How Many Calories Should A 16 Year Old Boy Eat To Lose Weight


How many calories should a 16 year old boy eat to lose weight? That’s a question most people ask themselves at one point in their lives, whether they’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle. The amount of calories that a 16 year old boy needs depends upon various variables. The recommendations here assume a teenage boy who is physically active. In this article I’ll be going over what kind of diet you should follow.

How Many Calories Should A 16 Year Old Boy Eat To Lose Weight

Have you seen how much a teenager can eat? Teenagers are growing and developing at an amazing rate, and they need a lot of fuel to give their body the energy and nutrients it needs.

16-year-old teenage boys need to eat about 2,800 calories per day based on several factors, including gender, age, height, and physical activity. Teen boys are often in the middle of a growth spurt and need extra nutritional fuel.

Check out the charts below for calorie recommendations for all teens, tips on what teens should eat, plus a sample menu plan from a registered dietitian nutritionist!

Nutrient Requirements for Teenage Boys

Calories provide energy for our bodies, they help us survive, move, breathe, and perform daily activities like running, laughing, walking, playing sports, as well as using our brains for thinking, studying, and learning.

Calorie needs vary based on several factors: age, gender, height, weight, body composition, physical activity level, and other factors. Additionally, athletes need more calories because they are using a lot more energy through training and competition.

How Many Calories Does a Teenage Boy Need Per Day?

In the teenage years, the body requires more calories than any other time of life. With growth spurts and development, teenage boys need around 2,200-2,800 calories per day, while girls need about 2,000 calories per day. Teen athletes may need additional calories on top of this.

In the teenage years, the body requires more calories than any other time of life. With growth spurts and development, teenage boys need around 2,200-2,800 calories per day, while girls need about 2,000 calories per day. Teen athletes may need additional calories on top of this.

Here are some helpful charts to give you a good idea of calorie needs based on age, gender, and activity level:

Teenage Male Caloric Requirements Per Day:*

AgeNot ActiveModerately ActiveActive
132,000 calories2,200 calories2,600 calories
14-152,000 –2,200 calories2,400 –2,600 calories2,800 –3,000 calories
16-182,400 calories2,800 calories3,200 calories
192,600 calories2,800 calories3,000 calories

Teenage Female Caloric Requirements Per Day:

AgeNot ActiveModerately ActiveActive
131,600 calories2,000 calories2,200 calories
14-181,800 calories2,000 calories2,400 calories
192,000 calories2,200 calories2,400 calories

Not Active= Minimal activity per day. 

Moderately Active= 30-40 minutes of physical activity per day.

Active=  40 or more minutes of physical activity per day.

How many calories should a 16-year-old boy eat?

Below are the daily calorie needs of 16-year-old boys:

Physical Activity LevelsDaily Calories
Moderately Active2800

Table 2 (16-year-old boys): via 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)

Teenaged boys need more calories than girls

The table below brings the data for 16-year-old boys and girls together so that you compare them at a glance. It shows that teenage boys need more calories than girls. It also shows that teenage boys and girls need more calories than their less active counterparts.

Physical Activity LevelMaleFemale
Sedentary2400 cal1800 cal
Moderately Active2800 cal2000 cal
Active3200 cal2400 cal

How to determine your physical activity level

Teenagers with high physical activity levels need more daily calories. Pic credit: Pixabay

If you are unsure how to rate your Physical Activity Level (PAL), the following information may help:

The 2020-2025 DGA defines a sedentary lifestyle as regularly involving only the “physical activity of independent living.”

Thus, you are likely sedentary if you spend much of your time reclining or sitting watching TV, reading books, listening to music, or playing video games.

The DGA also defines Moderately Active as a lifestyle that regularly involves physical activity equivalent to walking 1.5 miles to 3 miles daily at 3 miles to 4 miles per hour.

Thus, you are likely moderately active if you spend much of your time with friends, enjoying youthful activities, such as dating, dancing, partying, light gym activities, and recreational skateboarding.

Walking a short distance (less than or equal to a mile) to and from school daily rather than riding a bus may also be part of a moderately active lifestyle. Recreational trampoline exercise may also be part of a moderately active lifestyle.

Lastly, the DGA defines Active as a lifestyle that regularly involves physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour.

You likely live an active lifestyle if you are a student-athlete or regularly engage in sporting activities. High intensity sporting activities include competitive skateboarding, football, athletics, basketball, swimming, mountain bicycling, rowing, and strength training.

You may find that your lifestyle is a mix of two or all of the physical activity levels listed above, leaving you uncertain which physical activity category to choose.

However, it is not unusual for a teenager’s daily physical activity level to vary significantly. For instance, you may prefer staying indoors playing video games on Saturday but choose to join your friends on Sunday at the gym to work out, play basketball, tennis, or swim.

