1600 calorie diet plan
The average adult needs approximately 2000 – 2500 calories per day for weight maintenance, so you would generally follow a 1600 calorie diet when trying to lose weight.
Consuming fewer calories than you require is known as being in a caloric deficit, which forces your body to use its fat stores as a source of energy. As a result you end up losing weight.
Your age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and overall goals determine the number of calories that you should be consuming. For most people who are trying to lose weight, 1600 calories would be a good amount. You can use the calculator below to estimate the number of calories that you should be consuming.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 40 year old lady who weighs 75 kg (165 lbs), is 170 cm tall and exercises 3 – 5 days a week should aim to consume 1350 – 1800 calories per day in order to lose weight. 1600 calories would be a good middle-ground for her.
If you feel that 1600 calories would be ideal for you, follow the tips below to ensure that your diet remains healthy and manageable.
Load up on vegetables
Out of all of the different types of foods out there, veggies are one of the most weight loss friendly. Because they are mainly made up of water, they are very low in calories. A cup of bell peppers for example only has around 30 calories. This means that you can eat large amounts of vegetables and still stay within your caloric limits.
Vegetables are also fiber rich foods and studies have shown that increasing fiber intake can help with weight loss. Fiber cannot be digested, but it does absorb water to form a thick gel that slowly moves through the digestive system, which can help to keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
As an added benefit, vegetables are packed full of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some of these nutrients are necessary for metabolic processes, so eating plenty of vegetables can help reduce your chances of suffering from deficiencies.
Aim to eat at least 3 servings of a variety of vegetables every day. These should include leafy greens, root and fruit vegetables. Thanks to their versatility, you can incorporate them into plenty of delicious recipes.
Eat some fruit
Like vegetables, most fruits are low in calories and high in nutrients. They also contain large amounts of naturally occurring sugars, which helps with energy level maintenance and can satisfy a sweet tooth if you have one.
There are plenty of low calorie fruits that you can eat, including watermelons, cantaloupes, blackberries, oranges, pineapples and guavas. Here are some of the best fruits to eat when trying to lose weight.
Fruits can be enjoyed on their own or together with other foods such as yogurt, nut butters and hummus. You can also include them in smoothies or use them to prepare healthy desserts such as mango sorbet.
Aim to eat around 2 – 3 servings of fruit per day.
Increase your protein intake
The 3 macro-nutrients are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Out of the 3, protein is the most filling. Studies have shown that it can reduce appetite whilst also boosting metabolism slightly. This means that it benefits both ends of the calories in – calories out equation.
This study found that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories resulted in 400+ fewer calories being consumed, which is a significant amount. Another study showed that obese men who followed a high protein diet had fewer obsessive thoughts about food and a reduced late night desire to snack.
If you eat breakfast, make sure to include protein. This study found that a protein rich breakfast regulates appetite hormones and helps you to better manage hunger later on in the day. Swapping carbohydrate rich foods such as cereal or bagels for eggs may assist with weight loss.
There are lots of protein rich foods available, whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan. Some examples include lentils, beans, quinoa, fish, unprocessed meat, nuts, seeds, dairy and some vegetables.
Studies seems to suggest that a protein intake of 25 – 30% of total calories is ideal for weight management. On a 1600 calorie diet, this would amount to 100 – 120 grams of protein per day.
Combining a protein rich diet with resistance training will help to reduce muscle mass loss, which can happen when you remain in a caloric deficit for extended periods of time.
Don’t fear fat
Weight for weight, fat does have more than twice the number of calories (9 calories per gram) that protein and carbs do (4 calories per gram). For this reason, fat is usually avoided because of the incorrect assumption that eating it will lead to weight gain.
The truth is that certain fat rich foods can actually be beneficial for weight management when eaten in moderation. Some good examples include avocados, olives, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.
Besides fat, these foods also contain large amounts of protein and / or fiber, which makes them highly filling. If you have eaten an avocado before, you know just how filling it is. The fat rich foods that you want to eat most of are those that have been processed very little and are as close to their natural state as possible.
The ones that you want to minimize consumption of or avoid entirely are those that have been highly processed. Some examples are junk foods such as cakes, cookies and potato chips. These foods are high in calories but they are neither particularly filling nor nutrient dense.
Eat complex carbs
Numerous studies have shown that low carbohydrate diets can greatly assist with weight loss, so this may be an approach you want to use. However it is important to keep in mind that low carbohydrate does not mean low carbohydrate.
Just like with fat, the carbohydrate rich foods that you want to eat most of are those that have undergone very little processing. These foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes and unrefined grains. All of these foods are sources of complex carbohydrates, which provide a slow and steady release of energy.
