How Many Calories Should a 14-Year Old Girl Eat?

Teenage girls, especially in the 14-18 year old range, are prone to want to cut calories. On the contrary, calories are needed in adolescence to keep teens energized, developing, and maturing properly. With so many “nutrition experts” spouting advice, it’s hard to know what is best. So how many calories should a 14-year old girl eat?

Moderately active 14-year old girls need 2,000 calories per day. Depending on activity levels and other important factors, teenage girls need around 1,600-2,400 calories per day.

Calories are important, but where calories are coming from is more important. Eating foods from a variety of food groups is vital to getting the nutrients teens need in this important stage of life. Eating well and exercising regularly can help 14-year old girls feel both fueled and fit without restricting intake.

Keep reading for tips on how much and what a 14-year old girl should eat to stay as healthy and happy as possible.

Daily Calorie Recommendations for 14-Year Old Girls

Calories equal energy. Without calories, 14-year old teenage girls wouldn’t be able to perform daily activities. Calories fuel breathing, walking, running, laughing, blood-pumping, and more. 

The following chart from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can help you or your teen find out the appropriate amount of calories to eat each day. 

Daily Calorie Recommendations for Teenage Girls

Understanding Calorie Counts

The amount of calories in a food depends on the combination of carbohydrate, protein, and fat that food contains. Carbohydrates and protein each provide four calories per gram. Fat provides nine calories per gram, making it important to eat nutrient-dense fats since calories from fat add up faster. 

Carbohydrate, protein, and fats are called collectively macronutrients. Individual vitamins and minerals are termed micronutrients. Food provides both, so it is important to note that calories aren’t the only measure of how “healthy” a food is. 

Looking at Food Labels

When teenage girls look at food labels, they shouldn’t only consider the calorie count. Labels contain information about many nutrients a food contains.

Specific nutrients of concern in teenage diets include the following: 

Try to increase intake of these nutrients by finding foods with higher percentages or content of these nutrients (listed on the label, usually under %DV or Daily Value). 

While sweets are okay every once in a while, it’s important to opt for nutrient-rich options instead of the following foods with low nutritional value: 

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Baked goods
  • Chips 

Food Group Recommendations for 14-Year Olds

The following image shows the most recent dietary guidelines for teenagers. Moderately active 14-year old teenage girls need about 2,000 calories per day.

Those calories should come from:

  • 2 1/2 servings of vegetables
  • 2 servings of fruit
  • 6 servings of grain
  • 3 servings of dairy
  • 5 1/2 servings of protein foods

Remember, 14-year old girls need approximately 1,800-2,400 calories each day. Eating a variety of foods from each of the food groups can help to achieve a nutrient-dense dietary pattern. It’s more important to focus on a balanced diet with a variety of foods instead of counting calories.

See also: Should a Teenager Count Calories? Ask a Dietitian

It’s significant to note that added sugars, salt, and saturated fats aren’t listed on the chart. While minimal amounts of these items are allowed, it’s important to keep an eye on intake as high levels can lead to serious health problems. 

Choose Low-Fat Instead of No-Fat

Growing 14-year old girls may be worried about fat. However, fat is necessary for a number of body functions. Choosing low-fat dairy options provides some fat, plus many important nutrients such as protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Dairy is a great option for growing teens because it packages a ton of different nutrients into an easy-to-consume beverage or food. Choose lower fat dairy options when possible.

The following options offer the benefits of fat or dairy without an excessive level of calories: 

  • Low-fat dairy
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • String cheese
  • Soy milk, yogurt, and calcium-set tofu
  • Vegetable or plant oils (i.e. olive, canola, sunflower, safflower)

There’s a whole set of vitamins (the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K) that need fat to be optimally absorbed. Fat is a good choice in a teenagers diet! Ditching some foods to fit in a pair of jeans may seem important in the moment, but having proper brain and body function is much more important in the long-run. 

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

Choose Protein-Packed Foods

Often teens, especially athletes, believe they need to pound the protein powder to build muscle. Eating plenty of protein in the diet is actually just as effective. It’s simple and most teens are getting enough protein without even trying just by eating a regular diet.

