2500 Calorie Diet
Imagine having to eat a 2500 calorie diet every day. Most of us would shudder at the thought. How can one person eat this much food and calories in a single day? How can you function?
When thinking about a 2500 calorie diet plan, most of us would automatically assume that this is a free pass to having all the fried chicken, burgers, french fries and pizza that you would like. However, this is not true.
You can still have healthy food on a 2500 calorie diet. After all, professional athletes can consume up to 8000 calories a day, depending on their choice of sport. Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps once admitted to eating about 12,000 calories a day in 2008 (6).
What does a 2500 calorie diet look like?
A healthy 2500 calorie diet includes a balance of macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fat – which will help you get all the micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – you need for energy and wellbeing.
Who should have 2500 calorie diet?
Calorie intake can be quite different even in people who look alike. This is because it is dependent on multiple factors such as age, amount of physical activity, height and weight, hormones, medication and general state of health (11).
However, as a general rule, average women have 2000 calories to maintain their weight and about 1500 calories to lose about half a kilogram per week. Men, on the other hand, need 2,500 calories to maintain, and 2,000 to lose weight. To resume, you need to cut your typical daily calorie intake by 500 calories per day to lose about one kilogram per week.
That being said, there are some exceptions to the rule (2):
- Sedentary to moderately active men ages 19 to 30.
- Moderately active men ages 31 to 50.
- Active men who are 51 years old and above.
- When it comes to active women, their calorie intake mostly caps off at 2200 calories a day; however, if any woman is incredibly active, they can require up to 2500 calories a day. Such women include bodybuilders, gym trainers, firefighters, athletes etc.
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Can I use the 2500 calorie diet to gain muscle?
Yes, you can. This is commonly known as bulking. For anyone who constantly lifts weights and wants more muscle, this diet could be appropriate for you (4).
Sometimes bodybuilders can exercise and eat 2500 calories per day to gain muscle and lose some body weight without losing already existing muscle (3). This is commonly known as a cutting diet.
If you are not sure where or how to begin, this simple five-day 2500 calorie diet meal plan can help you get started:
- Breakfast – One scoop of whey protein, 20 grams of blueberries, 2 whole eggs and 5 egg whites.
- Cals: 474. Fat: 15 g, Carbs: 23 g, Protein: 53.8 g
- Snack – 2 small bananas and one scoop of protein powder
- Cals: 534 Fats: 3 g, Carbs: 61 g, Protein: 46 g
- Lunch – 125 g of cooked brown rice, 198 g of cooked chicken breast, 80 g of mixed salad (vegetables of your choice).
- Cals: 470. Fat: 4 g, Carbs: 30 g, Protein: 63 g
- Afternoon snack– 4 boiled egg whites, 1 apple and 2 scoops of whey protein powder (mixed with water).
- Cals: 476. Fat: 5 g, Carbs: 30 g, Protein: 62 g
- Dinner – 198 g of chicken breast, 60 g of sweet potato and 80 g of mixed salad.
- Cals: 393. Fat: 5 g, Carbs: 15 g, Protein: 61 g
- Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,347. Fat: 32 g, Carbs: 159 g, Protein: 285.8 g
- Breakfast – 268 g of egg whites, two slices of sprouted bread, reduced sugar jam and sugar-free ketchup.
- Cals: 319. Fat: 0 g, Carbs: 43 g, Protein: 36 g
- Snack – Protein bar (68 g) and black coffee.
- Cals: 270. Fat: 9 g, Carbs: 29 g, Protein: 20 g
- Lunch – 74 g of oats, one medium-sized banana, 10 g of coconut flakes and 3 pieces of 70% dark chocolate.
- Cals: 482. Fat: 20.9 g, Carbs: 87.6 g, Protein: 38.1 g
- Snack – One large nectarine.
- Cals: 70. Fat: 0.5 g, Carbs: 16.5 g, Protein: 1.7 g
- Lunch #2 – 150 g lean ground beef, 1 cup of cauliflower florets, 150 g of Jasmine rice and 1 tbsp hoisin sauce.
- Cals: 805. Fat: 35.5 g, Carbs: 64.8 g, Protein: 53.4 g
- Dinner – 1 cup of broccoli florets, 1 can of tuna and one medium-size sweet potato (baked).
- Cals: 307. Fat: 1.4 g, Carbs: 43 g, Protein: 34.5 g
- Dessert – 2 low-calorie ice cream bars.
- Cals: 160. Fat: 2 g, Carbs: 28 g, Protein: 10 g
- Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,413. Fat: 69.3 g, Carbs: 311.9 g, Protein: 193.7 g
- Breakfast – 2 6-inch buttermilk pancakes, 2 slices bacon, 2 pats butter, 3 tbsp pure maple syrup.
- Cals: 673. Fat: 29.4 g, Carbs: 85 g, Protein: 17 g
- Snack – 1 medium banana and 1 cup oatmeal.
