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  1. #1
    Registered User LOFTY87's Avatar
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    Is 2000 Calories a day a good benchmark?

    The number gets thrown around a lot as the correct amount of calories for a man to consume.

    It seems like quite a high number to me. If you ate natural foods you would need to eat quite a lot to reach this or eat lots of nut butter/fatty meats etc.

    Started weighing and tracking my food intake recently, I eat a lot of natural foods and usually eat less than 2000- I've increased my cals since I started tracking them.


    Looking at how other people eat, it seems very few are hitting 2000 calories and the ones that do are going way over it or eating plenty of processed junk.


    Is it an arbitrary number ?
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LOFTY87 View Post
    The number gets thrown around a lot as the correct amount of calories for a man to consume.

    It seems like quite a high number to me. If you ate natural foods you would need to eat quite a lot to reach this or eat lots of nut butter/fatty meats etc.

    Started weighing and tracking my food intake recently, I eat a lot of natural foods and usually eat less than 2000- I've increased my cals since I started tracking them.


    Looking at how other people eat, it seems very few are hitting 2000 calories and the ones that do are going way over it or eating plenty of processed junk.


    Is it an arbitrary number ?
    2000 calories is way too LITTLE for the VAST majority of men to maintain weight, even people who are sedentary.

    You should not use that as a reference.

    You seriously think 2000 calories is 'a lot'!?

    2000 is maybe an average for females.... and not even active ones... just like an average person.
    Last edited by AdamWW; 12-20-2020 at 03:07 PM.
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    Registered User klbbr's Avatar
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    When I'm cutting I aim for 2300 kcal, and I half wonder if that's a too low number for me. 2000 ain't high, quite to the contrary. The NHS recommends 2500 kcal per day for the general population, not for body builders. Your TDEE will depend on height, weight, muscle mass, how active you are and such, so the only real way to find out what you need for cutting or building muscle, is to track and measure yourself. If know just about what your maintenance kcal need are, you add or subtract 250/500 kcal for bulking or cutting.

    If you don't know where to start, start here.
    https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutcal.htm
    The numbers you'll get are bound to be off, but calibrate as you go.
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    Registered User EiFit91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    2000 calories is way too LITTLE for the VAST majority of men to maintain weight, even people who are sedentary.

    You should not use that as a reference.

    You seriously think 2000 calories is 'a lot'!?

    2000 is maybe an average for females.... and not even active ones... just like an average person.
    This. I think the issue is that most people have no idea what 2000 calories actually is. Even people who are "tracking" their calorie intake (e.g. using apps such as MyFitnessPal which contains a lot of systematic errors). People almost universally underestimate how much they are eating so they conclude that 2000 calories is not that little. In reality it is.

    I am about 177-178 lbs now. Work out 4 times a week, but very sedentary life otherwise. Can still cut (slowly) at 2400 calories a day...
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    I think a lot of people are rather sloppy about counting calories. They mostly estimate by focusing on the large food items and ignoring the small items, drinks and sundries because they are too fiddly to count. They probably also over estimate what a portion is rather than actually using scales.

    So usually, they underestimate calories.

    As mentioned 2k is not much for a male, I know I would feel very hungry after a few days, even when only eating bulky minimally processed foods. Your appetite may differ of course. Appetite is a powerful force which is hard to defy in either direction - but I still think the main effect is under estimating calories.
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    Registered User EiFit91's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    I think a lot of people are rather sloppy about counting calories. They mostly estimate by focusing on the large food items and ignoring the small items, drinks and sundries because they are too fiddly to count. They probably also over estimate what a portion is rather than actually using scales.

    So usually, they underestimate calories.

