Are you usually aware of the number of calories you take in a day? Most people have no idea how many calories they take in a day. You hear the common talk, as long as they are well fed, they are good. Counting calories is a good way to go as it enables you to know how many calories you take in a day. Knowing this number helps you get to your weight goals easily. If your goal is to add some pounds, you just add the number of calories you take in a day. If your goal is to lose weight, you just reduce the number of calories you take in a day. This routine of counting calories has given way to many diets that count calories, a good example of such a diet is the 1600-calorie meal plan.
Just as the name suggests, the 1600-calorie diet is a meal plan that allows the individuals in this meal plan to eat a maximum of 1600 calories in a day. There are many reasons as to why you could choose to be part of this meal plan. The main reason for most people is usually to lose weight (2). Whatever your reason is, you should always consult a dietician before getting started on a new meal plan.
About The Essential Nutrients
If you want to take up the 1600-calorie meal plan, you need to make sure you will be getting all the nutrients your body needs. You are able to do this by incorporating many varieties of healthy foods that have low calories (3). The best thing anyone one on a diet can do is to make sure they focus on maximizing nutrients. This also applies to the 1600-calorie diet.
This diet involves reducing the number of calories you take in, as it is a low calorie food plan. Diets are able to reduce the amount of calories one takes by:
- Introducing highly filling foods. This is where one eats foods that promote the filling effect. These foods make one feel full for longer and hence reduce their food intake. Foods rich in fiber and/or protein are good at promoting the filling effect.
- Restricting your food options. This is where you choose to stay away from certain foods or food groups. A good example would be to choose to be a vegan. This means you will have to eliminate meats and all other animal products from your diet. People can also take on other measures like eliminating fast foods, as well as processed foods from their diet.
Whichever of the two works for you, as long as you are on a 1600-calorie diet, you need to make sure your daily consumption does not surpass 1600 calories.
People Who Should Take 1600 Calories In A Day
This food plan, like many others, is not made for everyone. There are people who will thrive and attain their weight goals on this diet. The type of people who should be on this diet are:
- Medium sized women (4). 1600 calories are just the number of calories medium sized females who exercise lightly and want to maintain weight need. This is because on average, women need between 1200 and 1800 calories in a day.
- Men who want to lose weight (4). Men need more calories in a day as compared to women. 1600 calories in a day will most likely make a man lose weight.
- People with diabetes (1, 10). A good way to control one’s diabetes is to control their weight. 1600 calories a day will help make obese diabetic people to lose weight. Eating 1600 calories a day will also mean controlling portion sizes in a way that can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar.
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What Amounts Of Each Food Group Should You Eat?
When you are on a meal plan that counts calories like this one, you should know what amount of every food you should eat. This will ensure that your body gets all the necessary nutrients it needs. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you are on a 1600-calorie food plan, these are the amounts you should eat:
Fruits are very important to a person. This is because they come packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs. If you are on a 1600-calorie food plan, you need 1 ½ cups of fruits daily (6). 1 cup of fruit can counts as:
- A cup of either raw, frozen, cooked, or canned fruit.
- It can also count as ½ cup of dried fruit.
- It can also count as 1 cup of 100% fruit juice.
Some of the best fruit suggestions for your diet include the following:
Grapefruit is one of the citrus fruits, which also include lemons, oranges, tangerines, limes, and others. Grapefruit is a cross between an orange and pomelo. It has sweet and sour flesh and bitter walls between segments. Like other citrus fruits, grapefruit is very juicy and rich in antioxidants. Half of this citrus fruit can offer you 65% of the reference daily intake (RDI) for vitamin C. Red grapefruit is also rich in vitamin A. Another benefit of this fruit is that it is low in calories, with a 308g (around 10 oz) grapefruit containing about 129 calories. Grapefruit also has a low glycemic index, so it releases sugar into your blood more slowly. You can find this citrus fruit almost in any healthy weight loss diet. It can be consumed by itself, as a snack or a part of breakfast, or added to salads and smoothies.
