Weight can be a touchy issue for many people, especially teenagers. You can help your teenage son reach his weight goals by educating and supporting him through all aspects of healthy weight loss. Help him create realistic expectations, encourage him to stay motivated and gently remind him that this type of venture takes time, to help him stay away from negative self-talk.
Daily Nutritional Needs
You must determine your teen's nutritional needs before he starts cutting calories for weight loss. If he eats too little or too much, his weight-loss efforts will not be as effective. The caloric needs of a teenage boy will depend on his age and activity level. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 13-year-old who is sedentary will need 2,000 calories to maintain his current weight, but if he is moderately active, he will require 2,200 calories, or 2,600 calories if he is very active. A 14-year-old will need 2,000, 2,400 or 2,800 respectively. A 15-year-old’s daily caloric needs are 2,200, 2,600 or 3,000. A teen male between 16 and 18 years requires 2,400, 2,800 or 3,200 calories per day to maintain his current weight. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a teen should distribute his diet so he gets the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats. He should get 50 to 60 percent from carbohydrates and no more than 30 percent of his total calories from fat. According to The Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board, a 14- to 18-year-old male should get 52 grams of protein per day.
Dieting for Weight Loss
Now that you know how many calories he should eat to maintain weight, help him cut some calories to get him to his new weight goal. To lose weight, your teenage son must eliminate 3,500 calories from his diet to lose one pound. By reducing his daily caloric intake by 500 calories per day, he can lose one pound a week. By making healthier food choices, such as replacing a king-sized candy bar with a granola bar or an apple instead of fries, this plan will help him get closer to reaching his weight goal. To keep his calories in check, look at portion size and the calories per serving on the package.
Since body image is a leading topic during the teen years, you can determine what your teen son's ideal weight should be so that he can keep his goal in perspective. To determine his body mass index, input his age, height, gender and current weight into an online BMI calculator; alternatively, ask a doctor to do it for him or your son can compute his own. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this BMI formula for children and teens: BMI = weight (lb) / [height (in)] 2 x 703. The CDC states that this calculation helps screen but not diagnose to see if individuals are obese, overweight, or at a healthy weight or underweight. A teen is underweight if he falls in the bottom fifth percentile for his age and height. Healthy weight is the 5th to the 85th percentile, overweight 84th to 94th percentile and obese is 95th and above. You can obtain weight and growth charts from his doctor.
If your teen wants to lose some pounds, exercise is a vital part of a healthy weight loss program. Regardless of what his chosen exercise turns out to be, he needs to warm up his muscles first. Do some light jogging and stretching for ten minutes or so to increase blood flow, heart rate, range of motion and to prevent injury. Encourage him to incorporate at least 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercises into his exercise regimen per day. Jogging, biking, racquetball and swimming can get his heart rate up and burn some calories. He should plan some calisthenics, resistance or weight training into this routine three to five times a week. The muscle he builds with these exercise will help burn fat faster than exercising without them. Squats, lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, bench press, lateral pulls, triceps extensions and bicep curls are a good start. Over time, he should slowly add more weight or resistance to keep his body from hitting a weight-loss plateau.
- KidsHealth.org: How Can I Lose Weight Safely?
- KidsHealth.org: Fitness and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old
- Mayo Clinic: Teen Weight Loss: Healthy Habits Count
- Mayo Clinic: Getting Past a Weight-loss Plateau
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen
- Military.com: MMA Metabolic Resistance Workout
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010; Dec 2010
- Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board; Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients; Jan 2011
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About BMI for Children and Teens
- Ezra Shaw/Digital Vision/Getty Images