Body image and self-esteem are highlighted during the teenage years. To avoid the possibility of your teen implementing a crash or fad diet to reach a goal weight, encourage him to adopt a healthy weight loss regimen instead. Show him how to get off the couch, become active and make better food choices.
Your teen needs to meet his nutritional needs to stay healthy and strong. If he’s not getting what he needs, he will not have the stamina or energy to get moving, especially for exercise activities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teens need to keep healthy by eating the appropriate amounts of each food group each day. The AAP suggests that 14- to 18-year-old girls should get 1.5 cups of fruit, 2.5 cups of vegetables, 6 ounces of grains, 5 ounces of meat and beans, 3 cups of milk and 5 teaspoons or less of oils per day. Boys of the same age group should get 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of vegetables, 7 ounces of grains, 6 ounces of meat and beans, 3 cups of milk and 6 teaspoons or less of oils.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that a teen needs to get adequate calories for his age and activity level to maintain his weight. If he wants to lose weight, yet he's still eating enough to stay healthy, you should track your teen’s calorie intake. This is not meant to set up a strict diet; it’s used as a tool to assess how many calories your child is currently consuming to get a better picture of how and where to cut calories for weight loss. According to the USDA, a 13-year-old male needs 2,000 calories a day just to maintain his current weight if he’s sedentary, 2,200 if moderately active and 2,600 calories if active. A 14-year-old boy needs 2,000, 2,400 or 2,800 respectfully, a 15-year-old boy needs 2,200, 2,600 or 3,000 and a 16- to 18-year-old boy needs 2,400, 2,800 or 3,200. On the other hand, a 13-year-old female needs 1,600, 2,000 or 2,200 and a 14- to 18-year-old girl would need 1,800, 2,000 or 2,400. To lose one pound of weight, a person must eliminate or burn 3,500 calories. Accomplish this by cutting 500 calories a day from your teen’s diet.
Getting the heart rate up during cardiovascular exercise can help your teen reach his weight goal. Biking, running, canoeing, dancing, jumping rope, soccer and swimming will do the trick if the activity is done at a medium to vigorous pace. If he’s not used to exercising, start him off with small segments of exercise, such as 10-minute increments a few times a week. Every two or three weeks, add more time. Work up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least three times weekly and he should be active in some way for 60 minutes each day. That simply means getting off the couch and going for a walk or playing catch with his little brother. The KidsHealth website suggests activities, such as skateboarding, in-line skating or yoga, to get your teen moving.
Resistance and Weights
According to the USDA, a teen should do at least an hour of muscle and bone strengthening exercise three times a week. Lifting weights, resistance training, push-ups, sit-ups, bicep curls, lat pulls, triceps extensions and lunges all fall into this category. He should start with a few sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise and increase the amount of reps and sets as time goes on. Not only will your teen feel stronger and leaner, these exercises will help build muscle and burn calories much better than without.
Keep a few other suggestions in mind to help your teen reach his goals. Since teens tend to swoop in and grab whatever is handy in the cupboards and fridge, you should stock up on healthy snack options, such as frozen grapes, string cheese, yogurt in a tube, apples, baby carrots and hummus. Offer smaller meal portions, let him indulge occasionally on his favorite treats, be flexible with the weight loss program, and keep him motivated by offering praise and encouragement. The WebMD website recommends that you be a good role model and make this a family affair by joining him on his weight loss venture. Another helpful tip that AAP offers is encouraging your teen to drink water throughout the day. Not only is water essential for body functioning, it can help your teen feel more full and is a healthier choice than soda. Encourage him to eat at home instead of eating out.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- HealthyChildren: Childhood Nutrition
- MayoClinic: Teen Weight Loss: Healthy Habits Count
- KidsHealth: Fitness and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old
- KidsHealth: Easy Exercises for a Teen
- WebMD: Teen Weight Loss Secrets
- WebMD: How to Recognize Fitness Traps and Exercise Right
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