Teenage weight is an important criterion to assess how healthily adolescents will enter adulthood and sail through this stage. With obesity being one of the most significant burdens of the world population today, here are a few tips adolescents can pick up to lose weight, thereby meeting their fitness goals and maintaining good health.
Right weight during teenage
With the urge to stay fit sweeping the world, and rightfully so, most people are now more health conscious than ever before. Adults and the older population aren’t the only ones who must take advantage of the right nutrition, as the foundation for good health begins from childhood through teenage years. Teens' weight is an essential topic of discussion, as inequality in energy balance, where more calories are consumed than spent, can lead to obesity. The rising cases of obesity in childhood and adolescence are associated with a rise in comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension previously only identified in the adult population. A 1 kg body weight reduction may reduce the risk of diabetes by 16%.
Depending on the height, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided a growth chart that can be used to monitor the weight for the age group 2 - 19 years. Any excess must be controlled by adopting a diet plan for teenagers to lose weight and regular exercise.
Foods beneficial for healthy weight loss
Following are some of the foods to include in a teenage diet plan for weight loss:
- Millets such as ragi and finger millet: Consuming millets can help steady the sugar levels in the blood. Millets also contain micronutrients such as iron, zinc, and calcium and a host of essential plant compounds that can act as antioxidants to protect from harmful effects of free radicals. They can also help prevent fat accumulation and play a vital role in controlling obesity rates.
- Pulses such as chickpeas and kidney beans: Including pulses in diet may be a beneficial teen weight-loss strategy because it leads to a modest decrease in weight. Bean consumption is associated with a lower body weight and reduced waist size. The weight-reducing property of pulses stems from their ability to provide satiety by
- Increasing chewing time and stimulating early satiety signals
- Delaying gastric emptying and absorption of nutrients given the presence of soluble fibres
- Green leafy vegetables and seasonal fruits: Leafy vegetables such as spinach, amaranth, and fruits, including apples, pear, bael fruit, and oranges are excellent sources of fibre that can prevent blood glucose levels from spiking up. This makes them low Glycemic Index (GI) foods. Eating foods with a low GI regulates the fat percentage in the body. This helps reduce adipose tissue and promotes weight loss.
- Nuts such as almonds and walnuts: Though there is some concern that the high fat and energy content of nuts may promote weight gain, diets to reduce teens’ weight must still include nuts in them. This is because nuts are rich in protein and dietary fibre, which are associated with increased satiety and lower body weight.
- Eggs: Egg is one of the most important sources of protein, a nutrient that is required to build muscle mass. However, since the yolk is high in fat, the common conception is that eggs can lead to weight gain. But interestingly, it has been learnt that consuming eggs for breakfast enhances weight loss when combined with an energy-deficit diet. The addition of eggs to a weight management programme may thus offer a nutritious supplement to enhance teens’ weight loss.
Tips for healthy weight loss
Several fad diets masquerading as the correct diets for teens to lose weight are available that announce enormous claims but few results. A healthy diet plan aimed at reducing teens’ weight can be made nutritious, yet easy, by simple modifications in eating habits as mentioned above under the teenage diet plan for weight loss.
- Engage in physical activity: Increased physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle and can help reduce weight. One of the best predictors of success in managing overweight and obesity is the ability to develop and sustain an exercise programme.
- Be on the move: While physical activity refers to dedicating specified hours to a routine exercise, there is another concept termed non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), wherein you unintentionally expend calories while engaged in routine work. Whether it is by walking when you use your phone instead of lying down, or lifting heavy furniture while cleaning, NEAT enhances lifestyle. These unplanned and unstructured low-level physical activities are associated with automatic energy expenditure. Hence, remaining physically active by doing simple household chores, or using the steps instead of the lift, and so on automatically expends calories, which are simple and easy ways to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
- Set and achieve realistic goals: The rush to obtain instant results can make one opt for unhealthy alternatives for weight loss. However, the weight loss journey for teens requires patience, and the adolescent should set achievable goals that are easier to attain and progress on to the next. High expectations may make one lose interest when results show after a period of time, thus exacerbating the very purpose.
- Master the technique of food swaps: You don’t have to deprive or starve yourself, but instead, look for healthier food exchanges. For example, if you’re craving an indulgent dessert, weigh your options. Coconut barfi will give you the added dose of coconut rich in medium chain triglycerides than an ice cream that is just loaded with calories. Thus, using your discretion can make the journey easier if you follow portion control, which is to eat small size servings instead of gorging meals.
- Other good ways to lose weight as a teenager:
- Prepare meals at home and carry packed lunch to eat at school/university
- Understand the concept of portion size and estimate it when eating a meal
- Learn to recognise the fat content of menu items and dishes on buffet tables
- Modify the route to school to avoid a favourite food shop
- Eat meals at home and eat outside only once in a while
- Do not opt for high-fat, calorie-dense foods just because they are easily available and convenient
Diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fibres to help lose teens’ weight
If you’re on the lookout for creative ideas, here is a weight loss healthy teenage diet plan suggestion for you that comes with enticing options. However, kindly note that this is a sample diet plan and you can consult a healthcare professional to suit your individual requirements.
- Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates that provide an extra dose of fibre and a dash of micronutrients is always a good choice for teenagers when considering weight loss. For example-
- Oats Pumpkin Pancake may be opted as a breakfast choice. As a cereal, oats are a filling ingredient. Oats provide satiety and flavour. Again, pumpkin is a favourable vegetable with antioxidant- and fat-lowering properties.
- Fibre: Fibre is that part of the food that isn’t digested but provides satiety, which is a feeling of fullness and can thus be beneficial in preventing the urge to eat without necessity. Fibe can be included from a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Mushroom Barley Salad: A bowl of delicious goodness, this salad combines colours and variety sure to boost your health and can be consumed as a mid-morning snack!
- Spinach and Corn Chapati Roll: To make the chapati suitable for weight loss, you can enhance whole wheat flour with bajra flour, which contains more micronutrients and fibre. Corn and spinach filling can accompany the scrumptious meal for dinner, a low Glycemic Index solution to achieve your weight reduction goals.
- Protein: Although cereals contain moderate amounts of protein, given how frequently they are consumed in the Indian diet, they form a major source to supply this nutrient. Besides, egg and paneer are popular food options to meet the protein requirements of adolescent years, and by increasing the lean body mass and building muscles, total weight may also be kept in check. Some ideas for teenagers to up their protein intake are as follows -
- Spinach Rice with Paneer Egg Curry and curd: Both egg and paneer are excellent sources of protein. Spinach is a reliable veggie that can provide a much-needed dose of fibre to buffer any rise in blood glucose levels, which may have been observed from rice consumption. Curd contains probiotics, which are live microorganisms also known to aid weight loss. Combining different ingredients this way can ensure you get the best of both taste and nutrition! Alternatively, you can also consider Rajma Chawal for lunch.
- Healthy fats: Not all fats are bad, for the ‘good fats’ are known to keep weight in check and can be consumed through fish, nuts and oilseeds.
- Dry Fruit Bar or Almond Chikki: The plan is to eat delicious food while being mindful and opting for small portions. Though nuts and dry fruits are calorie dense, when taken in small servings, apart from providing omega fats (the good fat) they can also keep you full and prevent you from snacking up empty calories.
Several factors, including cultural, environmental, and readily available high-density food choices, which impact youth eating behaviours and teens' weight. The added burden of our times is that media devices and associated screen time make physical activity a less favourable choice for adolescents, adding to the weight of the problem. However, while the reasons are many, teenagers can switch to effective lifestyles and dietary strategies as well as follow the teenage weight loss meal plan mentioned above to maintain their health and ensure they grow into healthy, productive adults.