How to Lose Weight Safely for Teens – 15 Tips

Christian Coulson
Updated: June 14, 2020
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Why did the freshman eat his homework?

A: Because the teacher said it was a piece of cake.

Okay, let’s get serious now.

Teenagers might feel pressured to look a certain way, which can lead to trying FAD diets that can leave their metabolisms in a bad spot and affect their health in the long-term.

While it’s okay to want to lose weight to look a certain way, it should be something teens do for themselves and not because someone else told them to.

Now, weight loss goes far beyond looks.

Losing weight safely by making diet and lifestyle changes can help improve your teen’s health and increase their confidence and self-esteem.

Here’s how to lose weight safely for teens.

1. Get Good Quality Sleep

Teenagers tend to underestimate the power of good sleep.

There are so many things keeping them busy that it just seems like there isn’t enough time. Parties, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, video games, you name it.

However, it’s crucial for their physical and mental health to get enough sleep.

Several studies (1, 2, 3) suggest that lack of sleep may be associated with obesity, depression, academic performance, and risk-taking behaviors.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, the sleep duration recommendation for teenagers is between 8-10 hours of sleep per day. (4)

Therefore, helping them adopt a great night-time routine can put them on the right track towards weight loss.

2. Don’t Believe The Hype of Detox Teas and Diet Pills

The effectiveness of these products have no scientific backing.

Companies use them to get those who are desperate for quick results. Truth is, almost all diet products or pills that claim to melt body fat in a week don’t really work.

There are actually several ways to detox naturally, none of which involve using detox teas.

We live in an era where everything is accessible to you, which includes information and reviews, so make sure to do some research before you buy your teen diet products.

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3. Reading Hunger Signals

Adults and teenagers alike get pleasure from eating, I mean, can you blame us? Food’s delicious.

However, it’s important to make sure that they’re eating because they’re hungry and not just because they’re bored or stressed.

Encourage your teen to practice some mindful eating and think about his/her hunger signals and current situation before rushing to get some snacks.

If they’re going to have snacks, it might be a good idea to swap sugary snacks for low-carb ones.

Here are a few tricks you can have them use:

  • Calling a friend: having someone to talk to can help them stay busy and keep them from thinking about grabbing food.
  • Going for a walk: walking is another great way for them to get their mind off food. Plus, it may help them burn a few extra calories.
  • Chewing some sugar-free gum: chewing gum, especially one with a minty flavor, will help reduce cravings and even stress.

4. Drink Water Before Meals

Image of a woman drinking water before a meal. How to Lose Weight Safely for Teens - 8 Steps

Another way to lose weight safely for teens is to drink a little more water.

This study (5) shows that those who drink water before eating feel fuller than those who don’t, which leads to fewer calories being consumed.

This other study (6) showed that dieters who drank a glass and a half of water before a meal were able to lose 44% more weight than those who didn’t.

So drinking a glass of water a few minutes before each meal might be a great idea.

5. Limit Sweetened Beverages

One of the easiest ways to lose weight safely for teens is to reduce the number of sugary drinks they consume.

Here are a few drinks that may be increasing their calorie count and making them gain weight:

  • Sodas
  • Fruit juices
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweet teas

Studies (6, 7, 8) have shown that consuming too much added sugar can make teenagers gain weight and increase their risks of obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, acne, fatty liver, and cavities down the line.

Be careful with fruit juices as they’re one of the many foods marketed as healthy, but actually contain lots of added sugars and calories.

My advice is to always read the nutrition label of the foods you plan buy.

6. Diet Over Exercise

Woman eating a huge sandwich while exercising at the gym. How To Lose Weight Safely for Teens - 8 Steps


Don’t get me wrong, exercising has many health benefits, such as:

  • Speedy fat loss
  • Increased metabolism
  • Stronger bones
  • Increased confidence
  • Toning your muscles
  • Better blood and oxygen flow

However, it is not the end-all, be-all for weight loss. Having a healthy diet is by far the most important tool for weight loss and overall health.

Think of it this way: “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

So don’t expect weight loss to happen if they’re exercising, but eating a bunch of donuts and pizza every day.

The primary concern should be in maintaining a healthy and sustainable diet.

