Successful weight loss calls for a calorie deficit where the number of calories you consume is lower than the number of calories you burn through physical activity. Many people attempt to achieve that calorie deficit through a 1500-calorie diet.
If you’re considering the same thing, this post will help you out. Scroll down to learn more about a 1500-calorie diet, pros cons meal plans, and more.
What is a 1500-calorie diet?
A 1500-calorie diet is a diet that restricts a person’s calorie intake to 1500. People tend to try this diet in order to slim down or control how much they eat.
In a nutshell, the 1500-calorie diet is not a specific program or diet regimen. As long as you bring the calorie intake to 1500, you have the freedom to tailor it the way you find easiest.
How many calories should we eat per day?
Before we focus on the 1500-calorie diet and everything it entails, it’s necessary to discuss the basics such as the recommended daily calorie intake.
The exact number of calories you need during the day depends on several factors including your gender, age, and physical activity levels.
A simple equation can help you determine the number of calories you need during the day and thereby optimize your weight loss.
The equations, known as Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, are below.
For women: 10x(weight in kg) + 6.25x(height in cm) – 5x(age) – 161 = calories per day
For men: 10x(weight in kg) + 6.25x(height in cm) – 5x(age) + 5 = calories per day
Once you complete the calculation, you need to multiply the result by an activity factor i.e. number that corresponds to your physical activity levels. These are:
- x 1.2 for sedentary lifestyle (little to no exercise)
- x 1.375 for light activity (exercising fewer than three times a week)
- x 1.55 for moderate activity (exercising moderately on most days a week)
- x 1.725 for a very active lifestyle (exercise every day)
- x 1.9 for an extra active lifestyle (vigorous exercise two or more times a day)
How many calories per day do we consume on average?
The number of calories people consume a day is a lot higher than recommended. Figures show the average American eats over 3600 calories a day, which is a 24% increase in total calorie intake from 1961 when people consumed 2880 calories on average (2).
Compared to 1961, Americans significantly increased consumption of meat, sugar and artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and vegetable oil.
As you can see, most people eat way more calories than they need. But, to slim down you need to create a calorie deficit. That means you need to eat fewer calories than you burn through total daily energy expenditure. Eating fewer calories can help you lose weight safely, but you also need to get rid of unhealthy eating habits.
Can you lose weight on a 1500-calorie diet?
The biggest reason people decide to try a 1500-calorie diet is to achieve significant weight reduction. More precisely, people drastically reduce calorie intake to achieve rapid weight loss. The question is: does it work? Several studies have explored low-calorie diets and their effectiveness, but a lot more of them are necessary to learn more about their potential benefits.
Some studies have found low-calorie diets led to an 8% reduction in body weight over a period of three to 12 months. Weight loss and weight-loss maintenance interventions with a duration of 3-4.5 years exhibited an average weight loss of 4% of body weight. Effective low-calorie diets also helped people reduce the amount of abdominal fat and reduced waist circumference by 1.5 to 9.5cm. That means that if you want to reduce body fat, you need to think about eating sufficient calories that will trigger a chain of reactions to speed up your metabolism and burn fat.
It’s also useful to mention low-calorie diets alone don’t improve cardiorespiratory fitness. For that reason, it is highly significant to combine diet with exercise. Additionally, weight loss is more pronounced in heavier persons. Not only is it effective, but a low-calorie diet is also considered a safe approach to weight loss and fat loss (3, 4, 5).
A study from Obesity Facts aimed to determine the efficacy of a low-calorie diet in moderately and severely obese subjects. A total of 217 participants completed the study where average weight loss was 17.9kg without significant difference between moderately and severely obese persons. That being said, severely obese persons achieved a greater weight loss in the maintenance phase. All subjects who lost weight also experienced improvements in lipid and glucose metabolism (6).
The Swiss Medical Weekly published a study that investigated changes in obesity measures among adults from eight European cities. The study showed that a low-calorie diet led to a significant improvement in anthropometric and body composition measurements in all those cities (7).
To sum up, a 1500-calorie diet is a low-calorie diet that may contribute to weight loss and weight maintenance. The results are particularly pronounced in heavier persons. For best results, it’s important to combine it with regular exercise.
One thing to bear in mind is that low-calorie diets may yield short-term results. For this reason, it is necessary to adopt healthy lifestyle measures so that you can have more success in weight management.