Even kids know that an apple a day keeps a doctor away. This fruit is rich in fiber, which prolongs the feeling of fullness and aid digestion. One large 242g (8.5 oz) apple contains 126 calories, 5.8g of fiber, 14.5mg of calcium, 12.1mg of magnesium, 26.6mg of phosphorus, 259mg potassium, 11.1mg of vitamin C, 7.26µg of folate, 7.26µg of vitamin E, and other nutrients. It is recommended to eat apples whole and raw. You can enjoy them as a snack, add them to cereals, yogurt, smoothies, salads, and other dishes, or cook them, by baking, adding to baked goods, roasting with meat, or making an applesauce.
Berries are often extremely underestimated. There is a great variety of berries, some are sweeter, some are sour, so everyone can find a berry that would fit their tastes perfectly. They are filled to the brim with various vital nutrients while being low in calories. Half of a cup of blueberries provides you with 42 calories, and 12% of the RDI for vitamin C and manganese, as well as 18% for vitamin K. One cup of strawberries can offer you under 48 calories, 3g of fiber, 150% of the RDI for vitamin C, and almost 30% for manganese. Not impressed? Then how about the fact that berries may help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and reduce inflammation, which is especially beneficial for overweight people. Berries can be consumed fresh and raw or frozen. You can add them to your cereal or yogurt, add them to a salad, baked goods, or smoothie, eat them as a snack or top your whole-wheat pancakes with them.
Vegetables are essential to our bodies. Veggies are rich in so many nutrients that our bodies need. You need 2 cups of vegetables daily if you are on this meal plan (6). 1 cup of vegetable counts as:
- A cup of either raw, cooked, or canned vegetables.
- It also counts as 2 cups of leafy salads.
- It can also count as 1 cup of 100% vegetable juice.
Some of the best weight-loss friendly vegetables are:
It is common knowledge that leafy greens are super beneficial for your health. They are also some of the best foods for weight loss. Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, and others are packed with fiber and essential micronutrients, among which are various vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. For instance, they can provide you with vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium. They are low in calories and can be used to increase the volume of your meals, without significantly increasing your energy intake. You can add them to your meal in a form of a salad or add them to your smoothies. You can also use, for instance, spinach as an ingredient to a healthy whole-grain burger, or whole-wheat pizza.
Like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables are an inseparable part of any healthy weight loss diet. They include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and super filling. They are also relatively rich in proteins. They can provide you with plenty of folate, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and phytonutrients, which may help lower inflammation and lower the risk of developing cancer. Being as low in calories and as high in nutrients as they are, cruciferous vegetables make for a perfect ingredient of any weight-loss dish. The best ways to prepare your cruciferous vegetables are to boil, grill, steam or roast them.
Mushrooms are also a great addition to your diet. They are very tasty and easy to prepare. Even if you are not a fan of mushrooms, you are sure to find the ones that you would like, since there is a great variety of them. Mushrooms are fat-free and low in sodium and calories while being rich in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They are a great source of selenium, copper, thiamin, magnesium, and phosphorus. Some of the health benefits of mushroom consumption include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. There are lots of ways in which you can prepare your mushrooms. You can eat them canned, bake them, make a mushroom soup, add them to a salad, or eat them as a garnish.
Grains are also an important component of any diet. An individual on this diet needs 5 ounces of grains (6). An ounce of grains count as:
- A slice of bread.
- It can also count as 1 ounce of ready to eat cereal.
- It can also count as ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal.
These are important macronutrients in a particular diet. Proteins help in muscle growth and repairing tissues, among many other uses in the body. An individual on this 1600-calorie diet needs 4 ounces of proteins (6). An ounce of protein counts as:
- An ounce of either cooked or canned lean meats, poultry, or seafood.
- It also counts as 1 egg.
- It also counts as 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
- An ounce of protein also counts as ¼ cup of cooked beans or peas.
- It also counts as ½ ounce of nuts or seeds.
Dairy is also important in a diet. In this, you need 3 cups of dairy in a day (6). A cup of dairy counts as:
- A cup of milk.
