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.

How to Set a Weight Loss Goal

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.

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.

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

To diet 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.

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 1500-Calorie Menu 1

Breakfast

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

Lunch

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

Dinner

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

Snacks

  • One nectarine
  • Several glasses of water
  • Three-quarter cup of 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: 1,934 milligrams
  • Sugar: 87 grams
  • Cholesterol: 295 mg
  • Saturated Fat: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 32 grams

Sample 1500-Calorie 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

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

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)
  • Three ounces baked salmon (no oil)
  • One diet soda

Dinner

  • Six ounces of 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, speak with your doctor to ensure it is appropriate for your age, weight, current health, and current fitness.

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

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Article Sources

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

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