More and more people are searching for alternative methods for how to lose weight naturally without completely restructuring their diet. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 40% of American adults over twenty years old qualify as overweight or obese. At the same time, weight-related diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent across the United States, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Losing weight is no longer an admirable fitness goal but a matter of necessity. So that begs the question, can you lose weight without dieting?
7 Ways to Lose Weight without Dieting
Anyone can lose weight without dieting by using a combination of regular exercise, min, and other self-care techniques. Keep reading to see which of these weight loss tips and tricks suit your lifestyle and goals the best.
1. Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is necessary if you are trying to lose weight without dieting. Weight loss generally occurs when the calories we burn are more than the calories we take in. Ultimately, exercising regularly balances out any cheat foods or excess calorie consumption.
While exercising and dieting together provide the best weight loss outcome, studies show that regular exercise is a more effective strategy for losing weight than dieting alone.
Exercise does not have to mean going to the gym for an hour, seven days a week. The recommended minimum amount of exercise for adults is 150 minutes a week. That time can be divided up to be 30 minutes, five days a week, or 50 minutes, 3 days a week. However, when exercising for weight loss, you will probably want to consider doing more than the recommended minimum amount.
Intensity also isn’t necessary to lose weight. While more extreme workouts like running or weight training are great ways to shed pounds, less intense forms of exercise done regularly, like walking and cycling, are also effective for weight loss.
One key factor to consider when introducing exercise to your routine is to find a type of exercise that you can do for the long haul. Consistent exercise will help with weight management, weight loss, and a myriad of other health problems, including blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep quality.
2. Eat Slowly and Mindfully
Even if you decide you do not want to follow a conventional diet, moderating your calorie intake is an important part of weight loss. Eating slowly and mindfully are two techniques that bring awareness back to your meal so you stop eating when you are full instead of overeating or binge eating.
In a world full of distractions, common activities like brushing your teeth, eating a meal with your significant other, or going on a run have become a struggle to remain present. Our phone buzzes and we are instantly thrown out of the present moment and pulled into the world of the internet.
Mindfulness is the act of remaining present. Instead of scrolling as we brush our teeth, we put our whole attention on the act of brushing.
The field of mindfulness is growing fast, especially as it relates to weight loss. Research suggests that mindfulness could be an effective treatment method for obesity prevention and treatment. It also significantly reduces stress, the root problem of overeating, and other eating disorders.
With mindfulness, each meal is an opportunity to stop, savor, chew, and swallow with intention. Eating mindfully is especially important considering it takes us about 20 minutes to register that we are full.
More research is needed to explore the long-term effects of mindfulness on weight loss, but becoming more aware as you eat is certainly a healthy way to begin your weight loss journey.
3. Decrease Stress
We all experience small amounts of stress regularly, and a stressful day is not necessarily a cause for concern. But when stress becomes chronic, the effect on your body is pronounced.
Chronic stress is when the body’s cortisol levels remain high even after the stressful situation has passed. High cortisol levels could be the result of a bad marriage, a job you hate, ongoing issues with your friends or children, health problems, or a myriad of other life events. Chronic stress then causes eating disorders, compulsive overeating, and changes in appetite- all of which affect your weight.
Cortisol increases your appetite by metabolizing carbohydrates and fats for fast energy while also instigating the release of insulin and increasing blood sugar levels. This results in cravings, usually for foods that contain simple carbohydrates and lots of sugar for quick energy. Our body also holds onto sugar against future needs. The resulting weight gain can be hard to shake.
Usually, stress-related weight gain is evident because it tends to accumulate in the tummy. Women are more likely to be affected by stress-related weight gain than men.
Stress reduction techniques vary from person to person, and what works for one person will not necessarily work for someone else. However, meditation is a well-known stress reduction technique that uses breath, visualization, mantras, and other tools to calm the body and mind. Ten minutes of daily meditation will improve focus and memory, reduce stress and anxiety, and gain greater control over our emotions.
If abdominal weight loss is your goal, you may want to consider adding stress relief practices like meditation, exercising, journaling, and massage therapy to your self-care routine.
4. Cut Out Sugar
If you are going to make one moderation to your diet, you should reduce or cut out processed sugar.
You don’t have to diet to do it either. Simply limit the added sugar in your diet, found in products like ketchup, tomato sauce, bread, and pre-packaged salad dressings.
Added sugars are empty calories because they are not often paired with essential vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating six teaspoons or less per day. They are also the cause of many common diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Cutting out added sugars can also help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cavities.
