A consistent 1,400-calorie-per-day diet plan yields weight loss for most adults. How much you lose per week, however, depends on the number of calories you burn daily. A deficit of about 500 calories per day yields a weekly weight loss of approximately 1 pound.
Although 1,400 calories is adequate for many people, you must conscientiously construct your meals so you don't feel deprived or miss out on essential nutrients. Active adults who exercise an hour or more most days may find 1,400 calories a day to be too little to fuel their needs.
1,400 Calories for Weight Loss
A 1,400-calorie diet is relatively restrictive but won't yield the same weight loss for everyone. A sedentary 50-year-old woman needs just about 1,600 calories per day to maintain her weight and will only achieve a 200-calorie-per-day deficit when consuming 1,400 calories.
This results in a loss of about 0.4 pound per week. At the other extreme, an average active 20-year-old man who needs 3,000 calories per day to maintain his weight could lose as much as 3.2 pounds a week with the 1,600-calorie-per-day deficit this diet plan provides.
Recognize, though, that losing more than 2 pounds per week consistently is not recommended because it often means you're losing muscle along with fat. Faster weight loss is less sustainable, and you're more likely to gain lost weight back.
Choosing Healthy Foods
If you just consider calories when planning your meals for 1,400 calories per day, you are likely to miss other important functions of food. A holistic medical specialist, Mark Hyman, M.D., maintains that not all calories are created equal. For example, you won't get the nutrients you need if you down a 600-calorie cinnamon roll for breakfast, 400 calories worth of chips for lunch and a 400-calorie fast-food burger for dinner — even if you are meeting your calorie goal. The quality of your food also plays a role in whether you feel satisfied, energized and healthy.
The Dietary Guidelines, 2015-2020, recommends that a person following a 1,400-calorie-per-day plan consume 5 ounces of protein per day, 2.5 cups of dairy, 5 ounces of grains, 1 1/2 cups of fruit, 2 cups of vegetables and no more than 5 teaspoons of oil from healthy, unsaturated fat sources. Opt for unprocessed versions of these foods, such as lean meats, unsweetened yogurt and milk, whole grains, fresh or frozen vegetables, and fruits without sauce and/or added sugar.
Sample 1,400-Calorie Meal Plan
One day of a 1,400-calorie meal plan may begin with a poached egg, a 2 1/2-ounce whole-wheat bagel, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and an apple. At lunch, have a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti mixed with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 cup of steamed zucchini, 1/2 cup of steamed red pepper, 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 1/2 cups of 1 percent milk on the side. At dinner, have 3 ounces of flank steak grilled alongside a small baked sweet potato and 3/4 cup of steamed broccoli. As a snack, between meals or after dinner, enjoy 1 cup of plain, low-fat yogurt with 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries.
Another day might start with 1 cup of shredded wheat, 1 cup of 1 percent milk and a small banana. Lunchtime consists of a salad made with 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup of sliced cucumbers and five cherry tomatoes topped with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, 2 ounces of baked chicken breast, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil and lemon juice. For dinner, broil 3 ounces of salmon and have it with 1/2 cup of wild rice and a cup of steamed peas and carrots. Snacks include 1 cup of plain kefir, 3/4 cup of fresh raspberries, 1 ounce of cheddar cheese and eight cracked-wheat crackers.
If You're Not Losing Weight
If you're not achieving your weight-loss goals with a 1,400-calorie diet, don't automatically assume you should eat even fewer calories. Registered dietitian Joanne Larsen notes on her website, AsktheDietian.com, that you should not eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day as this can lead to nutritional and energy deficits. Be honest about eating the recommended portions to meet the 1,400-calorie goal. A kitchen scale and set of measuring cups go a long way in keeping you on track.
If your health allows it and your doctor approves, increase your physical activity, too, to burn more calories daily and create a greater deficit. A daily 30-minute walk, swimming laps, gardening or calisthenics increases your calorie burn by 150 to 300 calories per day, depending on your size and exercise intensity. Exercise also affords numerous other benefits that promote wellness and a healthy body.
- ChooseMyPlate: What Is MyPlate?
- Dietary Guidelines, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs By Age, Sex and Physical Activity
- Ask the Dietian: Overweight and Weight Loss
- Dr. Mark Hyman: Why Calories Don't Matter
- Harvard Health Publishing: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Dietary Guidelines, 2015-2020: Appendix 3. USDA Food Patterns: Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern