Sample Menus for a 1,500-Calorie Diet

Approaching Weight Loss Sensibly and Safely

Breakfast with toast, egg, coffee and orange juice

Sverre Haugland / Cultura / Getty Images

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Cutting calories is one of the ways that people commonly lose weight. Sustainable calorie reduction eating plans can call for trimming as much as a quarter of your daily calories while still meeting your recommended daily nutritional needs. While this may sound like a lot, 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 (i.e., 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, aim for a healthy weight loss goal of 1 pound per week by taking the number of calories you need each day to maintain your current weight and subtracting 500 to find your daily calorie target. This equation works because 1 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 moderately active woman, roughly 1,800 to 2,000 calories are needed each day to maintain the current weight, while a sedentary to moderately active man would require 2,400 to 2,600 calories per day.

That would mean reducing your daily consumption to around 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 1,500 and 1,900 goals 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, sex, body size, activity level, and weight loss goals into account to determine a daily calorie target.

Nutrient Goals

Since your total daily calories are limited, you need to be extra careful about the foods you choose to ensure adequate nutrition. Much of the focus should be placed on eating nutrient-dense foods. These would include high-fiber fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low or nonfat dairy, and lean sources of meat and non-meat protein.

To lose weight safely, refer to the daily nutritional goals table in the USDA's 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It outlines the 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 nutrition should include:

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

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.


  • One cup of plain coffee or tea
  • One hardboiled egg
  • One orange
  • One slice of whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon almond butter


  • One cup of nonfat milk as a beverage
  • One-half cup sliced carrots
  • Two slices of whole-grain bread, 2 ounces sliced of roast beef, one slice of Swiss cheese, and 1 tablespoon of mustard



Nutrition Information

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


  • 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


  • A salad with 1 cup of spinach, 1 ounce of feta, one-half cup cherry tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (no oil)
  • One diet soda
  • 3 ounces baked salmon (no oil)


  • One cup cooked brown rice
  • One small 100% whole grain dinner roll
  • One 6-ounce serving of peeled shrimp with one small diced green pepper sautéed in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and garlic
  • Water with a lemon or lime slice


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

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

The reason the sugar count is so high is because it includes sugars naturally found in these foods. This is different from added sugars in foods, which the USDA recommends keeping below 10% of your total calorie intake, though some experts, including the advisory committee for the USDA guidelines and the American Heart Association, recommend a lower limit of no more than 6% of daily calories.

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 level. 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, getting a referral to a registered dietitian for a personalized eating plan can be a helpful next step.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Heart Association. Federal dietary guidelines emphasize healthy eating habits but fall short on added sugars. Published December 29, 2020.

Additional Reading