Do You Really Know How Much You Are Eating? Here Is What 2,000 Calories A Day Looks Like

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Some of us eat with gay abandon, not a care in the world for caloric content, fat, sodium, or cholesterol.  Others plan their meals, read food labels, and have a general sense of what they consume each day.

But most of us underestimate the number of calories we consume each day.  Two slices of pizza are around 600 calories, and then you add two glasses of red wine (around 250 calories), and a slice of chocolate cake (350 calories) and you have a whopping 1,200 calories for just one meal. Coupled with the calorie underestimation is that Americans are under-consuming key nutrients, opting for processed food instead of whole, unprocessed food.

According to Medical News Today, the national average calorie consumption to maintain a moderate weight is 2,000 calories.  This number varies depending upon gender, height, metabolism, and activity level. If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to go to 1,200-1,600 calories a day.

While 2,000 calories seem like a lot, it adds up quickly as you eat your way through the day. While it is recommended that you focus on consuming key nutrients rather than always counting calories, it is helpful to “see” what 2,000 calories a day looks like.  FoodNetwork presents three meal plans – omnivore, vegetarian and vegan – each at 2,000, the focus being a variety of whole, unprocessed food rather than heavily-engineered foodstuffs. And it even includes snacks!

If you eat everything (meat, veggies, and anything in between), you are an omnivore. Below is a simple, healthful, 2,000 calorie one day meal plan, that is all about balance and good flavor:

For Omnivores:


Easy Morning Glory Overnight Oats: This recipe lends itself to substitution, so feel free to add what you want here knowing that it will change the calorie content.
1 hard-boiled egg
1 cup of coffee with 1/4 cup nonfat milk 
Total Calories (approx): 283; Total Fat: 11g; Protein: 13g; Total Carbs: 35g; Fiber 9g

Morning Snack

1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sliced pears
Total Calories: 224; Total Fat: 5g; Protein: 23g; Total Carbs: 23g; Fiber 3g


Black Bean Chicken Bowl with Citrus Vinaigrette
Add these ingredients to your bowl to bulk up the nutrients:
  • 1/3 of avocado
  • 1/4 cup jarred salsa, your choice of heat level
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, or other reduced fat cheese of your choice
Total Calories: 782; Total Fat: 38g; Protein: 43g; Total Carbs: 70g; Fiber 13g

Afternoon Snack

1/4 cup hummus
1 cup sliced carrots
Total Calories: 152; Total Fat: 6g; Protein: 6g; Total Carbs: 20g; Fiber 7g


Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon
1 orange
Sparkling water
Total Calories: 524; Total Fat: 17.5g; Protein: 35g; Total Carbs: 61g; Fiber 11g

Evening Snack

2 cups air-popped popcorn
Total Calories: 62; Total Fat: 1g; Protein: 2g; Total Carbs: 12g; Fiber 2g
If you followed the above meal plan you would have consumed just a bit about 2027 calories. The full breakdown is:  Fat: 78.5g; Protein: 122g; Total Carbs: 221g; Fiber 45g.  To reduce calories but maintain nutrients, omit the evening snack and one of the other two snacks. 

Ey-opening, isn’t it?

If you are a vegetarian or vegan you can find your one-day meal plan here.

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