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    Weight loss is one of the most popular reasons people tap into wellness plans, fitness journeys, or seek consultation from a medical professional. We know that maintaining a healthy weight can prevent health conditions, injury, and even premature death. But why is it so hard for some people to lose weight once they’ve gained it? And why, oh, why does it seem to require such extreme measures to get any results? We can’t all survive off of protein shakes and do HIIT workouts for two hours per day! 

    Tired of extreme measures? Us too! Join us as we uncover the secrets to losing weight without the dieting drama or having to give up your favorite foods.

    I can see we’ve triggered something here, and understandably so. It seems your body doesn’t want to let go of the excess weight it so eagerly picked up. Is dieting the only way? Is there a secret for how to lose weight without dieting

    Take a deep breath! Let it all out. We know this can be tough, but we’ve got a pretty solid list here of tools you can use to start losing weight without dieting. 

    Key takeaways

    • Weight loss is more than calories in vs. calories out. 
    • There is a difference between “diet” and “dieting.”
    • Good quality sleep supports a healthy metabolism.[1] 
    • A diet that includes a variety of micronutrient-dense foods supports healthy weight management.[2]
    • Regular physical activity is important for obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight.[3] 

    Is losing weight without dieting possible?

    Before we can dig in to see if you can lose weight without dieting, we need to discuss what “dieting” is –– and what it’s not. If you’re alive and you eat food, you have a diet. It may be full of meat, or you may only stick to veggies, or maybe you have to avoid certain foods because of an allergy or condition. Whatever, whenever, and however you eat is your diet. 

    “Dieting” is restricting some food, food group, or overall calorie intake with weight management as the goal. These restrictive plans can be all over the place: “no carbs,” “no fat,” “no sugar,” “all meat,” “no meat,” and so on and so forth. At some point in time, all of the major food groups have found themselves on the chopping block of the newest weight loss trends. Even intermittent fasting has been put before the judge and jury. People have questions like, “Does intermittent fasting slow your metabolism?” or “Can intermittent fasting cause you to gain weight?”

    The truth is, there’s no magic food to eat or avoid or a way to eat to flip the weight loss switch for every person. While calories in vs. calories out plays a big part in the weight loss story, it’s not the only thing that matters, and you have to find the plan that’s best for you. 

    11 effective ways to lose weight without dieting

    Diverse bodies, shared goals! Discover how to break free from dieting norms and lose weight with these tips.

    Here are 11 ways to help support weight loss without dieting. Start with one or two and see which ones work for you.

    1. Improve your sleeping habits

    Yep, that’s right. Sleep quantity and quality play a major role in your body’s ability to manage its weight. A good night’s rest supports appetite control,[4] provides energy for exercise (it also works the other way around!),[5] and even helps support your metabolism.[6] 

    2. Practice mindfulness

    You may have heard this word surrounding mental health practices or for stress reduction and intentionality in relationships, but did you know that it can be applied to how you eat? Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and in the moment. When applied to eating habits, it allows you to tune in to what, how much, when, and why you eat. Asking yourselves questions like these before you eat can help bring mindfulness to your eating routine:

    • What do you want to eat right now? Fruit, your grandma’s apple pie, a salad, your dad’s famous burgers, or maybe mom’s mac and cheese?
    • How much do you want to eat? What portion sizes do you need? Do you feel full, hungry, or just right? Could you use a second helping? 
    • When do you want to eat? If that mandatory meeting was an email, would you still be eating the donut? If you hadn’t just dealt with your toddler’s 5th meltdown of the day, would you still need that cookie, candy bar, or cocktail?
    • Why do I want to eat right now? Is it hunger, boredom, or an emotional response? Why am I making these food choices? Peer or family pressure, alcohol, access?

    Eye-opening and kind of cool, right? So, what are some practical ways to practice mindful eating? 

    Check in with yourself. Before, during, and after you eat, check in with your body and pay attention to how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.[7] 

    Don’t rush; take your time. Taking a break from your busy schedule to practice eating slowly and savoring the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of a meal experience allows you to benefit more from it than just the nutrition alone.[8] It also gives your brain and stomach time to communicate their needs to each other.[9] 

    Avoid distractions and electronics during meals. Turn off the TV, put your phone down, and look up. Chatting with family or friends can help you slow down during a meal. 

    Tuning into your “why” for eating is a great tool to lose weight without dieting. 

    Like building any other habit, mindful eating takes practice. Lucky for you, we have a Simple quiz where we can help you get started! We love helping people start beneficial habits!

    3. Drink lots of water

    Drinking water not only keeps you hydrated, which can prevent cravings and excess snacking, but it’s also important for overall health. Drinking a glass of water before your meal will aid digestion and help you feel full faster, helping you eat fewer calories overall.[10]

    Depending on how much you’re drinking, switching from a high-calorie beverage to water can be a significant jumpstart to weight loss without dieting, too. 

    4. Prioritize making your own food

    If you’re a foodie or amateur chef at heart, you’re in luck! Tap into that passion and know-how to lose weight without feeling like you’re starving yourself. Even if you don’t have natural cooking skills, you can take control of what you eat by learning how to meal plan, eating out less often, and preparing meals for yourself. You can start small and simple, and don’t be afraid to use pre-prepped ingredients like chopped herbs and vegetables. You choose what and how much goes into your meals when you prepare them yourself.

    5. Don’t forget about physical activity

    Game, set, match! A balanced exercise routine can enhance weight loss efforts, even without traditional dieting.

    While you can’t outrun a poor diet, at least not forever, developing and maintaining a good physical activity routine is a multi-beneficial way people can find themselves losing weight without dieting. In fact, it’s important to maintain an adequate intake of calories and protein to promote fat loss vs. weight loss. This encourages the loss of body fat while building and maintaining muscle, which has more metabolic benefits than overall weight loss.[11] Adding exercise while fasting can be a dynamic duo to create just such a weight loss environment, but it’s important to know what and how much to eat during your eating window. Our Simple quiz, tools, and resources are a great place to get the support you need. 