    As mentioned 2k is not much for a male, I know I would feel very hungry after a few days, even when only eating bulky minimally processed foods. Your appetite may differ of course. Appetite is a powerful force which is hard to defy in either direction - but I still think the main effect is under estimating calories.
    I think even when we are accurate about counting we mostly end up underestimating calories anyway. One mechanism is that food companies are allowed to be about 20% off in their information, and they have clear incentives to be off in the direction of underreporting how much calories a food source contains (and I think studies suggest that the bias goes in this direction). But even ignoring this it is so easy to systematically underestimate calories - for instance when I make lasagna for my family for dinner I compute the average calories per gram by weighing and measuring everything that went into making it. But every portion in that dinner will still vary in the calorie count per 100 gram (as the different food sources will be distributed somewhat differently for each portion). If I take "random" portions from it I will just make random counting errors that will cancel out in the end, but if I tend to take portions that have more cheese (because those taste better!), then across all lasagna dinners I will have introduced systematic bias in my calorie tracking even if I am counting everything correctly and I ignore the problem that food companies are allowed to be inaccurate!

    It is easy to use calorie tracking to minimize these systematic biases though. I guess the good news is that if we mostly tend to underestimate how much we eat and still lose weight, most of us also underestimate our maintenance...
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    Registered User Heterodox's Avatar
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    How much do you weigh? 2000 was my maintenance when i was 140lbs and completely sedentary.
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    2000 calories would have me losing 2lbs a week
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    Registered User dandogg's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LOFTY87 View Post
    The number gets thrown around a lot as the correct amount of calories for a man to consume.

    It seems like quite a high number to me. If you ate natural foods you would need to eat quite a lot to reach this or eat lots of nut butter/fatty meats etc.

    Started weighing and tracking my food intake recently, I eat a lot of natural foods and usually eat less than 2000- I've increased my cals since I started tracking them.


    Looking at how other people eat, it seems very few are hitting 2000 calories and the ones that do are going way over it or eating plenty of processed junk.


    Is it an arbitrary number ?
    I feel like it is not enough
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    Registered User dandogg's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    2000 calories is way too LITTLE for the VAST majority of men to maintain weight, even people who are sedentary.

    You should not use that as a reference.

    You seriously think 2000 calories is 'a lot'!?

    2000 is maybe an average for females.... and not even active ones... just like an average person.
    2000 is a nice breakfast
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    Registered User dandogg's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    This. I think the issue is that most people have no idea what 2000 calories actually is. Even people who are "tracking" their calorie intake (e.g. using apps such as MyFitnessPal which contains a lot of systematic errors). People almost universally underestimate how much they are eating so they conclude that 2000 calories is not that little. In reality it is.

    I am about 177-178 lbs now. Work out 4 times a week, but very sedentary life otherwise. Can still cut (slowly) at 2400 calories a day...
    I usually consumed 4000-5000 a day when bulking and weighing 80kg(176lbs)
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    Food Porn Terrorist Bosko's Avatar
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    The average overweight American male gets 500-800 calories alone from sauces and oils/dressings
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    Registered User snailsrus's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    2000 calories is way too LITTLE for the VAST majority of men to maintain weight, even people who are sedentary.

    You should not use that as a reference.

    You seriously think 2000 calories is 'a lot'!?

    2000 is maybe an average for females.... and not even active ones... just like an average person.
    thats a little below my maintenance at 100lbs female

    Op you can’t be tracking correctly

    -Eating out can make huge discrepancies in how many calories you are taking in. Like chipotle can be like 500 calories off what they post online under nutritional information

    -products like zero calories “I can’t believe it’s not butter”, Pam, Splenda, mustard, veggies (there is no such thing as negative calories nor is any veggie 100% calorie free.

    -weight your food, not measure with cups of tablespoons etc

    -do not ard calories for what you think you burned exercising

    -creamer can add hundreds of calories with just a few cups of coffee. Also, condiments and cooking oil. These must be counted and measured. I know when I use ketchup, I use more than 1 severing for sure
    Last edited by snailsrus; 01-21-2021 at 03:34 PM.
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Viewed in the long run, it's obviously a small allowance. It might not appear that way on paper when planning a nutritionally "perfect" diet, but as SuffolkPunch said, truly adhering to that (even if in the form of bulky whole foods) is going to leave almost anyone hungry after several days.

