Teenage boys need more calories for energy than adults to support growth and development — however, if they consume too many calories and don't get enough exercise, they'll gain weight. Losing stomach fat for teenage boys is not only beneficial for their appearance, but also for their health. Excess stomach fat, in particular, can be a predictor for weight-related diseases in both adults and children. The combination of a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity is the best way for teen boys to lose weight.
Lose Belly Fat for a Teenage Guy
Many factors play a role in weight gain, including genetics, but excess calorie intake and not getting enough exercise are the biggest reasons teens gain weight. "Weight gain" is more aptly described as body fat gain. A teen boy can be lifting weights and building muscle, which will lead to weight gain, but if he's still eating more calories than he needs, he'll continue to increase his fat stores at the same time.
Calories are energy currency, and boys need enough to support their physiological functions, daily activities and exercise. When they get more calories than they need, the body stores the excess as fat, saving it in the fat cells for future needs. To lose fat, boys need to get into a calorie deficit, in which the calories they consume are fewer than the calories they expend each day. Then the body will be forced to tap into the stored fat for energy, and fat stores will decrease.
Fat gain usually doesn't occur in just one area of the body; in addition to stomach fat, a teen boy likely has fat storage in other areas of his body, such as his face and arms. It's important to understand that boys can't spot reduce — or target just the abdominal area for fat loss, for example. They have to change their overall body composition, and they'll eventually see a reduction in stomach fat.
How Many Calories Do Teen Boys Need?
The starting point for a teenage diet plan for a flat stomach is to figure out daily calorie needs. How many calories a teen boy needs is based on his age and activity level. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, sedentary boys who are 13 and 14 years old need 2,000 calories per day. Sedentary means they get no other activity than that required by the physical demands of daily life.
Thirteen- and 14-year-old boys who are moderately active, meaning they get daily exercise equivalent to walking 1.5 to 3 miles at a moderate pace, need 2,200 to 2,400 calories per day. Boys of the same age who are active, with daily activity levels equal to walking more than 3 miles per day at a moderate pace, need 2,600 to 2,800 calories.
At age 15, sedentary boys need 2,200 calories per day; moderately active boys need 2,600 calories; active boys need 3,000 calories. Between the ages of 16 and 18, daily calorie needs increase to 2,400 for sedentary boys, 2,800 for moderately active boys and 3,200 for boys who are active. And finally, 19-year-old boys need 2,600 calories per day if they're sedentary, 2,800 calories if they're moderately active and 3,000 calories if they're active.
Lowering calorie intake and improving the quality of a teen's diet are the two most important components of fat loss. Typically, simply improving the quality of the diet will automatically reduce calorie intake, as healthy nutrient-rich foods are generally lower in calories than nutrient-poor foods. Many teens eat too many processed, fatty and sugary foods; reducing the amount of these unhealthy foods a teen boy consumes and increasing his intake of nutritious foods will lower his calorie intake, improve his nutrition and help him feel fuller on less food.
Nutrient-rich foods to include in a teenage diet plan for a flat stomach include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean protein, such as chicken breast, fish and beans
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- Healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts and seeds
Foods that teen boys should avoid to lose stomach fat include:
- Fried foods
- White bread
- White pasta
- White rice
- Pastries, cookies and cakes
- Ice cream
This doesn't mean a teen boy can't have an occasional treat, but these foods shouldn't be part of his regular diet. Don't keep these foods in the house — instead provide low-calorie nutritious food options that are quick and easy to grab for a teen on the run. Some ideas include fresh salads, hummus and cut-up veggies, nut butter on whole-grain bread and plain yogurt with fresh berries.
Make mealtimes at home family affairs; plan, cook and eat healthy meals together, rather than allowing teen boys to fend for themselves. They're less likely to make healthy choices when they're not given guidance. Also, teach teen boys the importance of limiting their intake of unhealthy foods when they're outside the home. Discuss options for avoiding cravings and how to keep from indulging in junk foods even when their peers are doing so.
Increased Activity Level
Often, reducing calorie intake is all that's needed to bring about fat loss, especially if boys are already active. However, for sedentary boys, increasing activity level will not only help them burn calories to increase their calorie deficit, but it will also help them keep the weight off. In addition, regular physical activity is important for overall health, and it's an important habit to develop early in life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers should engage in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Part of this activity should be cardiovascular exercise, such as running, swimming or playing sports; the other part should be muscle-strengthening activities, such as lifting weights and doing body weight exercises.
Keep in mind that how much time, how often and how many calories are burned aren't the only important factors when choosing an exercise activity; for a boy to stick with a regular exercise program, he should choose something that he likes to do and looks forward to doing. Whether this is an organized sport such as soccer, martial arts or dancing, he'll be more likely to continue to engage in physical activity if he finds it entertaining.