What Is a 2,000-Calorie Diet?

— Written By Lethia Lee and last updated by Patricia Burch
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What does percent daily values based on a 2,000-Calorie diet mean?

On some newer Nutritional Facts labels, the text may read: The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet — 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

If you are trying to use the label to eat a healthy diet, that notation might be confusing. Does this mean that you are supposed to eat 2,000 calories each day? Or is there a better way to use the information. I know that with the new information on labels coming out that some of us are more confused than ever. Hopefully after reading this article it will make things a little better for you to understand what you are reading.

What is a 2,000- calorie Diet?
In order to provide the most helpful nutritional data to my readers, the FDA uses a 2,000-calorie diet as an example on the part of the recommendation to eat 2,000 calories. It is also not meant to imply that a 2,000-calorie diet is necessarily better or worse than, say a 1,200-calorie diet or a 2,500-calorie diet. So why does the FDA use the 2,000-calorie figure on the label? Many average American eaters will have a daily caloric intake in that approximate range. By using that figure, the nutritional information provided is likely to be useful for a wide audience.

Example: A moderately active 30- year old woman would consume about 2147 calories to maintain her weight. A lightly active 40-year-old man would consume about 2195 calories to maintain his weight. Your unique daily calorie needs are based on your body size, your weight goals, and your activity level. A person who is trying to lose or gain weight would adjust their daily caloric intake to reach their specific health goals. Here is an example of a 2,000-calorie diet breakdown: 

2 eggs fried or scrambled
1 slice of whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 half grapefruit or small glass of juice

Snack (100 Calories)
One medium apple

Lunch: (approximately 650 calories)
Turkey sandwich o rye bread with mayonnaise
Carrot and celery sticks with hummus
One medium chocolate chip cookie
One glass of 2% milk

Snack: (100 calories)
One small snack bar 

Dinner (650 calories)
Grilled salmon (4 ounces) with lemon
One half cup of vanilla ice cream

Many smart consumers and healthy eaters don’t know how many calories they consume each day. If you’re not a big eater, you might eat 1,500 calories per day or even less. So you may not know how or if you should use the daily Values and percent Daily Values listed on the Nutritional Facts Label.

Remember, the information provided on the Nutritional Facts label is based on general guidelines. Using it can help you to eat a well-rounded diet for good health. If you need personalized nutrition advice to manage a health condition, speak to your doctor or seek the advice of a registered dietitian.