What 2,000 Calories Looks Like [Infographic]

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What 2,000 Calories Looks Like [Infographic]

If you’ve ever inspected the back of a Nutrition Facts label, you’ve probably noticed the phrase “Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.” The FDA settled on this number after analyzing food consumption data from American men and women and children. Survey results revealed an average daily intake of about 2,350 calories but for various reasons (worry about overconsumption being one of them), the FDA rounded down to 2,000 as the standard reference for Nutrition Facts labels.

So who might be someone who needs 2,000 calories a day? Calorie intake is dependent on various factors like gender, age, weight and activity level, but this calorie goal suits a wide variety of people — all the way from a woman in her mid-20s who exercises moderately 3–5 times per week, to an overweight, middle-aged man who is trying to lose a pound per week.

If you think you fall into this spectrum, see what that amount of healthy, nutrient-rich meals and snacks might look like. (Scroll to the bottom for how to make lunch and dinner.)


Loaded Greek Salad: 3 cups romaine lettuce, 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup diced bell pepper, 1/4 cup diced cucumber, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, 2 tablespoons diced red onion, 8 pitted Kalamata olives. Dressing: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, black pepper to taste.

Burrito bowl: 3 ounces grilled chicken breast (chopped or shredded), 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup cooked long-grain brown rice, 1/4 cup diced bell pepper, 1/4 cup corn, 1/4 cup diced avocado, 1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed, 2 tablespoons diced red onion, 1/4 lime (sliced), 2 tablespoons full-fat sour cream, 1/4 cup fresh salsa.


Like what you see but don’t quite have 2,000 calories in your budget? Stick to what’s pictured for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a delicious and satisfying 1,500-calorie day.


  • Thomas H. Groendal

    This would be much more effective if you also included some bad examples. Like one bag of doritos, just to show how much more bang for your buck you get when eating good food.

    • Jerome Barry

      A single large Sonic peanut butter concrete would be an interesting comparison.

  • Brent Jenny

    Might want to check the protein count in the burrito bowl. Seems kinda low since 3 ounces of grilled chicken should be about 20 grams

    • Imran Mohammad

      Just what I was wondering

    • Eric Burgess


      • Iliana

        This is loaded in carbs.

    • James Elliott

      26g in the chicken, 2.8g in the rice, 1.5g in the avocado, and 4g in the black beans. Depending on the ones you use, of course. About 34g.

  • Xeos

    Ugh those carbs. Terrible!

    • Zoe

      Wowee I know and four, repeat four serves of fruit. Really??

  • Bob

    This is another example of so called “nutritionist” who espouse really bad, outdated advise. A diet screaming with carbs, especially sugars! No wonder America is dying of obesity, diabetes, and, heart disease. It’s because people listen to these “experts!”

    • Nick Fergadis Giannakopoulos

      Yeah, because people get diabetes because of a little honey and a couple of fruits.
      Sure, the list above is the problem, not the fact that so many people opt for a bucket of ice cream and candy bars instead.

    • Grace Knight

      Bob, do you recommend low carb? I’m changing my eating habits and from all the reading I’ve done, low carb is the healthiest way. What do you think?

      • James Elliott

        Depends on your desired results. Keto diets can do well just for burning mass, but they tend to be harsh on muscle growth as well and can take a long time to get accustomed to. Most macronutrient calculators will advise for a 45%/45%/10% diet (carb pro fat). It is best to get a PT or nutritionist to customize a plan that is going to work for you though depending on your needs. Additionally it all needs to be calculated on your basal metabolic rate to ensure you’re eating the right number of calories in general so you’re in deficit.

        Low carb diets work for some people not others.

    • Jessica

      Are you an expert?

    • Carmen

      Nothing wrong with carbs especially if you’re trying to train hard and grow some muscle.

  • TMP

    That’s such a pretentious article. No one that eats bad and reads this is going to change anything. If you want to change people’s habits you have to show them a reasonable alternative.

