A 2,500-calorie diet is appropriate in some cases. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 notes that sedentary men ages 19 to 30, moderately active men ages 31 to 50, and active adult men over age 50 often require about 2,500 calories a day to maintain a healthy body weight. Very active women may also need 2,500 calories daily. While 2,500 calories daily might seem like a lot, it's still essential to focus on healthy foods to ensure that you are obtaining the nutrients you need.
Go Lean When It Comes to Protein
Individuals following 2,500-calorie meal plans should aim to eat about 6.5 ounces of protein daily, notes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Protein foods include seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, soy products, nuts and seeds. A 1-ounce-equivalent from the protein food group includes 1 ounce of seafood, chicken, turkey or lean red meat, one egg, 1/4 cup of tofu or legumes, 1/2 ounce of seeds or nuts, or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Aim to consume 2 cups of fruits and 3.25 cups of veggies while following a 2,500-calorie meal plan. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables to help ensure that you meet your daily fiber, vitamin and mineral needs. One cup from the fruits group equals 1 cup of 100-percent fruit juice, 1 cup of fresh fruit, or one-half cup of dried fruit. A 1-cup equivalent from the vegetables food group equals 1 cup of raw or cooked veggies, 1 cup of vegetable juice, or 2 cups of leafy greens, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Whole Grains Over Refined
Choose about 8.5 ounces from the grains group daily when eating 2,500 calories a day. Reach for whole grains over refined grains when possible because they're higher in fiber, provide greater satiation and contain more essential nutrients. A 1-ounce equivalent from the grains group equals one slice of whole wheat bread, 1 cup of cold cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa or whole-grain pasta, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Watching the Fat in Dairy
You'll also want to include 3 cups from the dairy group daily in your 2,500-calorie meal plan, notes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Opt for low-fat dairy foods when possible, since they contain smaller amounts of saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart-disease when consumed in excess. A 1-cup equivalent from the dairy food group equals 1 cup of low-fat yogurt or milk, 2 cups of low-fat cottage cheese or 1.5 ounces of reduced-fat cheese.
Keeping the Fats Healthy
Choosing healthy fats – in place of saturated and trans fats – can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Aim for about 7 teaspoons of oil daily, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. A 1-teaspoon equivalent from the oils food group includes 1 teaspoon of plant-based oil, 1/3 ounce of nuts, 1.5 teaspoons of nut butter, or eight large olives, notes ChooseMyPlate.gov.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent in the Protein Foods Group?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup of Fruit?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup of Vegetables?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent of Grains?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup in the Dairy Group?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Do I Count the Oils I Eat?