Starting on a weight loss journey might sound daunting if you’re someone who doesn’t love to hit the gym. While physical activity has many positive benefits for your health, it’s just one piece of the puzzle regarding losing weight.
Luckily, if you cannot make it to the gym, there are many other ways to shed extra pounds within a realistic timeline that don’t involve lifting dumbbells or jogging on the treadmill.
No matter what reason you have for starting a weight loss journey, implementing a few changes in your daily routine can help you on the path to better health, primarily if you’ve found it challenging to lose weight in the past.
Here are 20 practical ways to shed a few extra pounds without exercise:
Breaking your fast with a source of high-quality protein has been shown to help with satiety and blood sugar management. It may even help with diet quality in individuals with obesity.
Pairing carbohydrates with protein can also help to curb glucose spikes when eating, which is especially important after a fast since the protein helps slow the release of glucose from the carbohydrates into your bloodstream.
Keeping your glucose regulated is vital for weight management since insulin resistance may lead to weight gain over time. Focus on including high-quality sources in your diet, such as chicken breast, fatty fish, plain Greek yogurt, tofu, and tempeh for optimal blood sugar response.
If you’ve struggled with your weight while eating a nutritious, whole food diet, your portion sizes might be why you haven’t seen the number on the scale decrease.
While this may seem obvious, nutritional information on products can sometimes be misleading or difficult to interpret. Studies have shown that exposure to large portions can lead to weight gain, so focusing on how much food is on your plate is essential.
Individuals who struggle with obesity can benefit from learning how to independently judge portion sizes when seeking to lose weight.
Drinking plenty of water has been associated with weight loss by increasing metabolism and supporting mitochondrial health. Some studies show that drinking water can help reduce calorie intake, making weight management more effortless.
Remember that staying hydrated isn’t only beneficial for weight loss. It also can help reduce your risk of developing conditions like diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many other chronic diseases. For tips to help you get adequate fluids throughout the day, check out our article on the importance of proper hydration.
It might be one of the most common things you’ve heard if you have tried dieting for weight loss, and for a good reason. Excess sugar intake is one of the leading causes of obesity in the United States.
Although eating junk food and sweets can be enjoyable, these foods are often high in calories, added sugar, and trans fat, meaning that cutting them out of your diet can significantly impact weight loss and overall health.
Fortunately, limiting extra sugars and processed foods with saturated fats has many other benefits besides weight loss. These dietary changes may support healthier skin and better cholesterol levels and help prevent other chronic conditions.
Almost everyone loves to enjoy their morning cup of coffee, and the good news for anyone on a weight loss journey is that the caffeine in coffee may promote weight loss and body fat reduction. Black coffee also helps to reduce inflammation, is full of antioxidants, and may even help prevent diabetes.
If you’re watching your calorie intake, you may have another reason to stick to black coffee, which is naturally low-calorie. While lattes and frappuccinos are delicious, they can contain hidden calories and added sugar, so black coffee can be a better choice for shedding a few pounds.
Much like monitoring portion sizes, keeping track of what you eat each day can sometimes help hold yourself accountable. You can try keeping track of how many grams of protein you’ve consumed and limit things like sugary drinks and sweets.
“Don’t drink your calories” is a classic expression repeated in the weight loss space, and unfortunately, this includes soda, alcohol, and most sugary drinks.
If you’re cutting out some extra calories to help with your weight loss, these drinks do not provide much (if any) nutritional value and can be high in calories, which is why they are commonly referred to as “empty calories.”
By replacing these drinks with water, you’ll not only be able to reap the health benefits of being adequately hydrated, but you’ll also cut out some extra sugar and consume fewer calories.
Sleep is vital for many aspects of your health, including blood pressure, immune health, cognitive function, diabetes risk, cardiovascular disease, and more. That’s why it’s no surprise that insufficient sleep can have a negative impact on individuals with obesity.
Chronic sleep deprivation can also make other weight-loss tactics less effective over time, which is why getting plenty of rest is one of the crucial foundations of healthy weight loss.
Including lots of vegetables in your diet is rarely bad (as long as you tolerate them), and it’s proven to be particularly beneficial when it comes to weight loss. Studies have shown that increasing vegetable consumption led to measurable weight loss in healthy individuals and also helped lower the risk of weight gain.
Vegetables are full of nutritious vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are generally low in calories, making them an excellent snack for individuals looking to lose weight.
Studies have shown that reducing alcohol consumption was linked to weight loss in overweight individuals. At the same time, excessive alcohol intake may also be a risk factor for obesity, so it’s best to limit your drinks if you’re on a weight loss journey.
