1600 Calorie Diet: What Should You Eat + Sample Meal Plan

Women need at least 1,600 calories per day, while men need at least 2,000 calories per day. However, to lose weight you need to strictly cut calories to 1,600.

1600 calorie diet calipers measuring sandwhich

What do you eat on a 1600 calorie diet? Before showing you a sample meal plan, let’s first explore what calories are, including the essential nutrients you need in your body.


What Is a Calorie?

The term calorie is often misunderstood that some people even associate it to being unhealthy or overweight. Calories are actually of vital importance because it provides us the energy to get on with our daily activities. It becomes a health issue when mismanaged. For example, when a person overeats, they consume more calories than what is actually needed. Thus, those excess calories become stored fats in the body. It eventually burns for energy consumption if the person eats fewer calories the next time. However, if they continually overeat, then they exposed themselves to potential health problems like obesity or any heart-related conditions.

Calories defined

A calorie is an energy unit that measures the amount of needed heat to increase the temperature of a gram of water to one degree Celsius. The calories found in foods and beverages are used by the body for energy consumption by burning these calories. It doesn’t only provide physical vitality but it also supports proper function of internal organs.

The caloric content found in either foods or drinks usually contains three major compounds called macronutrients, these are:


It’s the body main source of energy. According to studies, adults needed 45 to 65% of carbohydrates in their daily intake of calories. It’s easy to metabolize that the body can use it immediately for energy consumption. Examples of foods rich in carbohydrates include milk, yogurt, potatoes, and grains.


Recommended daily allowance for adults is between 10 to 35% of their daily calorie intake. It aides cell development, in fact, more than 50% of its dry weight is composed of protein. Recent studies observed that individuals’ living in first world countries eat more protein than what is necessary. This is the reason why most cases of obesity and overweight occur in these regions of the world.


It’s been given a bad reputation in recent years but it’s as equally as important as carbohydrates and proteins. Among macronutrients, fats provide more energy. It only becomes a health issue if we eat excessively.


Why Do We Need to Track Our Calorie Intake?

If you’re trying to manage your weight, then counting calories is a must do. You may have heard someone say that to lose weight you just have to cut your calorie intake. Though practically true, it’s not that simple especially if you’re serious in bringing that weight down. In our modern society, managing food intake can be tricky.

In the past few years, a number of scientific researches were made regarding excess calorie intake called overfeeding studies. In this research, participants were asked to intentionally overeat and afterward evaluate their weight and general health condition. Time and time again, results conclusively tell us that if we consume more calories than what is needed, they would not only result in gaining weight but also potential health problems. This study proves that restricting and counting calorie intake helps us to maintain a healthy weight.

Counting your calorie intake may seem arduous but it’ll feel rewarding once we finally see the results.  Just imagine—a more slender physique and you’ll feel lighter and healthier.


1,600 Calorie a Day

Calorie intake depends on age, sex, and weight. Activity level is also an important factor to determine how much calorie is needed by a person. The reason is that calories are primarily burned through physical activities and not all of us have the same level of proactivity.

According to the American Dietary Guideline for 2010, women need 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day. On the other hand, men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. However, if you want to lose weight, most people use a 1,600 calories diet plan which works on both men and women.

The diet is mostly composed of nutrient-rich foods that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and specific amounts of meat-based protein. One article suggests that the diet plan consists of three meals per day and one snack. This means that each meal consists of 500 calories and 100 calories for the snack.

Sample Diet Plan


It’s also advisable not to skip meals especially breakfast because persons who skip meals have tendencies to overeat the next meal. Examples of a 500 calorie breakfast include the following:

  • Oatmeal:

Chopped 12 almonds and 2 tablespoons of raisins topped on a 1 ½ cups of oatmeal paired with a cup of nonfat dairy milk.

  • Bento box:

Prepare a bento box then mixed in one hard-boiled egg, half cup of low-fat cottage cheese, and ¼ cup of almonds then topped it with three pieces of whole grain crackers and a half cup of berries. This meal should contain at least 454 calories.

  • Egg and bacon sandwich:

Toast two whole-wheat bread then fill it with 1 scrambled egg, 2 slices of bacon, 1 slice of tomato, 1 slice of cheddar cheese, and 1 cup of spinach. This meal contains at least 30g of protein and 410 calories overall.



At lunch, it’s recommended to eat meat-based proteins but make sure that it’s lean meat. Some examples of lean meat include seafood, beef loins, red meat, or light amounts of poultry meat.

  • Grilled chicken:

Place 3 ounces of grilled chicken in a bowl then mixed it with ¼ cup of carrots and broccoli.

  • Grilled salmon:

Sauté 1 cup of broccoli with 1 teaspoon of olive oil then mixed it with 3 ounces of grilled salmon in a bowl and 1 cup of cooked brown rice.

  • Stir-fried vegetables:

Prepare 1 cup each of carrot, bell pepper, tofu, beans, and broccoli. Add 1 teaspoon of chili flakes and balsamic vinegar. Preheat the pan with small amounts of olive oil and mix all the ingredients then stir-fry.



At night time, it’s advisable to focus on fruits and vegetable because meat, in particular, takes a few hours to digest. In addition, fruits and vegetable are abundant with fiber that helps you feel full and crave less. Examples of a 500 calorie dinner include:

  • Entrée salad:

Place 3 ounces of grilled chicken in a bowl then mix it with 2 cups of leafy green vegetables, a ½ cup of chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of salad dressing, 1 cup of sugar-free yogurt, and sliced pear.


Snacks are preferable to be taken at mid-afternoon to lessen cravings at night time. As with prior suggested menus, the snack must also contain nutrient-rich ingredients. An example of a 100 calorie menu includes a half cup of nonfat dairy milk and a half cup of whole-grain then mix it with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, one slice of apple, 2 cups of leafy vegetables, 3 cups of popped popcorn, and 2 tablespoons of salad dressing.

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