Nutrition for Teens

Around the time of age ten for girls and twelve for boys, children begin to undergo puberty. Typically during this time, boys require around 2,800 calories per day (measurement of energy entering the body) and girls require around 2,200 calories. After puberty has begun and into late adolescence, caloric needs are much smaller. These needs vary by child depending on height, weight, sex, and amount of physical activity.


Making Healthy Food Choices

The government recommends a system to healthier eating through MyPlate. My plate involves filling your plate with fruits, grains, vegetables and proteins. It is important to focus on variety, amount, and nutrition and to avoid excessive sodium and sugar. MyPlate is a way to fill your plate with the proper foods to meet these components. According to, your plate should include an appropriate amount of food from each of these categories.


Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen or dried, and may also be whole, cut up or pureed.


  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bluberries


Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, dried or dehydrated, and may be whole, cut up or mashed. Vegetables are organized into five subgroups based on their nutrient content: dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables.


  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Peppers


All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not. Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) is also part of the Dairy Group.


  • Milk
  • Yougurt
  • Cheese


Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product.

Examples:Muesli, cornflakes and ripe wheat as an illustration of healthy food

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Oatmeal


All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group.

Examples:Grilled chicken meat on skewer

  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Peanut butter


Additional Nutrients


There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs are more sugary and should not make up most of your carbohydrate intake. Most nutritionists recommend that complex carbs, because they are high in fiber and minerals, make up 50 to 60 percent of a teenagers diet. These carbs are typically low in fat and provide sustained energy.

Some examples of foods rich in complex carbohydrates include…

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Humus
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables


Nutritionists also recommend that fats make up no more than 30% of a teenagers diet. You must burn 9 calories to burn off a gram of fat. Fat is important in a diet because it helps with the absorption of vitamins and minerals but too much fat can have harsh consequences. For example, fat can clog arteries in your body resulting in heart problems, as well as too much fat causing stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Examples of healthy sources of fat include…

  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese
  • Coconuts
  • Full-fat yogurt