Most of us know that the recommended number of calories per day for women is about 2000, and for men, it’s 2500. But, what happens when you need more than that because you burn more? Enter the 4000 Calorie Diet.
What is the 4000 Calorie Diet?
The 4000 Calorie Diet is just as it sounds: it is a diet where the person eats around 4000 calories per day. It is best for those who are either highly active or for those who are underweight and need to gain weight quickly to improve their health. As you might realize, 4000 calories are much higher than the recommended amount of calories for adults, but in some cases, it is highly appropriate.
Many people might look at the 4000 Calorie Diet as simple; after all, with most diets, you are restricting yourself and forcing yourself to eat less food. However, this diet is absolutely not a free-for-all. You still can’t just fill up on high calorie, low nutrient foods and call it a day. Instead, you need to create a plan or use a pre-made program, that is not only high in calories but also high in nutrition. In fact, people eating this diet should choose foods that are low in fat, sugar, and sodium and high in protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The Two Main Ways to Do a 4000 Calorie Diet
There are two main ways to do a 4000 calorie diet. The first way is the traditional “three meals a day” plan, and the second is the “six meals a day” plan. Both of these plans have pros and cons, and one might work better for you than the other. Here’s a brief breakdown:
“Three Meals a Day” 4000 Calorie Diet
If you choose the “Three Meals a Day” version of this diet, you will, of course, be eating three meals a day, plus snacks. Generally, people eat about 1000 calories per meal and then spread the remaining 1000 calories among snacks.
“Six Meals a Day” 4000 Calorie Diet
For those interested in the “Six Meals a Day” 4000 Calorie Diet, you will be spreading your calories out between six different meals. Each meal or large snack should be between 600 and 800 calories.
Choosing Food for a 4000 Calorie Diet
When doing a diet like the 4000 Calorie Diet, it is crucial that you eat the right foods. So, knowing how to choose these foods is imperative to your success.
First, you must make sure that you are choosing foods that are calorie dense. What does calorie dense mean? It means that there are a lot of calories in a small amount of food. Avocados, for instance, are considered a calorie dense food. They are small in size, but they have a lot of calories. Alternatively, food like a tomato is not calorie dense. Take a look at this: 100 grams of avocado has 160 calories, but 100 grams of tomato has about 18 calories. That is a huge difference for the same amount of food. So, since your goal on this diet is to get 4000 calories a day, it’s probably a better choice to choose the avocado.
Another good tip is to make sure that you are eating high-quality proteins and starches. This includes lean protein like chicken and fish in addition to whole-grain bread, brown rice, beans, and whole-wheat pasta. Also, you should be smart with your snacks. Foods like nuts, granola, and dried fruit are ideal.
You might think that fatty food might be a good option, but you really want to limit your intake of saturated fats. So, choose chicken breast over chicken thighs, and select poultry, lean pork, or fish instead of beef. When considering dairy products, you should choose low-fat dairy over full fat. However, all of this being said, you also want to include healthy fats in your diet. This includes seeds, nuts, and healthy plant oils like avocado and olive oil.
Sample Menu for a 4000 Calorie Diet
Here’s a sample version of a 4000 Calorie Diet with a few options:
There are some great options for breakfast when you are trying to get 4000 calories a day. For example, a cup of dry oatmeal cooked with low-fat milk, and then topped with natural peanut butter and banana is about 820 calories. Adding some protein powder to that oatmeal can boost you up to about 950 calories or add some healthy walnuts.
Eggs are also a popular option for breakfast. Each egg is about 78 calories per egg, so you are going to have to add to that to get up to 800 to 1000 calories. Four eggs would be about 312 calories and then adding two pieces of whole wheat toast add about 180 calories. So, you are now up to almost 500 calories. Add some peanut butter, and a bit of fruit, and you should easily hit your range. You can also add a glass or milk or fresh juice for 80 to 100 extra calories.
Lunch or Dinner
A great lunch or dinner on this diet is a large chicken breast cooked in olive oil and served over broccoli and brown rice. That’s about 800 to 900 calories right there. Chili made with beans and lean meat, such as ground chicken or ground turkey is also a calorie dense option for dinner or lunch. You can make salads that are very high in calories, too, by adding things such as eggs, meat, nuts, and seeds.
Snacks are relatively easy on a 4000 Calorie Diet, too. Nuts, dried fruit, and natural energy bars are all options. You can also make a smoothie that has a lot of calories, too. Adding a banana, protein powder, soy or almond milk, and peanut or almond butter will give you about 600 calories.
As you can see, following the 4000 Calorie Diet isn’t difficult, it just takes a bit of planning ahead. The best way to do this is to make a meal plan each week and stick to that plan. Have a lot of healthy, calorie-dense foods available, and stock your kitchen with lean protein, healthy fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils.