Losing weight can benefit people of all ages, especially teenagers. Teenage Weight Loss Plans Losing excess body fat improves health and boosts self-confidence… However, it is important for teenagers to lose weight in a healthy way by making diet and lifestyle changes that nourish the growing body and can be followed long-term.
Set Healthy Goals for Weight Loss Plans
Losing excess body fat is a best way to stay healthy. However, it is important to have realistic weight and body-image goals. Losing excess body fat is important for overweight teenagers, but the focus should always be on improving health, not body weight. Setting a realistic weight goal may be helpful for some teens, but improving diet and increasing physical activity may be more effective overall. It’s important for teens to have healthy role models and understand that everyone’s body type is different. Family support and education at home and at school are associated with adolescent weight loss success and can help reinforce positive lifestyle changes.
Cut back on sweetened beverages
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to lose excess weight is to cut back on sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, sweet tea, and fruit drinks contain added sugars. Studies show that high sugar intake can lead to weight gain in teenagers and can also increase the risk of certain health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, acne, and cavities. Research indicates that teenagers are more likely to consume sugary drinks if their parents do, so cutting down on these unhealthy drinks as a family is beneficial.
Add physical activity
You don’t have to join a sports team or gym to be physically fit. Simply sitting less and moving more is a great way to shed excess body fat. Increasing your overall daily activity can increase muscle mass, which can help your body burn calories more efficiently. The key to getting and staying physically fit is to find an activity that you really enjoy, which can take some time. Try a new sport or activity each week until you find one that works better for your body. Hiking, biking, walking, soccer, yoga, swimming, and dancing are some of the things you can try. Engaging in active hobbies like gardening or social causes like park or beach cleanups are other great ways to increase activity levels. What’s more, being active can help boost your mood and has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in teens.
Fuel your body with nutritious foods
Choose foods based on their nutritional content rather than calorie content. Because teenagers are still growing, they have a higher demand for certain nutrients such as phosphorus and calcium than adults, so vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy protein sources are not only nutritious but can also promote weight loss. For example, a fiber found in vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, as well as protein in sources like eggs, chicken, beans, and nuts can help keep you full between meals and prevent overeating. Plus, research shows that many teens lack recommendations for nutrient-dense foods—making it even more important to include these healthy foods in your diet.
Don’t skip the fat
Children and teenagers need more fat than adults because their bodies are developing. When trying to lose weight, it’s common to cut out sources of dietary fat because of their calorie content. However, cutting too much fat can negatively affect growth and development. Instead of drastically reducing your fat intake, focus on swapping unhealthy fat sources for healthy ones. Substituting unhealthy fats, such as deep-fried foods and sugary baked goods, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish for healthy weight loss. Not only do healthy fats fuel your body, but they are also important for proper brain development and overall growth.
Limit added sugar
Teenagers tend to eat extra sugary foods such as candy, cookies, sugary cereals, and other sweet processed foods. When trying to improve health and lose excess body weight, reducing added sugars is essential. This is because most foods that are high in added sugars are low in protein and fiber, which can make your appetite fluctuate and cause you to overeat throughout the day.
A study of 16 young women found that those who drank a high-sugar beverage in the morning reported feeling hungrier and ate more at lunch than those who consumed a low-sugar breakfast beverage. High-sugar foods not only increase appetite but can negatively affect academic performance, sleep, and mood during adolescence.
Avoid fad diets
Pressure to lose weight quickly can cause teens to try fad diets. There are countless fad diets, some popularized by celebrities. It should be understood that diets especially restrictive fad diets rarely work long-term and are even harmful to health. An overly restrictive diet is difficult to stick to and rarely provides all the nutrients your body needs to function at optimal levels. Also, eating too few calories can slow weight loss as your body adapts in response to limited food intake. Instead of focusing on short-term weight loss, teens should focus on achieving slow, consistent, healthy weight loss over time.
Eat your vegetables
Vegetables are rich in important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they also contain powerful compounds called antioxidants, which protect your cells from harmful molecules. In addition to being highly nutritious, studies have shown that eating vegetables can help teens reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Vegetables are packed with fiber and water, which can help you feel fuller and more satisfied after a meal. It keeps your appetite stable throughout the day and reduces the chances of overeating.
Don’t skip meals
While skipping meals may seem like it will help you lose weight, it can actually make you eat more throughout the day due to hunger. Instead of skipping breakfast or reaching for a quick, high-sugar snack bar, teens should prioritize eating a balanced diet. Additionally, choosing a balanced breakfast rich in protein can help keep you fueled and satisfied until your next meal. A study of 20 teenage girls found that those who ate a high-protein, egg-based breakfast were less hungry and snacked less throughout the day than those who ate a low-protein, cereal-based breakfast.
Ditch diet food
Foods and drinks marketed as “diet-friendly” can be packed with artificial sweeteners, unhealthy fats, and other ingredients that are not good for health. Some studies have linked artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose to health problems, including stomach upset, migraines, and even weight gain. Also, diet foods and drinks are usually highly processed and rarely contain the nutrients a growing body needs. Instead of buying diet items, choose whole, unprocessed, filling foods for meals and snacks.
Try mindful eating
Mindful eating means paying attention to your food to develop a better relationship with eating, body awareness, and food control. Often, teenagers eat meals and snacks on the go or are distracted by television or smartphones, which can lead to overeating. Mindful eating habits — such as eating slowly, enjoying meals while sitting at the table, and chewing food thoroughly — can help with weight control and create a better relationship with food. What’s more, research shows that mindful eating can help teens make less impulsive food choices, which can promote a healthy body weight. Parents and siblings can also practice mindful eating to support teens trying to develop healthy eating habits.
Stay properly hydrated
Drinking enough water is important for overall health and can help you maintain a healthy weight. Replacing sugary drinks, such as soda and sports drinks, with water reduces excess calorie consumption and promotes healthy weight loss. Also, drinking water throughout the day can help control hunger and reduce the urge to snack when you’re not necessarily hungry. Staying properly hydrated can improve academic and athletic performance.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Feeling pressured to look a certain way can wreak havoc on anyone’s body image, and teenagers seem to be more susceptible to body image issues than other age groups. Peer pressure, social media, and celebrity influence can make teenagers feel dissatisfied with their bodies. When trying to get healthy by losing excess weight, it’s important to understand that everyone’s body is unique and people lose weight at different rates. A weight loss journey should not be triggered by a need to look like someone else. Weight loss and body image positivity to inspire your new healthy lifestyle.
Cut down on processed foods
Although a treat now and then is perfectly healthy for teenagers, eating too many processed foods can lead to weight gain and hinder weight loss. When trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, meals and snacks should revolve around whole, nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and proteins. Processed foods like candy, fast food, sugary baked goods, and chips should be enjoyed as occasional treats and not eaten every day. Instead of relying on outside food, teens can get involved in the kitchen and prepare homemade meals and snacks using whole, healthy foods.
Get enough sleep
Adequate sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy body weight. Studies show that adults who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight than those who get the recommended seven to eight hours per night. Teenagers need more sleep than adults. In fact, experts recommend that teenagers get 9-10 hours of sleep per day to function at optimal levels. To get a restful sleep, make sure your bedroom is dark and avoid distractions like watching television or using your smartphone before bed.
What if losing weight doesn’t work?
There are other reasons why teenagers may find it difficult to lose weight, even when they follow a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Certain medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and depression can cause sudden weight gain. If you think you’re having a particularly hard time losing weight, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They can perform tests or recommend a specialist who can help rule out medical conditions that may be causing the weight gain.
Warning signs of disordered eating
Eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder (BED), can affect people of all ages and develop during adolescence. Parents who notice signs of a possible eating disorder in their teen should consult their family doctor or pediatrician for information about treatment options.