Teenagers today are on the brink of losing their mental and emotional health because of the rising obesity levels among them. It’s a common sight now to see overweight kids walk around with fat bulges in practically every area of their bodies. Not only is this extremely unattractive, but it’s also very dangerous as well.
Teenage is one of the most important milestones in everyone’s life. As soon as you hit that 12-13 years mark, your body begins undergoing various changes. Amidst the emotional and sexual confusion that puberty brings, the pressure of being ridiculed by your peers makes things even worse.
So it’s apparent why there is an urgent need to address this topic. Because losing sight of your health at such an important young age can not only slow your physical growth but will affect your mental growth as well. Not to mention the fact that the more your health becomes a hindrance, the more distracted you’ll be in other areas of life as well.
Now, the main reason behind fluctuations in weight among teenagers, including that stubborn subcutaneous belly fat in girls, is the hormonal fluctuations that happen in a very haphazard and confusing manner. So, let’s talk a little bit about that.
Teenagers and Hormones
Teenage is not all flowers and kittens. It’s full of confusion, anxiety, and stress. Teens have absolutely no clue what is happening inside their bodies that’s making them go through all sorts of different emotional and physical reactions that they never knew of before.
And the pressure that comes with it is even harder to cope with when it comes to teenage girls. The development of breasts, enhancement of curves, monthly menstruation, and sexual urges – everything hits them all at once, like a freight train. And they are frightened.
Little do they know that all these changes are actually happening as a part of a very natural process, that’s mainly governed by the body’s endocrine system. The hormone production increases, and reaches its peak, during this time resulting in a surge of fertility and urges.
Normal production of these hormones is also behind the fact that teens seem to get away with eating a lot of things that adults have to think twice about. But, the other side of the spectrum is that a lower-than-average amount of hormones in a teen’s body can oftentimes lead to an opposite effect. It becomes one of the major reasons behind weight gain, including belly fat in teenage girls.
Teenage girls and PCOS: How does it affect belly fat?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS, has grown into an epidemic among young women. Not long ago, it was a very rare thing to find. Especially in girls 14 – 16 years of age. But now, we are seeing a surge in the number of PCOS cases among youngsters, even teenage girls.
When you have PCOS, a large number of cysts cover the ovaries, hampering their ability to properly produce the egg. This in turn leads to missed periods or an irregular menstrual cycle.
PCOS is also very closely linked to weight gain in girls and women, especially in the lower abdomen. So it’s quite possible that teenage girls who sport a fatty lower belly might be walking around with an undiagnosed case of PCOS.
Well, now that we have addressed the possible ”why” behind the increasing number of overweight teens nowadays, let’s talk a little bit about why it’s imperative to address the extra fat and lose it as soon as possible.
Why should you lose the extra fat?
If you look down and see a bulge appearing around your midsection, you should be very worried for your health because belly fat is considered the most dangerous type of fat, at all ages. Its dangers spread further than just aesthetic reasons.
When you develop fat around your stomach, your internal organs are put at an even higher risk of developing subcutaneous fat, the fat that develops under your skin. This category of fat cells is very notorious because they envelop the internal organs, practically crushing them because they keep growing.
This puts you at a very high risk of developing serious health diseases like heart issues, liver problems, diabetes, cancer, and even death. Yes! There are actual risks that you take every single day, walking around with that big bulging belly.
Now you see why health experts warn against unhealthy habits that lead to such extreme health complications. Because obesity, after all, is 95% of the time a self-created disease. It’s a choice of lifestyle.
So, now, why don’t we take a look at the destructive habits that contribute to belly fat in teenage girls?
Habits that contribute to weight gain in teenagers
Weight gain, albeit in some rare cases, is nothing more than an outer manifestation of your dietary and lifestyle choices. Especially the fat around your stomach. As they say, abs are made in the kitchen. And it’s very true, of course.
So what are some of these habits that lead to an accumulation of fat around the belly?
Consuming a large number of sugary foods and beverages.
It’s no wonder that sugar ranks at the top of the list of ingredients to avoid when you are trying to lose weight. Most foods and beverages that contain a high amount of sugar in them usually have little to no nutritional value.
