Can You Lose Weight Without Exercise?
Losing weight without exercise requires a calorie deficit. You need to consume fewer calories than your body uses every day. The right filling foods and getting rid of water weight can get you well on your way to weight loss extreme and even losing a pound a day.
I’ve always struggled with my weight, and it started impacting my life. Clothes fit strangely because of a disproportionate belly. Strangers sneered and looked at me like a lazy low-life.
I had to make a change, but I find workouts difficult, and frankly, I haven’t always got the time. So it got me thinking, can you lose weight without exercise? It turns out you can.
How to Lose Weight Without Exercise
The process of losing weight is a simple one—on paper. If it were as easy as I’ll make it out to be, everybody would be stick-thin, and I wouldn’t be writing this article. It’s putting it into practice that causes problems.
How Weight Loss Works
The premise is simple. When you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. That doesn’t sound too difficult, does it?
Every day you consume food containing calories. According to the US Department of Health, the average adult man needs 2,000–3,000 calories, while adult women need 1,600–2,400.
But you see, it’s not that simple. How many calories you need depends on copious variables. Sex, age, weight and activity level are the main culprits that make caloric intake needs confusing.
Other factors might include genetics or underlying conditions, but I’ll let you discuss that with a doctor or nutritionist if you need to.
Once you figure out your required daily intake, then your journey to the fat loss extreme can begin.
Creating a Calorie Deficit
Now you know how many calories you need to maintain your weight, it’s easy to go on. To lose weight, simply eat less than you need!
One pound of fat is about 3,500 calories. That’s more than you need in a day—so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to lose a pound a day without exercise.
By this logic, burning 3,500 calories gets rid of a pound of fat. You don’t need some magical negative-calorie food to shed it; you just need to be smart and create a calorie deficit.
How to Create a Calorie Deficit
You might think you’ve discovered a goldmine with this article. All you have to do is create a calorie deficit! It sounds easy. It’s even easier when you consider how easy it is to burn calories without exercise.
Doing anything that requires energy will burn calories. Your metabolism converts the calories in your food into energy. Thus, burning through them to keep your body functioning.
Losing calories while thinking seems entirely obscure, but I’ll explain it to you. Research shows the brain uses 20 percent of the body’s resting metabolic rate, or RMR. It’s sometimes referred to as BRM, basal metabolic rate.
RMR varies from person to person, but what it is is simple. Your RMR determines how many calories you burn per day. And considering thinking uses up so much of it … yes, it burns calories.
But you can’t think your way to thin. It’s just a contributing factor showing how easy it is to burn calories, even with the simplest activities.
Creating the Deficit
Now you have the following pieces of information:
- How many calories you need to consume daily.
- How many calories it takes to burn a pound of fat.
- How easy it is to burn calories.
The connection is simple. You need the calories you need because that’s how many your body usually uses.
But you can survive on fewer calories than your body uses every day—you have body fat. Your body can convert these fat stores into energy.
Let’s assume you need 2,500 calories a day to maintain your weight. Simply cutting your daily intake by 500 calories means you’re taking in 3,500 fewer calories a week. Therefore you’re burning a pound of fat a week by doing no exercise and eating less.
People with more body fat who need, let’s say 3,000 calories a day, may be able to cut even more. Cutting 1,000 calories a day means you’re cutting 7,000 a week—losing 2 pounds a week.
I don’t recommend consuming less than 1,000 calories a day, though. Try to keep your deficit to 500–750 a day, regardless of weight. This will ensure you stay safe, healthy and you aren’t depriving yourself of anything.
How to Cut the Calories
If you want to do this the slow and steady way, it shouldn’t be too difficult to slash the 500–750 calories. Or 1,000, like I said, if you need or consume 3,000 or more each day.
Your biggest enemy will be your will-power.
I see ice cream, I see pizza, and I want to eat the entire tub or box. On the logic that I’m consuming 2,000 or even 1,500 calories a day, I could do this—but couldn’t eat much more that day.
