What Does a 2,000-Calorie Diet Look Like?

Find out how much of each food group you should be eating for a well-balanced diet.

Just how many calories you need in a day varies with your gender, age, weight and activity level (find out how many calories you need in a day here). But the most common number is 2,000, which the FDA uses to determine daily values of various nutrients (that’s why 2,000 calories is also the reference number used on the Nutrition Facts Panel on packaged foods). So what does a 2,000-calorie diet look like?

Here’s how much of each food group you should be eating for a well-balanced 2,000-calorie-a-day diet—as well as some ways to eat the right amount. Download a Free Low-Calorie Dinner Recipe Cookbook!

—Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor

Watch: How to divide your plate in portions


Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits & Vegetables

How much you should be eating if you need 2,000 calories a day:
2 cups fruit, 2 1/2 cups vegetables

What a daily dose might look like:
1 medium apple
+ 1 cup berries
+ 12 baby carrots
+ 1 cup cooked vegetables

Related: See More Examples of What a Serving of Fruit Looks Like


Grains

Grains (Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole)

How much you should be eating if you need 2,000 calories a day:
6 1-ounce equivalents

What a daily dose might look like:
1 English muffin
+ a 5-inch tortilla
+ 1 slice bread
+ 1 cup rice

Related: How to Cook Quinoa in 15 Minutes, Plus 8 More Whole Grains


Low-Fat Dairy

Low-Fat Dairy

How much you should be eating if you need 2,000 calories a day:
3 cups

What a daily dose might look like:
1 cup milk or soymilk
+ 1 cup yogurt
+ 1/3 cup shredded cheese


Protein

Protein

How much you should be eating if you need 2,000 calories a day:
5 1/2 ounce equivalents

What a daily dose might look like:
3 ounces cooked salmon, chicken or beef
+ 12 almonds
+ 1/4 cup cooked beans

Related: 6 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat, 6 to Avoid


Solid Fats & Added Sugars

Solid Fats & Added Sugars (SoFAS)

How much you should be eating if you need 2,000 calories a day:
=258 calories

What a daily dose might look like:
2-ounce candy bar or a glazed donut

I’d be remiss not to mention that you don’t have to eat SoFAS. This is the recommended daily limit, so aim to stick within this parameter.


Olis & Salt

Oils & Salt

How much you should be eating if you need 2,000 calories a day:
=27 g oils
=2,300 mg salt

What a daily dose might look like:
=5 1/2 tsp. oil
=1 tsp. salt