2000 calorie diet plan
The average adult needs to consume 2000 – 2500 calories to maintain their weight. The number of calories that you as an individual should aim to consume will depend on your gender, age, weight, height, activity levels and overall goals.
In its simplest form, weight management can be summarized by a short equation: calories in – calories out. The first number represents the energy that you introduce into your body via the food that you eat and the second number represents the energy that you burn naturally throughout the day, and when you exercise.
If you want to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. If you want to maintain your current weight, you need to consume the same number of calories as you burn. And if you want to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than you burn (and combine this with exercise (especially weight training) so that you don’t just store fat, but build muscle as well).
Before starting out on a 2000 calorie diet plan, you should make sure that this is the right amount of calories for you. You can estimate your calorie requirements using the calculator below.
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 35 year old lady who weighs 65 kg (143 lb), is 160 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week should aim to consume approximately 2000 calories in order to maintain her weight. If she wanted to lose weight, she would need to consume roughly 1600 calories per day.
Once you have decided that 2000 calories is the right amount for you, it is important to ensure that most of these calories come from nutrient dense foods. Here are some tips that allow you to do this.
Eat lots of vegetables
Nutrition experts often advise people to include plenty of vegetables in their diet. This is because they are potent sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Eating vegetables helps to make sure that your body gets many of the nutrients that it requires and reduces the risk of you becoming deficient in vitamins and minerals.
Vegetables are generally low in calories, which means that you can eat a large amount without having to worry about eating too much. As an example, a cup of broccoli only has 31 calories and a cucumber has 47.
Vegetables are high in dietary fiber which absorbs water and adds bulk to your stomach when eaten. It fills you up, improves digestive health and can lower cholesterol levels.
Eat enough protein
Proteins are the building blocks of life, so it is important that you get sufficient amounts in your diet. Protein assists with muscle maintenance, weigh management, blood sugar level stabilization and bone health. Out of all 3 macro-nutrients, it is the most filling.
Proteins are made up of compounds known as amino acids. Your body can produce some amino acids but is unable to produce others. The one’s that it can’t produce are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, also known as the essential amino acids.
Animal based protein sources provide all nine essential amino acids, making them complete protein sources. Some plant based foods like quinoa are also complete protein sources but others like nuts only provide some of the essential amino acids, making them incomplete sources.
It is recommended that women get 46 grams of protein per day and men get 56 grams of protein per day, at minimum. If you lead an active lifestyle, lift weights or are fairly muscular, you will require significantly more.
Eat some fat
A lot of people fear fat because it is high in calories; gram for gram, it has more than twice the amount of calories that protein and carbs do. But fat should not be feared, provided that you are eating the correct kind.
The fat that you ideally want to eat should come from foods that have been processed very little and are as close to their natural state as possible. These foods include avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, coconut oil and fatty fish. These foods are rich in monounsaturated fats and omega 3’s.
The fat rich foods that you should minimize your intake of are those that have had fat artificially added to them. Examples include cakes, cookies and potato chips. Also be wary of vegetable oils and use coconut oil to cook with whenever possible.
Eat complex carbs
Carbs come in two forms, complex and simple (refined).
When you eat complex carbs, they provide a slow and steady release of energy, thanks to their high fiber content. Great examples of complex carbs are fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Dried fruits such as dates, prunes and raisins satisfy a sweet tooth and can be eaten in place of candy.
Simple carbs on the other hand tend to have a lot of sugar and little fiber. When you eat them, they provide large bursts of energy and cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise and fall dramatically. As a result, people often get the feeling of ‘crashing’ soon after eating them.
Fat rich foods like cakes and cookies also contain a lot of refined carbs, thanks to the large amount of sugar that is added to them. For this reason, it is important to minimize or eliminate your intake of junk food.
Drink plenty of water
Staying well hydrated is important. Drinking enough water improves energy levels, flushes out toxins, boosts brain function and regulates appetite. A lot of people are chronically dehydrated and mistake thirst for hunger; as a result they end up consuming more calories than they should.
