2000-Calorie Diet: Daily Values


Is a 2000-calorie diet healthy?

Calorie level does not and cannot (on its own) determine the ‘healthfulness’ of any diet. A 2,000-calorie diet can be healthy or unhealthy. To determine if a 2,000-calorie diet is right for you, calculate your total calorie needs for weight management (maintenance) by plugging your personal information into the Harris-Benedict or Mifflin-St. Jeor equations. What makes a diet ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ is the quality of the foods you consume on a regular basis. An energy intake of 2,000 calories is the recommended level for many active women during childbearing years as well as many moderately active middle-aged men.

What can I eat on a 2000-calorie diet? How do I eat a 2000-calorie diet?

You can eat anything you wish on a 2,000-calorie diet as long as your total intake does not exceed 2,000 calories. Your food choices and your portion or serving sizes affect the quantity of food you are able to consume for the remainder of the day. For example, if you choose a piece of chocolate cake with frosting for a snack at 400 calories, you only have 1,600 for the rest of the day. If you choose a large apple for a snack instead at about 80 calories, you have 1,920 calories for the rest of the day.

The best approach to planning your 2,000-calorie diet is to divide the calories evenly throughout the day, into blocks of similar-sized meals and snacks. You may decide to have three meals, each providing 500 or 600 calories and two snacks, each providing 250 or 100 calories (respectively) or consuming mini-meals throughout the day – such as five 400-calorie meals. The next step is to choose the foods. For an adequate diet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ‘Choose My Plate’ website recommends portions and servings from each food group for different calorie levels. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you should aim to consume at least 2½ cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruits, 6 oz. of grains (half of them whole grains), 6 oz. of lean protein and three 8-oz. servings of milk or yogurt. This leaves a ‘discretionary calorie’ allotment, for fats, sugars and ‘treats’ of 300 calories (on average). Your discretionary calorie allowance may be more or less depending upon your gender, activity level and body weight goals.

Counting calories is a good method for staying on track with your meals and snacks. By reading nutrition fact panels of the packaged foods you select and looking up the calorie values of other foods that you eat via a comprehensive database, you can stay on track and have an accurate tally of the caloric value of your meals and snacks.

How many carbohydrates (carbs) for a 2000-calorie diet?

Carbohydrate is one of the three macronutrients. As your body’s preferred source of energy, about have of your daily calories, or, on average, 1,000 calories, should come from carbohydrate-rich foods. Each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. Calculating the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is simple as long as you know how many calories you need. The acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) for carbohydrate for a healthy diet, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is 45% to 65% of total calories. To convert that to grams (a range), use this calculation:

2,000 x .45 = 900/4 (calories per gram) = 225 grams
2,000 x .65 = 1300/4 (calories per gram) = 325 grams

Your goal for carbohydrate (in grams) on a 2,000-calorie diet is 225 to 325 grams. Individuals involved in sports and athletics should err toward the high end of the range, while those attempting to control or lose weight and individuals with diabetes should consider staying closer to the low end of the range.

How much fat for a 2000-calorie diet?

The recommended limit for total and saturated fat, like carbohydrate, is expressed in a percentage (of total calories) that can be converted to grams. Fat is an energy-dense macronutrient. One gram offers 9 calories, over twice as many as carbohydrate or protein. However, as an essential nutrient fat is needed for cushioning organs, absorbing and transporting the fat-soluble vitamins, forming cell membranes and more. Your total fat intake, according to both the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association, should fall between 20% and 35% of total calories, with most coming from foods rich in poly- and monounsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and fatty fish, particularly if you consume over 30% of calories from fat.

2,000 x .20 = 400/9 (calories per gram) = 44.4 grams
2,000 x .35 = 700/9 (calories per gram) = 77.7 grams

For a 2,000 calorie diet, limit total fat to 77.7 grams. Saturated/Trans fats should be limited to 10% or less of total calories:

2,000 x .10 = 200/9 (calories per gram) = 22 grams (of saturated fat)

How much sodium for a 2000-calorie diet?

Sodium is a major mineral. While essential for maintaining acid-base balance and fluid balance in your body, too much sodium in your diet (sodium chloride) is associated with elevated blood pressure, especially in combination with a poor intake of potassium. Most health organizations and associations recommend limiting sodium, regardless of your calorie level, to one teaspoon daily or 2,300 mg. Others, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) feel that this recommendation should be set at 1,500 mg. Most processed foods, even ‘healthy’ foods such as sliced whole wheat bread, are major sources of sodium in the American diet.



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