Teenage girls need a well-rounded diet to ensure they get the nutrients they need while maintaining a healthy weight. During puberty, a teenage girl’s body needs added nutrition to help with growing and developing, and to support menstrual health. Calories are a measure of energy, and it’s important for teenage girls to get enough calories to fuel their bodies. So, how many calories does a teenage girl need to stay healthy? Let’s find out!
Factors That Affect Calorie Needs
A teenage girl’s calorie needs will depend on several factors. These include:
- Height and weight
- Activity level
- Metabolic rate
A 14-year-old girl who is 5’5″ and weighs 120 pounds will have different calorie needs than a 17-year-old girl who is 5’9″ and weighs 150 pounds. It’s important to take all these factors into account when determining how many calories a teenage girl needs each day.
Caloric Intake for Teenage Girls
On average, teenage girls need between 1,800 and 2,400 calories a day. However, this number can vary depending on the factors mentioned above. It’s important to note that this is just an estimate and not a one-size-fits-all recommendation.
For teenage girls who are more active, they may need more calories to fuel their bodies. It’s also important for teenage girls to get enough nutrients, such as iron and calcium, especially if they are menstruating.
Calories for Sedentary Teenage Girls
Sedentary teenage girls who are not very active and spend most of their day sitting or lying down will need fewer calories. Girls in this category may require between 1,800 and 2,000 calories a day.
Calories for Moderately Active Teenage Girls
Girls who are moderately active and engage in physical activity for 30 to 60 minutes a day may need between 2,000 and 2,200 calories per day, depending on their age and body size.
Calories for Very Active Teenage Girls
Very active teenage girls who engage in more than 60 minutes of physical activity per day may need between 2,400 and 2,800 calories a day, depending on their age and body size.
How to Determine Calorie Needs
The best way to determine calorie needs for a teenage girl is to calculate her basal metabolic rate (BMR) and add in the calories needed for physical activity. The BMR is the number of calories the body burns at rest to maintain normal bodily function, such as breathing and digesting food.
To estimate a teenage girl’s BMR, use this formula:
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
For example, a 16-year-old girl who is 5’6″ and weighs 130 pounds would have a BMR of:
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x 130) + (4.7 x 66) – (4.7 x 16) = 1,417 calories
Once the BMR is calculated, it’s important to factor in physical activity. Use this formula to determine the total daily calorie needs:
- Sedentary: BMR x 1.2
- Lightly active: BMR x 1.375
- Moderately active: BMR x 1.55
- Very active: BMR x 1.725
- Extra active: BMR x 1.9
How to Get the Right Nutrients
Getting the right nutrients is just as important as getting enough calories. Teenage girls should eat a well-balanced diet that includes:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean protein
- Dairy products (or calcium-rich alternatives)
It’s important to limit foods and drinks that are high in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. This includes sweetened beverages, fast food, and processed snacks.
Iron is an important mineral for teenage girls, especially those who are menstruating. Good sources of iron include:
- Lean meat
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Beans and lentils
- Dark leafy greens
Calcium is important for building and maintaining strong bones. Good sources of calcium include:
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Calcium-fortified juices and cereals
- Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale
Common Questions and Answers
- Q: How many calories should a 15-year-old girl eat?
- A: It depends on several factors, such as height, weight, and activity level. On average, a 15-year-old girl needs between 1,800 and 2,400 calories a day.
- Q: Can teenage girls eat fast food?
- A: While it’s okay to have fast food occasionally, it’s important for teenage girls to limit their intake of fast food and other high-calorie, high-fat foods.
- Q: Do teenage girls need snacks?
- A: It’s okay for teenage girls to have snacks, as long as they are healthy and don’t contribute to excessive calorie consumption.
- Q: What are some healthy snack options for teenage girls?
- A: Healthy snack options include fresh fruit, vegetable slices with hummus, nuts, and low-fat yogurt.
Teenage girls need a well-rounded diet to provide their growing bodies with the nutrients they need. The number of calories a teenage girl needs each day depends on several factors, including age, height, weight, and activity level. A balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and dairy products (or calcium-rich alternatives) is essential for ensuring proper development and maintaining a healthy weight. By making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, teenage girls can meet their nutritional needs and maintain good health.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Healthy Eating for Adolescents. Retrieved from: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/nutrition/Pages/Healthy-Eating-for-Adolescents.aspx
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). National Academy Press.
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). ChooseMyPlate.gov. Retrieved from: https://www.choosemyplate.gov