How Much Fat Does a 14-Year Old Need Per Day?

With today’s cultural norms, “fat” seems to almost be a dirty word for teens. Saturated fat can be extremely unhealthy, but foods higher in unsaturated fats can benefit a growing teen. Fat is needed for the human body, especially an adolescent one, to be healthy. There are even essential fatty acids that a normally functioning body needs to not only survive but thrive during the teen years. Not all dietary fat is dangerous, but it can be difficult to find out which fats are the healthy ones. 

A nutritious eating plan for a 14-year old (and teens in general) includes fat, which typically means 25-35% of total calories coming from fat. For a typical 2,800 calorie diet, that’s about 78-109 grams per day. Not all fats are created equal, and this article can help you to differentiate between the sources that put a teen at risk, and nutrient-rich sources of fat that can prime your teen for a healthier future. 

Read on to discover exactly how much fat your 14-year old should be getting, and which sources of fat are the healthiest options for an adolescent eating plan. 

How Much Fat Should a 14-Year-Old Have In A Day?

Since there is insufficient data to determine a defined level of fat intake when risk of inadequacy or chronic disease prevention occurs, an acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) has been estimated for total fat. The AMDR established by the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) as well as the general goal recommended by the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition is that 25-35% of total calories a day come from healthy fats for teenagers. For teens that need 2,000 calories per day, that works out to about 55-75 grams of fat daily. For teens that need 3,000 calories per day, that equals about 83-117 grams of fat per day.

How to Find Exactly How Much Fat Your Teen Needs

  1. First, calculate calorie needs, based on gender, age, and activity level. The following table can help you to figure out how many calories your child needs.
Gender:Age:Not ActiveModerately ActiveActive
Boys14-152,000-2,200 calories2,400-2,6002,800-3,000
Girls14-181,800 calories2,0002,400

Don’t see your age? Table is based on this detailed list of calorie needs from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Activity Levels:

  • Not Active – Minimum activity, just daily movements (walking, stairs, chores, etc.).
  • Moderately Active – Standard daily activities plus 30-40 minutes of physical activity.
  • Active – Standard daily activities plus 40+ minutes of physical activity.
  1. Based on total calories, find the percentage of fat your teen needs. Now that you have calories, do some math. Teens should consume 25-35% of calories as fat. For example, a moderately active 14-year old boy needs about 2,400-2,600 calories per day. To find out how much of that needs to be fat, you would take 25-35% of 2,400-2,600. You can do this by multiplying calorie needs by 0.25 and then 0.35. This equals about 600-910 calories per day coming from healthy fats for a moderately active 14-year old boy. Then convert!
  2. Convert calories to grams Once you know the number of calories in the diet that should be fat in the diet, it is actually quite easy to calculate the amount of fat to grams. Each gram of fat provides 9 calories, so to figure out the number of grams your teen should be consuming in healthy fat each day, you simply take the number of fat calories and divide it by 9. From part 2, a moderately active 14-year old boy would need 600-910 calories of fat, which is equal to 67-101 grams of healthy fat each day.

I have another post to check out: How Much Fat Does a Teen Need Per Day?

What Types of Fat Should My 14-year old Teen be Eating?

Eating foods with fat is an important part of a healthy diet. It is crucial to long-term health that teens understand how to choose nutrient-dense dietary fats as their fat sources for the day. It’s important to remember that most foods contain a mix of fats. The key is to pick fat types for your teen that are higher in unsaturated sources and lower in saturated and trans fats. 

Understanding Labels

Labels often seem as if they are written in another language. When it comes to fats, it is important to understand the difference between the different kinds of fats. Just like sugar, companies can sneak fat into labels that you might not notice as easily, using terms like “hydrogenated oil” or “vegetable shortening”. Trans fats can increase disease risk, even when consumed in small quantities. Saturated fats, often found in large amounts in red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream, also have negative impacts on health if not consumed in moderation. 

Teens often have a full plate of activities, and it’s important to help protect them from chronic illness at a young age. Learning how to decipher a nutrition label is an important skill for both parents of teens and adolescents as they grow into adulthood. In general:  

Saturated fat– high levels can cause heart disease and stroke
Trans fat
Unsaturated fat
Monounsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats*

*Polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3-fats, are often referred to by their three-letter acronyms- ALA DHA, or EPA. 

Foods that are trans-fat-free can still be laden with sugar and other additives. Be sure to evaluate the whole label and ensure that the food item is made of nutritious ingredients in addition to being composed of healthy fats.  The following infographic from the American Heart Association can also help you to navigate healthy fat sources. 

Establishing a Healthy Eating Pattern

The following table from the Harvard School of Public Health is an excellent tool for figuring out which types of fats you should limit and which types of fats to increase in your teen’s diet. Try choosing more foods with higher numbers in the columns labeled “Monounsaturated” and “Polyunsaturated”. Limit foods with higher numbers in the “Saturated” and “Trans” columns. 

Fad Fat Foods

In recent years, tropical oils like palm and coconut oil have become trendy in plant-based products. Be aware that these are sources of fat to limit and avoid, as they can be high in saturated fats when compared to other plant oils. Opt instead for plant oils rich in unsaturated fats, such as olive, canola, and sunflower oils.  