- It can also count as a cup of yogurt.
- A cup of a fortified soy beverage.
- It can also count as 1 ½ ounce of natural cheese or 2 ounces of processed cheese.
Oils are also important in one’s diet. They help provide the body with energy at times as well as insulate the body from cold. A person on this diet needs 22 grams of oil (about 1 ⅝ tablespoons) in a day (6).
It is extremely important to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats should be avoided, since they only increase the levels of bad cholesterol, adding to the risk of various serious health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
Healthy fats, including mono- and polyunsaturated fats, on the contrary, reduce the risk of the above-listed diseases and promote optimal health. That is why it is recommended that your intake of unhealthy fats should be no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake. Try to replace the unhealthy fats with their healthy counterparts. You can find plenty of healthy fats in fatty fish, avocadoes, olives, nuts and seeds, and their oils.
What Amount Of Macros Should Be In Your 1600-Calorie Meal Plan?
Carbs, proteins and fats are three major macronutrients your body needs. Different macros have different uses in the body. The calories in your diet come from macronutrients you take. There is a certain amount of each macro that is required in each meal plan depending on the meal plan. Here is how much of each macronutrient you should have in your 1600-calorie meal plan.
Carbs are used to provide the body with the needed energy. This is the reason your body needs carbohydrates in larger amounts compared to the other macros. 45% to 65% of a person’s diet should be composed of carbs (8). A gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. In a 1600-calorie diet, this is the number of carbs you need:
45% of 1600 calories = 720 calories
720 calories = 180 grams of carbohydrate
65% of 1600 calories = 1040 calories
1040 calories = 260 grams of carbohydrate
You need to consume between 180 grams and 260 grams of carbohydrates in a day.
Proteins are essential to one’s diet. 10% to 30% of a person’s diet should be composed of proteins (8). A gram of protein contains 4 calories. In a 1600-calorie diet, this is the number of proteins you need:
10% of 1600 calories = 160 calories
160 calories = 40 grams of protein
30% of 1600 calories = 480 calories
480 calories = 120 grams of protein
You need to consume between 40 grams and 120 grams of proteins in a day.
Fats are important for your body as they can also be used as an energy source when carbs are not enough. 20% to 35% of a person’s diet should be composed of fats (8). A gram of fats contains 9 calories. In a 1600-calorie diet, this is the number of fats you need:
20% of 1600 calories = 320 calories
320 calories = 35.6 grams of fat
35% of 1600 calories = 560 calories
560 calories = 62.2 grams of fat
You need to consume between 35 grams and 63 grams of fats in a day.
Can One Lose Weight On A 1600-Calorie Meal Plan?
To lose weight, you need to adopt a diet that will trigger a caloric deficit as well as promote healthy eating patterns. A 1600-calorie diet may be able to do so. For a diet to be sustainable, it does not need to be too restrictive. A sustainable meal plan not only allows you to lose weight in a healthy way, but also helps you to keep off the weight you’ve lost. Losing weight in a healthy manner means losing between 1 to 2 pounds in a week.
For one to lose weight, they must consume less calories than they burn in a day. One is recommended to reduce their daily calorie intake by 500 calories or 1000 calories (5). If you reduce 500 calories in a day, by the end of the week you will have lost 1 pound. This is because 1 pound is made up of 3500 calories. If you reduce 1000 calories in a day, by the end of the week you should have lost around 2 pounds.
If you are a person who usually consumes 2100 calories and above in a day, consuming 1600 calories which is a 500 calorie deficit from your normal intake will promote weight loss (5). When you are losing weight, it is important to remember that the quality of food is crucial in your weight loss journey. Healthy foods promote better weight loss. This is primarily because they do not contain saturated fats and added sugars. Saturated fats and added sugar trigger weight gain and no weight loss at all.
