If you’ve cut your calories down to 1500 a day and you’re not losing weight, you’re probably frustrated, disappointed, and likely confused as to why you’re not seeing results on the scale.
So, why are you not losing weight when eating 1500 calories a day? The only way to lose weight is by creating a caloric deficit, so if you aren’t losing weight on 1500 calories a day, you’re consuming too many calories. This could be a result of not measuring and tracking your food accurately or not burning enough calories per day to create a deficit.
Weight loss can only happen when you burn more calories than you consume. No matter what diet you choose, if you eat more calories than you’re burning, you will not lose weight.
Consuming just 1500 calories each day and not losing weight can be frustrating. Working hard and not seeing results is always disappointing. However, if you can find out why you aren’t losing weight on a 1500-calorie diet, you can make the necessary changes to spark weight loss.
In this article, I will discuss:
- The 6 reasons you’re not losing weight on a 1500-calorie diet
- Steps to take if you’re not losing weight eating 1500 calories per day
- Realistic results you can expect from eating 1500 calories each day
6 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight Eating 1500 Calories Per Day
You won’t lose weight eating 1500 calories per day if:
- You’re Not Properly Tracking Your Food Intake
- You’re Burning Less Than 1500 Calories
- Your Metabolism Has Slowed Down
- You Aren’t Getting Enough Quality Sleep
- You’re Losing Fat But Gaining Muscle
- You Have An Underlying Health Issue
1. You’re Not Properly Tracking Your Food Intake
The main reason you may not be losing weight eating 1500 calories a day is that you’re not properly tracking your food intake and just don’t know it. If you’re not actually eating 1500 calories per day, then it would make sense that you aren’t losing weight.
Tracking your food intake is difficult – even dieticians are unable to accurately track what they’re eating. Studies have shown food tracking estimations can be off by as much as 700 calories, which is nearly half of your 1500-calorie diet!
If you think you’re eating 1500 calories but not weighing and measuring your food, you really have no idea how many calories you’re actually consuming. This is why I recommend using an app like MacroFactor to help you accurately track your calories and macronutrient intake.
MacroFactor has the largest verified food database and is the most reliable calorie counting app on the market. Using this link gets you an extra week on your free trial (2 weeks total). Cancel any time before your trial ends without being charged.
Don’t forget about beverages, condiments, and sauces when tracking your food intake. To track as accurately as possible, you must weigh and measure everything you eat and drink because every calorie counts.
2. You’re Burning Less Than 1500 Calories
If you are carefully measuring and tracking your 1500 calories each day and not losing weight, it could be because you are not burning as many calories as you think. To lose weight on a 1500-calorie diet, you must burn more than 1500 calories each day.
The number of calories you burn each day is referred to as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Four variables are considered when calculating your TDEE:
- Calories burned through life-sustaining functions like breathing
- Calories burned by digesting the food you eat
- Calories burned through exercise
- Calories burned through non-exercise movements like fidgeting
Unfortunately, knowing your TDEE is not as simple as looking at your fitness tracker. Research has shown that fitness trackers just aren’t that accurate when it comes to measuring how many calories you burn. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to be off by over 10%.
So if you aren’t losing weight while eating 1500 calories each day, chances are you need to increase your TDEE because your TDEE needs to be more than your caloric intake to lose weight.
While it’s difficult to increase your TDEE by increasing the number of calories you burn through life-sustaining functions, you can increase your TDEE by:
- exercising more (adding an extra workout)
- moving more throughout the day (increasing your daily steps)
- increasing the thermic effect of food (increasing your protein and fiber consumption)
- increasing your muscle mass (start strength training)
Related Article: Eating Below TDEE & Not Losing Weight (8 Reasons Why)
3. Your Metabolism Has Slowed Down
Your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn per day while at rest) is based in part on your body weight. If you’ve lost weight, chances are your basal metabolic rate has gone down, and you are not burning as many calories day-to-day as you used to.
Believe it or not, your body actively fights against weight loss. One of the first things your body does when you reduce your caloric intake is slow down your metabolism to preserve your energy stores (i.e. body fat). Therefore, the longer you diet, the more your metabolism slows.
Weight loss plans must be adjusted as time goes on and your body weight changes. Perhaps initially, you were able to lose weight by eating 1500 calories, but now weight loss has stalled because your body has adapted to this caloric intake by preserving energy rather than burning it.
To continue to see weight loss, you need to adjust your plan. Sometimes this means cutting calories by an additional 100 to 300 a day or adding more exercise.
However, suppose a lower caloric intake is too difficult to maintain or is causing adverse effects like fatigue, extreme hunger, or hair loss. In that case, you need to increase your calories instead to balance your hormones. To increase your calories out of a deficit, I suggest reverse dieting or going “all in”.
