Proper caloric intake is not just beneficial to weight loss goals, but is necessary for survival, efficiency and optimal function in daily life. I think it is important to approach the topic of caloric intake with a diversity of goals in mind: caloric and nutrient intake for health, weight maintenance, weight loss, and/or weight gain. Like exercise, diet and nutrition is not "one size fits all," but is unique to each individual.
To make sense of caloric intake and the utilization of nutrition and calories as a tool for desirable dietary habits and goals there are a few foundational concepts that are universal to all people, and can be of great aid when fine-tuning your diet, establishing new habits, and integrating dietary changes with a new and/or existing fitness regimen.
The energy balancing equation brings insight to the balancing act calories have on weight. Simply put, an excess of calories that outweighs the energy the body expends results in weight gain, when caloric intake is less than the energy the body uses there will be weight loss, and when caloric intake equals energy used by the body, weight will remain unchanged (Hoeger & Hoeger, 2013, p. 160). With an understanding of this concept, even a novice can begin to design a weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance plan. A quick recap for those who want to lose weight: eat less and do more; for those who want to gain weight: eat more, but keep it clean this is not a free ride for low-nutrient density foods and integrate more movement and physical activity in your day to help create a caloric deficit; and if you like your weight right where it is, continue to eat nutrient-dense packed meals that equal your total daily energy expenditure.
Hoeger & Hoeger (2013) stress the importance of maintaining lean body mass when on a diet that limits your daily calorie intake, and offers a special word of caution when restricting a diet to 1500 calories or less (p. 162). 1500 calories a day is not recommended and is the lower end of the calorie intake continuum for weight loss. An individual who consumes 1500 calories a day or less is at risk for not taking in the proper amount of nutrients required for a functional and efficient body, and is likely to need to supplement their diet with multivitamin or other supplements. It is the best practice for individuals seeking a low-calorie diet like this or additional supplementation to consult with their medical professional.
Hoeger, W.W. & Hoeger, S.A. (2013). Fitness and Wellness (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.