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Teen Health

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Overweight Teens

How Can I Lose Weight?

Studies have shown it again and again: Strict diets alone don't work. Strict dieting restricts calories and nutritious foods. This can cause you to feel deprived and result in bingeing or overeating.

The most effective way to reach an ideal weight is to burn more calories than you take in.

All teens should get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily, according to current recommendations. Not only does exercise help you burn calories, but you'll also increase your cardiovascular endurance. And here's another benefit: Gaining muscle can help you burn more calories all day, even while you are sitting around. Muscle mass is metabolically active tissue, meaning it is the tissue that burns calories.

If you already get 60 minutes of exercise daily, you may need to add 30 more minutes. If you don't get 60 minutes a day, start today. If you haven't been exercising and are overweight, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before you start a vigorous exercise program.

Eating a balanced diet is the other component of weight loss. As you plan your daily menu, choose more servings from the plant groups (legumes, tofu, nuts, fruits, and vegetables). Choose moderate servings of low-fat dairy, and pick fewer servings from the animal groups (meat). Then, choose fats and sweets very sparingly. Eliminate junk food, sodas, chips, and other foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories and fat.

Teens often underestimate how much they really eat. That's why it's important to understand just what makes up "one portion" of a food. For instance, look at the label on packages of bagels. One bagel can have as many as 350 calories or as few as 100.

For easy portion control, use the palm of your hand as a guide. Your palm is about the size of a 3-ounce portion of meat or fish; 3 ounces equal one serving. You can hold one serving of raw vegetables in the palm of your hand. One serving of fruit, such as an apple or half a banana, fits in the palm of your hand, too.

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