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Healthy Diets and Calories for a 20-Year-Old Female

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Healthy Diets and Calories for a 20-Year-Old Female
Eating whole foods like fresh fruit keeps you looking your best. Photo Credit Warren Goldswain/iStock/Getty Images

You've just entered a new decade and you want to start it off right. While weight may be your primary concern when it comes to what and how much you eat, now is as good a time as any to start thinking about your health too. Knowing how many calories you need and what to eat while you're 20 sets you up for good health for life.

How Much to Eat

Healthy Diets and Calories for a 20-Year-Old Female
Determine your daily calorie needs based on how much you exercise. Photo Credit Rafal Olkis/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to managing your weight, calories count. How much you need depends on a number of factors, including your height, weight, activity level and whether you want to lose or gain weight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established general calorie guidelines based on age, gender and activity that can help you get started. If you don't get any exercise, you need 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day. If you get some exercise, the equivalent of walking 1.5 to 3 miles a day at an easy pace, you need 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day. If you work out a little more heavily, equivalent to walking more than 3 miles a day, you need 2,400 calories a day.

Getting Your Grains

Healthy Diets and Calories for a 20-Year-Old Female
Be sure you are getting enough whole grains in your diet. Photo Credit masaltof/iStock/Getty Images

You probably get enough grains in your diet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but may not get enough whole grains. Getting more whole grains in your diet increases your intake of fiber, which can help you better manage your weight. Plus, whole grains are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, magnesium, iron and selenium. You should make at least half the grains you eat whole grains.

Include Fruits and Veggies

Healthy Diets and Calories for a 20-Year-Old Female
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Photo Credit Dereje Belachew/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to improving the quality of your diet, you can't go wrong eating more fruits and vegetables. They are low in calories, low in fat and loaded with nutrients that keep you feeling and looking good. The vitamins found in fruits and vegetables, specifically vitamins A and C, can help improve the health and beauty of your skin, according to a 2009 article published in the journal "Dermato-Endocrinology." Include fruits and veggies at most meals, and make them your go-to snack to make sure you get enough.

Eat the Right Proteins

Healthy Diets and Calories for a 20-Year-Old Female
Include lean sources of protein in your diet. Photo Credit Viktorija Kuprijanova/iStock/Getty Images

As a young woman, you are at risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Protein foods are a good source of iron and also provide B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc. To help you keep your calories under control, include lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, lean red meat, tofu and beans. The leaner sources of protein are also lower in saturated fat, making them better for your heart.

You Still Need Milk

Healthy Diets and Calories for a 20-Year-Old Female
You need calcium for your bones. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

While you're no longer a growing teen, you still need calcium for your bones. Getting enough calcium now helps prevent you from developing osteoporosis later on. Milk, yogurt and cheese are all good sources of calcium. Plus, they provide protein and vitamin D. If you can't tolerate milk, you can drink soy milk instead.

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