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Nutrition > Weight Loss Tips for Teens

Weight Loss Tips for Teens

Losing weight is difficult for people of any age. During adolescence, weight loss must be a balancing act between the nutritional needs of your growing body and maintaining a healthy weight. It is important you keep this in mind as you lose weight. Do not set a goal of a specific weight or clothing size. It's more important to do healthy habits routinely than to be a certain size or shape.

The following tips will help you lose weight or grow into your current weight by maintaining your current weight and stay healthy.

Weight-loss tips

  1. Cut down on calories, especially added sugars
  2. Choose healthy foods instead of junk foods - calories should contribute to nutrition
  3. Decrease the amount and portion size of food you eat
  4. Limit calories from drinks 
  5. Be more active
  6. Get adequate sleep

Limit sugary drinks

  • Limit drinks with sugar and calories, such as soda pop, Gatorade, Fruitopia, flavored waters, and other sweetened beverages. These drinks can add 500-1000 calories a day to your diet with little to no nutritional value.
  • Water is the best fluid to drink. If you don't like plain water, make an herb or fruit-infused water.
  • The following drinks do not contain calories or sugar and might be good choices if you are thirsty between meals: unsweetened tea (hot or cold); mineral water or club soda; sugar-free drinks (containing Nutrasweet / Equal / Splenda / Sucralose) like Crystal Light, diet soda pop or sugar-free Kool-Aid. (Note: There is emerging research that suggests that the sugar-free sweeteners contribute to weight gain by altering the gut bacteria, so these might not be the best recommendation either. 

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

  • Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and rich in nutrients, and should be included in each meal and snack.
  • They will help you feel fuller and provide the nutrients your growing body needs.
  • Try to include one fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack to get a total of at least 5 servings every day.
  • Pick a wide variety of colors.
  • If you don't like vegetables, make a vegetable puree and add it to sauces, smoothies, and other foods. You can't taste them this way but you still get the nutrition and fullness from them.

Eat a variety of foods

Make sure you eat a wide variety of foods. You should include foods from each food group every day unless you have an allergy to that food. These groups include:
  1. Whole grains.
  2. Fruits and vegetables.
  3. Proteins (meats, peanut butter, nuts, eggs, beans, dairy).
  4. Limited amounts of fats and oils.

Limit high fat/high sugar foods

  • Decrease the amount of unhealthy fat you eat by limiting fried foods, high fat luncheon meats, chips, pastries, and fast foods.
  • Use herbs and spices to flavor your foods.
  • Avoid foods with added sugars. The natural sugars found in foods are unavoidable, but we don't need to add sugar to foods and drinks. 

Try not to skip meals

  • When you skip a meal, you usually become hungrier at the next meal and over-eat the rest of the day.
  • Skipping measl changes your metabolism, which makes it easier to gain weight by skipping meals.
  • Skipping breakfast or lunch may also cause you to have difficulty paying attention in school.
  • If your schedule is hectic, be sure to have healthy snacks available so you don’t skip a meal or overeat.

Avoid quick weight-loss diets

  • Many of these diets are low in nutrition that teens need to be healthy.
  • Weight loss aids such as over-the-counter weight loss medication or herbal products are expensive and can be harmful to your health. They also make it harder to keep the weight off.
  • Check with your doctor before trying any quick weight loss product or fad diet.

Eat healthy snacks

  • Choose low calorie, healthy foods for snacks — like fresh fruits and vegetables, non-sugar cereal, whole grains, whole grains crackers, popcorn, low-fat cheese, or baked chips.
  • Be sure to watch your portion size.  
  • Avoid grazing or snacking all day.
  • Eating protein and fiber helps you feel full longer.

Increase your activity

  • Exercising 4 to 6 times a week for at least 30 minutes will make losing weight easier. Be as active as you can.  
  • Examples of exercise include walking, cycling, roller blading, jogging, dancing, and swimming — anything that keeps you moving.
  • Getting involved in a school or club sport can be a fun way to get exercise.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on a screen watching television/movies, messaging friends, and playing computer and video games. Any time on the screen is not time being active. The best exercise is one you like — be creative.


  • Do not underestimate the power of sleep. Teens need 9-11 hours of sleep per night while they're growing, and at least 8.5 hours of sleep once they finish growing.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation is directly correlated with weight gain: the less you sleep, the more chance you'll have of unhealthy weight gain. 
  • Obesity can increase sleep apnea, which decreases effective sleep. If you snore or choke during sleep, discuss this with your doctor. 

All of these suggestions can help you develop a healthy lifestyle. If you are having a weight problem now, chances are you will have problems with your weight again. Use these healthy tips to change your habits for life.

More Help

A free app and website, MyFitnessPal, can be very helpful keeping track of nutrients, calories, and exercise. You can manually enter foods and exercise or scan with a bar code scanner from your smartphone or tablet and it saves your previous choices, making it easy to keep track of foods eaten. Unfortunately because children and teens are growing it cannot give accurate recommendations on numbers of each of these items. You can work with a nutritionist to determine your goals, then compare your daily and weekly logs to your goals.

General Healthy Eating Rules:


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