4. You Aren’t Getting Enough Quality Sleep
Another reason you may not lose weight on 1500 calories a day is that you’re not getting enough quality sleep. Not sleeping enough can hinder your recovery between workouts and can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Not getting enough sleep, suffering from insomnia, and even having to work shift work contribute to metabolic disorders associated with weight gain and obesity. These sleep-related issues affect your weight by altering the timing and amount of food you eat, disrupting your energy balance, causing inflammation, and impairing glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
In other words, a lack of quality sleep affects your normal eating patterns and causes you to eat more than you typically would if you were well-rested.
Not only could sleep affect your progress by causing you to eat more calories, but according to this study, those who slept an hour less than normal while in a calorie deficit were more likely to lose muscle mass than fat mass. Losing muscle mass will decrease your metabolism further, making it even harder to lose weight over time.
Therefore, if you are eating 1500 calories each day and not losing weight, a lack of quality sleep could be your issue. Try being more consistent with what time you go to bed each night and allow yourself to sleep for 7-9 hours.
5. You’re Losing Fat But Gaining Muscle
If you’re eating 1500 calories a day and not losing weight, you might think that your body isn’t responding; however, you could be losing fat and gaining muscle at the same rate, which is causing your measurements to change while your body weight remains the same.
Though this is more common in individuals who are relatively new to fitness, it is possible for you to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously, which is why I encourage my clients to use multiple measures of progress rather than just the scale.
My favorite way to track progress is with a tape measure. The first thing I have all my clients do is measure their waistline and hips in centimeters (inches are too large to notice weekly changes).
Regardless of what’s going on with the scale, if these measurements are decreasing, you’re losing fat and your body composition is improving.
However, suppose your measurements and the scale are both staying stagnant. In that case, it’s safe to say that progress has stalled, and it’s time to adjust your plan by either decreasing calories, increasing activity, or reverse dieting.
6. You Have An Underlying Health Issue
If you aren’t losing weight while eating 1500 calories a day, it could be due to underlying health issues. Some medical conditions and/or medications can promote weight gain and hinder weight loss.
If everything else is in order – you’re eating the right amount, burning more than 1500 calories a day, and getting quality sleep each night – and you’re still not losing weight, it might be time to speak with your doctor.
There may be a health issue at play, such as chronic stress, depression, or hypothyroidism, affecting your appetite or metabolism that’s preventing you from losing weight.
- Related Article: How To Eat 1500 Calories A Day & Feel Full (9 Tips)
Steps To Take If You’re Not Losing Weight Eating 1500 Calories Per Day
Step 1: Carefully track your food
Step 2: Calculate your TDEE
Step 3: Create a larger deficit
Step 4: Improve your sleep
Step 5: Speed up your metabolism
Step 6: Seek assistance
Step 1: Carefully Track Your Food
To ensure you’re actually eating 1500 calories a day, you need to weigh, measure, and track your food intake every day – don’t forget sauces, drinks, condiments, and all the easy-to-miss calories you’re consuming.
It’s important to work on dialing in your diet so that you are as close to 1500 calories as possible each day.
For example, if you eyeball a serving of peanut butter, what you think is one serving (1 tbsp) with 100 calories might actually be 2.5 servings with 250 calories.
Sometimes getting great results requires accuracy and dedication because eating “around 1500 calories” is not the same as actually eating 1500 calories. If you are inconsistent with your diet, eating 1400 calories one day and 1800 the next, it’s hard to see results, and you won’t feel your best.
Once you’re eating 1500 calories (give or take 50 calories) every day for a week or two, you can eliminate overeating as a reason you’re not losing weight and move on to the next step.
Step 2: Calculate Your TDEE
Once you’re sure you are eating 1500 calories each day, the next step is to calculate how many calories you’re burning on a daily basis, aka your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
To find your TDEE, you’ll need to add these four variables together:
- Basal Metabolic Rate
- The number of calories you burn through life-sustaining functions like breathing
- Thermic Effect of Food
- The number of calories you burn by digesting the different foods you eat
- Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
- The number of calories you burn through deliberate exercise
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
- The number of calories you burn through a non-exercise activity like typing or fidgeting
To complete this calculation, head over to this article, which teaches you how to calculate your TDEE.
If your TDEE is less than 1500 calories, you will not lose weight. You need to ensure your TDEE is at least 1700 calories – creating a caloric deficit of at least 200 calories each day – if you want to lose weight by eating 1500 calories a day.
Step 3: Create A Deficit
If you’re not burning enough calories to create a calorie deficit to lose weight while eating 1500 calories a day, then the next step is to decrease your calories further.
Even though 1500 calories may have been enough initially to create a calorie deficit, if you’re not seeing progress, it is no longer a calorie deficit.
Therefore, you will need to either decrease your caloric intake by 100 to 300 calories or increase your activity by 100 to 300 calories to create a calorie deficit.
For example, you could drop your calories to 1300 (-200 calories) while maintaining your current TDEE, or continue to eat 1500 calories and add a 10-minute walk five days a week (+150 to 200 calories).
Step 4: Improve Your Sleep
Don’t throw away all your hard work tracking 1500 calories each day by staying up all night and hindering your ability to lose weight. Commit to getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night to try to spark weight loss.
If you struggle to sleep at night, cut back on caffeine – especially after 12pm – and turn the screens off at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. Blackout curtains can also make a world of difference, as even the slightest light entering your bedroom at night can affect your sleep.
If you’re still struggling to get a good quality sleep after incorporating these tips, talk to your doctor to see if any underlying issues are affecting your sleep.
Step 5: Speed Up Your Metabolism
If you’re still not losing weight despite decreasing your calories further and optimizing your sleep, then your metabolism is likely too slow and needs to be sped up.
The longer you diet, the fewer calories you eat, and the less you weigh, the slower your metabolism gets. This is part of what makes weight loss so hard – your body is actively fighting against it the entire time.
When your body senses food is scarce, it wants to hold on to every bit of energy (i.e. body fat) it can. Sometimes to ignite weight loss, you need to let your body know that food is not scarce, and it’s okay to let go of those energy reserves.
You can kind of trick your body into revving up your metabolism by strategically eating more. This is accomplished by incorporating refeeds or diet breaks, which are different methods of increasing your calorie intake to speed up your metabolism temporarily.
If refeeds and diet breaks aren’t producing the results you’re looking for, then it may be time to consider reverse dieting to speed your metabolism back up to make weight loss more successful in the future.
Step 6: Seek Assistance
If you’ve tried everything and simply cannot lose weight eating 1500 calories a day, it may be time to speak with a nutrition coach. Sometimes, you just need to call in the expert.
Having a coach to walk with you through your weight loss journey – someone who has walked this same path with many other individuals – can be life-changing.
- If you’ve tried everything and still find yourself struggling, reach out to one of our nutrition coaches for a complimentary consultation.
Realistic Results You Can Expect From Eating 1500 Calories Per Day
1500 calories a day is a relatively low intake for most people; therefore, most people should expect to lose weight if they’re consistently eating 1500 calories a day. However, the amount of progress that is achieved will depend on individual factors.
Depending on age, weight, height, and lifestyle, most women require between 1600 and 2400 calories a day to maintain their weight. Most men need between 2000 and 3000, putting a daily intake of 1500 calories below maintenance for almost everyone.
The amount of progress you achieve eating 1500 calories a day will largely depend on your TDEE because those who have a higher TDEE will lose more weight eating 1500 calories a day than those who have a lower TDEE.
If you are a woman who requires 2000 calories each day (i.e. your TDEE is 2000 calories), it will take roughly one week to lose one pound. Losing a pound requires creating a total deficit of approximately 3500 calories.
1500 daily caloric intake – 2000 calories (TDEE) = 500 calorie deficit
500 calorie deficit X 7 days per week = 3500 calorie weekly deficit
3500 calorie deficit = 1lb loss per week
If you are a man who requires 2500 calories each day (i.e. your TDEE is 2500 calories), you should expect to lose around two pounds in one week.
1500 daily caloric intake – 2500 calories (TDEE) = 1000 calorie deficit
1000 calorie deficit X 7 days per week = 7000 calorie weekly deficit
7000 calorie deficit (3500 X 2) = 2lb loss per week
If you’re losing more than 2lbs per week while eating 1500 calories a day, then you should increase your caloric intake or decrease your activity until you’re losing between 0.5 lbs to 2 lbs per week.
Losing weight too quickly increases the risk of muscle loss, negatively affecting your metabolism and overall physique.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will You Lose Weight Eating 1500 Calories A Day?
Most people should expect to lose weight when eating 1500 calories a day. Only those who are under 120 pounds or those who are very sedentary may struggle to lose weight on a 1500-calorie diet.
How Much Weight Can You Lose On A 1500-Calorie Diet?
How much weight you lose on a 1500-calorie diet depends on how many calories you burn each day. It takes a deficit of approximately 3500 calories to lose one pound. If your maintenance level of calories is 2000, then it would take you one week to lose one pound on a 1500-calorie diet.
About The Author
Riley Nadoroznick is a strength, conditioning, and nutrition coach and the owner of Conviction Fitness.