How much weight you can lose on a 1500-calorie diet?
There is no “one size fits all” rule when it comes to losing weight. The exact number of pounds you can lose depends on several factors such as your metabolism, physical activity levels, age, current weight, body composition, just to name a few. If you create a calorie deficit of 500 to 1000 calories, you can expect to lose 0.45 to 1kg (1-2lbs). Therefore, if you currently consume around 2000 calories a day and switch to a 1500-calorie diet, you will set up a deficit of 500 calories that will allow you to lose about a pound per week (8, 9).
Let’s say you lose 0.45kg (1lb) a week. Over a four-week period, you could lose 1.8kg (3.9 lbs) and in two months twice as much. What matters the most is that this is the healthy approach to weight loss.
Foods to eat on a 1500-calorie diet
First things first, 1500 calories is not a lot; it’s a low calorie plan. That’s why you need to focus on foods that are healthful, nutritious, and satiating. Whole, minimally processed foods are the best choices. Many people also go for gluten free foods. Your meals should be rich in lean proteins and fiber. Both can suppress appetite, support fat loss, and promote weight loss (10, 11). Also, strive to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
Foods to eat include:
- Fruits: apples, pears, berries, grapes, bananas, citrus fruits
- Vegetables: non-starchy options (kale, spinach, cauliflowers, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, etc.) and starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, etc.)
- Meat and poultry: beef, turkey, chicken, lamb
- Seafood: salmon, sea bass, clams, cod, sardines, shrimps, oysters, trout
- Whole grains: brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado oil, unsweetened coconut
- Legumes: kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils
- Nuts and seeds: macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almond butter
- Dairy: kefir, full-fat cheese, full-fat or reduced-fat yogurts, and low-fat dairy
- Non-dairy milk (unsweetened): coconut milk, cashew milk, almond milk
- Beverages: water, green tea, coffee, sparkling water
- Condiments: garlic powder, lemon juice, salsa, apple cider vinegar
- Seasonings: turmeric, oregano, garlic, rosemary, basil, salt, chili pepper, black pepper
Foods to avoid on a 1500-calorie diet
A weight-loss plan requires a healthy diet, especially a low-calorie approach such as this one. That’s why you should consume fewer sugary and highly processed foods should be at the minimum. Try to reduce or avoid the following foods:
- Refined carbohydrates: sugary cereals, white bread, and pasta, crackers, bagels, tortillas
- Fast food: pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, fries
- Fried foods: potato chips, doughnuts, and other deep-fried foods
- Added sugars: candies, baked goods, table sugar, agave
- Processed foods: deli meats, bacon, packaged foods, cereal bars
- Sweetened drinks: energy drinks, fruit juice, soda, sweetened coffee drinks, flavored milk
- Low-fat and diet foods: low-fat ice cream, diet bars, low-fat chips, low-calorie candies, etc.
Pros of a 1500-calorie diet
Adhering to a 1500-calorie diet has several advantages and health benefits. After all, consuming too many calories can lead to a wide range of health problems including weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease (12).
Reducing calorie intake can, actually, kick-start your weight loss and help you improve your health. Generally speaking, calorie reduction can support health in many ways such as weight loss, anti-inflammatory effects, reducing blood sugar levels, decreasing heart disease risk factors such as LDL (bad) cholesterol just to name a few (13, 14, 15, 16).
