Weight Loss Advice For Teens:
Methods That Don't Work
If you are a teenager with weight problems,
it's important to stay cool and avoid ineffective or unhealthy ways to
lose weight. During your teenage years, your body develops in many different
ways - not all visible - and good health is essential to ensure this development
proceeds smoothly. To help you make the right choices, here are some weight
loss methods that (I can assure you) DON'T work!
The Teenage Starvation Diet
This diet should be avoided at all costs.
Unless recommended and supervised by a doctor for the treatment of severe
obesity (100+ pounds overweight), any diet which involves a drastic reduction
in calories is likely to be extremely unhealthy, possibly dangerous.
Starvation Diets Typically Lead to Weight
Gain in Teens
Paradoxically, ultra-low calorie dieting
among teens usually leads to a gain in weight, rather than weight reduction.
After a short period of rapid initial weight loss, the body starts to
slow down in order to conserve calories. This is a natural defence mechanism
designed to overcome the effects of a food shortage. As a result, weight
loss slows down. The teen dieter is already experiencing tiredness and
lack of energy, as a result of lack of calories. At this point, a combination
of hunger, cravings and low mood may trigger an episode of binge eating.
Or else the lack of weight loss is usually enough to demotivate the dieter
who quits the diet and starts overeating. Repeated attempts to lose weight
in this way can lower metabolic rate and make it even more difficult to
maintain a normal weight.
Starvation Diets Cause Loss of Muscle
Another problem is that the weight loss
which occurs as a result of drastic calorie reduction is highly undesirable.
Up to 50 percent of the the weight lost is not fat at all, but lean tissue.
In other words, the body starts burning up its own muscles. One reason
for this, is that fat tissue requires fewer calories to maintain than
muscle tissue, so the body retains more fat and burns more muscle.
Health Effects of Starvation Diets Among
The average 11 year old requires a minimum
of 1800 calories. This rises with age and gender to about 2700 calories
for 18 year old teenage boys. The reason that adolescents and teenagers
need these calories is to satisfy the nutritional demands of the intense
development and growth they experience during this period. A very low
calorie diet (less than 1000 calories) can lead to serious nutritional
deficiencies, involving extreme tiredness, bone weakness, skin and hair
problems, as well as hormonal problems and worse.
Laxatives Unsafe and Ineffective For Weight
In a recent survey, 9 percent of teenage
girls and 4 percent of teenage boys reported using laxative pills or supplements
to lose weight. If you are a teenager with weight problems, please do
not resort to this method. Laxatives are neither safe nor effective for
weight reduction purposes. Here's why:
- Most of the weight lost is water loss,
not fat loss.
- By speeding up the digestive process,
laxatives can reduce the absorption of vitamins, minerals and other
nutrients and leave us weak and dehydrated.
- Long-term use of laxatives upsets the
mechanism of the colon. This can make us dependent on laxative
pills for regular bowel movements. (Colon-cleansing does not cure this
Fad Diets are Simply Low Calorie Eating
A typical fad diet
(eg. cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet) is a low calorie eating plan
with some type of gimmick attached. Some fad diets rely on high intakes
of a single food which is supposed to burn fat. (Note: There are no special
fat-burning foods.) Others recommend specific combinations of food that
supposedly cause weight or fat to "melt away." There is no truth
in any of these fad-diet assertions. The only reason they cause some teens
to lose weight is because they are very low in calories. And as we have
already seen, low calorie diet plans are very unhealthy and do not lead
to long term weight reduction. If you are a teenager who needs to lose
weight, please do not waste your time following one of these low energy
Teen Vegetarian Diets
Quite a few girls turn to vegetarian diets
in their mid or late teens. As a way of eating, vegetarianism has a lot
to recommend it. Trouble is, most teens don't realise that giving up meat
makes it much more difficult to eat a healthy diet. The point is, meat
is a very convenient source of important vitamins and minerals, especially
iron. So if you stop eating meat, you need to eat a wide range of vegetarian
foods to compensate for this deficiency. Unfortunately, vegetarian teenagers
are not famous for doing this. Enough said. For more information, see
Vegetarian Nutrition, or read
about my Healthy Vegetarian Diet
How to Lose Weight Successfully If You
are a Teenager
Unless you are seriously overweight, the
most effective way to reduce weight is to eat healthily and take regular
exercise. Amazingly, many teenagers don't choose this tried-and-tested
method. Instead, they prefer "instant solutions" to their weight
concerns - solutions which typically cause ill-health and weight gain.
If you are seriously overweight, talk to
your parents or talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Most doctors will
put you in contact with a qualified dietitian who can give you a healthy
calorie-controlled eating plan, together with advice on how to increase
your exercise level.
Whatever you do, don't fall into the
trap of looking for "instant solutions" to your weight concerns.
Most of these solutions cause weight gain, not loss. Trust me.