Swapping out butter for healthier cooking alternatives like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil can be helpful for weight loss and have a range of other positive health effects.
While all cooking oils are high in calories and fat, olive oil and coconut oil may have healthier effects on cholesterol levels and have no significant associations with increased mortality, unlike butter and margarine.
One study among women with breast cancer found that a diet enriched with olive oil brought about more weight loss than a standard low-fat diet, showing the positive association of this type of oil on health.
12) Eat More Protein
Apart from preventing glucose spikes after a fast, there are lots of studies out there to demonstrate the connection between high-protein diets and weight loss.
Protein is essential for muscle-building, promotes satiety throughout the day, and may help reduce excessive snacking.
Making sure to consume your protein evenly throughout the day can also help keep your glucose levels stable, which can help reduce your risk of obesity over time.
13) Limit Stress
When you experience high-stress levels or chronic stress, you may notice that you feel physically sick. This chronic inflammation in your body is also a risk factor for obesity, and type 2 diabetes, which is why practicing meditation and other relaxation techniques can be beneficial.
Stress can have a direct impact on your glucose levels and can even lead to insulin resistance over time. Taking steps to reduce stress can benefit more than just weight management. It can also help your mental health, support better sleep, and reduce your risk for chronic health conditions.
Ordering take-out may be more convenient, especially if you’re busy during the week or don’t enjoy cooking.
Unfortunately, many restaurants use excess butter, oil, and fat, adding many extra calories to your meal. There's also a chance you'll eat larger portions than usual, often exceeding recommended serving sizes.
Because of this, studies have found a link between eating home-cooked meals frequently and better overall health, including lower cholesterol, better metabolic health, and a lower risk of obesity.
Eating at home more frequently can help you better control your calorie and macronutrient intake, may help with weight control, and even save money.
For some people, using a scale to keep track of your progress every week can help you hold yourself accountable and has been observed to support weight control.
If you aren’t sure how many calories you should be eating daily to keep your weight loss goal, keeping track of your weight over time can also help you adjust your meal plan and calorie goals.
Keep in mind that it’s normal for your weight to fluctuate by a few pounds depending on factors like time of day, hydration level, and exercise, so you should aim to weigh yourself at the same time each day or week for more accuracy.
Taking time to stand up often throughout the day, get some extra steps in, or even stretch have also been linked to increased weight loss.
Standing burns more calories than sitting; while it may sound insignificant, these calories can add up over time.
Walking and other activities you may do throughout the day have been shown to be positive for overall health and can play a big role in weight management over time by keeping you moving and getting your heart rate up.
While eating at home when possible is ideal for weight loss, it’s crucial to have a plan of action for the times you do go out to eat. Remember that moderation is the key to success!
So, when you find yourself at a restaurant with friends or family, try opting for healthier meal options, like swapping fries for a side salad. This way, you’ll have more control over the added fats from the frying oil and can lower the calorie count of your meal, which can support weight loss.
Bonus tip: Eat your salad first to help slow your body’s digestion of any carbs or sugars in your meal to help keep your blood sugar regulated.
Eating a balanced, whole food diet has many potential health benefits, one of which is weight loss. Whole foods are nutrient-rich and promote satiety.
When you focus on whole foods, you may naturally eat fewer simple carbohydrates, processed foods, and added sugars that can lead to weight gain and overeating.
Here are a few examples of whole food sources from each macronutrient group to try adding to your diet.
Focus on potatoes, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, whole grains, oats, beans, and legumes.
These can come from chicken, fish, eggs, plain Greek yogurt, grass-fed beef, and tofu.
Try to include a variety of foods such as avocados, nuts, and olives. Most animal proteins also contain whole sources of fat.
Emotional eating is often associated with weight gain. If you find yourself using food to cope with emotions or want to cut down on snacking throughout the day, creating a meal plan and schedule that you can stick to is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
You may also try keeping a food journal and keeping track of the emotions you feel when you experience cravings to help you logically reason through your meal choices.
Being sedentary has several negative health effects, and as we already know, standing more often throughout the day can be beneficial for weight loss. If you have the option, trying out a standing or height-adjustable desk is just one way to spend less time sitting if you have a sedentary job.
One study found that using a standing desk didn’t significantly impact work performance, meaning that this alternative to sitting might be helpful to try. Standing desks may also support lower blood pressure and less lower back pain. However, we still need more research to determine the correlation.
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Jordyn has a bachelor’s degree in biology, a graduate degree in Human Nutrition and completed a dietetic internship at the Memphis VA. She has experience working as a clinical dietitian at a VA medical center specializing in oncology and at the Mayo Clinic, working with a wide range of patients ranging from neonates in the NICU to adult ICU.