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Healthy Weight Center

How Can A Teenager Lose Weight?

03/12/2009

Question:

Hi. I am a 16 year old male. I recently got off the "protein diet". I was not satisfied with the way I was losing weight. I also felt more moody, fatigued, and irritable. I am wondering what kind of diet I should go on now. I lost 10 and a half pounds on this diet and still want to lose another 13. Losing weight has always been a difficult task for me. I`ve always been slightly overweight.

I had been struggling to lose weight, losing a few pounds at a time and gaining them back. That was until the protein diet. But I`m not sure if I am going to retain this weight loss which I so badly desire. So please tell me, what`s the best way, or a good way that I can lose weight at this age?  I`m trying the opposite of the protein diet right now, no fat high carbohydrates, but I will focus mainly on complex carbohydrates. Is this a good idea? I appreciate your response. Thanks for your time.

Answer:

Thanks for your question. Congratulations on taking your health and weight so seriously! Now is the time to do it as the rate of obesity, diabetes and hypertension is on the rise in people your age. My philosophy is that "diet" is a 4 letter word. A "diet" should not be something that you go on and off to lose a few pounds, but rather a healthy way of eating that you gradually adopt over time to lose weight AND keep off. Chronic dieting (especially fad diets) can lead to muscle loss, mineral imbalance, decreased metabolism and also lower self esteem. Just say NO to fad diets! It does not surprise me that you experienced irritability, fatigue and moodiness on the high protein diet that you described. Information about the side effects of this type of diet can be found in previously asked questions on NetWellness. In order for you to lose weight and keep it off, focus on changing unhealthy eating habits to healthy ones that you will keep for a lifetime. At your age, you are still in a state of growth. So, dieting off and on may affect your growth and maturity. In order to maintain proper growth without excess weight gain, it is vital that you consume enough calories, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water and limit excess calories. In order to do this, I suggest that you follow the Food Guide Pyramid. The Food Guide Pyramid is a guide to help you eat a wide variety of foods that are low in fat and calories, and high in nutrients and fiber. The tip of the pyramid contains foods that are high in fat, calories and sodium (such as soda, desserts, alcohol and fried snacks) which should be eaten sparingly. At your age, you`ll need at least the minimum number of servings from each group: 6-11 servings of bread, cereal and other starches 3-5 servings of vegetables 2-4 servings of fruits 2-3 servings of meat or other high protein foods 2-3 servings of dairy foods It sounds as though you have already begun this type of eating plan, which may have it`s drawbacks initially. After being on a high protein diet, you may quickly regain the weight that you lost because carbohydrates hold water. In addition, a high protein diet can make you dehydrated. So, you may feel like you`ve lost weight, but may have only lost body water. Don`t get discouraged! You may wish to seek the expertise of a Registered Dietitian. A Registered Dietitian can help you and your family plan meals that will be healthy and allow for weight loss. Ask your family doctor for a referral. Eating well is only part of the formula for long term weight loss. Exercise is a must! Exercise helps to build muscle, increase your metabolism (which helps your body burn up more calories) and just make you feel good. Most fitness experts recommend at least 30 minutess of exercise (walking, cycling, rollerblading, swimming, etc.) 3-5 times per week. Once you start exercising, keep it up. The benefits only occur when you exercise regularly. Again, adopt the habit of exercise for a lifetime. In addition, getting enough water in your diet is important. Water aids in digestion and elimination and also helps you feel full so that you eat less. If possible, shoot for 8 eight ounce glasses per day. For more information about healthy tips for weight loss, search this section of Netwellness for questions about weight loss. The websites below may also have useful information for you. Best of luck!

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati