Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have, the more empowered you can be to achieve your goals and live your best life.
It has been a lifelong quest of mine to gain all the knowledge I can and then to share what I’ve learned, so it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite things to do is answer your questions. Questions like…
- Is it possible to lose weight if I don’t exercise? I love food but hate to exercise.
- Can I still lose weight if my exercise is limited due to injury or illness?
If you’re wondering, “can you lose weight if you don’t exercise,” the answer is actually YES!
I know, I know. We’ve been told for decades that losing weight requires a strict nutrition plan and lots of time in the gym lifting weights and doing cardio. And yes, exercise can definitely accelerate weight loss besides giving us so many other positive benefits: Improved mental health, stronger muscles and bones, increased energy, reduced risk of chronic disease, better cardio health, and more. But you do not have to exercise to lose weight! You can lose unwanted pounds through nutrition alone. In fact, I’ve personally been a part of several transformations where people lost 100+ lbs. before incorporating any type of exercise into their plan!
So, how does this work? How can you lose weight if you love food but aren’t so fond of exercise?
To make it as simple as possible, in order to lose weight—to lose body fat, you have to burn more calories than you eat, which we call a calorie deficit.
There are three basic ways you can achieve a calorie deficit:
- Eat less food.
- Move more.
- Optimize your lifestyle (get more sleep, manage stress, build muscle)
- A combo of the three.
To better understand how fat loss works, it’s crucial to remember that each pound of fat is approximately 3500 calories. So, to “burn” a pound of fat, you need to create a 3500 calorie deficit. No, you won’t want to do that in a day because that’s both unhealthy and nearly impossible to accomplish. But you can create that 3500 calorie deficit over time:
- Eat 500 fewer calories a day = lose 1 pound of fat a week (If you have fewer pounds to lose, I would not recommend this option because it can throw your daily calorie levels extremely low!)
- Eat 200 fewer calories a day = lose 1 pound of fat every 18 days
You get the picture. And please keep in mind that these examples are just approximations. They do not take into account how other factors (besides what you eat) can affect that number on the scale like water retention, hormones, sodium intake, stress levels, sleep issues, and so on.
4 Tips for Losing Weight without Exercise
Like I mentioned, you can achieve a calorie deficit in three different ways. If you struggle with nutrition, especially with overeating, it can be tricky to get that calorie deficit, even if you add in some movement. After all, it’s very difficult to outwork a bad diet! You’ve probably heard that saying before, but what does it mean? Let’s say you burn 500 calories—or even 200 calories—during a workout. You can easily eat back all those burned calories (and more!) in just a couple of minutes with a small bag of chips and a candy bar, which makes achieving that calorie deficit harder.
On the other hand, it’s less time consuming and it requires less physical and mental energy to create a calorie deficit from nutrition than from burning calories through exercise. It’s basically easier to eat 100, 200, 300, and so on fewer calories than to burn 100, 200, 300, or so calories.
If you’d like to focus solely on nutrition to lose weight, here are some things that can help:
Start where you are right now.
You don’t want to go making lots of changes at once. Yes, this way of doing things can work…at first. But it’s just not sustainable long-term. Instead, make one or two (at the most!) subtle changes in what you’re already doing. Here are some super simple ideas to get you started:
- Eat 1 more fruit or vegetable a day. Fruits and vegetables offer important vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can help you feel fuller with a lower calorie impact.
- Drink 1 extra quart of water a day. Hydration sets a powerful foundation for optimal living and weight loss!
- Eat some protein at every meal. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, meaning it helps you feel fuller faster and feel fuller longer. Plus, it’s crucial for building and repairing our bodies, including our muscles!
Fuel your body proportionately.
What is the 80/20 rule? This rule is actually pretty simple: 80% of the calories you eat come from real, whole foods, leaving you to enjoy 20% of your calories from those not-so-whole ultra-processed foods you may love!
For me, that means I might enjoy some treats like some potato chips and a couple chocolate chip cookies. Following the 80/20 rule gives you the best of both worlds: Nutritious, whole foods that can help you achieve your transformation goals plus the option to enjoy those foods you love that might not be so “whole.”
Make your favorite foods healthier.
With a little bit of creativity, you can make some very subtle changes in those 20% foods you love to help get them into that 80% part of your nutrition plan. I love making protein ice cream in my Ninja Creami, and my air fryer has become one of the best ways to enjoy the “fried” foods I love without that fried-in-oil part.
Find more whole foods you love!
Get creative, experiment, and try new foods. If you don’t like them, no problem. But if you do, you’ve just added more options that can help you enjoy the foods you’re eating even more.
Yes, it is 100% possible to lose weight if you don’t want to or can’t exercise. Nutrition is, by far, the biggest factor in weight loss, accounting for somewhere between 70-80% in my experience. However, each one of us is unique, and factors that are unique to you like your body, your metabolism, your genetics, how much you fidget during the day, your lifestyle, how sedentary you are, and so on can affect how what you eat affects your rate of weight loss.
But as long as you consistently have a calorie deficit on most days, you can lose unwanted pounds. Even without exercise!