Your daily water requirements will vary, depending on the outside temperature, exercise and hydration levels. The best indicator is your own body, it will tell you when it is thirsty. If your urine is not clear, it is a good indication that you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.
If you don’t like the taste of plain water, infuse it with lemons or fruit. You can also occasionally drink carbonated water and homemade coffee & teas.
The beverages that you definitely want to minimize intake of are sugar sweetened ones. This includes things like soda and even some fruit juices. They tend to be high in calories (a can of cola has 140 calories) but not all of these calories are compensated for when you consume them. You are therefore very likely to end up consuming more calories than you should later on.
Eating 2000 calories a day
Foods have different amounts of calories, depending on what they are made up of. Those that are mainly made up of water tend to be low in calories, whereas those that have a lot of fat tend to be high in calories.
It can be difficult to estimate how many calories various foods have. Most people wouldn’t be able to tell you how many calories an avocado or boiled egg have off the top of their head.
By referring to these tools, you can get the nutritional information for different foods and then combine them to create your own custom 2000 calorie meal plan.
With regards to the foods that you can eat, there are plenty of options. Here are some examples.
- Eggs – rich in protein and vital nutrients but low in calories. Eggs are extremely versatile and can be incorporated into a large number of dishes. You can eat them at any time of the day but they work especially well for breakfast.
- Grilled meats & fish – another rich source of protein. Choose lean cuts of meat whenever possible. There are a large number of meat and fish recipes available on the web. Make sure you eat them with plenty of vegetables.
- Dips and nut butters – these make quick and convenient snacks and help to keep you going until your next meal. Examples include hummus, guacamole, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and almond butter. They can be eaten on their own or together with fruits and vegetables.
- Smoothies – another easy to prepare food. Smoothies can be used as meal replacement shakes, meaning they can replace an entire meal such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can also be enjoyed as a snack. Use fruits, vegetables, nut milks, coconut water, nuts, seeds and protein powders when preparing them.
- Soups – ideal to have at lunch or dinner time. They can be made more filling by adding in beans, fish and lean meat. Eat them together with vegetables or a grain of your choice.
2000 calorie meal plans
If you are someone who prefers to eat large meals with small snacks in between, you can have three 500 calorie meals and two 250 calorie snacks in between. Alternatively, if you prefer to eat smaller meals regularly, you can eat 300 – 400 calories at regular intervals. The way that you split this up is entirely up to you.
Below are some example 2000 calorie meals plans to give you an idea of what you should be eating.
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 – 244 calories
Lunch: 2 grilled chicken breasts with steamed vegetables – 668 calories
Snack: a handful of almonds and a medium sized apple – 257 calories
Dinner: 2 cups of cooked lentils – 460 calories
Total calories: 2054 calories
Breakfast: smoothie made of 1 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 – 622 calories
Snack: 1 large banana – 121 calories
Lunch: Chinese style stir fried chicken with vegetables and brown rice – 432 calories
Snack: 2 tablespoons of almond butter and an apple – 297 calories
Dinner: 2 fillets grilled haddock, 1 large boiled egg and steamed vegetables – 523 calories
Total: 1995 calories
Breakfast: 1 large omelette with 2 slices of whole grain buttered toast and a medium sized apple – 351 calories
Snack: 1 avocado and a handful of walnuts – 507 calories
Lunch: 1 cup cooked lentils and 1 medium baked sweet potato – 333 calories
Snack: 1 cup low fat cottage cheese and 1 cup of blueberries – 247 calories
Dinner: 2 cups of black turtle bean soup and vegetables stir fried in a little coconut oil – 594 calories
Total: 2032 calories
Breakfast: yogurt parfait made from 1 cup of Greek yogurt, fresh berries, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 ounce of chopped nuts – 526 calories
Snack: 1 cup hummus and carrot sticks – 459 calories
Lunch: mixed bean salad – 310 calories
Snack: 1 low sugar protein bar – 190 calories
Dinner: 2 cups cooked quinoa with mixed vegetables – 544 calories
Total: 2029 calories