What Does 2,000 Calories a Day Look Like?

2,000 calories a day or less isn’t a whole lot of food but it’s a sufficient amount to eat for most people. When I was first decided to lose weight, I decided to count my calories for one day without making any changes. I needed to see where I was.

I ate 2,000 calories by lunch time that day. The total for the whole day was around 5,000. That’s a lot of high calorie, high fat food. That’s a lot of extra portions. That’s why I was 250 pounds.

In order to lose weight my goal was to eat 2,000 calories or less. I wanted to eat 1,500 but I’ve never been able to really get that low. It’s too hard for me. Especially now that I exercise a lot. Living a fit life that’s active means I can eat more calories…but it doesn’t mean I can go crazy and eat whatever I want.

On my Rest Days I eat between 1,600-1,800 calories. On normal days when I exercise, I eat between 1,900 and 2,200 calories. For example, two Saturdays ago I consumed 2,700 calories! That’s A LOT but I burned nearly 1,600 calories that day. The day I biked 40 miles? I burned 1,850 calories and consumed 2,800 calories.

So what DOES 2,000 calories look like? You can eat a bunch of diet food to eat more –which is what I did. I ate a lot of low calorie, zero calorie foods in order to save calories for other things. For example: the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray has like 5 calories in it I think. I was able to eat it without worrying about calories. But it’s just a bunch of chemicals. Ick.


One example of a typical breakfast is:  3 egg whites, 1 whole egg scrambled with a little bit of black beans and a protein–usually turkey sausage or bacon. Sometimes it’s just two scrambled eggs, beans and 1 turkey sausage.

Calories: 275-350


I usually have some fruit. It varies weekly with my mood and what I bought at the grocery store. The usuals: an apple, orange, banana, or strawberries.

Calories: Between 80-110


Lunch could be a salad, leftovers, or Lean Cuisine. It really just depends on the day! Here is a salad – spinach, chickpeas, broccoli, chopped peppers, celery with canned Albacore Tuna.

Calories:  300


I don’t always have an afternoon snack. When I’m heading to the gym right after work I do have a snack. Sometimes my pre-workout snack is an English muffin toasted, with a little bit of light butter– Calories:  110. Currently, my pre-workout snack is plain Greek yogurt with a serving of pineapple chunks.

Calories: 130


My dinners run between 600-900 calories depending on my activity for the day. Yes, 900 calories for dinner is a bit high but that’s usually on days where I worked out pretty hard. One example of a “lighter” dinner that I eat often is salmon. Baked salmon with fresh lemon, dill, lemon pepper seasoning and some steamed veggies run pretty low in calories but are packed with fiber that fill me up.

I also often have a salad with it. I usually skip the high calorie dressings, or the creamy dressings, and go with some sort of vinaigrette dressing.

A dinner like this will be satisfying and not over my daily calorie goal. If I skip the glass of wine and stick with ice water, it’s even lower in calories. But if I wanted to have a glass of wine with the salmon I could do that–just add about 100-150 calories to the total.

Calories: 650


I knew even when I first started this journey that I’d always want dessert. I could not eliminate all sweets from life so I allow myself dessert by saving some calories for it by the end of the day. For example, two of these chocolate chip cookies are 170 calories total.

Calories: 170


As you can see, I eat every few hours and I’m eating GOOD stuff. Sure there’s some treats in there here and there, sometimes at work I snag a few pieces of candy to satisfy my craving. But I don’t go nuts and I try and keep my calories within a certain range at each “meal.”

On days when I exercise vigorously that number might change a little bit. And once in awhile I splurge and get something I wouldn’t normally eat.


QUESTION: How many calories a day do you eat on average? What’s keeping you from your goal?

14 Responses

  1. I’m a relatively small person (just barely 5 feet tall) so I don’t have a very high BMR. I run between 10-15 miles a week, so I try to keep my calories around the 1300 range. Some days are easier than others. I try to listen to what my body wants, and if I need another snack or something, i try to keep it healthy with a good protein like cottage cheese or nuts with fruit. I live with a guy who burns about 1000 calories with every workout (he runs a lot!) so it’s difficult sometimes to keep up with my goals because sometimes I forget that I can’t eat like him!

    1. It is definitely hard when a partner can eat more! When I first moved in with Michael I had to remind myself that I was 5 inches shorter than him and 40 pounds lighter so I CAN’T eat huge meals!

      In trying to lose my 100 pounds I was never able to get under 1500 calories a day. I was usually closer to 1700 for the day.

  2. Great blog post! It makes 2,000 calories look satisfying. For awhile I was going to a nutritionist and eating about 1,300 calories a day. I had to plan so much though, and it was kind of boring. I loooove food, and stopped following my meal plan, so I’ve gained some weight back. I need to be a little more conscientious about my caloric intake–mostly just getting more veggies and protein in!

    1. It’s really easy to eat under 2,000 calories and still feel satisfied. I eat tons of veggies and fruit and that helps!

      I’m seeing a lot of comments about 1300 calories. That is so low to me. I saw a nutritionist and she went through all my eating and exercise and she said I was eating too FEW calories for my activity level!

  3. Yikes. Out of curiosity, I signed up for the MyFitnessPal and did the diet/fitness profile. With the info I inputted, MyFitnessPal recommends eating 1200 a day (at 1lb loss/week). Um… no. There’s no way I could do that and train for a marathon. I switched it to 0.5 lb loss per week which would put me at 1420. I think adding my calories burned from running makes that more manageable.

    Granted, I’m not trying to lose weight right now. I can stand to lose to be back at my WW goal weight, but I’d rather count points than calories.

    Maybe I should try using my Garmin heart rate monitor to see about how much I lose with each run.

  4. 2,000 good healthy calories is a lot more filling than 5,000 junky calories – believe me, I know exactly what you are talking about. I don’t track calories, but I’d estimate I eat between 1,800 and 2,200.

    1. SOOO true!!!! It makes a huge difference eating real, healthy food. I used to eat a lot of processed foods in order to stay within a small calorie range and I was so glad I switched to real, “whole” foods instead. I feel more satisfied, healthier and happier.

  5. I eat an awful lot because I run a lot. Most days I eat from 2000-2500, depending on whether I work out once or twice. My net calories after the exercise calories are usually around 1200. Sometimes more, sometimes less. On long run days i may net under 1000 but i will probably end up eating back the extra in a rest day. On the rare complete rest day I try to stay under 1800 if possible. I eat almost all very healthy foods, including LOTS of vegetables. I do realize if I was stricter about treats, I could probably cut 200-300 calories on many days… Psychologically, I fluctuate between thinking I eat WAY too much and wondering if my net calories are too low. I have thought about seeing a nutritionist/dietician but I would have to find someone who understood running. I can’t have someone telling me to eat 1200 calories total! This works for maintaining mybweight but I’m not sure how to bump it up to lose a few more pound. Though I suspect the answer may include lifting weights!

    1. It’s hard to eat LOW calories when you’re training for things. If I go for a 4 hour bike ride and burn 1800+ calories it’s unwise for me to restrict my calorie intake. I need to fuel my workouts!

  6. I find that a lot of people don’t realize the calorie content of foods. They think just because it is healthy, they can eat as much as they want (aka peanut butter!). You have a wonderfully healthy day! I try to average about 1800-2300 calories on any given day. By the end of the week by average intake is ~2050cal//day. This keeps my energy up, cravings at bay, hunger satisfied, and weight in check!

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