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What does 2,000 calories a day look like?

By Brierley Wright, June 17, 2011 - 2:06pm

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What does 2,000 calories a day look like?

I'm always surprised at how few people know a) how many calories they need each day, and b) how many calories they're actually eating. Perhaps it's just because I'm a registered dietitian and nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine (OK, and a confessed nutrition geek).

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?

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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.

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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 (Make at least half your grains whole)

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

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

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

SoFAS (Solid Fats & Added Sugars)

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.

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

Does your daily diet look like this? How many calories do you eat in a day?

Related Links from EatingWell:

TAGS: Brierley Wright, Health Blog

Brierley Wright
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.

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