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.

Setting Your Goals

As a general 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. For a sedentary to a moderately active adult woman, roughly 2,000 calories are needed each day to maintain your 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.

Planning Wisely

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. The foods would include high-fiber fruits and vegetables, 100-percent whole grains, nonfat dairy, and lean sources of meat and non-meat protein.

You would also need to pay close attention to your dietary reference intake (DRI) recommended in the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For a daily 1,500-calorie diet, your DRI would be:

  • Total fat: 33 to 58 grams
  • Total protein: 46 to 56 grams
  • Total carbohydrates: 130 grams
  • Sodium: 2,300 milligrams
  • Sugar: no more than 20 to 36 grams
  • Cholesterol: no more than 200 to 300 grams 
  • Saturated fat: no more than 15 grams
  • Fiber: 28 to 33.6 grams

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

Sample Menu I

Breakfast

  • One slice whole grain toast with one tablespoon almond butter
  • One hardboiled egg
  • One orange
  • One cup of plain coffee or tea

Lunch

  • Two slices 100-percent whole grain bread, two ounces sliced roast beef, one slice Swiss cheese, and one tablespoon mustard
  • One-half cup sliced carrots
  • One cup of nonfat milk as a beverage

Dinner

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

Snacks

  • One nectarine
  • Several glasses of water
  • Three-quarter cup plain yogurt with one tablespoon of honey
  • One-half cup blueberries
  • Ten pecan halves
  • One cup sweetened grapefruit juice

Nutrition Information

  • Total calories: 1,498
  • Total fat: 20.5 percent (35 grams)
  • Total protein: 23 percent (89 grams)
  • Total carbohydrates: 51.7 percent (201 grams)
  • Sodium: 1934 milligrams
  • Sugar: 87 grams
  • Cholesterol: 295 mg
  • Saturated fat: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 32 grams

Sample Menu II (With Non-Nutritive Sweeteners)

Breakfast

  • One-cup cooked oatmeal with one-half ounce walnuts
  • One-cup nonfat milk
  • One half grapefruit
  • One or two packets sucralose or stevia sweetener

Lunch

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

Dinner

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

Snacks

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

Nutrition Information

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

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

A Word From Verywell

Before starting any diet program, you should speak with your doctor to ensure it is appropriate for your age, weight, and current fitness.

Under no circumstance should you reduce your daily intake to less than 1,200 calories per day for a woman or 1,700 calories per day for a man without the expressed consent and oversight of your doctor.

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