan.

However, a person should contact their doctor before following a low calorie diet or making any significant changes to their current caloric intake. A person’s doctor can provide them with advice on how to safely achieve their goals.

People can often lose weight successfully by maintaining a low calorie diet and exercising more. For some people, the 1,500-calorie diet may be a suitable diet plan for weight loss.

Although the 1,500-calorie diet is popular, it may not be ideal for everyone. The exact number of calories that a person should eat per day to lose weight depends on several factors. People can calculate their TDEE to get a more accurate idea of this number.