Can You Lose Weight Without Exercise? Yes, And Here Are Some Tips

Exercise plays a role, but it is not essential to achieve weight loss. While exercise is incredibly beneficial for our health, injuries, mobility, lack of time, and other physical and mental health issues can sometimes get in the way of exercising as much as we would like to.

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Use smaller plates

Portion control is tough. Weighing and measuring food is annoying and not very time efficient. An easier way to reduce your portion sizes without the added fuss is to use a smaller plate.

We tend to cover the same percentage of the plate with food regardless of its size, so having less space for your food really helps. You may not even realize you have a smaller portion.

Other ways to control your portion size include portioning your snacks rather than eating them directly from the package. Asking for a to-go box upfront when served a larger portion than you need at the restaurant, then putting some of your meal in it before you start eating can help control your portion sizes. Most establishments will let you do this and won't be offended.

Get enough sleep

Sleep restriction or sleep deprivation changes your metabolism by affecting your production of the hunger-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin.¹ This can make you feel hungrier than usual, increasing the likelihood of craving highly processed foods.

Practicing good sleep hygiene, eating dinner a couple of hours before bedtime, getting into a regular sleep schedule, and allowing enough time to sleep can be extremely beneficial to ensure a good night’s sleep. 

Drink more water

Your brain can often play tricks on you, confusing hunger for thirst. When you are hungry, try drinking some water before reaching for food, as you may be dehydrated. This can also help to minimize unnecessary snacking. Drinking water before meals can assist in keeping you feeling fuller, making you less likely to overeat.²

Reduce sugar consumption

You don't have to (and shouldn't) give up sweet treats altogether. However, reducing your intake of dessert, soft drinks, and other sweet treats can assist in achieving weight loss, as they are often high in energy with minimal nutritional value.

Additionally, added sugars can often be hidden in all kinds of food, so it is important to always check the nutrition information panel of the common products you purchase. For example, flavored yogurts, cereals, and salad dressings can contain lots of added sugars without you even realizing it.

Reduce liquid calories

When you drink calories high in added sugars, you don't get the same feeling of satiation and can end up still feeling quite hungry.³ Soft drinks, cordial, wine, and beer are particularly high in added sugars with minimal nutritional value. Make these special treats, and opt for low sugar alternatives such as water, sparkling water, kombucha, or diet cordial or soft drink in moderation.  

Focus on what you are eating

Eating mindfully and slowly without distraction, such as looking at your phone or TV, can reduce the likelihood of overeating portions greater than our body needs. Listen to your body’s hunger cues, allow plenty of time to eat, focus on and enjoy your meal. If at all possible, avoid working through lunch. Plus, you probably need that break.

Hide the snack stash

Where you store your food matters. Put healthy foods like apples in a fruit bowl out where you can see them. Put the potato chips on the top shelf of the pantry to be out of sight and out of mind. Get them out when you feel like eating a treat, portion them into a bowl, and put the remainder of the bag away.

Completely depriving yourself of foods you enjoy tends to make us less compliant in the long term, making weight loss less sustainable.

Additionally, try eating before going to the grocery store. Go after breakfast, after lunch, or at least eat something. Grocery shopping while hungry can increase the likelihood of buying more snacks and unhealthy food.

Eat more protein

Increase your protein intake by altering the ratio of your protein intake to your carbohydrates and your fats. Protein takes more effort to digest and metabolize and digest, and therefore is the most satiating macronutrient, making you feel fuller for longer.

Consuming enough protein reduces the amount of muscle mass lost while losing weight instead of fat, which is particularly important if you cannot exercise.

One easy way to get enough protein is to have eggs for breakfast instead of cereal. Eating an egg-based breakfast high in protein has been shown to reduce the amount you eat for lunch.⁴

Eat more fiber

Aim for the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber a day via a variety of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and beans. Opting for whole grains instead of refined grains can also assist in keeping you feeling fuller for longer.  

Take your coffee or tea black

Sugar, creamer, and flavored syrups can quickly add to additional calories in your morning coffee. Try reducing the amount of sugar you add to your beverages and opt for skim milk over full cream.

Whatever caffeinated beverages you do choose to consume, it is important to limit consumption mid-afternoon, so you don't compromise that all-important sleep.

The lowdown

Exercise is a key element of weight loss. However, for some people, exercise is impractical, infeasible, or even impossible for periods of time.

If this is the case for you, you need to focus on easy ways to reduce your energy intakes, such as drinking more water instead of soda, reducing alcohol, or highly processed foods.

Follow these tips and talk to your doctor or nutritionist for more personalized advice on how to lose weight without exercise.

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