Most people will lose weight on a daily diet of 1,500 calories, which is the total calorie count for all the food pictured above. If you want to be even more precise about cutting calories, this simple calculation will give you a daily calorie goal that can help you lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Calculate your calorie goal
YOUR CURRENT WEIGHT X 12 = calories needed to maintain your weight
To lose 1 pound/week: Cut 500 calories/day
To lose 2 pounds/week: Cut 1,000 calories/day
Note: For healthy weight loss, we don't advise losing more than two pounds per week. If you calculate a daily calorie goal that's less than 1,200, set your calorie goal at 1,200 calories. Below that, it's hard to meet your nutrient needs—or feel satisfied enough to stick with a plan.
To create your own 1,500-calorie day, browse the breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner recipes below.
For breakfast, choose one of these 300- to 350-calorie breakfast options.
Aim to make lunch 325 to 400 calories. Try some of these options.
Add in a couple of healthy snacks. How about some of these options...
For questions about the daily calorie calculation: This formula is used in many clinical weight loss trials—and, it's true—it assumes that the person using the equation is sedentary. If you're an active person and you're finding that your result (say 1200 calories) is too low, bump it up gradually to one that feels satisfying to you. The point is NOT to starve yourself. Most people will lose weight on a 1500 calorie diet, some on an even higher caloric level. The best gauge for whether you're at the right level is how satisfied you feel (you shouldn't be hungry all day!) and whether you're losing weight. If you're losing weight on 1800 a day and you feel great, stick with that. The calculation is just a suggested starting point.
—Nicci Micco, M.S., Deputy Editor of Nutrition