1600-Calorie Healthy Meal Plan

A 1,600-calorie diet can help women over the age of 51 who do not exercise maintain a healthy weight. The moderately low-calorie diet is also a weight-loss diet that can help most men and women who weigh more than 165 pounds lose weight. In either case, when you follow a low-calorie diet, it's even more important that you pay close attention to the foods you eat so that you meet your nutrient needs for good health.

Basket of fresh produce bought from farmer's market. (Image: kazoka30/iStock/Getty Images)

Fill Up With Fruits and Veggies

Low-calorie fruits and vegetables help you feel full on your 1,600-calorie diet, while helping you meet your fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamin A and C needs. On your diet, you need 1 1/2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables each day. Include a rainbow of fruits and vegetables throughout the week to not only keep your taste buds satisfied, but also to vary your nutrient intake.

Make Your Grains Whole Grain

Grains include foods such as bread, pasta and cereal. Including more whole grains on your 1,600-calorie diet not only ups your fiber, B vitamin and iron intake, but may also make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight, say the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. You can have five servings of grains a day on your diet plan, where one serving is equal to one slice of whole-wheat bread or 1/2 cup of cooked rice.

Lean Protein

When watching your calorie intake, you want to save calories wherever you can. Including mostly lean sources of protein, such as poultry, seafood and beans, can help. On a 1,600-calorie healthy meal plan you can have 5 ounces of lean protein a day. Lean sources of protein supply your body with iron, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and the B vitamins, without all the saturated fat.

Milk Products

Like your protein foods, make sure your dairy foods are low in fat or fat-free to save calories and limit your intake of saturated fat. You need 3 cups of milk products on your 1,600-calorie diet plan. One cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of low-fat natural cheese are equivalent to 1 cup of milk. Milk and other dairy foods and fortified dairy alternatives provide calcium and vitamin D, which are essential nutrients for bone health.

Healthy Oils

You can have 5 teaspoons of healthy oils on your diet plan. Healthy oils are a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which when used to replace saturated fats might help lower blood cholesterol. Healthy oils for your diet include olive, safflower and sunflower oil.

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