Exercising is a great way to build fitness – but did you know that it’s not actually necessary if your goal is solely losing weight?
While we don’t recommend avoiding exercise because of its immense health benefits, some of us might not be capable of exercise or are not currently in a position to start a routine. Though if you’re only worried about not having gym access, there’s a whole range of exercise you can do at home.
But for some people whose physical ability, personal lives or routines limit their ability to exercise, losing weight is still a real possibility…
How to lose weight without exercise
As we’ve discussed in other articles, losing weight is, in theory, a simple process. All it takes is to have fewer calories going in than you burn – which means consuming less calories than your body burns at its base metabolic rate.
There are factors that change your metabolic rate and exercise increases it, but essentially all losing weight really requires is to lessen calories so your body begins to utilise the fat reserves it has stored for energy instead.
There are plenty of sites that have a base metabolic rate calculator, so use one to work out yours. This tells you approximately how many calories your body is burning at rest – which means if you were to eat that amount of calories, you’d maintain your current weight.
This all boils down to mean that you can lose weight by adjusting your caloric intake. If you use a tracking app like MyFitnessPal or similar, you’ll be able to track calories and ensure you’re eating less than you’re burning. The bigger the deficit, the faster you’ll lose weight – but beware of ‘crashing’ into a strict diet that leaves you exhausted and burned out. Instead, adjust slowly and reduce gradually. Some other tips include:
- Eat more lean protein – the macronutrient helps you feel fuller for longer, so will help keep hunger at bay when you’re consuming fewer calories.
- Drink more water – thirst is often responsible for hunger. Water is calorie-free, healthy and helps stave off hunger. It also helps flush out your system and, if you’re not used to drinking water regularly, will make you feel fantastic. Ditch any sugary drinks as they’re essentially empty calories that don’t provide your body with any valuable nutrients.
- Consume more fibre – not all food is created equally. Foods that are rich in fibre, especially viscous fibre, help increase fullness. Fibre also slows down digestion so you’ll be able to go longer between meals.
- Avoid sugar – the notoriety of sugar is well-known, but some people remain in the dark as to exactly why sugar is bad. Outside of the problems it causes for teeth and people with diabetes, sugar is basically an incredibly inefficient food source. 100g of sugar equates to 387 calories. Eating sugar spikes your body’s natural blood sugar conversion process, which means if you don’t exercise quickly after eating it, your body will convert it to fat instead.
- Get more sleep – a good night’s rest isn’t just a good idea for your mental health, it’s also good for your body. A lack of sleep increases cortisol, leptin and ghrelin, which are all hormones that impact your appetite and hunger levels. A chronic lack of sleep is linked to obesity.
Should I lose weight without exercise?
So knowing that you can lose weight without exercise doesn’t mean you should. In rare instances, losing a bit of initial weight before you start might give you the confidence or mobility to get more involved in exercise – but remember that the best way to exercise is to just…do it.
Exercise doesn’t need to be intimidating. If you go back to the original calories in vs out balance we talked about earlier, even gentle exercise will increase your body’s metabolic rate. That means you’ll burn more calories and speed up your results (provided you don’t eat more to compensate.)
If you’d like to get started on a weight loss journey, follow the tips above and begin to experiment with different exercises. Give yourself permission to try different activities and see which works for you – and try not to beat yourself up if you fail to lose weight quickly. The process is a journey, and one that takes time. Remember: our protein snacks can help when cravings strike and will be a good replacement for typical junk food like chocolate bars.