Whether a 2,000-calorie diet causes you to maintain, gain or lose weight depends on your age, gender, current calorie intake, activity level and weight-management goals. If a 2,000-calorie diet is appropriate for you, using a 2,000-calorie meal plan -- and keeping a food diary – can help you stick to your daily calorie allotment.
According to the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010," 2,000-calorie diets are appropriate for sedentary and moderately active women ages 19 to 30, moderately active women ages 31 to 50, active women over age 50 and sedentary men over age 50. "Moderately active" means exercising the equivalent to walking 1.5 to 3 miles daily at a pace of 3 to 4 miles per hour, and active is defined as exercising the equivalent of walking more than 3 miles daily at the same pace. But moderately active and very active men of all ages may lose weight eating just 2,000 calories per day. Harvard Medical School reports that your individualized calorie needs for weight maintenance are 13 to 18 calories per pound of your body weight daily – depending on your activity level.
When eating 2,000 calories per day, "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" suggests eating 5.5 ounces from the protein foods group. Items in this group include meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, soy products, legumes, seeds and nuts. ChooseMyPlate.gov reports that a 1-ounce portion from the protein foods group equals one egg, 1 ounce of meat, poultry or seafood, 1/2 ounce of seeds or nuts, 1 tablespoon of nut butter, 2 ounces of tofu or 1/4 cup of legumes.
Healthy, unsaturated fats are an essential part of any 2,000-calorie meal plan. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" suggests you consume 27 grams, or about 6 teaspoons, of oils daily when eating 2,000 calories a day. ChooseMyPlate.gov notes that a 1-teaspoon portion from the oils food group equals 1 teaspoon of plant-based oils, 1 tablespoon of Italian salad dressing, one-eighth of an avocado, 1/3 ounce of nuts or seeds, eight large olives or 1.5 teaspoons of nut butter.
Grains, especially whole grains, generally make up a large portion of healthy 2,000-calorie diets. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" suggests eating 6 ounces from the grains group when eating 2,000 calories a day. A 1-ounce portion from the grains group equals 1/2 cup of rice, pasta or cooked cereal; 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal; or one slice of bread, notes ChooseMyPlate.gov. Choose whole grains -- when possible – such as quinoa, bulgur, brown rice, whole-grain breads, whole-grain cereals or oatmeal.
Fruits and Veggies
Because fruits and veggies are generally low in calories but rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, they make a healthy addition to a nutritious 2,000-calorie meal plan. When eating 2,000 calories a day, aim to consume 2.5 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruits, suggests "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." ChooseMyPlate.gov notes that 1/2 cup of dried fruit, 1 cup of fresh fruits or veggies, 1 cup of fruit or vegetable juice or 2 cups of leafy greens are all classified as 1-cup equivalents.
Because dairy foods are an excellent source of dietary protein and calcium, "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" suggests consuming 3 cups from the dairy foods group each day when eating 2,000 calories a day. A 1-cup portion from the dairy group equals 2 cups of cottage cheese, 1.5 ounces of hard cheese -- such as cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella – or 1 cup of milk, yogurt or calcium-fortified soy milk, notes ChooseMyPlate.gov.