The 1,500-calorie diet is a diet plan that people may try when attempting to lose weight. By eating fewer calories and exercising regularly, people can create a calorie deficit, which can lead 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.

a person eating a healthy meal as part of a 1,500 calorie dietShare on Pinterest
Various factors affect the number of calories that a person should ideally consume per day.

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 female can limit their daily caloric intake to 1,500 calories or less to drop 1 pound per week. The average male 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:

  • gender
  • 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.

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, so conditions such as anorexia and bulimia 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, gender, and activity level.

Males
AgeSedentaryModerateActive
19–202,6002,8003,000
21–252,4002,8003,000
26–352,4002,6003,000
36–402,4002,6002,800
41–452,2002,6002,800
46–552,2002,4002,800
56–602,2002,4002,600
61–652,0002,4002,600
66–752,0002,2002,600
76 and up2,0002,2002,400
Females
AgeSedentaryModerateActive
19–252,0002,2002,400
26–301,8002,0002,400
31–501,8002,0002,200
51–601,6001,8002,200
61 and up1,6001,8002,000

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

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.

If a person’s goal is to lose weight or maintain health, they may choose to eat nutrient dense foods. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend including the following foods in the diet:

  • dark green, red, and orange vegetables
  • starchy vegetables
  • legumes
  • fruits
  • whole grains and enriched refined grains
  • fat-free or low fat dairy
  • seafood
  • lean meats, poultry, and eggs
  • unsalted nuts, seeds, and soy products

The guidelines also recommend 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 less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day

Research suggests that a healthful meal pattern should 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)
Breakfast389
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
Lunch366
2 slices of whole wheat bread139
2 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
Supper625
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
Snack120
Popcorn with margarine120
Grand total1,500

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, while it may create an unhealthful deficit for others.

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

Doctors also recommend that people follow the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. These state that adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity a week. People can gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity.

Some people may feel anxious when stepping on the scale, but some research suggests that daily self-weighing could 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.

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.

Learn more about how to lose weight naturally.

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.