Try fueling yourself or your teen with these proteins: 

  • Lean meats (i.e. chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef or pork)
  • Fish
  • Nuts butters and nuts
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Canned chicken
  • Ground turkey
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Lentils 
  • Beans and peas
  • Hummus 

Specific Nutrients for 14-Year Olds

It might seem overwhelming trying to figure out how many servings of each food to eat in a day. Sometimes, the healthiest approach is to think about which nutrients you need or which food group you may be falling short in and work back from there. 

Here’s some nutrients to focus on when you’re 14-years old:


Take fiber, for example. If you are looking to increase fiber intake in your eating habits, instead of obsessing over exact serving sizes, simply focus on adding a couple high-fiber foods in place of low-fiber ones. 

Here’s a list of healthful foods and food groups that fiber is naturally found in: 

  • Whole grains (i.e. quinoa, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain crackers)
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Beans (canned beans can be a great pantry staple)
  • Popcorn 

Vitamins and Minerals

Fruits and vegetables are simply some of the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Whole fruits and veggies and 100% fruit juices are some of the most healthful options. Fresh, frozen, or canned varieties provide plenty of nutrients and make meal prep easy. 

Popular plant favorites include: 

  • Frozen berries
  • Melon slices
  • 100% orange juice
  • Baby carrots
  • Sliced apples
  • Broccoli 
  • Corn 
  • Sliced peppers
  • Frozen peas
  • Leafy green salads
  • Grapes

Iron Intake

In addition to the other nutrients, 14-year old girls should be aware of their iron levels. Due to the menstruation process and the growing blood volume during the teen years, 14-year old girls are at increased risk for iron-deficiency anemia. 

Combine risk for anemia with calorie-restrictive diets and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Due to vegetarian and vegan diets being primarily plant-based, iron and B-vitamins might be needed in supplement forms for teen girls on those dietary patterns. 

Iron is crucial to immunity and many body functions, so it is a nutrient of increased attention at this life stage. Eating iron sources with vitamin C foods (i.e. citrus, 100% orange juice, grapefruit) helps to increase absorption of the iron, while too much calcium decreases iron absorption. 

Foods high in iron include: 

  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Legumes
  • Leafy green vegetables

Enriched grain products also contain iron, but whole foods often offer a better nutrient profile. If you or your teen are wondering about iron levels, mention your concerns to your dietitian and healthcare team. You may want to follow-up with blood tests to ensure that the appropriate treatment plan or supplementation regimen has been recommended. 

Tips for 14-Year Old Teenage Girls and Their Parents 

Here are several tips for teenage girls struggling to figure out eating patterns and calories: 

  1. Have an approachable plan for disordered eating patterns. It’s unfortunately common for teens to develop unhealthy eating behaviors or relationships with food. The National Eating Disorders Association Helpline can assist you or your teen with thoughts or patterns of disordered eating. Remember — it is okay to ask for help! That’s what dietitians and other health professionals are here for. 
  2. Build a positive, trusting relationship and not restriction-based rules. Too strict a set of rules, such as no candy at all in the house, doesn’t give teens a chance to practice value skills. In fact, knowing your teen can choose a healthier option over an available indulgence can give you a sense of trust for when they must make good choices away from home. 
  3. Learn more about the Nutrition Facts Label. The nutrition label found on food packages changes from time to time. Stay updated by reviewing the most recent set of changes
  4. Model positive patterns. Parents can model positive eating behaviors and provide healthful foods to the family to show what accountable eating looks like. 
  5. Know that “healthy” doesn’t have a look. Health can occur at any size, and that’s important to keep in mind. Body image is important and can feel concerning, but as long as a teen is receiving the proper amount of nutrients then they should be strong and healthy. Inner health is more indicative of nourishment than external appearance.

Sample Day of Meals for 14-Year Old Girl 

The following sample meal plan can help illustrate a possible eating pattern for you or your teen. It achieves the nutrient needs while keeping meals varied, balanced, interesting, and most importantly, appetizing! 

