8 Tips to Lose Weight Without Restricting Your Calories
If you want to lose weight, going on a strict diet can backfire. “The research — and my 25 years in the business of helping clients lose weight — proves that strict, restrictive dieting rarely results in sustained weight loss. In fact, the opposite is true,” says registered licensed dietitian and nutritionist Kimberly Gomer.
This is why most health and fitness professionals emphasize the importance of changing your lifestyle. Gradually adopting new, healthier habits until they become engrained is a much more sustainable approach than dieting — it’s also more likely to lead to lasting change and results. Wondering where to start? Here are eight expert-approved tips to lose weight without dieting.
8 Actionable Tips to Lose Fat Without Dieting
Eat Less Restaurant Food
Gomer suggests eating less restaurant food: “Restaurants want to make money so they provide food that is highly processed — loaded with fats, sugar, and processed grains. They give you big portions and highly addictive food choices — fried and sauced.”
When you cook at home, you control what goes into your food. That said, if your lifestyle requires you to order takeout or dine out on a regular basis, you can still focus on making smarter choices. For example, you can share appetizers instead of having an oversized main meal, or order a chicken salad or fish dish instead of a burger. Little swaps can make a big difference in the long run.
Focus On Whole Foods
Focusing on whole foods over highly-processed options is always a good idea. “Eat closer to what mother nature has provided. Read labels to see if a bunch of chemicals, additives, and sugar have been added,” adds Gomer. Stick to produce, lean proteins and whole grains instead of packaged snacks.
Move Around More Often
Getting your steps in daily helps as well. “Walking is such an easy, barrier-free way to exercise. It doesn’t require special workout gear or a long warm up, it’s free and you can do it on your own or as a social activity. For the average man, 10,000 steps will burn around 500 calories. If you keep everything else the same, burning an extra 500 calories means you can lose as much as a pound of fat per week,” says certified personal trainer and weight loss coach Joe Johnson.
Alex Oskian, MS, RDN, nutrition coach at Working Against Gravity, recommends aiming to increase your daily NEAT, which stands for “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis” — all activity outside of formal exercise. Standing while working, biking to work, doing household chores, taking the stairs or playing with your kids are all good examples of NEAT. “All of that movement adds up during the day, which will help with total calorie expenditure and aid in the fight against weight gain,” says Oskian.
Increase Workout Intensity
Are you already pretty active? You may want to increase the intensity of your workouts, says Johnson: “If you’re already working out a few times a week in the gym to get stronger and gain muscle, that’s great, but there are a couple of quick hacks you can use to increase the calorie-burning effects of your workouts.”
“First, you can superset opposing muscles. For example, you could follow a dumbbell bench press with a lat pulldown. You could also simply reduce rest periods between sets, which will keep your heart rate higher for the duration of your workout and help you burn more calories.”
Have More Protein
Increasing your protein intake can also help you lose weight without going on a diet. “As men age, they require more protein to build or maintain muscle,” says Oskian. “A good rule of thumb is to include a protein food (animal or plant-based source of protein) at every meal and snack.” This habit will also help you feel full and satisfied and may lead you to eat less in general.
Know Your Why
What are your reasons for losing weight? According to Gomer, knowing your deeper “why” can be a powerful motivator on your weight loss journey while informing your choices.
Whether you’re hoping to drop a few pounds to feel more energetic or because your doctor warned you about your blood pressure, understanding your deeper reasons for making changes will help you focus on the right priorities. It will also make it easier to stick to your new habits.
Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
Do you binge-watch your favorite Netflix show late at night on weekdays? Getting less than seven hours of sleep is not ideal — and it can hinder your weight loss efforts. On the other hand, sleeping enough can help you lose more weight. As Oskian puts it, make sure that all your hard work eating healthier and going to the gym isn’t going to waste through a lack of sleep.
Staying hydrated is also key. Oskian recommends grabbing water instead of other beverages such as coffee, alcohol or juice. Not only will this reduce your total calorie and sugar intake, but drinking more water also helps keep hunger at bay between meals. Water also carries nutrients and oxygens to your cells and helps flush out waste. It’s such a simple yet important piece of the healthy living puzzle.
Follow the tips above and you should start feeling better and dropping a few pounds — no diet required. Remember that the most impressive transformations don’t happen overnight. They are the result of consistent, sometimes imperfect baby steps. Plus, you’ll be building a foundation for the rest of your life by focusing on adopting healthier habits that you can sustain forever.
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