How many calories should a 12 year old eat?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query ”How many calories should a 12 year old eat?” We will also look at how many calories teens require. We will discuss if calories are bad and recommend what kids should eat on a daily basis among other related topics.

How many calories should a 12 year old eat?

Kids between 6 to 12 years should consume an average of 1,600 to 2,200 calories in a  day, depending on how active the kids are. There just isn’t a correct number of how many calories kids should consume because different kids have different sizes and the body burns calories at different rates for different people.

How many calories do teens require?

Teenegers do require a lot of energy and nutrients to enable them to grow healthy. In general;

  • Boys require an average of 2,800 calories in a day.
  • Girls require an average of 2,200 calories in a day.

Calorie needs in teenegers vary by the individual based on their gender, age, activity level, size among other factors.

Are Calories Bad for you?

Absolutely not, calories are required by the body inorder to generate energy. However, if you consume a lot of calories which you cannot burn through activities you can end up gaining weight.

Most foods as well as drinks do contain calories. Proteins such as red meat, chicken, pork and Carbs such as brown rice, potatoes, and whole grains contain a lot of calories and it is therefore important that you consume them in moderation.

On the other hand, foods such as lettuce have few calories with a cup of lettuce containing less than 10 calories. You should therefore strike a balance by consuming a healthy and varied diet that gives you just enough calories that fuel you and that you can burn.

Should kids & count their calories intake?

No, kids and  teens should not take count of their calorie intake. This can end up being an obsessive behavior and can result in disordered eating as well as an unhealthy relation with foods. 

Obsession with calories intake in teens can lead them to stop listening to their food body requirements and instead have unnecessary food restrictions and food rules.As a parent, it is 

Parents are advised to have a general idea of their kids’ calorie needs. They can give their kids different foods available and encourage their kids to regularly check with their bodies and nourish them.

What should kids aged 12 & teens eat on a day to day basis?

It is essential that teens eat food groups that are recommended for them. We will take a look at  the recommended daily servings from each food group. 

This is based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so this may need to be adjusted slightly up or down if your teen requires a different amount of calories. 

  • 2.5 cups of fruit: Ensure that you go for whole fruits if possible. Frozen and canned fruits are as well an excellent choice.
  • 2 cups of veggies: Ensure that you color the table by choosing different types and colors of veggies. Canned and frozen veggies are also a good choice
  • 6 ounces grains and ensure that you go for whole grains 
  • 3 cups of dairy products. Dairy products are very important because they are a good source of calcium which is an essential mineral for building and maintaining bone health.
  • 5.5 ounces protein: Go for different plant and animal sources that provide high quality proteins.
  • 27 grams oils: This can be in liquid form or in a variety of foods such as nuts and nut butters.

What is a good meal or snack for kids and teens?

When planning for your kids meals and snacks ensure that you incorporate at least three to four food groups at snacks. Aim to strike a balance of carbs, high quality proteins and healthy fats for each eating occasion.

It is important that your kids get the following nutrients;


Carbohydrates are the ideal source of energy and can be derived from sources such as; Fruits, pasta, juice, bread, milk and yogurts amongst others.


Protein helps build the kids body and they grow healthy. Good sources of proteins are; meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.


Fats are essential as they increase satisfaction and help in the absorption of certain vitamins. Some good sources of fats are avocado, butter oil, nuts and seeds.

You can learn more about calorie requirements for teens by age here.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query,”How many calories should a 12 year old eat?” We have also looked at how many calories teens require. We have discussed if calories are bad and recommended what kids should eat on a daily basis among other related topics.


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