Cutting calories at a basic level isn’t about what you eat. It’s about how much. It’s about self-control and will power.
You can still eat everything you’ve been eating up until now—just trim it. A smaller bowl of cereal. Two slices of toast, not three. One slice of pizza, not two. Half a cup of ice cream, not a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
But it’s all easier said than done, I’m afraid. Yet if you have the right mindset and motivation, you should be able to achieve it with some simple changes.
Replace sugary fruit juice with water, tea or coffee. Cut out the snacks. Don’t eat when you’re bored. Only eat until you’re full. Count calories—round up or down, don’t get obsessive—and track your eating habits.
You might start to miss your daily glass of orange juice or soda. You may feel dissatisfied with one less scoop or mashed potatoes. You may even feel hungry if you haven’t been eating the right foods.
That’s another thing that makes this so tricky. If you haven’t been eating filling foods, cutting calories can make you feel hungry more often. Now cutting calories doesn’t seem so easy—for some people, it’ll involve a hefty dietary or lifestyle change.
Foods That Aid Weight Loss
Your impending lifestyle change doesn’t involve a gym membership and jogging shoes, don’t worry. The answer to “can you lose weight without exercise” is still yes. It just won’t be as easy as you thought from my initial description.
Cutting the calories and losing weight forgoing exercise involves eating the right foods. The ones that keep you full for longer and give your body the energy it needs. You can eat less of them, meaning fewer calories, for a bigger nutritional benefit.
If you want to stay full while eating less, there are a few ingredients to consider cooking with. They’re low calorie, nutritious and should help with that nifty deficit you’re after.
Some of these low-calorie filling foods include:
- Oats—oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, oat milk, oat flour.
- Greek yogurt.
- Berries—strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, alone or in smoothies.
- Popcorn—try air-popped popcorn with no butter or salt.
- Chia seeds—excellent on oatmeal or in smoothies.
- Cottage cheese.
- Potatoes—try to go light on butter and cream, but seasoning is always a must.
- Lean meat—chicken, turkey, even red meat with low fat content.
With this list of healthy, nutritious, filling yet low-calorie foods, you should create a deficit in no time.
I doubt there are any foods that contain no calories at all. However, there are some foods where you burn as many calories digesting them as they contain.
Some people seem to think negative-calorie foods exist. Your body burns more calories digesting the foods than they contain. However, many others disprove this theory.
Really, there’s little knowledge on the negative/zero-calorie diet to go off of right now. Hopefully one day, we’ll have an answer we can all agree upon.
That being said, there are a few low-calorie foods where most people do burn the calories off digesting them. Here are some of them:
- Brussel sprouts.
- Garlic—great in those filling potatoes!
These foods have high water content, and water has no calories. That’s what makes them so low-calorie in the first place. For example, 100 grams of celery has only 14 calories and contains 95.43 grams of water.
So, with a change in diet and/or lifestyle to include these foods, the fat should start to melt away. A healthy 1–2 pounds every week.
How to Lose a Pound a Day
Maybe a pound or two a week isn’t going to cut it for you. I understand completely—I was the same. Wouldn’t it be nice to lose a pound a day instead?
Well I’ll tell you this—it’d be tough. Especially without exercise. Spend an entire day panting at the gym, and it’s definitely doable, especially if you don’t eat much. But that may not be good for you, and that’s probably not what you want.
Instead of walking you through some fad diet claiming to burn a pound of fat a day, I’ll tell you the truth about it. Sometimes you can burn a pound of fat a day—but it’s not going to last.
When Losing a Pound a Day Is Possible
When you’re just starting your new diet, you may lose more than the 1–2 pounds a week. This may be done with little effort on your part.
Your body stores water. Glycogen, the energy your body stores, is bound to this water. When you create a calorie deficit, the body goes straight for those glycogen stores. This causes your body to release the water weight you’re carrying.