    That said, recently I've been surprised - more than a little startled, actually - at the caloric discrepancies of food relative to their volume and even flavor. More than a few times now, while eating at a deficit, I've prepared meals that tasted good and completely filled me up. I mean, eating ad libitum of whatever I wanted, it wouldn't necessarily be my first choice, but still tasty and satisfying: egg whites in particular are amazingly versatile and easy, I've found.
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    Clearly Irrational blue9steel's Avatar
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    Unless you are a tiny person I don't see how that could be "a lot".
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    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Recommendations of calorie amounts are strictly a guideline and what's good for someone else with similar stats as you may be way off due to several factors. Go with a consistent weekly amount for 3-4 weeks and review and adjust from there depending on outcome. Try starting lower than you think. That way you have a better chance of not wasting a month finding you were too high. Much will depend on your counting accuracy.

    2,000 to one person may be 1,500 to another person even though they consumed the exact same amounts. This is why so many posters say they can't lose on a very low calorie amount. They were taking in more than they thought.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post

    2,000 to one person may be 1,500 to another person even though they consumed the exact same amounts.
    I don't follow this...

    If they consumed the same amount, then they literally consumed the same amount.

    Could you elaborate?
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    Registered User Strawng's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by snailsrus View Post
    thats a little below my maintenance at 100lbs female

    Op you can’t be tracking correctly
    This. My mom has chronic anorexia and she eats about 2k per day to sustain her weight at less than 100 lbs. She exercises but you could really only call her "moderately active". 2k calories per day is probably a good benchmark for a small, sedentary woman to maintain her weight.
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    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    I don't follow this...

    If they consumed the same amount, then they literally consumed the same amount.

    Could you elaborate?
    differences in tracking even though the same amounts were actually consumed
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    differences in tracking even though the same amounts were actually consumed
    I presume this is the case for just about every man who claims to "bulk" on 2500 calories and maintain on 2k. I just still don't buy the idea that a grown man who's of a normal height/weight & lifting can do that, even though people claim it on the forums all the time.
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    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    I presume this is the case for just about every man who claims to "bulk" on 2500 calories and maintain on 2k. I just still don't buy the idea that a grown man who's of a normal height/weight & lifting can do that, even though people claim it on the forums all the time.
    correct and also for guys that can’t lose fat on 1300
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    differences in tracking even though the same amounts were actually consumed
    Ah ok, so you mean PERCEIVED intake.

    "Consumed" being more like consumed*

    *the amount I think I ate, but didn't.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    I presume this is the case for just about every man who claims to "bulk" on 2500 calories and maintain on 2k. I just still don't buy the idea that a grown man who's of a normal height/weight & lifting can do that, even though people claim it on the forums all the time.
    Same.

    I think I could maintain on 2000 if I literally did nothing but sit in a chair on day... and maybe pee.
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    Registered User Strawng's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Ah ok, so you mean PERCEIVED intake.

    "Consumed" being more like consumed*

    *the amount I think I ate, but didn't.
    I remember MrPb shared an experiment once where a large number of even trained dietitians were regularly off by about 500 or so on their perceived intake.
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    I remember MrPb shared an experiment once where a large number of even trained dietitians were regularly off by about 500 or so on their perceived intake.
    Would not surprise me at all.

    I think people just grab handfuls of random stuff throughout the day, or don't track dressings/condiments, or terribly eye-ball portions.

    I mean I don't measure 95% of what I eat either but then again, I did have a lot of experience seeing what different amounts look like, so even nowadays when I 'ballpark' I kind of assume i'm eating LESS than I am... but then im purposefully trying to gain weight pretty fast, so, not a typical case.
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    I presume this is the case for just about every man who claims to "bulk" on 2500 calories and maintain on 2k. I just still don't buy the idea that a grown man who's of a normal height/weight & lifting can do that, even though people claim it on the forums all the time.
    yup when a man twice my size claims to eat less or the same as me, and isn’t losing weight I know it can not be accurate tracking
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    Originally Posted by snailsrus View Post
    yup when a man twice my size claims to eat less or the same as me, and isn’t losing weight I know it can not be accurate tracking
    I don't know I could see a 200 pounds guy maintain on 2000 if they are sedentary in fact in lines up with most basic calcs. As a big guy a can change my tdee almost by 1000 by simply changing my daily steps from ~3k(natural) to ~12k(active daily walking) based on my excel spreadsheet. Again this even lines up with the calories burned chart for someone my size. To make this change all do I actively walk 2 hours a day based off the first Radom google calc I found someone my size burns about 1128.6 cals based on their cals and someone your size only burns 396 for 2 hours at ~3mph because it takes much less energy to move 100 pounds than 285 pounds. So those numbers are on the high side based on my excel data its close to 800 not 1130 but in either case I maintain at about the same cals + a zero as my weight sedentary so 285> is a result of me eating on average about 2800-2900 cals. However when I add this walking I can eat 3500+ and maintain. So based off the sedentary quick calc I use 200 at 2000 sounds about right to me if they don't do any cardio and sit in a chair all day like me at work. So while its true that most people track incorrectly I don't think you can distill form your own anecdote without taking into account activity level.
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    Originally Posted by XinXom View Post
    I don't know I could see a 200 pounds guy maintain on 2000 if they are sedentary in fact in lines up with most basic calcs. As a big guy a can change my tdee almost by 1000 by simply changing my daily steps from ~3k(natural) to ~12k(active daily walking) based on my excel spreadsheet. Again this even lines up with the calories burned chart for someone my size. To make this change all do I actively walk 2 hours a day based off the first Radom google calc I found someone my size burns about 1128.6 cals based on their cals and someone your size only burns 396 for 2 hours at ~3mph because it takes much less energy to move 100 pounds than 285 pounds. So those numbers are on the high side based on my excel data its close to 800 not 1130 but in either case I maintain at about the same cals + a zero as my weight sedentary so 285> is a result of me eating on average about 2800-2900 cals. However when I add this walking I can eat 3500+ and maintain. So based off the sedentary quick calc I use 200 at 2000 sounds about right to me if they don't do any cardio and sit in a chair all day like me at work. So while its true that most people track incorrectly I don't think you can distill form your own anecdote without taking into account activity level.
    Huge differences in NEAT, My Maintenance went from 3,500 to 2,200 when I went from working with my tools on to managing projects. This is why anecdotal recommendations are basically worthless without context
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    Originally Posted by XinXom View Post
    I don't know I could see a 200 pounds guy maintain on 2000 if they are sedentary in fact in lines up with most basic calcs. As a big guy a can change my tdee almost by 1000 by simply changing my daily steps from ~3k(natural) to ~12k(active daily walking) based on my excel spreadsheet. Again this even lines up with the calories burned chart for someone my size. To make this change all do I actively walk 2 hours a day based off the first Radom google calc I found someone my size burns about 1128.6 cals based on their cals and someone your size only burns 396 for 2 hours at ~3mph because it takes much less energy to move 100 pounds than 285 pounds. So those numbers are on the high side based on my excel data its close to 800 not 1130 but in either case I maintain at about the same cals + a zero as my weight sedentary so 285> is a result of me eating on average about 2800-2900 cals. However when I add this walking I can eat 3500+ and maintain. So based off the sedentary quick calc I use 200 at 2000 sounds about right to me if they don't do any cardio and sit in a chair all day like me at work. So while its true that most people track incorrectly I don't think you can distill form your own anecdote without taking into account activity level.
    by your logic I’d be at 950-1000 calories a day :/ I’d die even if all I did was lay in bed
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    Originally Posted by XinXom View Post
    I don't know I could see a 200 pounds guy maintain on 2000 if they are sedentary in fact in lines up with most basic calcs.
    yeah no...

    2000 is more like BMR-level...

    So sure, if they just laid down all day and literally didn't move.

    But that isn't 'sedentary'.
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