2000 kcal is the average daily caloric intake for most adults¹. However, the amount of food that contains these calories varies greatly depending on the type of food consumed. This leads to a completely different feeling of fullness.
Below you will find examples of how 2000 kcal looks like ready-to-eat industrial foods (mainly sweets and fast foods) and, for comparison, in the form of homemade food made with natural and even inexpensive products.
What do calories look like in the stomach?
Unfortunately, the human body cannot directly determine the caloric content of the food eaten. Although after eating, we feel full, satiety depends mainly on the physical volume of food and not on its calorie content.
When the stomach lining is stretched by ingestion of food, different mechanoreceptors are activated and then send a signal to the brain. If the diet is high volume, you will feel full, no matter how many calories the food contains. Chemoreceptors in the gut and liver also contribute to the determination of satiety. The hormones leptin and ghrelin influence this.
That said, the energy density of food is defined as the energy content per gram (kcal / g) and depends on the amount of liquid in the food. For example, cucumber has low energy density since water is an essential part of its composition. A donut, for example, has a high energy density due to both the low water content and the high-fat content. By consuming the same amount of calories in sweets and vegetables, the vegetables will create noticeably more stable satiety.
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2,000 kcal in processed foods
Ultra-processed foods refer to foods manufactured in a factory or fast food restaurant. Ultra-processed foods are made primarily from other substances extracted from food, such as starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats. They do not require cooking and are available for immediate consumption. They usually consist of added ingredients, such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colors or preservatives. Here’s what 2000 kcal looks like in industrial foods:
- Juice, sandwich, chips, and cookies
Although this set of foods looks like a single meal, it contains a daily intake of 2000 calories. Ingredients: reconstituted fruit juice (250 kcal); large sandwich with chorizo, cheese, and mayonnaise (1088 kcal); French fries (220 kcal) and cookies (420 kcal).
- McDonald’s lunch
A medium-sized Mcdonald’s combo contains approximately 1400 kcal; if you add ice cream for dessert, it is more than enough to reach 2000 kcal per day. Trying to replace regular cola with a sugar-free drink will cut calories by 200 calories; however, this does not solve the problem of excess calories in such foods at all. Detail of caloric value: chicken and bacon sandwich (750 kcal); French fries (340 kcal); regular cola (200 kcal); dessert (690 kcal).
- Burrito (shawarma), chips, cola
At first glance, a burrito or other Middle Eastern fast food seems healthy and low in calories. Instead, a dinner of this type can contain more than 2000 kcal calories due to the high-fat content. Detail of caloric value: shawarma with meat (945 kcal); chips with guacamole sauce (770 kcal); regular cola (275 kcal).
- Starbucks snack
Just one snack at Starbucks can exceed your 2000Kcal per day. Also, keep in mind that each drink contains almost 100% of the daily value for sugar. Caloric value: large frappuccino (460 kcal); late (190 kcal); fruit smoothie (270 kcal); toast with cheese (580 kcal); popcorn (125 kcal); croissant with chorizo (410 kcal).
- Slice of pizza, drink, and sweets.
Request an energy chart at a fast-food restaurant if you think that a small slice of pizza physically cannot contain many calories. It is usually the addition of large amounts of cheese and ultra-processed carbohydrates. Ingredients: two pieces of pizza with minced meat (880 kcal); chicken wings with cheese sauce (340 kcal); regular sprite (440 kcal); two pieces of biscuit (360 kcal).
- Pasta with fried chicken
Many fast-food restaurants rank as “healthier,” apparently compared to dry sandwiches). However, it is easy to find a plate in them that completely covers your daily calorie intake. A large plate of pasta with fried chicken in a creamy sauce contains about 2370 kcal.
- A piece of chocolate cake with a drink
Lovers of sweets often turn a blind eye to the number of calories in cakes (on average 500-600 kcal per small piece); in some cases, a serving of sweets can provide energy for the entire day. A large part of chocolate cake contains 1790 kcal, cappuccino (220 kcal.
- Shake with cream
Consuming a shake with caramel with peanut butter provides about 2090 kcal. Parents who buy a sugary shake for their children often do not know that it can contain the amount of added sugar for a week, leading to obesity.
2000 kcal – examples of homemade food
More and more nutritionists recommend reducing the consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods, preferring exclusively foods prepared from whole natural foods: vegetables, natural cereals, and meats at home. With the same caloric content, the food content of this type of diet is fundamentally different. Here’s what 2000 kcal of homemade food looks like:
- Diet with buckwheat, chicken, and vegetables
With the set of dishes seen in the image, 2000 calories are covered per day. We have a place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are even allowing a glass of wine at the day’s last meal. Detail of calories: natural yogurt with fruits and nuts (210 kcal), pear (100 kcal), toast with jam (85 kcal), coffee without sugar (2 kcal), buckwheat with ground meat (400 kcal), soft drink without sugar (0 kcal)), breadsticks (220 kcal), chicken breast with salad (490 kcal), Brussels sprouts and zucchini (55 kcal), water (0 kcal), wine (120 kcal), cookies (200 kcal).
- Diet with chicken, pasta, and pumpkin
Eating 2000 Kcal and feeling full is possible. The critical point is to serve the right, varied and balanced portions. Also, be sure always to include some source of protein in all your meals. Detail of calories:
- Natural yogurt with red fruits (130 kcal)
- Fried pumpkin with chicken egg (175 kcal)
- Rich soup (420 kcal)
- Tortilla chips (120 kcal)
- Water (0 kcal)
- Coffee without sugar (2 kcal)
- Chicken wings (280 kcal)
- Chicken and broccoli pasta (435 kcal)
- Beer (155 kcal)
- Poached pear ice cream (370 kcal)
While most people realize that fast food is high in calories, few realize that a single fast-food can easily cover 100% of their daily energy needs. This is a common cause of overeating and weight gain.