The 2000 Calorie Diet - and the RDAs


2000 Calorie DietThe FDA food labeling standard adopts the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) from the average USDA 2,000 calorie dietary guidelines - promoters of the famous food guide pyramid which haunted so many of us back in elementary school. Remember? Starches on the bottom and fats and sweets up top....

Interestingly, the new generation of elementary school kids are getting to hear a slightly different message: the USDA recently introduced a new pyramid which is called MyPyramid and emphasizes the following:

USDA MyPyramid
  • limiting sugar intake
  • eating more whole grains
  • avoiding trans fats
  • limiting saturated fat intake
  • eating 20% to 35% of daily calories from fats
  • consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
The table below compares the old and the new pyramids for a 2,000 calorie diet.

Groups Old Pyramid New Pyramid
Grains 6-11 Servings 6 ounces
Vegetables 3-5 Servings 2.5 cups
Fruits 2-4 Servings 2 cups
Meat and Beans  2-3 Servings 5.5 ounces
Milk 2-3 Servings 3 cups
Oils use sparingly  6 teaspoons


Even though it is hard to compare the various units of the MyPyramid with each other, a few observations can be made immediately:
  • the recommended ratio of meats to grains has almost doubled, and in fact, the recommended daily allowances are now almost the same
  • milk allowance has increased, and by comparison, vegetables' and fruits' allowance decreased
The truth of the matter, though, is that dietary needs are dependent on a number of different factors, such as metabolism, age, gender, activity level and weight. The food pyramid gives us a good reference for enjoying a balanced diet, however, some diet plans literally turn the pyramid upside down. As an example, consider the Atkins diet where protein-laden fats are encouraged and carbohydrates banned.

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