The CDC recommends losing 1 to 2 pounds weekly.

Are 1,250 Calories Too Much?

by Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.

Diets containing 1,250 calories daily help most women shed excess body weight. Eating 1,250 calories a day is not too much for weight loss, unless you’re obese and your doctor recommends you follow a very low-calorie diet. Once you’ve achieved your goal weight, 1,250 calories is too few for healthy weight maintenance in women.

Weight Loss Calorie Needs

Many sedentary women weighing 164 pounds or less require 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily for successful weight loss, suggests the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. However, the NHLBI also notes that women who exercise and those weighing 165 pounds or more often need 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily to safely, but effective, shed extra pounds. If you’re not losing weight eating 1,250 calories a day, try a 1,000-calorie plan, and if you’re losing more than 2 pounds weekly, try boosting your intake to 1,600 calories a day.


If your doctor recommends you consume a very low-calorie diet to rapidly lose weight, 1,250 calories is too many. According to Weight-control Information Network, VLCDs contain 800 or fewer calories a day, can help you lose up to 5 pounds weekly, are used for obese individuals at risk for obesity-related health problems and should only be used under a doctor’s supervision. VLCDs often contain meal-replacement shakes or bars -- when recommended by a doctor.

Weight Maintenance

Once you’ve reached your goal weight, 1,250 calories a day is too few to healthfully maintain your new body weight long term. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 estimate that most sedentary women need 1,600 to 2,000 calories daily, moderately active women require 1,800 to 2,200 calories and women who exercise regularly need 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day to maintain their body weights. Even if you’re sedentary and only weigh 115 pounds, you still require 1,495 calories daily to maintain your weight, according to Harvard Medical School.

Children’s Calorie Needs

Eating 1,250 calories a day is appropriate for some young children. For example, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest moderately active and active children ages 2 to 3 need 1,000 to 1,400 calories daily, and sedentary kids ages 4 to 8 require 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day to maintain healthy body weights -- and grow and develop properly. Older children will likely lose weight eating 1,240 calories daily, which is not a good idea unless your pediatrician recommends it.

About the Author

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.

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