Fat and carbohydrates are equally important in the diets of girls. However, carbohydrates should make up a larger percentage of their total calorie intake. Carbohydrates are a girl’s main source of energy, especially if she is physically active. The number of grams of carbs and fat a girl needs each day is based on her total calorie requirements.
The more active girls are, the more calories they need to maintain a healthy body weight and grow and develop properly. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, girls ages 2 to 3 need 1,000 to 1,400 calories, girls ages 4 to 8 require 1,200 to 1,800 calories, girls ages 9 to 13 need 1,400 to 2,200 calories and teen girls ages 14 to 18 require about 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day for healthy weight maintenance. The more calories a girl requires, the more carbs and fats she needs.
All girls—ages 1 and older—and adult women should eat at least 130 grams of carbs per day, and 45 to 65 percent of their total calorie needs should come from carbs, according to the Institute of Medicine. Based on these guidelines, a girl who eats 1,400 calories per day needs 158 to 228 grams of carbs per day, while a girl consuming an 1,800-calorie diet needs 203 to 293 grams of carbs each day. Carbs provide 4 calories per gram.
Girls ages 4 and older should aim to consume 25 to 35 percent of their daily calories from fats; girls age 1 to 3 require even more fat--30 to 40 percent of their calorie intake, according to the Institute of Medicine. Based on these recommendations, girls--ages 4 and older—consuming 1,400 calories per day should aim for 39 to 55 grams of fat, while girls who eat 1,800-calorie diets need 50 to 70 grams of fat each day. Fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Healthy Carbs and Fats
Encouraging girls to eat healthy carbs and fats—instead of refined grains, added sugars and saturated fats—will teach them healthy eating habits they can carry with them into adulthood, which will help reduce their chances of developing obesity and other chronic diseases. Girls should choose healthy, nutrient-rich carbs—such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, milk and yogurt—instead of white bread, white rice, soda, candy, pastries and other desserts. Healthy fats are found in fish oils, vegetable oils, avocados, olives, peanut butter, nuts and seeds.
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.