7. Avoid FAD Diets

Your teenager’s actions are more influenced by what they see on social media and what people around them are doing.

This can make them feel pressured to look a certain way, which ultimately results in the desperate act of trying all the FAD diets.

Restrictive FAD diets are often terrible for long-term health; they typically cut so many foods that those following them aren’t able to get enough nutrients for their bodies to function properly.

Not only that, but they also leave your metabolism in a bad spot, increase cravings, and make it very easy to binge eat and gain back weight.

8. Don’t Cut Fats From Your Diet

Fats are an essential nutrient needed to regulate hormones, absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, and for proper brain development.

This is especially important for teens who are still developing. Studies (1) have actually shown that teens need more dietary fats than adults.

So instead of completely removing fats from your diet, consider replacing unhealthy fats like deep-fried foods with healthy fats, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

9. Eat More Protein

Another great way to lose weight safely for teens is to eat more protein.

Protein, just like fats, is another essential nutrient. Proteins are important for keeping healthy tissues, organs, skin, and muscles.

Protein also has a greater thermic effect than fats and carbs, this means that the body uses more energy (burns more calories) to digest it, which gives your metabolism a boost.

And since it takes longer to digest, it tends to keep you full for longer, which can help reduce cravings and snacking.

So try adding some lean meats, such as tilapia, sea bass, chicken breast, tuna, top sirloin, and turkey to your diet.

If it’s tough to get enough protein each day, adding some whey protein powder could also help.

10. Don’t Skip Meals

Clock inside a plate.

Another great healthy weight loss tips for teens is to tell them not to skip meals.

If you’ve read some of my other articles, you’ve probably noticed that I sometimes recommend adults trying to lose weight to give intermittent fasting a shot.

For teens; however, research has shown that skipping breakfast might not be a good idea.

Studies (2) have shown that teens who don’t eat breakfast are more likely to be overweight than those who eat their breakfast most of the time.

In this other study (3), teen girls who ate a high protein breakfast felt fuller and didn’t snack as much throughout the day compared to those who had a low protein, cereal breakfast. 

So instead of skipping breakfast or having a fast-digesting carb, like cereals or crackers, try going for a high protein and balanced breakfast.

I know it’s easy for teens to skip breakfast or choose a sugary snack in the morning as they’re always in a rush trying to get ready for school.

But you should aim to get a good night’s sleep and wake up with enough time to eat a well-balanced breakfast.

11. Ask Your Parents for Support

Tell your teenage kids that it is okay to ask for support.

Try to be understanding of their goals and give them proper guidance.

12. Practice Mindful Eating

Paying attention when you’re eating is a great way to create awareness and stop overeating before it happens.

We tend to eat while watching TV, studying, or being on the phone. This can result in you eating more than expected and putting on some extra weight.

Studies (8) have shown that mindless eating could lead to obesity and making unhealthy food choices.

So consider eating slowly and enjoying your meals without trying to do another activity at the same time.

13. Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Chances are your teen’s diet is mostly made out of Pop-Tarts, Oreos, candies, sugary cereals, and other sugary processed foods.

An easy way to lower calories and lose weight is to limit the amount of added sugars you eat.

These foods tend to have no nutrients and digest very quickly, which makes you feel hungry in a matter of minutes, increase your cravings, and leave you feeling tired and sluggish.

Other studies (9, 10) suggest that foods high in sugar can decrease academic performance, mess with your sleep, and alter your mood.

14. Eat Your Vegetables

I know, I know… This one sounds a little obvious.

But adding vegetables to your diet is important to ensure that you get enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Fiber is crucial for digestive health and better absorb the nutrients from foods.

Like protein, fiber is also digested very slowly, which will help you stay full for longer, reduce cravings, and prevent you from snacking too much.

Studies (11) have shown that eating vegetables can help teens lose weight and keep it off.

15. Focus on Long-Term Sustainability Instead of Short-Term Satisfaction

Instead of going from FAD diet to FAD diet, the focus should be on learning the basics of nutrition.

Since we are all different and have our own likes/dislikes, metabolisms, schedule, and genetics, it’s important that we understand our bodies and find an approach that works specifically for us.

I hope you loved this article on how to lose weight safely for teens!

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