How to eat 3000 calories a day

The average adult needs to eat roughly 2000 – 2500 calories per day. There are of course a number of different factors that determine each individuals daily calorie requirement. These factors are current weight, height, age, gender and activity levels.

If you are happy with your current weight, you can use our calorie calculator here to get a rough estimate of how many calories you should be eating daily.

For example a 30 year old man who weighs 65 kg, is 165 cm tall and exercises 3 – 5 days a week will need to consume approximately 2400 calories to maintain his weight.

A female of the same age, weight, height and activity levels will need to consume approximately 2100 calories to maintain her weight.

To put on weight, both would need to increase their calorie intake. If all other factors are left constant, an increase in calories will lead to an increase in weight.

Is 3000 calories too much?

Michael Phelps, the famous Olympic swimmer claimed in 2008 that he would eat 8,000 – 10,000 calories per day. However experts believe he probably ate around 6,000 calories a day and then used supplements to obtain an additional 2,000 calories. Phelps would eat pancakes, pasta and pizza to reach his calorie goals.

Another example is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who eats 5000+ calories a day, with foods including fish, eggs, oatmeal and sweet potato.

Both men listed above have different physiques, with Michael Phelps being lean and toned and The Rock being large and muscular. However, what they both have in common is that they are extremely active individuals, spending many hours of the day exercising.

This is crucial. You can increase your calorie intake but if you are not active enough, those extra calories will be turned into fat and lead to an unhealthy type of weight gain. On the other hand, if you eat the correct foods and get adequate exercise, those calories will be turned into muscle, giving you a lean or muscular physique.

So no, 3000 calories is not too much, provided you are not already obese and that you also lead a very active lifestyle.

Macro nutrients

You need to make sure that you get adequate amounts of each of the 3 macro nutrients in your 3000 calorie diet. These 3 macro nutrients are protein, carbohydrate & fat and all 3 are required by your body for different processes.

Your end goals will determine how much of each macro nutrient you should be getting, but on average your diet should consist of around 35 – 45% carbohydrate, 25 – 35% protein and 20 – 35% fat.

Keep in mind that protein and carbohydrate provide 4 calories per gram, whereas fat provides 9 calories per gram.

Here is a quick overview of how your body uses each of these 3 macro nutrients:

  • Dietary protein is a source of the 9 essential amino acids your body needs to function, which it cannot create itself. Protein is used to repair damaged muscle tissue and is also found in your hair, nails and red blood cells. If excess protein is eaten, it is converted either into glucose or fat.
  • Fat is used as an energy source in the body. Fat that is eaten is broken down into fatty acids and then used by cells that require energy. Any fatty acids that are not used up are stored in fat cells.
  • Carbohydrates that you eat are broken down into glucose and are also used as a source of energy. Only a limited amount of carbohydrate can be stored in the body, so your body uses it before it uses fat, as an energy source. Any extra glucose is converted into fat and stored away.

Foods you should eat

foods_you_should_eat

Whenever possible, you want to try eat whole natural foods, as these are the most nutritious. Sure, junk food contains a lot of calories, but at the same time it is full of processed fat and sugar!

Our healthy food finder tool allows you to sort foods by the number of calories they contain. The number of calories per food varies greatly. For example, 100 g of macadamia nuts contain 718 calories whereas the same weight of tomatoes contains only 18 calories.

You will quickly realise that nuts and seeds are the most calorie dense foods. This is because they contain a lot of fat. Grains such as oats and quinoa are rich in carbohydrates & protein and also contain a lot of calories. The same goes for beans. Here is a list of calorie dense foods (calories per 100 g) :

  • Macadamia nuts – 718
  • Pecans – 691
  • Pine nuts – 673
  • Brazil nuts -659
  • Almonds – 579
  • Pumpkin seeds – 559
  • Flax seeds – 534
  • Oats – 389
  • Brown rice – 362
  • Lima beans – 338
  • Kidney beans – 333
  • Mackerel – 205
  • Avocado – 160
  • Tuna – 144
  • Salmon – 142
  • Chicken – 120

The nuts and seeds are high in fat, the grains high in carbohydrate and the meat high in protein. Combining all of these and other similar foods will allow you to reach your calorie goals whilst at the same time making sure you are getting all the required macro nutrients.

Eating an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables is also important. Even though they are generally low in calories, they are important sources of vitamins and minerals, both of which are needed by your body to keep it healthy.

Splitting up your meals

Splitting up your food intake into 6 or 8 meals per day will be much easier than eating three large meals, each containing 1000 calories. 3000 calories split over 6 meals is 500 calories per meal, which is much more manageable.

You should aim to eat every 2 to 3 hours, depending on your schedule. To be able to eat 6 meals a day will probably mean that you will need to prepare meals beforehand, such as on the weekend and then freeze them until ready to eat. This is a common practice among bodybuilders.

One easy way to consume extra calories is by drinking them, particularly in the form of smoothies. For example our drink some pink, packed with proatein and a shot of vitamin E smoothies are around 500 calories each and could be drunk as one of your 6 meals.

Recipes

Recipes can be a godsend when trying to eat 3000 calories everyday. Having a variety of recipes to refer to is a good idea because this helps to make eating an enjoyable activity. Bodybuilding cookbooks like this one can be very handy.

Sample meal plan

Meal 1 Calories Protein (g) Carbohydrate (g) Fat (g)
3 large eggs, cooked however you like 270 18 3 21
2 slices of wholemeal bread 140 7 24 2
Avocado butter 70 1 4 7
Total 480 26 31 30

 

Meal 2 Calories Protein (g) Carbohydrate (g) Fat (g)
500 calorie smoothie (macros will vary largely, depending on ingredients used) 500 20 50 20
Total 500 20 50 20

 

Meal 3 Calories Protein (g) Carbohydrate (g) Fat (g)
Grilled salmon 230 25 0 14
1 serving of brown rice  220 5 45 2
Steamed vegetables 150 5 23 4
Total 600 35 68 20

 

Meal 4 Calories Protein (g) Carbohydrate (g) Fat (g)
1 cup of cottage cheese 220 25 8 10
Banana 120 2 31 0
1 serving of walnuts 185 4 4 18
Total 525 31 43 28

 

Meal 5 Calories Protein (g) Carbohydrate (g) Fat (g)
2 chicken breasts, grilled 280 54 0 6
Sweet potato mash 250 4 58 0
Steamed vegetables 150 5 23 4
Total 680 63 81 10

 

Meal 6 Calories Protein (g) Carbohydrate (g) Fat (g)
1 serving of yogurt 140 14 19 0
1 serving of strawberries 50 1 11 0
Total 190 15 30 0

 

Calories Protein (g) Carbohydrate (g) Fat (g)
Grand Total 2975 190 303 108

Conclusion

Managing to eat 3000 calories a day does not have to be hard. You will require a little bit of discipline to eat at certain times of the day and may also need to prepare meals beforehand. But with some good planning it is very possible!