What a 2,000 Calorie Day Really Looks Like

Question: If someone were to put a plate right in front of you, do you think you would be able to guess how many calories were on that plate?

The answer is probably no. Don’t fret, though. Even dietitians need helpful guides and estimating tools when it comes to tracking calories and macronutrients.

For many people, the only sources of calorie representation are labels and restaurants menus. This is great knowledge to have, but those meals tend to be much higher in calories and smaller in portion size compared to home-cooked meals. We are going to show you how eating nutrient-dense foods can help you feel full and satisfied.

Our dietitian, Gabriella is here to teach you what an average daily intake (2,000 calories) looks like if all the foods are whole, unprocessed and prepared at home. You will be surprised how much you can eat!

Breakfast | 516 calories

  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup high fiber cereal
  • 8 oz. low-fat milk

For roughly 500 calories at home, you can build a meal that is full of lean protein to build muscles and fiber to help you feel full. How do 500 calories stack up in the fast food world? Just one small Sausage & Egg McGriddle adds up to 500 calories, and most of those calories come from saturated fat.

Snack | 224 calories

  • 1 cup mini bell peppers
  • 11 baby carrots
  • 5 whole wheat crackers
  • 2 Tbsp. hummus

It is recommended to get about 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This can be a difficult task if you’re trying to fit them into just three meals. We recommend adding vegetables into your snack time for volume and hydration without many calories. Don’t worry—there’s still room for some whole wheat crackers and a healthy dip! If you were to choose potato chips for your snack, you can rack up about 200 calories in just 12-14 potato chips.

Lunch | 534 calories

  • 3 cups of organic super greens mix
  • 1 cup raw cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced avocado
  • 1 can (4 oz.) albacore tuna
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic dressing
  • 1½ cups black beans
  • 1 medium apple

Not only does this meal contain less than 550 calories, but it’s also very balanced when it comes to your three main macronutrients. When tracking calories, it’s important to think about where those calories are coming from. All three main macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) play important roles in the body. This meal contains healthy sources of carbs from vegetables, black beans and an apple. All are high in fiber, which ensures steady blood sugar spikes and consistent energy levels. The avocado provides a source of healthy fats, which help you feel fuller longer. The tuna is a source of lean protein that provides amino acids to build lean muscle and, like fat, keep you feeling satiated much longer.

Snack | 260 calories

  • 1 oz. almonds (24 nuts)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

One thing to note here is that even healthy foods need to be portion controlled. Foods with healthy fats have about 9 calories per gram versus their protein and carb counterparts that have 4 calories per gram. So, make sure to portion foods that contain mostly fats.

Dinner | 481 calories

  • 4 oz. wild coho salmon
  • 1 cup broccoli, raw
  • 1 Tbsp. pesto sauce
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasta

Pasta (like many complex carbs) doesn’t need to be something you remove from your diet completely to lose or maintain a healthy weight, but paying attention to portion size is important. One cup can be easily consumed, and if you add in fish and veggies, completely satisfying.


Grand Total | 2,015 calories

Look at all that food for 2,000 calories! Just one meal out at your local fast food restaurant can add up to 2,000 calories, but this meal plan contains three full meals and two snacks for the same amount of calories and a TON of nutrition. While we don’t encourage you to start tracking your calories daily, it is good to see how much bang for your buck you can get from choosing unprocessed, whole foods rather than restaurant food.

 

Gabriella is a registered dietitian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works in corporate wellness as a dietitian and overall wellness coach. She also runs a food blog called Macrobalanced, where she shows people that healthy and balanced eating can be interesting and tasty! She enjoys all things fitness from lifting heavy weights in the gym to hitting the barre. Nothing is off limits as long as sweat is involved. When she is not cooking or sweating, she is playing with her dog Maui, a lively German Shepherd. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.