Real life weight loss journeys are unique. Some are smooth sailing, while others are an uphill battle. And while it is recommended that one should add exercise to see faster weight loss results, there are those of us who are desperate to lose weight but can’t exercise for one reason or the other. This leads us to these questions- can you lose weight by eating less and not exercising? How do you lose weight when you can’t exercise?
Can you lose weight by eating less and not exercising?
Yes, you can lose weight by eating less and not exercising. You can lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week by eating fewer calories than you burn. This usually works out to eating about 1200- 1500 calories a day. To ensure that you stick to a healthy diet and achieve long term weight loss, you have to develop healthy eating habits.
Developing healthy eating habits sounds way easier said than done. This is because eating healthy has very little to do with the physical aspect. To create better lifestyle habits, you have to develop a healthy mindset that will last for life.
Healthy hacks that’ll help you lose weight when you can’t exercise
We have established that you can lose weight effectively by eating less food. Let’s look at 7 healthy hacks that’ll help you lose weight when you can’t exercise.
1. Practice calorie counting
The secret to losing weight without exercise is in what you eat and HOW much you eat. So, if you have calculated that you need to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight, and count the calories in your food.
The most amazing thing about counting calories for weight loss is that you can eat just about anything as part of your balanced diet, as long as it fits the number of calories you need each day. You can use a food journal, a notebook or a calorie counting app to help you calculate the recommended calories, and keep tabs on how much you are eating.
2. Plan your meals for the week
Planning meals is crucial whether you want to lose weight with or without exercise. It is the building block for long term weight loss success. When you know what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you are less likely to skip a meal or grab an unhealthy meal on the go.
Essential reading: 12 insanely delicious high protein snacks for weight loss
A great way to hit the ground running with meal prepping is to write down a shopping list of the healthy foods that should be in your kitchen cupboard. I have created a list of healthy foods to buy to help you get started.
Remember that grocery store can be quite a temptation to throw items that are not on the lost into the cart. You will create a new habit without even realising if you stick to buying ONLY what is on your shopping list. (Ignore that slab of chocolate or that giant tub of ice-cream that will be whispering to you to pick it up).
Once you have figured out what you need, prepare your meals a day or two in advance and once you have the hang of it, you can prep your meals even a week ahead.
You can read up further on meal planning, and how to stop eating junk food in this guide.
3. Use smaller plates and bowls to help you eat less
A study was carried out to determine smaller plates and bowls can affect how much you are eating found that the sizes of the plates had an effect on how much people ate. The research suggested that doubling of plate size increased the amount self-served or amount consumed by 41%. Start using small plates to help you control your servings and eat less.
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4. Drink a glass of water before each meal
Water is an appetite suppressant, and drinking room temperature water 30 minutes before each meal helps you eat less and controls hunger. A recent study published on The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in 2018, found that drinking water before mealtime is an effective way of controlling weight. Participants who drank water before a meal ate a lower amount of food than those who didn’t.
For some people, however, drinking water is such a daily struggle and would rather drink sugary beverages. If you do not like the bland taste of water, you can enhance the taste by adding pieces of fruit or herbs. You can try this chia seed water for weight loss, or add cucumber and lemon. If you are constantly bloated, you should try this belly bloat detox water recipe.
To remain consistent with your water intake, you can either use apps that developed to help people drink more water. I recommend trying apps like Gulp, Waterlogged, or Hydro Coach to help you reach the daily water intake of about 15.5 cups) for men and about 11.5 cups for women.
If you can, get yourself a water bottle with time markings to drink to encourage you to drink more water.
5. Pay attention to your food
Eating on autopilot, without giving thought to what you are eating can lead to overeating. You should give your food undivided attention and always ensure that you are eating without distractions such as eating in front of the TV or while scrolling through your phone.
A few of the ways you can pay more attention to your meals include:
- Eating slowly
- Using a smaller plate
- Chewing your food slowly
- Avoiding distractions while you eat
- Savouring the taste
6. Don’t drink your calories
A calorie is a calorie and no matter how little. They all add up to lots of calories at the end of the day. Cut calories wherever you can so that you have enough for meals that actually matter, like breakfast and lunch.
The sweetener in coffee or tea, the diet soda, that glass of wine or low-calorie cocktail- they all contain empty calories that have no real health benefits.
To give you a rough idea of just how many empty calories you might be drinking, calculate all the calories in your daily drinks and I bet you will be surprised by how much that works up to weekly.
The worst liquid calories are those in smoothies to be taken in place of a meal, such as breakfast. Those calories can skyrocket pretty fast. Instead of eating a healthy breakfast with about 350 calories, you’ll end up drinking 600 calories in a smoothie, all in the name of detox or ‘healthy’. Let’s not even get started on how much sugar is usually in those ‘healthy’ smoothies.
You should never drink calories that have no nutritional value or too much sugar. Eat real food that will nourish your body and boost your health.
7. Get enough sleep to lose weight
Sleep does affect your weight loss efforts. Lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain and getting enough sleep can promote weight loss. Studies have been conducted that prove that there is a connection between sleep and weight.
If you look back in your life, you will see patterns of eating or snacking more during the days when you didn’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep will decrease metabolism and increase your appetite. Aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of quality sleep if you want to lose weight while you sleep.
Final Thoughts on How to Lose Weight When You Can’t Exercise
Always remember that weight loss is about calories in and calories out. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat the same amount of calories as your body burns you will maintain the same weight and if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. That is the only secret that there is to losing weight.
Exercise is good for your overall health. So unless you have been advised by your doctor to avoid exercise at all cost, try to include even just 10 minutes of exercise a day. Try to move a whole lot more or stay on your feet during the day. Your heart will thank you.
If you have no health conditions that will stop you from exercising, start by walking 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week to improve your overall stamina.