Sample Diabetes-Friendly 2000-Calorie Meal Plan

Find out how much delicious food you can eat for 2,000 calories

Pancakes with strawberries.
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Diabetes meal planning should be individualized to meet a persons' lifestyle, energy needs, and overall health. Calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat needs will vary based on whether or not a person with diabetes needs to lose weight, reduce blood sugar, or fat levels in the blood. Meal plans for diabetes should be well-balanced, adding a variety of non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and complex, fiber rich carbohydrates. The following meal plan has been created for a 2000 calorie diet.

What to Think About When Meal Planning

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and the nutrient that impacts blood sugar the most. People with diabetes need to monitor their carbohydrate intake because excess carbohydrates, particularly in the form of white, refined, processed, and sugary foods can elevate blood sugars, and triglycerides and result in weight gain. When thinking about carbohydrates, you'll want to think about portions as well as type. Choose carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, such as, whole grains, starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, low-fat dairy, such as Greek yogurt, and low-glycemic index fruits, such as, berries. Most people benefit from eating around 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and 15 to 20 grams per snack, but this will depend on your blood sugar control, physical activity, and weight, to name a few. It's always a good idea to meet with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to determine how many carbohydrates are right for you. Keep in mind that every gram of carbohydrates contains about four calories.

Therefore, if you are eating, 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and 30 grams per snack, you'll be ingesting 660 calories from carbohydrates per day. 

Protein: Protein is the macronutrient that contains no carbohydrates (unless breaded or drenched in sauce). Adequate protein intake is important for boosting immunity, wound healing, muscle recovery, and has satiating power. When eating a calorie controlled diet, it's important to choose lean protein (as these types will have less calories and fat). Stick to sources, such as white meat chicken, pork, turkey, lean beef (95% lean), egg whites, and low-fat dairy. If you are vegan or vegetarian, beans, and soy-based protein, such as edamame, and tofu are also sources of protein, but keep in mind they contain carbohydrate, too. Protein also contains four calories per gram. Some studies suggest that eating a higher fat, higher protein breakfast can reduce hemoglobin A1C in people with diabetes. 

Fat: Fat is another macronutrient that contains no carbohydrate. Fat plays an important role in the body, and is necessary for absorbing fat soluble vitamins. Essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6, are building blocks of hair, skin, and nails and are important in brain health and have anti-inflammatory properties. When choosing sources of fat, you'll want to choose unsaturated fats such as oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish like sardines, and salmon. Limit saturated fat and trans fat as often as possible, such as full fat cheese, fried foods, high fat meats like sausage and bacon, butter, cream, and sweets such as cookies and cakes. Portions of fat should also be monitored, even healthy fats, because fat calories can add up quickly. One gram of fat contains nine calories. 

2000 Calories Is Not Right for Everyone

A 2000-calorie diabetes diet is not for every person with diabetes. For some, 2000 calories may be too much. However, 2000 calories will meet the energy needs of some people with diabetes. It's probably best if you have a more active lifestyle, are taller than average, and younger than 65. If you've received a 2000-calorie diabetes diet prescription, your doctors will have taken all of these factors into account.

This sample plan provides a total of 2000 calories. The meals contain roughly the same amount of carbohydrates per meal and the fat sources are high in "good," unsaturated fats. Read more about diabetic meal planning.

Sample 3 Day Meal Plan

Day 1

Breakfast:

  • Low-carb pancakes recipe (serving size 2)
  • 1 small container of low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Coffee with 1 tablespoon half-and-half

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 37 grams

Lunch:

  • 1 serving tuna and walnut salad recipe
  • 1 cup raw salad greens with 1/2 cup chickpeas (rinsed) 1 teaspoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon
  • 1 small whole-grain wrap
  • 1 small 4 ounce apple
  • 8 to 10 ounces water or sugar-free beverage

Total Carbohydrate: ~53 grams

Snack:

  • 12 raw unsalted almonds
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cereal
  • 8 to 10 ounces water or sugar-free beverage

Total Carbohydrate: ~18 grams

Dinner

Total Carbohydrate: ~54 grams

Snack

  • 1 ounce low-sodium turkey lunch meat
  • 3 cups air popped popcorn

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 15 grams

Day 2

Breakfast:

Total Carbohydrate: ~31.5 grams

Lunch:

  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 4 ounces of roast turkey (or left over protein from the night before)
  • 1 slice low-fat cheese and 1/3 avocado
  • 1 cup of spinach, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, tomato and carrot tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and vinegar
  • 1 small orange

Total Carbohydrate: ~55 grams

Snack:

  • 2 tablespoons all natural nut butter
  • 1 small pear

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 22 grams

Dinner

  • 6 ounce grilled white meat turkey burger (or 95 percent lean ground beef) topped with 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms and onions
  • 1 large ear of corn (about 8.5 inches)
  • 1 cup cooked sauted string beans
  • 3/4 cup blueberries

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 50 grams

Snack:

Total Carbohydrate: ~6 grams

Day 3

Breakfast

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 31.5 grams

Lunch

  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable soup
  • 1 small low-carbohydrate whole grain wrap (or two slices whole grain bread) topped with lettuce, tomato, and one tablespoon of hummus
  • Celery sticks
  • 1 small kiwi

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 55 grams

Snack

  • 1 whole pepper (orange, yellow, red, green) cut up with 2 tablespoons hummus or guacamole or bean spread

Total Carbohydrate: ~14 grams

Dinner

  • 5 ounces broiled salmon topped with lemon and a dash of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white cannellini beans (rinsed) sauteed with escarole or spinach
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato (about 5 ounces with the skin)
  • Side salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and a teaspoon of olive oil with lemon

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 55 grams

Snack:

  • 3/4 cup raspberries with 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Total Carbohydrate: ~ 16 grams

A Word From Verywell

This sample three day meal plan contains roughly 2000 calories for the entire day. It is a well-rounded nutrient and fiber rich plan that will have you leaving full and satisfied. Keep in mind, that when you have diabetes, your medical team will recommend a diet as part of your treatment plan. Your weight, height, age, activity level, other metabolic stressors, and weight loss needs will be taken into consideration when calculating your total daily calorie needs. 2,000 calories is not meant for everyone.

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