You have to decide which activity level represents your typically daytime lifestyle.

If you engage in sporting activity only occasionally but spend lots of time with friends at the beach engaged in light physical activity (such as dancing, partying, and playing beach ball), you are likely moderately active. But if you work out or do vigorous sporting activities at least thrice weekly, your lifestyle is likely active.

If you seldom go outdoors but spend a typical day watching TV or playing video games, you are most likely sedentary.

A sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for 16-year-olds

Teenagers need plenty of physical activity to develop lean mass. Pic credit: Pixabay

Tables 1-3 (see above) list the calorie requirements for a sedentary lifestyle. However, we don’t advise teenagers to settle for a sedentary lifestyle because it is not healthy. If you concluded that your lifestyle is sedentary, we suggest that you try to raise your physical activity level to at least moderately active to improve your health status.

Your teenage years are a critical period when your body develops lean mass (muscles and bone tissues) that will help sustain your health through early and late adulthood. You reap lifelong health benefits from ensuring that you get sufficient daily exercise to develop strong muscles, bones, and cardiovascular fitness.

A 16-year-old who lives a predominantly sedentary lifestyle suffers a higher likelihood of becoming overweight or obese. While being overweight may not cause noticeable health problems while you are young, it increases the risk of early death due to heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer during early adulthood (20-40) and midlife (40-60).

However, health experts recommend that teenagers get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly.

How Can a 16-Year-Old Lose Weight? Focus on eating smarter, not restricting food. An appropriate eating plan will help more than a diet. In some cases of teen obesity, weight loss may be appropriate, but needs to be monitored by a physician and registered dietitian.

Teenagers shouldn’t try to lose weight. It isn’t wise to diet. Teens are at a crucial years of growth and development where restricting calories or nutrients may be harmful. If a teen is overweight, they should work with a physician and a dietitian in order to create a plan to focus on correct foods, be more physically active, and eat an appropriate amount so they can grow into their weight.

16-year-olds need a balanced diet

Teenagers need to avoid empty calories to lose weight. Pic credit: Unsplash

In addition to calories, you need to eat an overall balanced diet that contains all the proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need to maintain good health. We recommend the USDA’s DRI tool (see link above) because it generates a detailed report that includes your daily calorie and nutrient requirements.

You also need to dedicate more of your time to outdoor activities, especially during the summer, to get enough exposure to sunshine. Your skin needs plenty of exposure to sunshine to synthesize vitamin D for bone and muscle development.

A diet that supplies all the health-promoting nutrients you need will include nutrient-dense foods such as:

  • Dark-Green Vegetables
  • Red and Orange Vegetables
  • Beans, Peas, Lentils
  • Starchy Vegetables
  • Fruits, such as apples and bananas
  • Whole Grains
  • Meats, Poultry, Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Nuts and Seeds

You want to ensure that you are not taking too many or too few calories daily. Staying within the limits of recommended daily calorie intake and ensuring that you get sufficient daily exercise keeps you in a healthy weight range. Eating more calories than you need increases the risk of being overweight and associated health problems.

Eating too few calories daily because you want to be thinner is not healthy. It increases your risk of becoming underweight. Research studies show that being underweight is just as unhealthy as being overweight.

One study found that being underweight was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality compared to normal weight.

Finally, avoid common drugs, such as alcohol, tobacco, vaping, and marijuana (weed), to maintain healthy lungs, heart, and brain.

Components of a healthy meal for 16-year-old teenagers:

1. Carbohydrates:

Teens need at least 130 grams of carbohydrates per day and these can come from grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, and dairy products. Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source during physical activity, most teens require a lot more than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day.

45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram. If your teen requires 2,800 calories per day, they would need 315-455 grams of carbohydrates per day to be in the recommended range.

Choose healthy carbs such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Limit sugary foods, refined grains (white bread/pasta, white rice), sugary beverages, and other foods with added sugars.

These foods provide few nutrients and could contribute to weight gain and obesity. Choose whole foods instead of many overly-processed and packaged foods.

2. Protein:

Protein helps to build and restore muscle and other body tissue, supports your immune system, regulates pH and fluid balance, plays a role in hormones, transports nutrients, provides some energy, and helps with many biochemical reactions.

Teenagers need lots of protein during this crucial time of growth and development. Physically active teens need about 0.45 – 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Non-athlete teens need about 0.3-0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That might seem like a lot, but studies show that teens regularly eat 3 times the Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein.

Protein is in a lot of foods, and it adds up fast, but it’s still helpful to be aware of high-quality protein sources and make sure your teen is getting enough at each meal and snack.

Animal sources of protein include milk and dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish. Plant sources include nuts, seeds, legumes, oats, quinoa, soy, and more.

