How many calories should a 13-year-old eat?

In this brief guide, we will address the query: “How many calories should a 13-year-old eat?” Also, we’ll explore what are some important dietary habits for teenagers to maintain, what the risks of not consuming enough calories are, and why a healthy diet is important for teenagers. 

How many calories should a 13-year-old eat? 

On average, a healthy 13-year-old should consume about 2200 calories a day. However, the exact number may vary, due to their gender, the physical activity each individual carries out on a daily basis, and his or her size. 

The exact range varies between 2000 to 2600 calories a day for boys, with the former being the suggestion for relatively inactive teenagers, while the latter is suggested for active teens who practice sports and other taxing activities. 

For girls, the ideal daily calorie intake can fluctuate between 1600 to 2200 calories a day, depending on the physical activity they carry out. Moderately active 13-year-old girls should consume about 2000 calories a day. 

If a teen is overweight, a doctor or nutritionist may place them on a special diet that’ll moderate their calorie consumption, whereas underweight teens will be instructed to consume richer foods and higher amounts of calories. 

A licensed professional can help you determine what your or your teen’s dietary needs are, to maintain an active lifestyle and overall health. 

What are some important dietary habits for teenagers to maintain?

Important dietary habits that all teens should follow, regardless of whether or not they are overweight, underweight, or at their ideal weight include: 

  • Avoid eating junk food- junk food is packed with empty calories, sodium, fat, and added sugars.
  • Avoid consuming sugary beverages – most calories in sweetened drinks are sourced from added sugars, which are of scant nutritional value, and may lead to health problems down the line
  • Consume vegetables that are rich in fiber – Vegetables may not be palatable for all teens, but their consumption is an important habit to cultivate and can provide many health benefits. In any case, teens should eat vegetables than other less nutritious foods
  • Avoid skipping meals – teens should not skip meals, as it can be a source of anxiety and lead to overeating when they finally do eat.
  • Avoid energy drinks – energy drinks are an alarmingly high source of calories and stimulants that can cause many health problems such as heart disease and circulatory problems.
  • Maintain proper levels of hydration – water is essential to many bodily functions and a lack of it can cause many symptoms such as headaches, exhaustion, thirst, and irregular heartbeats
  • Consume protein – protein is essential to many functions, and developmental processes that a teenager’s body goes through, They’re important for building muscle, maintaining body functions, and supporting a teenager’s immune system.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption – Minors should not consume alcohol, not just because it’s illegal, but because it can have detrimental effects such as stunting a teen’s growth, generating addiction, causing inebriation, dehydration, and many other symptoms. 

What are the risks of teens not eating enough calories? 

A thirteen-year-old that doesn’t consume enough calories runs the risk of being malnourished.

At that age, most individuals are undergoing puberty and physical growth. Being malnourished can be reflected by poor or otherwise stunted growth and delayed reproductive maturity.

There is a certain period in which adolescents will grow and achieve their peak potential in this regard, and insufficient calories will stunt this development. Physical signs include being underweight, having an emaciated appearance, or experiencing very little increase in height.

Granted, height and complexion are two traits with genetic components at play, but without a proper diet, it’ll be very difficult for a teen to reach his or her potential in this regard. 

Additionally, teenage girls who consume too few calories may have irregular menstruation cycles, while both underfed girls and boys can suffer from irregular growth spurts.  

Why is it important for teenagers to have a healthy diet? 

Teenagers should have healthy diets, not just so that they cultivate the habit of eating healthy, but to delay or prevent the early onset of health disorders. 

Overeating is also a problem, and cultivating proper dietary habits at a developmental age such as adolescence can help teens grow into responsible youths. 

Furthermore unhealthy diets at early ages are associated with an early onset of disorders such as chronic inflammation, which is caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can trigger other problems such as heart disease, type II diabetes, circulatory problems, liver disease, insulin resistance, and some cancers. 

To summarize, it is important for teens to have healthy diets as this can prevent health problems both in the immediate sense and at later stages of their lives. 


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query: “How many calories should a 13-year-old eat?” Also, we have explored what are some important dietary habits for teenagers to maintain, what the risks of not consuming enough calories are, and why a healthy diet is important for teenagers.


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