Other pros of a 1500-calorie diet include:
- Versatility – although a 1500-calorie diet is among low-calorie diets you have the freedom to include a wide range of foods in your daily mail, especially healthful and nutrient-dense foods. There are tons of meal plans and programs for you to follow
- Accessibility – this kind of diet doesn’t require purchasing specialty foods, exotic ingredients, and dietary supplements, although you can use them if you want to. Since you can use easily accessible foods and ingredients you can find in any supermarket or grocery store, the 1500-calorie diet is relatively more accessible than other options on the market
- Effectiveness – if followed properly, the 1500-calorie diet is an effective weight-loss tool. But, keep in mind you also need to exercise regularly
- Safety – the low-calorie diet such as this one is generally safe to follow
Cons of a 1500-calorie diet
Despite some useful advantages, the 1500-calorie diet has some disadvantages worth addressing. These include:
- Difficult to follow for long-term – although a 1500-calorie diet can be a good solution for a short-term period, it would be tricky to stick to this eating pattern for a longer period of time. In other words, this diet plan may not be the most sustainable approach to losing weight
- Hunger – when severe calorie restriction is involved, many people struggle with increased hunger at first. This is particularly the case if a low-calorie diet lacks protein and fiber
- Not the most practical diet plan – low-calorie diets require a great deal of calculating and planning. They may not be the ideal plans for persons who appreciate practicality and simplicity
- Costs – unfortunately, many healthy ingredients that you need to eat do cost more meaning this diet plan is not the most budget-friendly
- Not for everyone – low-calorie diets are not a good option for some persons, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women. If you have some underlying health condition, make sure to consult the doctor before you start with this diet as well
- Nutrient deficiencies – when implemented improperly, you can experience changes in current weight, but such a military diet can also lead to nutrient deficiency due to elimination of certain foods from the menu. Always make sure that your diet is versatile
Let’s say you decide to give a 1500-diet a try. What’s next? What to eat? This one-week meal plan can help you out.
Breakfast: two eggs with one slice of Ezekiel toast and ½ avocado
Lunch: grilled chicken (4 oz or 112g) with salad (2 cups spinach, ½ cup chickpeas, ½ cup shredded carrots, 1oz goat cheese, Balsamic vinaigrette)
Dinner: 2 cups roasted broccoli with ¾ cup of quinoa and 5oz (140g) of baked cod with 1tbsp olive oil
Breakfast: 1 cup yogurt bowl with 1 cup raspberries, 2tbsp chia seeds, 2tbsp sliced almonds, and 1tbsp of unsweetened coconut
Lunch: 1 whole-grain wrap containing 2oz (46g) mozzarella with 2 tomato slices, 1 cup sweet red peppers, 1tbsp pesto
Dinner: 4oz (112g) salmon with 1 small sweet potato, 1tsp butter, and 1 cup of roasted Brussels sprouts
Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal with apple slices, cinnamon, and 2tbsp natural peanut butter
Lunch: 1 whole-grain wrap with 2tbsp hummus, 2 tomato slices, ½ avocado, 1oz of muenster cheese, and 1 cup fresh arugula
Dinner: chili made of 3oz (84g) turkey, ½ cup kidney beans, ½ cup black beans, 1 cup crushed tomatoes
Breakfast: 2 fried eggs with 1 Ezekiel toast slice, ½ sliced banana, 2tbsp peanut butter
Lunch: “sushi” with 1 vegetable roll with brown rice and 1 avocado and cucumber sushi roll with brown rice, and 2 salmon sashimi pieces and green salad
Dinner: black bean burger with 1 cup black beans, chopped onion and garlic, 1 egg, 1tbsp breadcrumbs, 2 cups mixed greens, 1oz feta cheese
Breakfast: smoothie with 1 scoop protein powder (pea), 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup blackberries, 1tbsp cashew butter, 1tbsp chia seeds
Lunch: 4oz grilled chicken with 2 cups kale, ½ cup lentils, ½ cup shredded carrots, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1oz goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette
Dinner: 4oz grilled shrimp with 2 corn tortillas, 2 cups onions and peppers sautéed in 1tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp sour cream, 1oz shredded cheese
Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal with cinnamon, blueberries, and almond butter
Lunch: 5oz (140g) tuna with chopped celery, 1tbsp mayo, 2 cups mixed greens, ¼ sliced avocado, and ½ cup green apple slices
Dinner: 5oz baked chicken with 2 cups roasted broccoli and 1 cup of roasted butternut squash in 1tbsp olive oil
Breakfast: 2-egg omelet with 1 cup sauteed sweet potatoes, 1 cup of spinach cooked in 1tbsp avocado oil, and 1oz cheddar cheese
Lunch: 1 chipotle burrito bowl with barbacoa chicken, romaine lettuce, fresh salsa, ½ guacamole serving, and brown rice
Dinner: 1 cup whole-wheat pasta with 1 cup spinach, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1tbsp grated parmesan cheese, 1tbsp pesto, and ¼ cup cannellini beans
The 1500-calorie diet is an effective weight-loss approach, but it may be difficult to follow it for a long time. Exercise is also necessary for healthy and sustainable weight loss. Make sure to adopt healthy lifestyle measures in order to lose weight and keep it off.