The alternative to added sugars is natural sugars, found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy. The fiber, vitamins, and minerals in foods with natural sugars mean that it takes your body longer to digest them, and thus the release of energy from the sugars is slower. Several short-term studies suggest that replacing added sugar with low-energy sweeteners or complex carbohydrates can lead to weight loss.
You might need to play detective to find out if your favorite foods contain added sugars. Common sugar names you should look for are high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, cane crystals, crystalline fructose, and dextrose.
The best way to wean yourself off of sugar is to replace your sugar-based snacks with fruit and use maple syrup, honey, and agave to add sweetness to your meals.
5. Focus on Sleep
Sleep is a restorative process by the brain, for the brain. All of the body’s processes begin and end with brain health. We need sleep, more than almost any other bodily function. The average person can go three weeks without food, but no more than ten days without sleep.
People tend to underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep, but sleep quality is of particular importance when it comes to losing weight not dieting. Poor sleep quality affects your body’s ability to burn fat, changes your appetite, instigates cravings for junk food, causes hormone imbalances, and affects your overall mood.
Sleep’s influence on appetite and cravings is of particular importance. Poor sleep quality has been linked to more ghrelin, the body’s hunger hormone, and less leptin, the feeling full hormone. Imbalances in these hormone levels lead to increased appetite and cravings for junk foods like sugary treats, white bread, and fatty bags of chips.
Recent studies have linked lack of sleep and poor sleep quality to an increased risk of obesity. Poor sleep affects your body’s metabolism, making it harder for your body to burn fat and digest food. It also contributes to high cortisol levels, which affect your mood and increase stress. Both a slow metabolism and high cortisol levels are also common in people with obesity.
Focusing on sleep means a regular nighttime routine with the same bedtime and wake-up time every day. It might also mean cutting out alcohol, eating your last meal a couple of hours before you go to sleep, and limiting late-night screen time.
6. Stop Drinking
Alcohol, like sugar, is the enemy of anyone who is trying to lose weight. Skinny margaritas and lite beer still contain empty calories and impair your judgment, doing you more harm than good in your weight loss journey.
Our bodies see alcohol as a poison that needs to be immediately removed. So when you drink alcohol during a meal, your body redirects its energy from digesting the glucose from carbohydrates and the lipids in fat to getting rid of the alcohol.
A drink with dinner every once in a while won’t make that much of a difference. But excessive alcohol consumption will eventually lead to the alcoholic fatty liver which will change the way your body metabolizes and stores carbohydrates and fats.
Sugary mixers and alcoholic beverages heavy in added sugars are full of empty calories that the body ultimately stores as fat, usually in the abdominals. Alcohol also influences your judgment making you more likely to binge eat or eat unhealthy foods. Excessive amounts lower the overall testosterone levels in the body, leading to issues with muscle formation, fat burning, and sleep.
If you are going to drink, some types of alcohol are better for weight loss than others. The health benefits of red wine have recently come into the spotlight. Red wine is a low-calorie alternative with heart health benefits. Clear liquors like gin and vodka contain fewer calories than dark liquors such as whiskey and rum.
You should also try not to drink more than the recommended one or two servings per day for women or two to three servings for men.
7. Drink Lots of Water
Drinking enough water is one of the simplest weight loss tricks, but also one of the hardest habits for people to adopt. Most people are too busy or don’t keep track of their water intake, resulting in a chronic dehydration problem across the United States. The most recent surveys estimate that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
A survey conducted by the Annals of Family Medicine found a supposed link between dehydration and obesity. Out of the 9,500 participants, well-hydrated subjects were more likely to have a healthy BMI (body mass index) than their poorly hydrated counterparts.
This link could have a myriad of origins. People who drink more water tend to feel full more often and eat less. They also tend to have faster metabolisms and more energy to exercise. Water also helps speed up digestion and aids in the removal of toxins from the body.
Drinking enough water does not necessarily mean chugging glass after glass of plain tap water. Sparkling water, tea, fruit juice, and vegetable juice can all help you meet your hydration goals. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water per day to meet the minimum requirements, and add ice for an added metabolism booster.
Focus on Healthy Weight Loss
While you can lose weight without dieting or working out, the two activities will get you further toward your weight loss goals. Staying motivated is one of the demanding parts of a weight loss journey. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, turn your attention to adopting healthy habits that you will take with you to the end of your weight loss journey and beyond. If your weight gain is either unexpected or unexplained, be sure to talk with your doctor to see if your added pounds are related to another medical condition.