Once you’ve burned through all that water, then your body moves on to using fat. Now I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure it’s easier to lose water than burn through fat.
If you’re carrying a lot of water weight, you might have some extreme weight loss in the first week. Even as much as a pound a day. Unfortunately, this isn’t sustainable as the water has to run out at some point.
Why You Carry Water Weight
You may be carrying extra water weight due to carbohydrate consumption. That’s why you hear so many people swear off carbs when on a diet. But there are good carbs and bad carbs, and your body needs the good carbs.
Glycogen is made heavily of these carbohydrates. And glycogen pulls in water. So, the more carbs you consume, the more glycogen can hoard water.
Be careful with your carb intake to keep the water weight down. Try and aim for the good carbs, in foods such as:
- Whole fruits.
- Whole grains.
- Kidney beans.
Salt is another culprit of water weight. The more sodium there is in your diet, the more water weight may crop up.
Decreasing salt shouldn’t be too difficult. Don’t use it to over-season. Perhaps switch to garlic if you like that flavor. I feel it adds so much more to a meal, in taste and nutritional value.
Cut salt out of any recipes where it doesn’t add much to the finished product. For example, when I make a small pizza base out of oat flour, I go without salt and oil. It tastes and holds up the same, sans the sodium.
Reducing salt in your diet is a guaranteed way to lose water weight. In the beginning, maybe up to a pound a day.
Easy Exercises to Help You Lose Weight
You can lose weight without lifting a finger, as I’ve just demonstrated. But exercise can help—and you don’t need a gym membership.
How much you burn can also depend on your weight, as heavier people burn more calories. It takes more energy to move your body if you’re heavier. Naturally, more calories will be burned during the process.
Simply walking 10,000 steps a day can help you lose 1 or 2 more pounds every week. It’s excellent for mental and physical health. I can get to 10,000 steps with two dog walks, a trip to the grocery store and some marching on the spot as I brush my teeth. Low-effort, high-reward.
The average person takes 2,000–3,000 steps every day. If you add more over time, you should be able to get up to 10,000.
Here are some ways you can add steps into your daily routine:
Take a Brisk Walk Every Day
Walking daily helps with weight loss and boosts mental health.
Walk a Dog
Your dog or your busy neighbor’s dog would love a walk. If you already walk your dog every day, consider a second walk. Your dog will love you for it, and so will you if it leads to weight loss.
Listen to Music
I’m guilty of walking to the beat of my music. A pair of headphones and an upbeat playlist and you may fall pray too.
Park Far Away
Pick the farthest parking spot from your office or the store. Walk the extra distance. Bonus points if you have to carry heavy groceries back to the car.
Take the Stairs
Skip the elevator and get the blood pumping. The upward incline may even boost the calorie burn.
Walk Around the Workplace
If you have an office job, consider visiting a colleague’s desk instead of emailing them that quick note.
Don’t sit in the break room on break. Try to get outside and do a lap of the building.
Anything that gets you moving at work, jump on it and strut.
Wander When Waiting
If you’re in line, step side to side. If you’re early for a meeting and waiting outside a closed door, pace.
March on the Spot
Washing dishes, brushing your teeth or doing laundry? Consider marching on the spot. So long as you’re moving, you’re burning more calories.
When Fat Just Walks Away
It’s entirely possible to lose weight without exercise. I lost 6 pounds in my first week by creating a 500 calorie deficit and cutting out salt and pasta. So long as you consume fewer calories than your body uses, you’re on the path to weight loss.
A little extra walking can go a long way on a weightloss journey. I walked my way out of another 20 pounds throughout the rest of the month. I didn’t even break a sweat.
It’s the little things that go a long way in weight loss. Small, simple lifestyle changes can get you trim and fit. There’s no need for crazy, trendy diets or living at the gym. The right filling foods, will power and a pair of walking shoes will have you slimmed down in no time.