A bonus? Adjustments can easily be made to accommodate dairy-free, gluten-free, or soy-free eaters. A dietitian can help you navigate other dietary guidelines or allergies without feeling restricted by limitations. 

Sample Meal Plan For a 14-Year Old Girl at 2,000 Calories:

Breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 whole-grain bagel with 1 Tablespoon of nut butter and 4 sliced strawberries, and 1 cup of low fat milk (or calcium-fortified soy or nut dairy alternative). 548 calories.

Snack: 2 Tablespoons of hummus with 1/2 cup bell pepper strips, and 6 whole-grain crackers. 170 calories.

Lunch: Canned tuna made with mayonnaise on 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 medium apple, 1/2 cup celery sticks, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, and 1 ounce bag of pretzels. 585 calories.

Snack: 8 ounces low fat Greek yogurt (or dairy-free alternative) with 1/4 cup mixed berries. 147 calories.

Dinner: Cilantro lime chicken grain bowl: 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/4 cup black beans, 1 cup leafy greens, 3 ounces diced chicken, 1/4 cup pico de gallo, 3 Tablespoons cilantro lime dressing, 1 ounce shredded cheese, and 1/4 medium avocado. 548 calories.

Total: 1,998 calories, 126 grams of protein, 234 grams of carbohydrates, 62 grams of fat.

Counting calories can be a helpful way to log food intake, but it should be done with the watchful eye of a dietitian. It’s typically more of a healthful practice for 14-year old girls to focus on listening to their hunger and fullness (satiety) cues to guide healthy eating. 

The Bottom Line

Getting enough calories is a crucial part of keeping 14-year old girls healthy. Considering all the processes of growth and maturing they are going through, nutrient-dense sources of food are vital for meeting the recommended daily dose of vitamins and minerals. While counting calories can be constructive, focusing on eating sources of nutrient-rich whole foods can make the most difference. 

Related Questions

How Many Calories Should a Teenage Girl Eat to Lose Weight? Teenagers girls should eat around 1,500-1,800 calories per day to lose weight. Most teenage girls need around 2,000 calories per day, so in order to lose weight you should cut 300-500 calories per day as well as adding some physical activity. Before trying to lose weight as a teenager, make sure you have the guidance of your doctor and dietitian. It can be harmful to diet and eat too few calories as a teenager.

What is a Good Snack for a Teenage Girl? Some of the best snacks for teenage girls combine protein and healthy carbohydrates. Some great options include cottage cheese and fruit, whole wheat toast and nut butter, cheese cubes and veggies, hummus with veggies and crackers, protein smoothies, greek yogurt with fruit and granola, oat bars or overnight nights, or an energy bar (Larabars are my favorite healthy bar).

What Foods are Low in Calories? If you are looking for foods that pack in nutrients with a low amount of calories, some of the best low-calorie options include: leafy green vegetables, cucumbers, celery, watermelon, broth, asparagus, carrots, clementine oranges, jicama, rutabaga, mushrooms, bell peppers, papaya, strawberries, popcorn, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, zucchini, herbal teas, and many more.

What is the Minimum Calorie Intake for a Teenage Girl? A teenage girl should not eat less than 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day, depending on daily needs. Even sedentary teenage girls need lots of nutrients and calories to support growth and development. Eating too few calories equals too few nutrients to support vital body functions and could cause serious health problems, nutrient deficiencies, and a slower metabolism.

Is it Safe for a 14 Year Old to Count Calories? It’s better to focus on where your calories are coming from and to learn to listen to hunger and fullness cues than to count calories as a teenager. Counting calories everyday can create unhealthy food habits and obsessions and should be avoided in the teen years. Should a Teenager Count Calories? Ask a Dietitian

See Also


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. How Many Calories Does My Teen Need? Published October 4, 2019. 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition for Growing Bodies. Published May 28, 2020. 

Ansel K. 7 Kitchen Staples for Teen-Friendly Meals. Published March 9, 2018. 

Johnson A. Teach Your Teen about Nutrition Facts Panels. Published June 24, 2020. 

Ryan M. Give Your Teen’s Iron a Boost. Published April 2, 2019. 

United States Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Published December 29, 2020. 

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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