- Cals: 286. Fat: 4 g, Carbs: 55.1 g, Protein: 7.5 g
- Lunch – 1 bagel, 113 g sliced turkey, 2 slices tomato, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 slice cheddar cheese, 1 tsp mustard, 2 slices avocado.
- Cals: 632. Fat: 20 g, Carbs: 70.4 g, Protein: 42.5 g
- Snack – 1 container Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup raspberries and 28 g pretzels.
- Cals: 248. Fat: 4 g, Carbs: 36 g, Protein: 17 g
- Dinner – 113 g chicken breast, 1 cup white rice, 1/2 chopped bell pepper, green onion, 1/2 red onion, 1/2 cup mushrooms, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 egg and 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.
- Cals: 609. Fat: 21 g, Carbs: 55 g, Protein: 50 g
- Total intake for the day: Calories: 2448. Fat: 79 g, Carbs: 301 g, Protein: 134 g (10)
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- Breakfast – 1 cup of oats, 1 cup low-fat milk, 1.5 cups of coffee, 1 tbsp half and half cream, 2 medium oranges and 1 tsp of sugar.
- Cals: 453.6. Fat: 4.9 g, Carbs: 89.3 g, Protein: 46.2 g
- Snack – 1 medium-sized banana and 3 tbsp of peanut butter.
- Cals: 390. Fat: 25.1 g, Carbs: 37.2 g, Protein: 13.2 g
- Lunch – 1 medium-sized apple, 3 slices of whole wheat bread, 28 g of cheddar cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, 1.5 cups of tea, 1 tsp of sugar, 57 g of turkey breast and 1 tbsp of mayonnaise.
- Cals: 604.5. Fat: 20.2 g, Carbs: 71.6 g, Protein: 34.7 g
- Snack – 2 slices of rye bread, 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of tuna and 1 medium peach.
- Cals: 365. Fat: 6 g, Carbs: 75 g, Protein: 40 g
- Dinner – 113 g of salmon, 1 cup of brown rice, 2 cups of skim milk, 1 large garden salad and 4 tbsp honey mustard.
- Cals: 755. Fat: 16.2 g, Carbs: 111.4 g, Protein: 47.2 g
- Total intake for the day: Calories: 2568. Fat: 72 g, Carbs: 385 g, Protein: 118.2 g
- Breakfast – 1/2 cup of oats, 1 cup of strawberries, 1 large egg and 3 egg whites (boiled), 1.25 cups of almond milk and 1 scoop of whey protein.
- Cals: 478. Fat: 13 g, Carbs: 47 g, Protein: 48 g
- Snack – 227 g of shredded chicken breast, 2 low-carb whole-wheat wraps and 1 cup of bell peppers.
- Cals: 370. Fat: 10 g, Carbs: 31 g, Protein: 55 g
- Lunch – 4 cups of romaine lettuce and spinach mix, 12 grape tomatoes, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 reduced-fat cheese sticks, 150 g Greek yogurt and 1 cup of roasted almonds.
- Cals: 469. Fat: 24 g, Carbs: 29 g, Protein: 36 g
- Snack – 1.25 cups of unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop of whey protein, 150 g of greek yogurt and 1 cup of mixed frozen fruits.
- Cals: 348. Fat: 4 g, Carbs: 38 g, Protein: 37 g
- Snack – 1 scoop of whey protein mixed with water.
- Cals: 120. Fat: 1 g, Carbs: 3 g, Protein: 24 g
- Dinner – 226 g of lean ground beef, 1/2 cup of brown rice and 2 cups of steamed broccoli.
- Cals: 442. Fat: 10 g, Carbs: 38 g, Protein: 56 g
- Dessert: 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese and 1 cup of strawberries.
- Cals: 229. Fat: 5 g, Carbs: 22 g, Protein: 25 g
- Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,456. Fat: 67 g, Carbs: 208 g, Protein: 281 g
Can you do a 2500 calorie keto diet?
Yes, it is possible. Being on a ketogenic diet does not mean that you cannot hit the micros and macros required for the 2500 calorie diet plan. Here is an example of a one-day menu to give you an idea of how to eat:
- Breakfast – 2 tablespoons psyllium husk, 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, 2-3 g EPA/DHA fish oil.
- Cals: 188. Fat: 15 g, Carbs: 4 g, Protein: 0 g
- Snack – 113 g ribeye steak, 3 large eggs, 3 slices of pan-fried pork bacon, 1 cup of steamed spinach.
- Cals: 691. Fat: 43 g, Carbs: 4 g, Protein: 63 g
- Lunch – 4 pork sausage links, 1 cup of sliced avocado, and 1 medium tomato.
- Cals: 581. Fat: 48 g, Carbs: 5 g, Protein: 23 g
- Snack – 2 ounces of feta cheese, 1 low-carb tortilla wrap, 1/2 cup of diced cooked chicken breast, 1 cup of chopped celery.
- Cals: 398. Fat: 17 g, Carbs: 9 g, Protein: 36 g
- Dinner – 226 g of salmon, 28 g of grated Parmesan cheese, 3 cups of steamed cauliflower, 1.25 tablespoons of butter.
