Eating 5,000 calories per day is an extremely high amount that most people would find challenging to consume on a regular basis. To put it into perspective, the average sedentary man needs around 2,500 calories per day, while the average sedentary woman needs around 2,000 calories (1). This means a 5,000 calorie diet would involve eating about double the normal calorie needs for most people.
Why follow a 5,000 calorie diet?
There are a few reasons someone may try to follow a 5,000 calorie per day diet:
- Weight gain – Athletes like football players or powerlifters trying to bulk up and build muscle mass will sometimes follow high calorie diets to promote weight gain.
- Extreme endurance training – Some endurance athletes like marathon runners or triathletes may ramp up their calorie intake during periods of intense training to meet higher energy demands.
- Medical intervention – In some cases, severely underweight patients in treatment may be given a prescription for very high calorie diets to promote weight gain back to a healthy level.
However, for most normal healthy individuals without specialized athletic or medical needs, following a 5,000 calorie diet would likely lead to excessive and unnecessary weight gain in the form of body fat.
Foods required to reach 5,000 calories
Reaching 5,000 calories per day would require consuming very large quantities of calorie-dense foods throughout the day. Here are some examples of foods and serving sizes needed to reach this extremely high calorie goal:
- 4 cups granola with 1 cup whole milk – 1,060 calories
- 3 whole eggs scrambled with 30g butter and 2 slices whole wheat toast with 2tbsp peanut butter – 1,015 calories
- 2 banana nut muffins (500 calories each) with 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1 tbsp honey – 1,130 calories
- 2 chicken sandwiches on bread rolls with 2tbsp mayo and cheese, side of fries and a milkshake – 1,710 calories
- 16oz ribeye steak with 2 baked potatoes loaded with butter, cheese, bacon and sour cream – 1,965 calories
- 2 cup pasta with Alfredo sauce, 6 garlic bread slices and Caesar salad with dressing – 1,830 calories
- 10oz grilled salmon, 2 cups rice pilaf, roasted vegetables with oil, glass of wine – 1,335 calories
- 2 cup mac and cheese, 8oz grilled chicken breast, side salad with dressing and garlic bread – 1,565 calories
- Large 16” pepperoni pizza (2,500 calories), 10 buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing (1,000 calories) – 3,500 calories
- Protein shake made with 2 scoops powder, 2 cups whole milk, 1 banana, 2tbsp peanut butter – 960 calories
- Trail mix – 1 cup nuts, 1 cup dried fruit, 1oz dark chocolate – 850 calories
- Smoothie with 1 cup each frozen fruit, juice, yogurt, milk, 1 tbsp honey – 730 calories
As you can see, lots of calorie-dense foods like oils, cheese, nuts, avocados, granola, chocolate and dried fruit would be staples of a 5,000 calorie daily diet. Leaner proteins like chicken and fish would be included, but not as the main calorie source.
Sample daily meal plan
Here is an example of what a full day meal plan might look like to reach 5,000 calories:
Breakfast – 1,500 calories
- 3 cup granola with 1 cup whole milk – 1,020 calories
- 3 scrambled eggs with cheese, 3 strips bacon, 2 slices toast with 2 tbsp peanut butter – 1,105 calories
- 1 banana – 105 calories
- 1 cup orange juice – 110 calories
Morning Snack – 600 calories
- 20 oz latte made with whole milk – 330 calories
- Blueberry muffin – 370 calories
Lunch – 1,800 calories
- Chicken sandwich on focaccia with mayo, bacon, cheese with side of home fries – 1,100 calories
- 12 oz soda – 150 calories
- Fruit smoothie – 350 calories
- Trail mix bar – 200 calories
Afternoon Snack – 900 calories
- 20 oz Frappuccino – 420 calories
- 2 oatmeal raisin cookies – 480 calories
Dinner – 2,000 calories
- 16oz ribeye steak – 1,000 calories
- Twice baked potato with butter, bacon, cheese, sour cream – 500 calories
- Side salad with ranch dressing and croutons – 400 calories
- 1 cup fruit sorbet – 100 calories
Evening Snack – 900 calories
- Protein shake – 500 calories
- 1 cup trail mix – 400 calories
Is it healthy to eat 5,000 calories per day?
For most people, regularly eating 5,000 calories per day would be considered very unhealthy and lead to rapid weight gain. Even most athletes would have trouble burning this many calories through intense training.
Some potential health risks of sustained calorie intake this high include:
- Obesity and increased body fat
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Joint problems
The foods providing these calories would also likely be very high in saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and sodium while being relatively low in beneficial nutrients like fiber and vitamins.
However, in special cases like malnutrition treatment or preparing for intense athletic competition, a doctor or dietitian may prescribe a high calorie meal plan for a limited time period. This would include careful nutrient planning to minimize adverse health effects.
Strategies to avoid excessive weight gain
For those who do need to follow a high calorie diet for special reasons, here are some tips to minimize unnecessary fat gain:
- Emphasize nutrient-dense whole foods like lean proteins, complex carbs, healthy fats
- Include plenty of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrients
- Avoid empty calories from junk foods with little nutritional value
- Spread meals and snacks evenly throughout the day
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Engage in strength training and cardio exercise to help build muscle
- Weigh yourself regularly and adjust calories if gaining weight too fast
- Work with a doctor or dietitian to set calorie goals and oversee health
Example high calorie meal plan
Here is a sample higher calorie meal plan focused on more nutritious foods:
Breakfast – 1,200 calories
- 2 cup oatmeal cooked in milk with 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp honey, 1 banana – 650 calories
- 3 egg white omelet with vegetables, 1 oz cheese, 1 whole egg – 300 calories
- 1 cup Greek yogurt with mixed berries – 250 calories
Morning Snack – 400 calories
- 1 oz mixed nuts – 300 calories
- 1 apple – 100 calories
Lunch – 1,300 calories
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain with lettuce, tomato – 500 calories
- 1 cup vegetable soup – 200 calories
- Side salad with vinaigrette dressing – 300 calories
- 1 cup lowfat milk – 100 calories
- 1 oz dark chocolate – 150 calories
Afternoon Snack – 500 calories
- 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with granola and fruit – 350 calories
- 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice – 150 calories
Dinner – 1,800 calories
- 8 oz salmon, roasted sweet potato, sautéed kale – 700 calories
- 1 cup brown rice – 250 calories
- Mixed vegetables roasted in olive oil – 300 calories
- 2 cups berries with whipped cream – 250 calories
- 1 glass red wine – 150 calories
Evening Snack – 400 calories
- 1 cup cottage cheese – 225 calories
- 5 whole grain crackers – 175 calories
This sample plan provides a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods like lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats to meet higher calorie needs while minimizing health risks.
Eating 5,000 calories per day consistently would be excessive for most people and lead to weight gain without careful planning. However, some athletes or patients recovering from illness may temporarily require such high calorie intakes under medical guidance.
If needed, focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods, spreading calories throughout the day, staying active, and monitoring weight can help minimize fat gain. For general health, most people should aim to meet calorie needs determined based on their age, gender, activity level and weight goals.