The carbohydrate rich foods to avoid are those that have been highly refined and one’s that have sugar artificially added to them. Once again, junk foods are a good example. When you eat these foods, they are digested very fast and provide large bursts of energy. This in turn causes blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and fall dramatically, which does your waistline no favours.
Carbohydrate requirements will differ from person to person, depending on age, activity levels and metabolism. As a general guideline, aim to eat 50 – 150 grams of carbs per day and adjust your intake depending on how your energy levels and mood are affected.
Drink plenty of water
Water is the ideal beverage for weight management and fits in well into any diet, no matter how many calories you are trying to consume. This is because it has 0 calories, so you can drink lots of it.
Some studies have shown that drinking water can benefit weight loss. In this study, some participants drank half a liter of water before each meal whilst others did not. After 12 weeks, the participants who drank water ended up losing 2 kg more on average.
One way to eliminate unnecessary calories from your diet is by swapping sugar sweetened beverages for water. For example, a can of cola has roughly 140 calories and 30+ g of sugar, but very few nutrients, making it a source of empty calories.
When you drink the cola, the 140 calories that it contains don’t have as large of an effect on your appetite as eating 2 large eggs (which also have 140 calories) would. As a result, you are likely to end up consuming more calories than you should later on in the day.
Frequent consumption of sugar sweetened beverages can also burden the liver because of their high fructose content, which in turn leads to fat storage.
Your primary choice of beverage should be plain water. You can also drink carbonated water and unsweetened teas & coffee occasionally. In place of fruit juice, eat solid fruit instead.
Eating 1600 calories a day
You can divide the 1600 calories up in a number of ways. You could have 3 large meals, 3 medium sized meals with snacks in between or 5 – 6 smaller more frequent meals. The choice is entirely up to you, depending on your personal eating preferences.
In terms of the foods that you can eat, there are lots of options:
- Eggs – ideal for breakfast because they are very filling but also not too high in calories. You can cook eggs in a number of different ways so that you don’t get bored of them.
- Dips & nut butters – examples include guacamole, peanut butter, almond butter, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. All are easy to prepare snacks that are high in protein. You can eat them in between main meals, either on their own or together with fruits & vegetables.
- Soups – low in calories but can be very filling if protein rich foods such as beans, fish and lean meat are included in them.
- Grilled meats & fish – you can marinade them with many different homemade sauces that make use of fresh tasty ingredients. Eat them together with lots of vegetables on the side.
- Smoothies – allow you to easily combine a variety of ingredients. You can use vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds & protein powders when preparing them, and enjoy them either as a snack or main meal.
1600 calorie meal plans
You simply enter the food in question and they will provide you with information on the number of calories, protein, fat, carbs, vitamins and minerals the food contains. This comes in handy when you are devising your own meal plans.
Below are a few examples of what the meal plans would look like.
Breakfast: 2 large boiled eggs, 1 cup of cooked oatmeal and 1 medium banana – 425 calories
Snack: 1 cup of Greek yogurt with 1 cup of strawberries – 245 calories
Lunch: 1 grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables – 394 calories
Snack: a handful of almonds and a large apple – 278 calories
Dinner: 1 cup of cooked lentils and half a cup of boiled vegetables – 285 calories
Total calories: 1627 calories
Breakfast: 1 large omelette with 2 slices of whole grain buttered toast – 256 calories
Snack: 1 avocado – 322 calories
Lunch: 1 cup cooked lentils and 1 medium baked sweet potato – 392 calories
Snack: 1 cup low fat cottage cheese and 1 cup of strawberries – 212 calories
Dinner: 2 cups of black turtle bean soup – 436 calories
Total: 1618 calories
Breakfast: yogurt parfait made from 1 cup of Greek yogurt, fresh berries, 1 medium sized banana, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 ounce of chopped nuts – 631 calories
Snack: 5 tablespoons of hummus and carrot sticks – 165 calories
Lunch: mixed bean salad – 310 calories
Snack: 1 low sugar protein bar – 190 calories
Dinner: 1 cup of cooked quinoa with mixed vegetables – 322 calories
Total: 1618 calories
Breakfast: smoothie made of 1/2 avocado, 1 scoop of oats, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 cup of spinach, 1 scoop of whey protein and 1/2 cup of frozen mango – 461 calories
Lunch: 1 fillet grilled haddock, 1 large boiled egg and steamed vegetables – 355 calories
Snack: 3 tablespoons almond butter and an apple – 398 calories
Dinner: 1 grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables – 394 calories
Total: 1608 calories