What Does 1,500 Calories a Day Look Like?

What Does 1,500 Calories a Day Look Like?By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine

Did you know that one-third of New Year's resolutions pertain to weight, diet and health? It's true. Unfortunately, the majority of us are successful for no more than one week. You're 10 times as likely to keep your healthy-eating resolutions, however, when you set an explicit goal--like, say, by following a meal plan.

Related: Lose Up to 2 Pounds This Week with This Meal Plan

Start your weight-loss resolution off on the right foot--and successfully lose weight--using this 1,500-calorie meal plan (a calorie level that most people will lose weight on). If you want to be even more precise, click here to find out how many calories you need to eat to lose weight.

A Sample 1,500-Calorie Day of Meals:

Breakfast
6 oz. nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries
1 medium banana
Calories = 289

Don't like this breakfast idea? You can find more ideas for breakfasts under 350 calories here. Or choose something on your own that falls between 300 to 350 calories.

Morning snack: 2 Tbsp. unsalted dry-roasted peanuts & 2 clementines. Calories = 177

Lunch
Avocado sandwich: Mix 1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise with 2 finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes; spread on 1 multigrain sandwich thin. Top with ½ avocado, 2 oz. low-fat Swiss cheese and 2 tomato slices. Calories = 370

Overall, aim to make your lunch 350 to 400 calories. Here are a few more 400-calorie lunch ideas.

Afternoon snack: ¼ cup Black-Eyed Pea Dip (recipe below) & 12 baby carrots. Calories = 137

Dinner
Spice-Rubbed Steak with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms (recipe below)
1 cup wild rice
1 cup steamed Brussels sprouts
Calories = 531

Dinner should fall between about 425 to 525 calories. You can find dozens of 500-calorie dinner ideas here.

Total daily calories = 1,504

Spice-Rubbed Steak with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms
Makes: 4 servings, 3 oz. steak & 1/2 cup mushrooms each
Active time: 40 minutes | Total: 40 minutes
Cost per serving: under $5.50

We love the flavor of wild mushrooms with seared spice-rubbed steak, but any type of mushroom will work. Like the rub in this steak recipe? Make a double, triple or quadruple batch to keep on hand for chicken and firm fish (swordfish, tuna and salmon) too. Store the steak rub in a jar or sealable plastic bag in your spice drawer for an instant dinner seasoning.

2 teaspoons ancho chile powder (see Tip)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/4 teaspoon, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided
1 pound flank steak, trimmed
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1/3 cup Madeira or dry sherry
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Position oven rack 3 to 4 inches below broiler; preheat broiler to high.
2. Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. Combine chile powder, cumin, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture evenly over both sides of steak and place on the prepared pan; let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in Madeira (or sherry) and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in parsley and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cover to keep warm.
4. Broil the steak 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak against the grain and serve with the mushrooms.

Per serving: 309 calories; 13 g fat (3 g sat, 7 g mono); 71 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 1 g added sugars; 29 g protein; 3 g fiber; 591 mg sodium; 969 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Zinc (35% daily value), Potassium (26% dv), Iron (17% dv).

Tip: Ancho chile powder, made from dried poblano peppers, has a mild, sweet spicy flavor. Look for it in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets. Other mildly spicy chile powder can be used in its place.

Black-Eyed Pea Dip
Makes: 1 1/3 cups
Active time: 10 minutes Total: 10 minutes

In this black-eyed pea dip recipe, black-eyed peas are pureed with extra-virgin olive oil, red-wine vinegar, garlic and thyme--a nice alternative to hummus. Try this protein-rich black-eyed pea dip with your favorite fresh vegetables or baked pita chips.

1 16-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Hot sauce to taste

Combine black-eyed peas, oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme and hot sauce in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Per tablespoon: 24 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 30 mg sodium; 27 mg potassium.

How do you eat every day to keep your calories in check?

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.

Brierley Wright

Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.


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