- Cals: 637. Fat: 37 g, Carbs: 6 g, Protein: 61 g
- Total intake for the day: Calories: 2,495. Fat: 160 g, Carbs: 28 g, Protein: 183 g (7)
Can you use a 2500 calorie diet for weight loss?
Yes, you can. But this is entirely reliable on how many calories you were previously eating per day. If you are struggling with your weight and do not know how much calories you are currently consuming, you can start by downloading a fitness app that has a calorie counter.
Input all the meals you eat in a day, and it will let you know the final amount. If the final number is above 2500, then this diet might help. However, if the number is below, stay away from this 2500 calorie diet meal plan.
Instead, choose to cut about 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your everyday diet. This will help you prompt a gradual weight loss where you can lose about 1 to 2 pounds (half a kg to one kilogram), a week.
The Bottom Line
A 2500 calorie diet is not as hard as people may think it is. Not only can you eat clean and healthy meals, but it can also work as a good weight loss plan for people struggling with being overweight or obese. It is also used by bodybuilders who wish to shed some fat for better muscle definition or weight lifters who want to gain muscle.
That being said, it is only helpful as a weight loss solution to this small group of people. For the average person, a 2500 calorie diet plan is a lot and will only serve to increase your weight. Unless you fit into the above two categories, choose to eat within the recommended 1600 calories for women or 2000 cals for men to maintain your weight – or less for weight loss.
As usual, always take your health into consideration before attempting any changes to your diet and calorie intake. Make an appointment with your doctor or registered dietitian to discuss any changes that you might wish to make.
What should you have on a 2500 calorie diet
Like all diets, it is best only to consume healthy foods and avoid processed, sugar-loaded items that wrecks our bodies. Some of the top healthy foods you should seek to consume include:
- Fruits such as apples, bananas, mango, pineapple or kiwi fruit (5)
- Vegetables such as broccoli, kale and other leafy greens
- Low-fat and fat-free milk and yogurts
- Meats such as salmon, lean beef and chicken breast and eggs (9)
- Complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs. Complex carbs include brown rice, barley, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, oats, and wild rice
- Legumes such as beans (kidney, black, pinto, etc.) chickpeas, peanuts and peas (8)
As long as you stay within your recommended calories and micro and macronutrients, you can comfortably eat any of the above foods. Make sure to keep track of your intake via a fitness app.
What are the protein, carbs, and fat grams need for a 2500 calorie diet?
We do not all follow the same diets, and some people do not care to diet at all. However, it is always a good idea to keep in mind what you eat and how much of it you ingest. For anyone on the 2500 calorie diet meal plan, here are some guidelines that you can use to keep track of your protein, carbs and fat intake during the day (1).
For anyone who is a vegetarian, to achieve 2,500 calories in a day, you will need:
- 1,300 cal of carbs = 325 g
- 450 cal of proteins = 113 g
- 800 cal of fats = 89 g
For you to hit your macro and micronutrients, you will have to eat:
- 1,375 cal of carbs = 344 g
- 350 cal of proteins = 88 g
- 850 cal of fats = 94 g
The following measurements are specifically for the 40-30-30 diet plan, which means 40% of your calories are from carbohydrate, 30% from fat and 30% from protein :
- 1000 cal of carbs = 250 g
- 750 cal of protein = 188 g
- 750 cal of fats = 83 g
If you are not on any specific diet, you can still follow the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines to enable you to consume the desired 2500 calories a day. An example of this is:
- 1275 cal of carbs = 319 g
- 450 cal of protein = 113 g
- 825 cal of fats = 92 g
How to eat a 2500 calorie diet
If you are confused about how to increase your calorie intake to 2,500 per day, the key is to start small. If you have been eating 1200, 1600 or 2000 calories per day, jumping to 2500 can be quite hard.
Instead, opt to increase your food intake by 50 to 100 calories every few days. This will help you and your body adjust to higher food intake. Eventually, in a few weeks, you will be able to eat a 2500 calorie diet with no fuss comfortably.
You must also remember to exercise. The more calories you burn, the more you will be able to consume. If your goal is to gain muscle and not weight then working out is a must even as you work towards the goal of eating a 2500 calorie diet.
Remember that a proper diet is not everything you need. Supplement it with this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge!
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!
- Daily Diet Composition Charts for Carbs, Protein, and Fat (2020, verywellfit.com)
- Estimated Calorie Requirements (2008, webmd.com)
- Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Exactly How Many Calories Do You Need? (n.d, mensjournal.com)
- Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight (2020, cdc.gov)
- How Many Calories Do Olympic Athletes Need? (2016, npr.org)
- Ketogenic Meal Plans: Lose Fat, Preserve Muscle (2018, muscleandstrength.com)
- Legumes: A quick and easy switch to improve your diet (2018, health.harvard.edu)
- What are the most healthful foods? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Does 2,500 Calories Look Like? (2020, bodybuilding.com)
- What should my daily intake of calories be? (2019, nhs.uk)