Two Sample Menus for a 1,500-Calorie Diet

Approaching Weight Loss Sensibly and Safely

Breakfast with toast, egg, coffee and orange juice

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Cutting calories is one of the ways that people commonly lose weight. This would involve trimming as much as a quarter of your daily calories while still meeting your recommended daily nutritional needs. While the very thought of this may take you aback, there are strategies to help you achieve these goals without feeling deprived or risking malnourishment.

Set Weight Loss Goals

When you cut calories to lose weight, you want to make sure that you still get enough energy (calories) each day and also get important macronutrients and micronutrients to keep your body strong and healthy during the weight loss journey.

Calorie Goals

As a rule of thumb, if you are attempting to lose weight, take the number of calories you need each day to maintain your current weight and subtract 500 of those calories to lose one pound per week. This is because one pound of fat equals roughly 3,500 calories.

However, keep in mind that calorie counting is not an exact science. Reducing 500 calories per day is not a guarantee for weight loss. There are many factors that play a role in calorie intake and weight loss. Use a 500 calorie-per-day reduction as a starting point and make adjustments as needed.

For a sedentary to a moderately active woman, roughly 2,000 calories are needed each day to maintain the current weight, while a sedentary to moderately active man would require around 2,400 per day.

That would mean reducing your daily consumption to 1,500 calories per day if you are female and to around 1,900 calories per day if you are male. In either instance, that wouldn't leave a lot of room for any extra snacks, toppings, or treats, so planning is key.

Remember that your calorie goal can vary depending on your weight and even your lean muscle mass. These (1500 and 1900) are not adequate or appropriate for everyone. To get a personalized estimate of your weight loss calorie goal, you can use a calculator that takes your age, gender, body size, activity level, and goals into account to determine a daily calorie target.

Nutrient Goals

Since you will not be eating all that many calories, you need to be extra-careful about the foods you choose. Much of the focus would be placed on eating nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories and fat but high in fiber and protein. These would include high-fiber fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nonfat dairy, and lean sources of meat and non-meat protein.

To lose weight safely, refer to the dietary reference intake (DRI) table in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It outlines the amount of nutrients you need each day to maintain good health.

You will see nutrients listed on the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods that you buy. The label tells you how much of each nutrient is provided by that food. For a 1,500-calorie diet, your daily DRI would be:

Sample 1500-Calorie Menus

Based on nutrient parameters, your menu could vary slightly depending on whether you are restricting sugar or not. To this end, here is what your menu plans might look like.

Sample Menu 1

You'll consume lean protein and fiber to help you to feel full and satisfied throughout the day. You'll also consume fruit as a sweet treat and other nutrient-rich foods for variety.

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

  • One cup of cooked broccoli with lemon juice
  • One-half cup of cooked black beans
  • One small glass of white wine
  • One three-ounce chicken breast fillet with two tablespoons salsa
  • One whole-wheat dinner roll with one teaspoon of butter

Snacks

Nutrition Information

  • Total calories: 1,498
  • Total fat: 20.5 percent (35 grams)
  • Saturated fat: 6 grams
  • Cholesterol: 295 mg
  • Sodium: 1,934 milligrams
  • Total carbohydrates: 51.7 percent (201 grams)
  • Fiber: 32 grams
  • Sugar: 87 grams
  • Total protein: 23 percent (89 grams)

Sample Menu 2

This menu is designed for people who need to watch their sugar intake, including people with diabetes and prediabetes. In place of sugar, non-nutritive sweeteners are used.

Breakfast

Lunch

  • A salad with one cup of spinach, one ounce of feta, one-half cup cherry tomatoes, and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (no oil)
  • One diet soda
  • Three ounces baked salmon (no oil)

Dinner

  • One cup cooked brown rice
  • One small 100-percent whole grain dinner roll
  • Six ounces of peeled shrimp with one small diced green pepper sautéed in one tablespoon of olive oil and garlic
  • Water with a lemon or lime slice

Snacks

  • One apple
  • One cup strawberries
  • One serving low-fat, sugar-free, fruit-flavored yogurt
  • Several glasses of water with slices of lemon or lime
  • Two cups of air-popped popcorn (no butter)
  • Two-thirds cup raw baby carrots with one ounce of fat-free dip

Nutrition Information

  • Total calories: 1,496
  • Total fat: 22.4 percent (37 grams)
  • Saturated fat: 11 grams
  • Cholesterol: 428 milligrams
  • Sodium: 1,496 mg
  • Total carbohydrates: 51.3 percent (193 grams)
  • Fiber: 25 grams
  • Sugar: 49 grams
  • Total protein: 26.4 percent (99 grams)

You can compare this menu plan with that of a 1,700 calorie diet.

A Word From Verywell

Before starting any weight loss program, speak with your doctor to ensure it is appropriate for your age, weight, current health, and current fitness. You should not consume fewer than 1,200 calories per day for a woman or 1,700 calories for a man without medical guidance. If you are having trouble losing weight, get a referral to a registered dietitian to get a personalized eating plan.

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  1. Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns. Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020. health.gov

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