    6. Cut back on added sugars

    Don’t worry, we won’t suggest you cut out all of your favorite sweet treats, but cutting back on the portion sizes or eating less often can really help jumpstart your journey to no dieting weight loss. 

    Going back to our chat on mindfulness, think about why you’re craving those sweets (less sleep, more stress, you just want it, etc.) and address the root cause.[12] The calories from sugar (syrups, honey, white, brown, and raw granulated) in sweetened beverages can add up really quickly. Whether it’s a couple of sodas or that one iced coffee, if the question is “How can I lose weight without dieting?”— the answer is “less is more” when it comes to added sugar.  

    7. Eat more fruits and vegetables

    Filling half your plate with fruits or vegetables has the benefit of filling you up with fiber, vitamins, and minerals while providing fewer calories than other food choices.[13] Like increasing water intake, swapping out higher empty calorie foods for fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to lose weight without dieting. 

    8. Limit your alcohol intake

    So you have a few drinks on the weekend or a nightcap or two during the week — no big deal, right? Well, that really depends on your goals and what you consider to be a few. Like soda and other sweetened beverages, the calories from alcoholic drinks can add up really quickly. It will also lower your inhibitions, making it less likely for you to make choices that support your goals and more likely for “I’ll just have a couple of drinks” to turn into a trail of cheeseburger wrappers from the garage to the bedroom, faster than you can say “One more round for the people!” (this may or may not be based on real-life events). 

    But it’s not just the extra calories or poor life choices. Excess alcohol intake can decrease how well your metabolism works and how efficient your body and liver are at using nutrients, blood sugar, and fat, leading to your body storing excess fat.[14]

    9. Consider whole grain swaps

    One of the ways to lose weight without dieting, like increasing fruit and vegetable intake, is to increase your intake of whole grains. Whole grains also provide filling, lasting, and blood-sugar-absorption-slowing fiber.[15] Fiber gives insulin a fighting chance by giving it more time to use the glucose for energy instead of having to store it as fat. 

    10. Portion your meals better, try smaller plates

    Plate like a pro! Portioning your meals can be a game-changer for weight management.

    Even if you’re intermittent fasting and doing all the other things we’ve discussed, you can hinder your weight loss goals and even see weight gain if you aren’t mindful of your portions. 

    A good way to quickly visualize a balanced plate is to use smaller plates and fill half of your plate with fruits or vegetables. (If you’re living with diabetes, you would want to stick to filling up on vegetables here.) Save a quarter of your plate for carbohydrates, and fill the final quarter of your plate with protein. You can also include a small portion of healthy fats (avocado, seeds, nuts, nut butters, etc.) to really round out your nutrition and boost your satiety. 

    11. Give food journaling a go

    Food journaling is another way to bring mindfulness to your eating habits. It forces you to slow down and think about how much of and what you are putting into your body. If you also track your feelings and activities, you can pinpoint triggers for habits that don’t support your goals. 

    Simple’s expert opinion and final thoughts

    Of course, we love intermittent fasting around here; it’s what we do. For some, fasting to lose weight is one of the few efficient ways to lose weight without dieting. Some say it’s also how to possibly lose weight without exercise. But as you’ve seen, we recommend you include exercise along with these 10 other tips for obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight. 

    We would love for you to be able to include intermittent fasting in this party, but as much as we love it, we know it’s not for everyone. In fact, if you fit into any of the categories below, we recommend you don’t include fasting in your weight loss plans:

    • are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive
    • have type 1 diabetes
    • are on prescription medications 
    • are under the age of 18 or 80 years or older
    • are extremely active
    • have a body mass index (BMI) <18.5
    • have an eating disorder or a history of one (or at risk of developing one)

    For these people, fasting is not worth the risk. But you can still take advantage of the 11 other tips we talked about today. Just be sure to check in with your doctor or registered dietitian for any tailoring needed for your specific situation. 

    If you don’t fit into any of these, we recommend you still chat with your doctor, then come on over and take our Simple quiz to get started on your own path to weight loss without dieting. 

    Frequently asked questions about how to lose weight without dieting

    Foods that support fat burning include lean proteins like chicken and fish, high-fiber fruits and vegetables, such as berries and leafy greens, and healthy fats like avocado and nuts. Incorporating these foods into a balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise can promote weight loss and overall health.
    The 20-minute rule for eating goes hand-in-hand with our tip for slowing down and eating mindfully. It takes about 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to get the message that you are beginning to feel full. If you eat too fast, you may consume more food than you need to because your stomach hasn’t had the chance to get the message up there yet.

    The “ice hack” is a weight loss supplement.[16] The premise is that a low core body temperature leads to weight gain. The supplement is meant to increase your core body temperature and its ability to burn fat. There is little to no evidence to support this claim. As with all supplements or lifestyle changes, you’ll want to check in with your doctor before making any changes to your eating routine.

    You can speed up your metabolism by incorporating many of the tips we mentioned. Do things like exercise, especially strength training, to build muscle and maintain muscle.[17] Eat enough calories, especially from protein, to support fat loss and muscle maintenance.[17] Get enough sleep. Bedtime is when our metabolism does its magic.[18] Drink plenty of water, too.[19]

    Losing weight can lead to changes in hunger hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin, affecting appetite regulation.[20] Additionally, reduced stomach size from weight loss can trigger quicker satiety signals. Increased insulin sensitivity and improved nutrient absorption post-weight loss also contribute to feeling fuller faster, aiding weight maintenance.[21,22]

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