Plant-based buttery spreads can also be a sneaky source of saturated and trans fats. It’s important to note that labels can sometimes use the term “natural” or “plant-based” to draw attention away from these fat sources. Be sure to read a product label, and look for unsaturated sources of fats and omega-3s.  

Fried foods are a common source of fat in the teen years, and it isn’t always good fat. These foods are often high in calories and can cause unhealthy weight gain. Adolescents don’t have to cut these out altogether, however it would be wise to have teens learn how to choose smaller portions. 

What About Fat-Free Foods?

Fat-free foods aren’t always the healthier choice. They can often be packed with processed ingredients and are higher in salt, sugar, or starch than the full-fat versions. For this reason, the fat-containing version may actually be healthier. How can you tell which one is the best choice for your teen? You guessed it– learn how to read the label (or find an expert like a dietitian for help). 

Healthy Fat Foods

A general tip for encouraging intake of healthy fats is to replace saturated fat sources with unsaturated fat sources that are nutrient-rich. 

High in Monounsaturated Fats

  • Nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, pecans)
  • Oils (peanut, olive, and canola)
  • Avocado
  • Peanut butter
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sesame)

High in Polyunsaturated Fats

  • Oils (sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed, canola)
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish

Healthier Cooking Oils

  • Olive
  • Peanut
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower 

The ChooseMyPlate page on eating healthy oils can also be an excellent resource for finding out how much dietary fat oils and other foods contain. 


Omega-3 fats are an important kind of polyunsaturated fat. The body can’t make omega-3s on its own, so teens must consume foods that contain them in order to get the appropriate amount. Foods that are high in omega-3s include: 

  • Fatty fish
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Eggs
  • Oils (canola, soybean)

The Benefits of Eating Healthy Fats

This following image from the Harvard School of Public Health is a helpful illustration of the protective effect consuming calories from healthy sources of fat can have on a teen’s life.

The benefits of eating healthy fats are plenty, but the primary points include: 

  • Promotion of normal brain and nervous system function
  • Support of heart health
  • Lower “bad” cholesterol & triglyceride levels
  • Protection against eye disease
  • Reduction of body inflammation
  • Lower rates of heart disease risk and all-cause mortality
  • Provides essential fats your body needs and can’t produce on its own

Healthy fat intake is extra important in the teen years because certain fats are essential to helping the body grow and mature normally. Understanding how much fat your 14-year old needs now is crucial to preparing them for healthy lifelong nutrition skills that can protect them from chronic disease and malnutrition later in life. Getting your teen the healthy dietary fat they need can prime them for better nutritional and lifestyle habits in young adulthood and beyond. 

Related Questions

How Many Grams of Fat Should a 14-Year Old Have a Day? 25-35% of total calories should come from fat in a teen’s diet. That means teens that require 2,000 calories need 55-75 grams of fat per day. For teens that need 3,000 calories per day, that equals about 83-117 grams of fat per day. Choose unsaturated fat sources more often and saturated fat sources less often.

Is the Keto Diet Safe for a Teen Girl? The keto diet is inappropriate for most teens, especially those wanting to be healthier. I do not recommend a keto diet for any teenagers, unless for medical purposes under the guidance of a physician and dietitian. Keto diets are high in fat and low in carbohydrates, which teens need a lot of for healthy growth and development. Limiting carbs is not a good idea for teens, especially active teens. Any restrictive diet, such as the keto diet, that creates “food rules” and leads to unhealthy food behaviors can affect growth and health and create long term disordered eating habits. If you are trying to lose weight, check out my posts: What is the Best Diet Plan for a 15 Year-Old? and How Can a 16-Year Old Lose Weight Fast? and Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Teenagers?

How Do You Boost a Teen’s Metabolism? The best way to boost your metabolism is to never skip meals (especially breakfast!), limit processed and fast foods, get enough sleep and regular exercise, and eat 15-30 grams of protein at every meal and snack. These habits can improve your metabolism and help you maintain, or get to, a healthy weight.

Related Posts


American Heart Association, Inc. Healthy Cooking Oils. 2020. Accessed at 

Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Fats: Total Fat and Fatty Acids. Institutes of Medicine of the National Academies. 2005. Accessed at

Ellis E. How Many Calories Does My Teen Need? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019. Accessed at 

Gordon B. Choose Healthy Fats. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019. Accessed at 

Harvard School of Public Health. Fats and Cholesterol. The President and Fellows of Harvard College. 2020. Accessed at 

Office of Dietary Supplements. Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI). National Institutes of Health. 2020. Accessed at 

The Nutrition Source Staff. Ask the Expert: Healthy Fats. Harvard School of Public Health. 2020. Accessed at   

The Nutrition Source Staff. Fats and Cholesterol. Harvard School of Public Health. 2020. Accessed at 

Katherine Harmer, RDN

I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a love for coaching others to success in their health goals, especially teenage athletes. Tennis was my sport of choice in high school. Now I'm a little bit older, a little bit smarter, and a little bit worse at tennis.

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