Most people eat about 2,000 calories a day, which is why the nutrition labels on your food products typically list daily values based on this amount. However, the exact number of calories people need is based on a variety of factors, such as age, sex and the amount you exert yourself each day. This means that certain people can eat 2,000 calories a day and still potentially gain weight.
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Weight gain occurs when you eat more calories than your body burns. For some people, eating 2000 calories a day may push them in a positive calorie direction that leads to weight gain. If you're struggling with your weight, consult with your doctor to help you determine your daily calorie needs.
2,000-Calorie Diet Breakdown
The Food and Drug Administration lists 2,000 calories as the appropriate amount most people ought to consume each day. These calories are made up of three main macronutrients. On average, a daily 2,000-calorie diet breakdown is made up of:
The FDA reports that fat has 9 calories per gram, while each gram of carbohydrate and each gram of protein has 4 calories per gram. This means that you're consuming about 200 calories of protein, 585 calories of fat and 1,200 calories of carbohydrates on a daily basis. This distribution of macronutrients is particularly important as it's intended to cover the FDA's recommended daily values of various nutrients, which include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamins B: thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, biotin (vitamin B7), folate (vitamin B9) and vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Regardless of the diet you're following or the number of calories you're consuming, you need to make sure that you meet your appropriate daily values of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Consumption of too few vitamins and minerals can lead to nutrient deprivation and other long-term health problems. Eating too few calories over a long period of time can lead to a range of changes, including muscle wasting and decreased metabolism.
Consumption of Calories Per Day
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the amount of calories you should consume on a daily basis is based on three main factors: age, sex and activity level. Although a standard diet is usually considered 2,000 calories, most healthy diets range between 1,600 and 3,200 calories.
However, much larger numbers of calories can also be healthy, particularly if you live a very active lifestyle or are training for intense physical activity, like a marathon. You can use the Dietary Guidelines for Americans chart to determine your calorie needs and check to make sure you're not getting more than what would be recommended. To give you an idea based on activity levels:
- Sedentary adult males need between 2,000 and 2,600 calories a day.
- Sedentary adult women need between 1,600 and 2,000 calories a day.
- Moderately active adult males need between 2,200 and 2,800 calories a day.
- Moderately active adult females need between 1,800 and 2,200 calories a day.
- Active adult males need between 2,400 and 3,200 calories a day.
- Active adult females need between 2,000 and 2,400 calories a day.
The exact amount of calories you need on a daily basis depends on age and sex. Men typically need to consume more calories than women. However, looking only at age, young adult males (around the age of 18) and young adult women (between 18 and 25) tend to need the most calories. On the other hand, older adults (51 and above for women and 61 and above for men) need the least calories.
If you're trying to lose weight, you can also use a food calorie calculator to help determine your ideal calorie consumption. Healthy weight loss typically involves reducing your usual calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day. However, be aware that there are limits to the amount of total daily calories you can reduce. Harvard Health Publishing recommends that women consume no less than 1,200 calories per day and men no less than 1,500 calories per day. Consuming to few calories may be detrimental to your health and thwart your weight-loss efforts altogether.
Read more: Non-Starving, 1200-Calorie Diet
Weight Gain Consuming 2,000 Calories
Given the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations, it's unlikely that you'd gain weight if you're eating (and drinking) a standard 2,000 calorie per day diet. However, there are some exceptions to this. Older, sedentary men that are 61 years of age or older need about 2,000 calories per day. Since sedentary lifestyles are defined as those that involve only the minimum amount of physical activity required for independent life, certain people in this age group might gain weight consuming this number of calories.
Women, who require fewer calories than men, are much more likely to gain weight consuming 2,000 calories per day. However, you should also be aware that the recommended caloric intakes are relevant only to women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Women who need 2,000 calories per day or less include:
- Sedentary females aged 18 and 26 to 50, who need 1,800 calories per day
- Sedentary females aged 19 to 25, who need 2,000 calories per day
- Sedentary females aged 51 and above, who need just 1,600 calories per day
- Moderately active females aged 18 and 26 to 50 who need 2,000 calories per day
- Moderately active females aged 51 and above, who need 1,800 calories per day
- Active adults aged 61 and above, who need 2,000 calories per day
Many people vary their amount of daily activity. For example, some people perform more activity on weekdays rather than weekends. Others add calories on weekends, particularly in the form of calories from alcohol. Even if you're consuming a standard healthy diet, variations like these can contribute to weight gain. Ultimately, since most women should consume 2,000 calories per day or less, they are the most likely to gain weight on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Read more: The 1,600-Calorie DASH Diet
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- NPR: "How Many Calories Do Olympic Athletes Need?"
- Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020: "Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- FDA: "Protein"
- FDA: "Total Fat"
- FDA: "Total Carbohydrates"
- FDA: "How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label"