About High-Fiber Foods And More
It is also important to incorporate high fiber foods into your 1600-calorie meal plan. Apart from fiber helping in digestion and helping prevent constipation, it also helps control one’s appetite for a longer period of time. This reduces the amount of calories you take in a day and hence promotes weight loss while not making you feel hungry or unsatisfied. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. This is because fruits and vegetables contain very low calories while at the same time being very healthy.
If you feel as if this meal plan is not giving you quick results, you can incorporate exercises. One assured way of losing weight is a good diet with regular exercising (7). Adding exercises to your diet plan helps create an even larger caloric deficit, hence promoting more weight loss. The more strenuous an exercise is the more weight you are probably going to lose from it. Of course this does not mean that you should go and do exercises you cannot handle.
To make sure you are doing everything right, you need to find a way of counting calories (5). This helps you know when you are about to exceed the required calories you are supposed to take which in this case is 1600 calories. There are many different applications that can help you with this.
It is important to remember that even though this is a low calorie diet, losing weight will not happen immediately. Losing weight takes time and requires a lot of discipline. If eating 1600 calories a day does not help you lose weight, you should consult an expert, as they are in a better position to advise you on what to do to lose weight.
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Simple 1600-Calorie Meal Plan
Day One (9)
- 1 Servings of Sweet Potato Hash
Calories 303.7, Fats: 14.8g, Carbs: 32.3g, Protein: 11.4g
- 1 Servings of Southwestern Eggs
- 1 Apple
Calories: 350.4, Fats: 18.6g, Carbs: 28.3g, Protein: 19.4g
- 1 Servings of Blueberry protein pudding
- Calories: 349.1, Fat: 3g, Carbs: 21.6 g, Protein: 58.5g
- 1 cinnamon banana mug cake
- 1 banana nut oatmeal
Calories: 597.7 Fat: 26g, Carbs: 78.3g, Protein: 21.7g
Total Calories for the day: 1601
Day Two (2)
- Scrambled Eggsadilla
- Pork with Veggies
- Winter Sausage and Lentil Salad
- 1 Starbucks tall 2 percent milk latte
- 1 banana
- 2 Keebler Sandies Cookies
Total Calories for the day: 1510
Day Three (11)
- Spicy Breakfast Tacos
- Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Panini
- Healthier Slow Cooker Texas Roadhouse Chili for Two
- Skinny Cheeseburger Boats
- Asparagus, Cherry Tomato, and Feta Tart
- Chai Spiced Candied Nuts
Total Calories for the day: 1617
That is an example of a simple 1600-calorie meal plan. You can modify your diet as you wish. There are people who would prefer to go for three 500 calorie meals and one 100 calorie snack. Others would rather go for three meals and two snacks. How you divide your 1600 calories does not really matter. What matters is making sure you only consume 1600 calories in a day.
The Bottom Line
The 1600-calorie meal plan is a good food plan to join if you want to lose weight. It is not too restrictive and hence can be sustained over a long period of time. Before you join this meal plan, you should consult a dietician as they will tell you if this diet is suitable for you. The key to following a diet successfully is to make sure you plan ahead, and this applies for this diet as well. To make sure you get better results, make sure you workout while still on this diet.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 day diabetes meal plan (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- 7-Day Diet Meal Plan to Lose Weight: 1,600 Calories (2016, eatingwell.com)
- 1,600-Calorie-a-Day Meal Plan (2019, livestrong.com)
- 1600 Calorie Diet and Meal Plan (n.d., freedieting.com)
- Can I Still Lose Weight on 1600 Calories a Day? (2019, livestrong.com
- DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS 2015-2020 EIGHTH EDITION (n.d., dietaryguidelines.gov)
- Low-Calorie Diets Mean High-Quality Lives, Research Shows (2016, everydayhealth.com)
- Macronutrients 101 (2019, verywellfit.com)
- Put your diet on autopilot (n.d., eatthismuch.com)
- Sample Diabetes-Friendly 1600-Calorie Meal Plan (2020, verywellhealth.com)
- The Best Diet Plan for Weight Loss: 1600-Calorie Plan (n.d., skinnyms.com)
- Your 1,600-Calorie Day (2014, womenshealthmag.com)