If you're eating 1,300 calories a day but think you have plateaued, you might be eating more than you think. You can also try consulting a weight-loss calculator to check your progress, or ramp up your exercise routine to push through the plateau.
Finding yourself struggling to lose weight on 1,300 calories a day can mean you may be eating more than you think — or you may have hit a plateau you need to work through. Follow a printable 1,300 calorie meal plan to keep yourself accountable.
How to Lose Weight
In order to safely and effectively lose weight, you need to operate under a calorie deficit, which means burning more calories than you consume. You can do this by decreasing how much you eat, increasing how much you exercise or a combination of the two.
Crash diets that promise rapid weight-loss results can be dangerous and ineffective, so stay away from any trendy fad diets that promise miraculous results. Safe weight loss that you can actually maintain in the long term takes time.
Calculating the right calorie deficit for you depends on your current weight, your weight-loss goal, any health issues you have and your activity levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, you need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of weight. That means if you decrease your daily calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories, you can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.
If it's the right amount for you, use an online weight-loss calculator for a 1,300-calorie diet to see what kind of progress you can expect. For meal ideas, look up a printable 1,300-calorie meal plan or browse recipes for low-calorie ideas.
Planning your weekly exercise goals can also be helpful for weight loss. Be realistic about how much you can work out and how many calories you can realistically expect to burn, and find activities that you actually enjoy.
If weightlifting or running isn't your thing, consider indoor cycling, yoga, going for brisk walks or swimming. See what you can fit into your schedule, and don't overdo it on the exercise — you can easily injure yourself if you do too much, too soon.
How to Count Calories
Once you've figured out your ideal daily calorie intake, there are a variety of tools you can use to stick with it. One option is a food diary, so you can note what you're eating. The more specific you can be, the better. As well as calories, try writing down the nutritional info for your meals and snacks, your portion sizes, what time you ate and your mood at the time.
A food diary can help you figure out any patterns and evaluate where your meal plan is lacking. For example, if you notice that you often snack when you're stressed, look for ways to cut down on emotional eating. Plus, keeping a food diary can help you ensure that your diet is balanced and your macros seem appropriate for your goals.
It's easier to stick to eating 1,300 calories a day when you've planned your meals and snacks ahead of time. Research printable 1,300-calorie meal plans and find a variety of options that work for you, then make a shopping list before you head to the grocery store each week. If you meal prep your food and snacks, you'll be less likely to deviate from your diet plan.
Try using MyPlate for help counting calories. You can use the app to log your food intake and workouts on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Android. The app offers food suggestions and meal plans, customizable with any food restrictions or allergies, to keep you on track.
Is 1,300 Calories Enough?
The USDA recommended calorie intake is between 1,600 to 2,400 calories each day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories each day for adult men. Sedentary individuals will require fewer calories than moderately active people (defined as the equivalent of walking 1.5-3 miles per day at 3-4 miles an hour) or active people (who walk more than 3 miles a day at 3-4 miles per hour, or equivalent activity).
Because 1,300 calories is a low intake for many active people, it's possible that eating more will provide better weight loss results. If you are failing to lose weight on 1,300 calories, try increasing your calorie intake for a few days or weeks to see how you feel.
Another consideration: Are you eating nutrient-rich foods, or relying too much on empty calories? The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health stresses that the nutritional quality of your meals matter just as much as caloric value. A 1,300 calorie diet may not provide your body with the nutrients it needs to build muscle and burn food for duel.
Weight Plateaus on 1,300 Calories
If you've been following a 1,300-calorie-per-day diet but have lost no weight, it's possible that you're actually eating much more than you expected. This is very common, because if you're not accurately weighing or logging your food, you might underestimate what you're consuming.
Try tracking your calories for a few days, using an app or simply keeping notes on your phone. You can also plug your information into a 1,300-calorie diet weight-loss calculator to see if you're losing weight slower (or faster) than you should be.
In the event that you originally lost a lot of weight eating 1,300 calories per day, but your progress has slowed, you're experiencing a weight-loss plateau. Northwestern University explains that weight-loss plateaus are normal and even expected. That's because it's very common for you to rapidly lose weight during the first few weeks of dieting as your body uses up stores of glycogen for fuel.
Glycogen is a carb stored in your liver that holds a lot of water. When your body uses up the glycogen, it also gets rid of the water, causing fast weight loss. However, as you continue dieting, your body burns muscle as well as fat for fuel and your metabolism (the process of converting food into energy) slows down.
Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), there are two ways to tackle a weight-loss plateau. You can either reduce your caloric intake even more, or increase how much you're exercising.
The ACE warns against going much lower than 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,500 calories per day for men, because you may not get enough nutrients, and a very low-calorie diet can be difficult to stick with in the long term. If you're already consuming somewhere around that amount, ACE recommends upping your exercise and introducing more strength training to your routine rather than further decreasing your calorie intake.
That said, everyone is different, so you can discuss an appropriate calorie intake and exercise routine with your doctor or dietitian if you're concerned that your weight loss has stalled.
One final consideration: if you are cutting calories but no longer losing weight, evaluate your progress and see how you feel. It's entirely possible that you don't truly need to lose any further weight, and can increase your calorie intake to an appropriate maintenance level.
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- Northwestern University: "Overcoming the Weight-Loss Plateau"
- American Council on Exercise: "Weight Loss Plateaus and Pitfalls"
- USDA: "Choose My Plate"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "The Best Diet: Quality Counts"