If you need to eat 3,000 calories a day, you're either an athlete or someone trying to gain weight. Whatever the need, your diet should be healthy and balanced and include foods from each of the food groups. Consult your doctor to discuss your individual calorie needs.
Breaking It Down
Your 3,000-calorie diet plan needs to include three meals and three snacks. To make sure you're meeting your calorie needs, each meal should contain 800 calories, and each snack 200 calories.
Even though your calorie needs are high, it's still important to eat a healthy balance of carbs, protein and fat. The Institute of Medicine has established guidelines for these nutrients that help to ensure vitamin and mineral needs are met. Your diet plan should provide 45 percent to 65 percent of calories from carbs, 10 percent to 35 percent of calories from protein and 20 percent to 35 percent of calories from fat. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and include low-fat or nonfat dairy and lean sources of protein to achieve the nutrient recommendations.
For nutritional balance, eat from as many food groups as possible at each meal.
A high-calorie breakfast might include two slices of whole-wheat toast with two eggs scrambled in 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil with an 8-ounce glass of nonfat milk, a large banana and an 8-ounce container of nonfat yogurt topped with 1/4 cup of granola for 825 calories.
Or, you can have 2 cups of oatmeal cooked in 2 cups of nonfat milk topped with 1/2 cup of raisins, along with 12 almonds, and served with 1/2 cup of orange juice for 770 calories.
Getting Your Fill at Lunch
A healthy lunch on your 3,000-calorie diet might include 5 ounces of sliced chicken breast rolled in two 6-inch whole-wheat tortillas with mustard, lettuce and tomatoes, and served with 2 cups of vegetable soup, an 8-ounce container of nonfat yogurt, a large orange and five whole-grain crackers for 785 calories.
Another lunch meal might include a peanut butter and banana sandwich with 3 tablespoons of peanut butter and a large banana between two slices of raisin bread and served with 2 cups of mixed greens topped with 1/2 cup of chickpeas and 2 tablespoons of salad dressing for 820 calories.
For dinner, you might enjoy 5 ounces of broiled salmon with 2 cups of roasted broccoli and 1 cup of roasted sweet potatoes, both tossed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, for 805 calories.
Or, you can make a veggie stir-fry with 2 cups of mixed veggies such as carrots, cabbage, onions and peppers, 1 cup of tofu and 12 cashews stir-fried in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, fresh ginger and low-sodium soy sauce. Serve it with 1 cup of cooked quinoa for a total of 830 calories.
Fill in the Gap With Snacks
Snacks on your 3,000-calorie diet might include: 1 cup of whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal with 1 cup of nonfat milk a toasted whole-wheat English muffin topped with 1 ounce of low-fat Swiss cheese 1/4 cup of trail mix 1 cup of sliced carrots and celery with 2 tablespoons of salad dressing and 1/2 cup of 100-percent fruit juice * 6 cups of air-popped popcorn tossed with 10 peanuts.
Each snack contains 175 to 225 calories.