Vegetarian teenagers should work with a doctor and a dietitian nutritionist to make sure they are getting enough protein, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, and other important vitamins and minerals.

3. Nutrients:

Choose a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal and snack to get a variety of important nutrients for your body to function appropriately. You want your meals to fill you up and fuel you to be the healthiest you can be during these important years of growth and development.

A healthy, balanced diet for a teenager includes:

Have you seen USDA’s food pyramid or ChooseMyPlate before? Children and teens learn about it in school.

It is important for children and teenagers to choose foods that are high in nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber) and low in added sugars, salt, and saturated fats. A healthy, balanced diet for teenagers includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy or dairy alternatives, protein foods, and healthy fats.

  • Fruit and Vegetables: 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. A serving is about the size of your fist or 1 cup.
  • Whole Grains and Starchy Foods: whole wheat breads/pasta/crackers, sweet potatoes, corn, brown rice, and oats are all great choices. Choose 6-8 servings per day. A serving is equal to 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked pasta/rice/oatmeal).
  • Dairy Products: Includes milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, etc. Choose low-fat dairy options (skim or 1% fat). Choose 2-3 servings per day for strong, healthy bones. Fortified dairy alternatives are also appropriate.
  • Protein foods: Choose meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils. Choose 4-6 servings per day. A serving is equal to 1 ounce of cooked meat, 1 egg, 1/4 cup cooked beans, 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds, or 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter.
  • Limited sugar, sodium, and saturated fat: Teens should limit overly- processed foods and food with too much sugar such as candy, cakes, desserts, treats, or sugary drinks like soda. These foods are high in calories, but low in nutrients. They only have a small place in a teenager’s diet and should not be consumed regularly.

Want some more tips for a balanced meal for a 16-year old boy? Keep reading.

Components of a healthy snack for teenagers:

Teenagers need about 1-3 snacks per day. Plan a meal or snack every 2-4 hours. A healthy snack is also focused on carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins/minerals. These will help you stay full and satisfied, have enough energy for the day, and get the nutrients your growing body needs each day.

An appropriate snack should be about 100-300 calories. Don’t forget your water bottle to stay hydrated! Stay away from junk food and the vending machine for snacks; plan ahead and bring some healthy options with you during the day so you don’t get too hungry. Some great options are listed here:

  • 1/4 cup hummus with 6 whole wheat crackers and veggies
  • 12 oz protein fruit smoothie
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt with granola and fruit
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese and fruit
  • 1/4 cup almonds and 1 apple
  • 1 banana or apple with 1 T peanut butter
  • string cheese and 8 whole wheat crackers
  • 1.5 cups cereal and 1 cup milk
  • 12 oz chocolate milk
  • string cheese and an apple
  • 1/2 cup pretzels and 1 T peanut butter
  • PB&J sandwich
  • energy bar like a LARABAR
  • 1 cup juice and 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • rice cake with 1 T nut butter and banana
  • string cheese and 4 oz applesauce

Importance of Eating Healthy

1. Loaded with important nutrients

Unprocessed animal and plant foods can help provide vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health.

For instance, 1 cup (149 grams) of red bell peppers, kiwi (180mg) or orange slices (165 grams) contains more than 100% of the RDI for vitamin C.

Eggs and liver are especially high in choline, a nutrient essential for proper brain function.

And a single Brazil nut provides all the selenium you need for an entire day.

In fact, most whole foods are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients.

2. Low in sugar

Some research suggests that eating sugary foods can increase your risk for obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease

Generally speaking, real foods tend to be lower in added sugar than many processed foods.

Even though fruit contains sugar, it’s also high in water and fiber, making it much healthier option than having soda and processed foods.

3. Heart healthy

Real food is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that support heart health, including magnesium and healthy fats.

Eating a diet rich in nutritious, unprocessed foods may also help reduce inflammation, which is considered one of the major drivers of heart disease.

4. Better for the environment

The world population is steadily growing, and with this growth comes increased demand for food.

However, producing food for billions of people can take a toll on the environment.

This is partly due to the destruction of rainforests for agricultural land, increased fuel needs, pesticide use, greenhouse gases, and packaging that ends up in landfills.

Developing sustainable agriculture based on real food may help improve the health of the planet by reducing energy needs and decreasing the amount of nonbiodegradable waste that humans produce.

5. High in fiber

Fiber provides many health benefits, including boosting digestive function, metabolic health, and feelings of fullness.

Foods like avocados, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and blackberries are particularly high in healthy fiber, alongside beans and legumes.

Consuming fiber through whole foods is better than taking a supplement as it keeps you feeling fuller longer, and you also get the added nutrients from the fruit or vegetable.

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