1,600-Calorie Lower Carb Diet Plan

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Seared chicken breast

Following a 1,600-calorie diet plan will likely help you shed pounds at a slow, steady pace of about one pound weekly (especially for men and active women), says the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Limiting carbs makes it easier to control blood sugar and cut calories, especially when eating lots of satiating protein-rich foods.

1,600-Calorie Food Group Allotments

Below is a sample 1,600-calorie meal plan adapted from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 eating patterns. It is adapted to be between 50 and 75 grams of carbs.

  • 4 1/2 cups non-starchy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup fruit
  • 8 ounces protein foods
  • 3 cups lower-carb dairy foods
  • 8 teaspoons oils

Sample Meal Plan

Using daily food group allotments above as guidelines, follow the meal plan below to create your own 1,600-calorie, lower-carb menus:

Breakfast

  • 1 cup dairy
  • 2 ounces protein
  • 1 teaspoon oils

Snack

  • 1/4 cup fruit
  • 2 teaspoon oils
  • 1 cup dairy

Lunch

  • 3 ounces protein
  • 2 cups non-starchy vegetables
  • 2 teaspoon oils

Snack

  • 1 cup dairy
  • 1/4 cup fruit
  • 1 teaspoon oils

Dinner

  • 3 ounces protein
  • 2 1/2 cups non-starchy vegetables
  • 2 teaspoons oils

Foods to Choose From

Below are foods you can pick (from each food group) to create low-carb menus based on the sample 1,600-calorie meal plan above.

1-Cup Equivalents of Non-Starchy Veggies

(2 cups of leafy greens counts as a 1-cup equivalent)

  • Leafy greens
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus

1-Cup Equivalents of Fresh/Frozen Fruit

  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Watermelon
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums

1-Cup Low-Carb Equivalent of Dairy Foods

  • 1 cup protein-fortified almond milk
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 slice cheese

1-Ounce Equivalent of Protein Foods

  • 1 ounce lean meat, fish, poultry, or seafood
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ounces tofu

1-Teaspoon Portion of Oils

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salad dressing
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1/3 ounce nuts
  • 1/3 ounce seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons nut butter
  • 1/6th avocado
  • 8 olives

Sample Menus

Use your sample meal plan to create your own 1,600-calorie, low-carb diet menus. The following sample menus were created using the meal plan above, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Tracker.

Sample Menu #1

Breakfast: 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese and 2 scrambles eggs cooked in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

Snack: 1/2 orange (or one small Satusuma orange) with 3/4 ounce of almonds and 1/2 cup of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt

Lunch: 5 cups of spinach, 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast, and 2 tablespoons of Italian dressing

Snack: 1/4 cup of cantaloupe with 1 slice Swiss cheese and 1/4 ounce of walnuts

Dinner: 3 ounces of salmon with 2 cups of cooked green beans

Calories: 1,647

Protein: 164 grams (40 percent of calories)

Carbs: 60 grams (20 percent of calories)

Fat: 84 grams (40 percent of calories)

Sample Menu #2

Breakfast: 1 ounce of walnuts, 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt, and 2 ounces of bacon

Snack: 1/4 cup of blackberries, 1 slice provolone cheese, and 1 ounce of pistachios

Lunch: 5 ounces of cooked tofu, 1 teaspoons of olive oil, and 2 cups of asparagus

Snack: 1 cup of cottage cheese with 1/4 cup of watermelon balls, and 1/4 ounce of almonds

Dinner: One 3-ounce turkey burger patty, and 1 cup of sliced cucumbers mixed with 1 cup of cherry tomatoes topped with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette.

Calories: 1,649

Protein: 124 grams (40 percent of calories)

Carbs: 63 grams (17 percent of calories)

Fat: 107 grams (43 percent of calories)

Why Go Low Carb?

Lowering your carb intake is an excellent way to shed pounds and help regulate blood sugar. You'll reap the benefits of a well-balanced diet (with the exception of grains) and slowly lose weight at a healthy pace. Some older adults can maintain healthy weights eating just 1,600 calories per day.

1,600-Calorie Lower Carb Diet Plan