Lose weight without counting calories

Jennifer Geer

10 ways to lose weight the healthy way

Eat less and work out more. Take in fewer calories than you burn. It's a mantra we've all heard many times. And it's led to many calorie-counting diets.

But there are reasons why counting calories is not the best way to lose weight.

  • The type of food you eat can affect your hunger levels and hormones. And hormones affect your weight.
  • All calories are not equal. (For example, protein can boost your metabolism and help you feel fuller.)
  • Counting every calorie you eat is not a long-term solution, and it can create anxiety and stress.

So what is the answer if you want to lose weight? Here are some suggestions that can help you lose weight without doing math after every meal.

Tip #1: Drink more water

We have all heard we should get eight glasses of water per day. But it turns out, how much water you need every day is going to be different for each person. If you are getting frequent headaches or having trouble concentrating, you may be suffering from mild dehydration.

So how much water do you need? Listen to your body. Drink when you're thirsty and drink until your thirst is quenched. Drinking enough water can help your metabolism, suppress hunger, and makes it easier to exercise.

Drinking water alone won't shed the pounds but think of it as the first step in your weight loss journey.

Tip #2: Use smaller plates

Your mind has a significant role to play in losing weight. You can trick yourself into thinking you are eating more when you use smaller plates for your meals. It's much easier to fill a small plate than to weigh your food or measure out your rice to keep portion sizes smaller.

A study done at Stanford University showed that even nutrition experts can fall for this effect. Participants in their study were given different bowl sizes at an ice cream social. The ones with larger bowls ended up eating an average of 30% more ice cream without even realizing it.

Tip #3: Eat more protein

Protein is slower to digest than carbohydrates, and it decreases your appetite. If you're exercising, your muscles need protein to grow. And muscles burn more calories than fat.

One way to get more protein is to satisfy your cravings with protein-rich snacks like:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Peanut butter on whole-grain crackers
  • Cheese slices
  • Veggies dipped in hummus
  • Fruit smoothies with protein powder boosts

Tip #4: Eat more fiber

Fiber, like protein, will help keep you feeling full longer. Dietary fiber also helps your digestive system and helps to prevent inflammation.

The American Heart Association recommends we get about 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. But Americans are getting nowhere near that amount. The average daily intake is about 15 grams.

You can increase your fiber intake with the following foods:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Quinoa
  • Oats

Tip #5: Get plenty of sleep

You may not think sleep has anything to do with how much you weigh, but poor sleep can mess up your hormones and make you more susceptible to sugar cravings. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation raises the risk of obesity in children and adults.

Try these tips for better sleep hygiene:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • Limit daily naps
  • Get regular exercise (but not right before bed)
  • Avoid blue light from devices before bed
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day

Tip #6: Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating is when you focus on your meals while you eat without letting yourself be distracted by TV or other devices. It's easy to take in more food than you need when you aren't paying attention.

Turn off the TV when you sit down for a meal and put your phone away. Be aware of what you are eating and how you feel. Enjoy your food, but stop eating as soon as you begin to feel full. Eating past physical hunger can lead to weight gain.

Tip #7: Keep alcohol to a minimum

It doesn't mean you have to give it up entirely, but be aware of how much you are drinking. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks contain a lot of extra calories.

And drinking alcohol can slow your metabolism leading you to have trouble taking off extra weight. It's also been linked to an increased risk of many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and liver disease.

Tip #8: Get moving

Exercise burns calories and boosts your metabolism. But, exercise alone is not enough to help you lose weight. You have to do it in combination with mindful eating and other healthy habits.

You don't have to run a marathon or lift healthy weights to get benefits. A study found that a short walk after eating lowered participants' blood sugar. And high blood sugar can contribute to food cravings, fatigue, and anxiety.

How to add more walking to your day:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park your car at the back of the lot
  • Meet a friend for a walk instead of coffee
  • Take a walk on your lunch break
  • Get up and walk around your house or office during your work breaks

Tip #9: Don't turn to food for comfort

Many people that struggle to lose or maintain weight have emotional issues surrounding food. Food is a comfort in times of stress. But try to find other ways to reward yourself when you are feeling down.

Non-food reward ideas:

  • Sleep in
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Drive to a pretty park or nature area for your daily walk
  • Eat lunch outside and enjoy the sunshine
  • Splurge on new workout clothes
  • Buy a new blender to make your healthy smoothies
  • Have a movie night at home with air-popped popcorn
  • Get a pair of wireless headphones for your walks and runs
  • Buy a bouquet of fresh flowers for your kitchen table

Tip #10: Don't make any food forbidden

While you shouldn't use food as a reward or stress relief, you also shouldn't make any food forbidden. The problem with forbidding certain foods is that it makes you want it all the more. And when you give in and eat whatever food it is you've said you can't have, you will feel like you have failed.

While it's best not to have junk foods readily available in your home, it's okay to eat them sometimes in moderation. This will keep you from putting certain foods on a pedestal and reduce the risk you'll end up bingeing on them.

Healthy Weight Loss

Don't stress yourself out by agonizing over every calorie. Losing weight and keeping it off is more about changing your lifestyle than a quick-fix weight loss diet.

Gimmicky diets may help you lose weight initially, but if you want to keep the weight off for a lifetime, you need to make healthy choices you can keep up for the rest of your life.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL

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