Using healthy meal plans helps you stick within a daily calorie allotment and is often easier than counting calories. While eating 2,000 calories a day is suitable for healthy weight maintenance in many women, it could lead to weight loss in men. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 provides sample healthy meal plans at various calorie allotments, including 2000-calorie options.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests that 2,000-calorie diets are appropriate for sedentary women ages 19 to 30, moderately active women ages 19 to 50, active women over age 50 and sedentary men over age 50 -- seeking healthy weight maintenance. Therefore, active men and women and men younger than age 51 will likely lose weight eating 2,000 calories a day.
2,000-Calorie Meal Plan
Using healthy meal plans helps you meet daily nutrient needs and stick to a 2,000-calorie allotment. A USDA 2,000-calorie meal plan includes 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruits, 5.5 ounces from the protein foods group, 3 cups from the dairy group, 6 ounces of grains, 6 teaspoons from the oils group and 258 extra calories from foods of your choice.
A 1-ounce equivalent from the protein group equals 1 ounce of poultry, meat or seafood, one egg, 1/4 cup of cooked legumes, 0.5 ounce of seeds or nuts or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. One cup from the dairy group equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces of cheese or 2 cups of cottage cheese. A 1-ounce portion of grains equals 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or oatmeal, one slice of bread or 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal. A 1-teaspoon portion of oils is equivalent to 1/3 ounce of nuts or seeds, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1.5 teaspoons of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of Italian salad dressing or one-sixth of an avocado.
Sample Menu One
For breakfast, try a cup of whole-grain cereal, 1 cup of low-fat milk, once slice of whole-grain bread, 1.5 teaspoons of peanut butter and 1 cup of strawberries. A mid-morning snack may include 1 cup of low-fat yogurt and 1 cup of sliced apples. For lunch, try a turkey burger on a whole-grain bun, one slice of reduced-fat cheese, three tomato slices and 1 cup of sliced cucumbers. A healthy afternoon snack may consist of 1 ounce of mixed nuts. For dinner, try a 3-ounce portion of salmon cooked with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1 cup of cooked quinoa and 1 cup of zucchini sautéed in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
Sample Menu Two
A healthy breakfast might include 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, 2/3 ounce of sliced almonds, 1/2 cup of raisins and 1 cup of low-fat milk. For a morning snack, try 1 cup of orange juice with 1.5 ounces of reduced-fat cheese. A healthy lunch might include 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 2 cups of leafy greens, 2 tablespoons of Italian salad dressing and two whole-grain dinner rolls. For an afternoon snack, try 1 cup of low-fat yogurt. A nutritious dinner may include 1 cup of tofu cooked in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1 cup of brown rice and 1.5 cups of streamed broccoli. For an evening snack, try 2/3 ounce of peanuts.