Is 500 Calories a Lot for One Meal?


Counting calories in your meals can be a challenge if you’re trying to lose weight or track your eating habits, but how much should you be eating a day? Is 500 calories a lot for a single meal?

500 calories isn’t a lot for one meal for the average person with a recommended daily calorie intake of 2000 calories.

Different people have different calorie requirements, however, so 500 calories might be a substantial amount for someone with lesser calorie needs.

Not everyone is cut from the same cloth when it comes to counting calories, and the 2000 calories a day rule doesn’t apply to everyone.

With that in mind, the rest of this article will explore whether 500 calories is a lot for one meal and discuss how different physiological factors affect the answer.

500 calorie meal

What Are Calories and Why Do They Matter?

A calorie is a unit of energy that your body can use to perform various tasks. Your body needs calories to get stuff done. When you eat or drink, calories from the food or beverage are processed by the body. The amount of calories your body needs depends on several factors, including the following:

  • Health
  • Sex
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Shape
  • Physical activity level

In short, no two people are exactly alike when it comes to calorie requirements. Men usually need more calories than women, and people who are physically active require more calories to replace the energy they’ve burned off with physical exertion.

Calorie consumption is important to overall health. Too many calories can lead to weight gain, and too few calories can result in the body not having enough energy to fuel daily activities.

Is 500 Calories a Lot Per Meal?

In general, given the average calorie consumption requirement of over 2000 calories, 500 calories isn’t a ‘lot’ per meal. Some foods, (like fast food) are a lot more calorie dense than others, so a calorie-dense meal doesn’t necessarily mean a big meal.

On average, if you split the calorie requirements evenly between three meals, then men would be eating around 800 calories per meal, and women would have 660. Snacking also adds calories, which is something to keep in mind when tallying your daily calorie count.

Active People

For an active person, 500 is not a lot of calories per meal. Those who exercise regularly or do manual labor on a daily basis will require higher calorie counts to replenish the energy they have expended from physical activity.

The Average American

Ideally, these calories should come from nutrient-rich sources rather than empty calories. With the American diet ranging from 2500 to 3600 calories per day, it’s fair to say that for the average American, 500 wouldn’t be a big meal.

Keep in mind that calories can also come from surprising places as well. A soda, for example, is very calorie dense due to all of the added sugar and contributes to the calories eaten per meal.

Is It Ok to Eat 500 Calories a Day?

500 calories is a very low amount of food to eat per day and isn’t a good way to lose weight. Remember that calories provide energy and are important for your body to function properly.

Eating a 500-calorie diet requires that you source your food very carefully to get the nutrients you need. Ideally, you should only start a 500-calorie diet if recommended and overseen by your doctor. Otherwise, you’re going to do yourself more harm than good.

Can You Lose Weight by Eating 500 Calories a Day?

Starving your body of energy is unwise, and if you’re aiming to lose weight, you should establish your maintenance level for calories (how many you consume without gaining or losing weight) and reduce that number by 500-1000 calories.

Eating 500 calories a day will create a caloric deficit, resulting in weight loss, but you should consult your doctor or dietician before starting a 500-calorie diet.

Your body still needs nutrition, and if not done carefully, you can cause serious harm by reducing your calorie count so drastically.

Is 500 Calories Too Little?

For the average person, 500 calories per meal isn’t enough to sustain a caloric balance. With that being said, 500 calories a meal plus snacks can certainly be an ok way to meet your calorie needs.

How Long Can You Survive on 500 Calories a Day?

You can survive just fine on a 500-calorie diet, but it’s not recommended for most people. 500 calories isn’t much in relation to the energy consumption needs of most people and, as a whole, doesn’t make for a healthy lifestyle.

The hardest part of surviving on a 500-calorie diet is making sure you get the proper nutrition that you body needs when you’re eating so little food in a day.


In conclusion, 500 calories isn’t a lot for one meal since the average calorie requirements for people is over 2000 calories a day.


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