Their only redeeming point is the taste and the sugar high they offer which wears off as quickly as it rises. Leaving you with a surplus amount of empty calories, a blood sugar spike that later leaves you sluggish and tired, and feeling disappointed in yourself for having indulged your cravings.
When it comes to teenagers, you can rest assured that there aren’t many who stay away from being regular with alcohol. Even if they have to find hiding spots, away from the prying eyes of their parents, to do so.
This, unfortunately, is another reason why teenagers are seeing such a spike in obesity levels nowadays. And as with everyone else, teen girls are no strangers to the joys of alcohol either. This over-consumption of alcohol messes with their internal organs like the liver and ultimately leads to a beer belly.
Leading an inactive lifestyle
Well, duh! How could this not be on the list of habits that lead you to gain an unhealthy amount of weight? A sedentary lifestyle is a slow killer. It quietly takes away the strength of your muscles, the density of your bones, and the functionality of your inner organs.
Sitting around all day doing nothing but eating chips and watching the television or scrolling through social media is making teenagers as fat as they have become dumb. Little to no active use of their limbs is the reason why they are developing bulging bellies at such a young age.
And this is especially worrisome for teenage girls because of the threat it poses to their reproductive health.
A Protein deficiency may contribute to weight gain
Protein is the building block of muscle.s Without an adequate amount of protein, your body cannot retain muscles in their original, amped-up form, and thus the muscles eventually atrophy. And since muscles consume a lot more calories during the day than fat cells, weak muscles aren’t able to help convert as many fat cells into energy as stronger, well-developed muscles would.
So, it’s very important to eat a proper diet with enough protein as a part of it, so that the muscles in your body can grow as well and help you keep those extra pounds off.
Phew! That was certainly a task. And to think that we’ve only barely scratched the surface with the reasons mentioned here! Still, these are the few most common ones that lead to unnecessary weight gain and belly fat in teenage girls and boys.
And now we’ll move on to the required number of calories that a teenager, or any person in general, needs to consume to lose weight and shed that dangerous belly fat.
How many calories should you consume to lose belly fat?
The calorie requirements depend on many factors. Height, weight, level of physical activity, and age affect this number, but on average, men require around 2500 calories to maintain their weight.
But if you are overweight, you need to maintain a calorie deficit, which means you burn more calories than you consume. When you remain in such a deficit, your body is forced to turn to available fat reserves as a source of energy, which helps you lose weight.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about the exercises you can include in your workout regimen to get rid of that unsightly belly fat.
Exercises to lose belly fat in teen girls
Although all exercises that get you off the couch and get you moving are good, you’d still be better off including some ab-specific exercises in your routine to help you lose that fat faster.
Fast, high intensity, and a good burner – burpees are the stars of all workouts when it comes to targeting your abs. The elaborate movement engages your abdominal muscles and hits them from various angles, providing a very good burn and hence proving to be the most effective in toning your stomach.
Another one of a personal favorite among fitness experts, mountain climbers are a modified version of the traditional planks, that work your abs to a great extent in addition to including other major muscle groups as well. In this way, they give you a big caloric burn.
A favorite among modern fitness divas, Russian twists guarantee a toned core and an hourglass body shape. This movement cinches your waist the most, giving you a lean and flattering look.
Whether you do it on a treadmill or on a race track, running is one of the best ways to shed all that extra fat fast. But when it comes to working your abs the most, running at an incline might be a better option than a flat run. It maximizes abdominal muscle engagement, giving you a sick burn and a flat and enviable stomach.
Having been a hit in the last few years, HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training – sessions are another great way to maximize your caloric burn and increase and speed up fat loss. Because of the intensity of this type of workout, it targets stubborn fat and helps melt it with ease.
Diet and Belly Fat Loss
We can’t deny that even after following all the above-mentioned steps diligently, you might still mess your results up if you don’t follow a good and healthy diet. As they say, you can’t outrun a bad diet, which is 100% true.
You cannot expect to eat badly throughout the day and then expect an hour of workout to undo the damage it did to your body. The only way to lose weight and that belly fat properly is to couple your workout routine with a proper and nutritious diet and steer clear of all the junk and processed food.
A Final Note
Fat loss, especially belly fat loss in teenage girls, might seem like a difficult thing to achieve when you begin your journey, but with determination, persistence, and honest efforts, it can be achieved.