How Many Calories Should a Teenage Girl Have Each Day?

teenage lifestyle shot of a three female friends as they eat together at a sidewalk cafe
Teenage girls are gathered at a lunch table. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

With 18.4 percent of teens suffering from obesity, teenage girls need to eat a balanced diet to prevent chronic disease and other complications that arise from carrying excess body fat. Proper nutrition can ensure that teen girls have the opportunity to develop to their potential during a time of accelerated growth while maintaining a healthy weight.

Teen's Needs

Calorie needs in teenage girls depend on their body size, growth rate and activity level. Teenage girls ages 11 to 18 needs anywhere from 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends that moderately active teenage girls eat 2,000 calories per day. A moderately active teenage girl leads a lifestyle that includes daily exercise equivalent to walking 1.5 to 3 miles at 3 to 4 miles per hour in addition to light daily physical activity.

Activity Affects Needs

A teenage girl who leads a sedentary lifestyle, needs fewer calories than a teen who is very active. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends that sedentary teenage girls consume 1,800 calories per day. Active teenage girls get daily physical activity that is equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour. These teens need 2,400 calories per day.

Macro-nutrient Needs

A female teen's calories should come from a variety of foods. Carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains should make up 45 to 65 percent of total calories. Protein from meat, poultry, beans and legumes should make up 10 to 35 percent of total calories. Fat should make up just 20 to 35 percent of calories, and those fats should come from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources.

Following a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is one that is balanced and made up from the different food groups. ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that teenage girls get 7 servings of grains, 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy and 5 servings of protein every day. A balanced diet will provide a teenage girl all of the calories, macronutrients, vitamins and minerals that she needs for optimum growth and development.

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