Summer Diet Plan

Calories per Meal on a Weight Loss Diet

Calories per meal

One of the things that many people find hard about dieting, is remembering all the numbers. This partly explains the popularity of the Weight Watchers Points system, which broke the numbers down into single digits which people could easily remember and track each day.

But what about other diets, can the numbers associated with them be made easier too? Absolutely.

The international standard measure of dietary energy is kilojoules, which is why they are used by dietitians, food regulators and others as the official Australian measure.

While kilojoules are the universal scientific way to measure dietary energy, its one negative is that it a much larger number than calories, and is therefore harder to remember and calculate for average people.

One kilojoule (kJ) is equal to around 4.18 calories, which for simplicity’s sake can be rounded to 4 for everyday use. So if you know what the calories or kilojoules of a product is, and want to convert it, simply multiply and divide it by 4. For example, if something’s 100 calories, times by 4 and you get 400 kJ.  Conversely, if something is 800kJ, divide it by 4 and you have approximately 200 calories. Simple!

OK, but what about breaking a day’s worth of food into a total day’s energy consumption? That can be simplified too.

We’re going to be talking more numbers, but bear with us, it gets really simple at the end.

Average Dietary Intake

The recommended dietary energy intake for the average Australian (if there is such a thing) is 8700kJ or about 2,100 calories per day.

If you’re trying to lose weight, depending on whether you are male or female, you may choose to be consuming between 1200 and 1800 calories per day (equivalent to between 4800 and 7200kJ).

To calculate the energy you need to consume to maintain your current weight, use our Energy Needs Calculator.

Choosing a Diet Plan

So, the easiest way to breakdown these ranges is to follow either a 1200, 1400, 1600 or 1800 calorie diet (4800, 5600, 6400 or 7200kJ). For simplicity we’re going to just use calories from now on – if you want to know the kilojoules, you now know how to do the maths.

OK, so after you’ve chosen a daily intake amount, the next thing to do is to break this down into meals.

Let’s assume that there are between three and six meal opportunities per day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening snacks.

The three main meals should be roughly the same size in energy terms. If you only want to eat three meals a day, each meal should be about 400, 450, 525 or 600 calories each on the 1200, 1400, 1600 and 1800 calorie plans respectively.

If you like to eat between meals, 100 to 150 calories per snack is a good guide to use.


Here’s a table to use as a quick reference guide, assuming you like to snack:

Meal Calories Calories Calories Calories
Breakfast 300 400 400 450
Snack 100 100 100 150
Lunch 300 300 400 450
Snack 100 100 100 150
Dinner 400 400 500 500
Snack 0 100 100 100
Total 1200 1400 1600 1800

Of course, you can tweak the numbers to suit your lifestyle, but this provides a good basic approach.

Dieting Tip

Many people consume most of their calories at dinner, often because they under consume throughout the day and are starving at dinner time.

It’s better to have a larger breakfast and lunch with a few small snacks in between that to overload late in the day.


Although we’ve used quite a lot of numbers explaining how to easily calculate and track your daily energy intake, these all boil down to some simple ones.

Enjoy snacks that are no more than 100 to 150 calories each, and split your main meals equally in terms of energy from 400 to 500 calories each if you are having snacks.

If you don’t snack between meals, your main meals can be between 400 and 600 calories each.


Good luck with your weight loss and thanks for visiting

© Copyright Ultimate Weightloss.

This article was written by Scott Haywood.

Scott is the editor of Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch in 2005. Today, provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.

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