  • Gold Stars

    If this is what this author thinks people should eat for their 2,000 calories, then to hell with that! It is not hard to eat 2,000 calories of much better tasting food than this crap and still eat healthier than she is suggesting!

  • Paige

    Everyone who is shaming the carbohydrate amount should consider the large amounts of fiber that are found in each meal/snack. Fiber is an important carbohydrate that regulates insulin and your appetite. While it may seem like a lot of carbs, these foods are packed with nutrients that are far more beneficial than eating 2000 calories of processed foods. We tend to categorize foods as “good or bad” when in reality we need an array of all foods, INCLUDING carbs. Also, yes you do need carbs to fuel your brain and your muscles during exercise. While this spread of choices may not be realistic/appetizing for everyone, it’s a great representation of how much you can get in wholesome foods for 2000 kcals.

    • Carmen

      Thank you Paige! Exactly! I don’t understand why everyone is so “anti carb”.

      • Mick

        Your Carb intake in every meal should be about 50-65%,

  • me

    why so many carbs?

  • Sharon

    My trainer says to eat fruit in the morning only, like an apple. Also, eat good fats like avocado. Last but not least, you have a 12 hr window to eat. He said drink all the water you want in the morning (and only water), anything else starts the 12hr window. If you start drinking coffee at 6am, you have to stop everything at 6pm, except water. I don’t eat bread, rice, potatoes, chips..etc

  • Khairun Memon

    Perfect low carb meal if I cut out the pita, toast and tortilla chips, and don’t need the sour cream either. That cuts out about 250-300 cals.

    • Don

      Why not go all the way and have a glass of warm water instead?

      • Mike Smith


  • Chris Mark

    1.5 cups of raspberries would be about $12AUD for one person.
    That’s not feasible and ultimately proves that someone is going to have a $2 icecream if making the choice is based on cost alone

  • Mike Smith

    Well this has put me right off food! I thought I was clicking a link to see what everyday, balanced daily meals would look like, not this rubbish.

    • Andrew Green

      Hear hear.

  • Richard Bowman

    I dont have a problem with the 1800 calories/day, but as a type-1 diabetic cyclist and bootcamp ‘user’ I also carb count while observing the 10% carb / 45% fat /45% protein rule. I doubt I am not the only one that would like more insight on this, either from MFP or others using the app. Thnx

    • Megan Trotter-Bissett

      Yea definitely not a lot of lower carb info out there for type ones (par lots of keto stuff). I am also type one did the 10% c/45%f/45%p and never had such bad blood sugars in my life (HbA1c was the worst it has ever been in the 13 years of being a diabetic). My training went to absolute crap too, so now I am more a 35% C/30%f/35%p sort of girl.

  • Andrew Green

    What about these of us who don’t like salad and weird things like feta cheese and black beans? What would 2000 calories look like in normal, meat, two veg, potatoes and bread and butter?

  • Tony Marson

    Working on the given knowledge that carbs and protein are worth 4 calories per gram and fats are 9 calories per gram all of the meal calorie calculations stated seem to be incorrect

  • hitched wedding films

    Calories is calories. IF and sink 2000 on training days and 1700 on non training days on a mix of yummy food works for me and its easy in 8 hour eating window!

  • Mike Richards


  • Mihai

    I personally recommend cycling carbs or even calories if you do not want to get so “obsessed” For example, on my work days with gym and work I eat around 2700 kcal which are made of 180g protein 260g carbs and 90g fat, while on my days that I rest I eat around 190g of protein, around 180g carbs and the rest fat. This is what I eat on a cut. Also, on the lazy days when I just take a slow walk I eat around 2300 kcal and try to low my carbs as much as possible whilst maintaining fat and protein.

  • Ingrid Khajeh

    Yes Bob get off the out dated band wagon.
    As said previously, There is nothing wrong with the right carbs IF you are active and or exercising. Carbs are back in bro. Not sugar and ice cream carbs, GOOD carbs.
    Whether you like it or not your body and espescially your brain runs on carbs. Body will run on ketones for only so long.