Being overweight as a teenage girl can make school and personal life more challenging. If your teen has expressed a desire to lose weight, you can help her do it in a way that's safe and sustainable. She'll have to eat a healthy, reduced-calorie diet and increase her physical activity. By following this plan, a teenage girl can safely lose up to 2 pounds a week for a monthly total of about 10 pounds. Be sure your teenager speaks to the family doctor before she starts any new diet or exercise plan.
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Healthy Weight Loss for Teen Girls
The teenage years, especially for girls, are often fraught with concerns about body shape and measuring up to peers, which can lead some teens to take drastic measures to lose weight. Encourage your teen to eschew unhealthy and dangerous diet fads such as skipping meals, cutting out entire food groups or eating only one or a few certain foods. These tactics can lead to health problems and eating disorders. A healthy plan for a teenage girl promotes slow and steady weight loss and focuses on eating nutritious foods from all the food groups combined with regular exercise.
Creating a Calorie Deficit
To lose weight, your teenager must create a calorie deficit, or burn more calories than she consumes, each day. If her goal is to lose 10 pounds in a month, she needs to create a daily deficit of 1,000 calories, since 1 pound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. Encourage her to create this deficit by reducing her calorie intake and increasing her calorie burn, as reducing her calorie intake too low can result in nutrient deficiencies and other unhealthy results.
Sample Diet Plan
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the average moderately active 14-year-old girl needs 2,000 calories to maintain her weight. If your teenager plans to reduce her calorie intake by 600 and burn 400 calories through exercise each day, a 1,400-calorie meal plan is right for her. To make it easy, use the ChooseMyPlate.gov 1,400-calorie meal and snack pattern so she's sure to get all the food groups and nutrients she needs. According to the pattern, she needs 5 ounces of grains, 1 1/2 cups of vegetables, 1 1/2 cups of fruits, 2 1/2 cups of dairy foods and 4 ounces of protein foods each day.
Choosing Healthy Foods
Offer dietary guidance to help your teen make smart choices that don't include fast food and school vending machines. Keep plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the house and supplement those with whole grains, nonfat dairy and lean protein sources like white-meat chicken, fish and beans at mealtimes. Offer her healthy snacks, such as baby carrots and hummus or air-popped popcorn, for study breaks and for when friends come over. If she goes out to eat with friends, help her choose healthy options ahead of time by looking up the nutrition information for the restaurant online or calling to inquire.
Ways to Increase Activity
Although reducing calorie intake is crucial to weight-loss success, getting active is also important. Talk to your teen about getting more exercise -- 60 minutes each day is a minimum, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depending on her weight, your teenage girl can burn about 400 calories per hour or more doing aerobics, ice skating, hiking or rollerblading. Either as part of her daily hour of exercise or in addition to it, your teen should engage in muscle-strengthening activities such as gymnastics or body-weight exercises like pushups and squats at least three days per week, says the CDC.
- FamilyDoctor.org: Nutrition for Weight Loss: What You Need to Know About Fad Diets
- Paediatrics & Child Health: Dieting in Adolescence
- CDC: Losing Weight
- USDA: Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by Age, Gender, and Physical Activity Level
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Meal and Snack Patterns for a 1,400 Calorie Daily Food Plan
- CDC: How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need?
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned In 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights