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If your 2022 New Year’s Resolutions are health-related, there’s a great chance they include some iteration of losing weight and doing so quickly. After ingesting all those carbs and sugar over the holidays, it’s natural to try and bounce back with more health-conscious choices once January comes around. Unfortunately, losing weight often requires engaging with diet culture, which can be extremely toxic. Remember: you can be healthy at whatever weight you are right now.
The fundamentals of weight loss hinge on a balance of calories burned and calories consumed. Want to lose weight and burn fat? Well, exercise is a fantastic solution for burning those calories, and we’ve already rounded up our favorite weight-loss workouts for accomplishing exactly that. But exercise isn’t the only solution for losing weight, which should be welcome news for anyone who suffers from injuries, lives in a climate where exercise is tough to achieve, or simply loathes the thought of getting out of bed and hitting the gym.
Yes, even without exercise, weight loss is still possible with better nutritional decisions and general awareness of what goes into your body. And while losing weight can be a healthy goal to set, doing so at a rapid rate can be unhealthy and dangerous — particularly when crash dieting is involved — so we recommend taking it slow, consulting with a professional, and understanding that weight loss is not a one-size-fits-all program.
We chatted with Julia DeLissio — a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Massachusetts — to better understand how to lose weight without ramping up a workout program.
“You don’t have to exercise to lose weight,” DeLissio said. “Exercise is helpful in gaining muscle, but maintaining a healthy relationship with your weight can be done with dietary change alone.”
Below, we’ll break down a few different strategies for slimming down without intensive exercise:
- Substitute high-calorie snacks and condiments for low-calorie alternatives
- Replace some of the carbs in your diet with healthy whole grains and vegetables
- Stop counting calories and try “macro counting” instead
- Consider natural appetite suppressants to cut down on excess snacking
We’re also going to share a handful of products that we think can be helpful on your weight loss journey.
Nutrition for Weight Loss
According to DeLissio, making a major shift in nutrition still has to be enjoyable. After all, if a specific diet makes you miserable, how long are you really going to be able to stick to it?
“If you have an individual eliminate foods they enjoy, they are more likely to be unsuccessful,” DeLissio said. “You want the diet to be as close as possible to what they were eating before. This means that you never want to take them away from their culture, ethnicity, or dietary beliefs. Food and pleasure are closely related, so if you want the weight loss to stick, it has to be doable for the individual.”
Looking for a simple place to start? DeLissio suggests examining your intake of condiments, soda and coffee, many of which are loaded with hidden calories. For example, if you drink your morning cup of coffee with a spoonful of sugar and a quarter cup of half-and-half, you’re already looking at about 100 calories. According to the American Council on Exercise, the average 160-pound person burns about 15 calories per minute, meaning you’d have to take a seven-minute run to burn off the calories in your morning coffee alone. Try switching to black coffee if you want to lose weight fast without exercise.
Your favorite condiments and salad dressings suffer from these loaded calories as well. We’ve linked a few lower-calorie alternatives below to help you make those manageable food eliminations. Note that these products aren’t specifically approved by DeLissio, but represent those marginal diet choices that aid in losing weight without exercise.
Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
BEST ORGANIC KETCHUP
Next time you’re indulging in some delicious French fries and pull out your favorite ketchup bottle, check out the nutritional facts on the back. You’ll likely see some high fructose corn syrup and, consequently, a relatively high sugar content. Compared to a bottle of Heinz, this ketchup from Primal Kitchen has half the calories per serving, not to mention more natural, organic ingredients. It’s these little substitutions that make all the difference in weight loss.
Skinnygirl Low Carb Salad Dressing Bundle
BEST SALAD DRESSING
Salad dressings are one of the sneakiest culprits of hidden calories, aided by the fact that when you’re eating salad, it feels like a healthy choice. But the tastiest salad dressings tend to be loaded with fats, sugars and calories. This four-pack of salad dressings opts for fat-free, sugar-free recipes that amount to only 10 calories per serving, a huge difference from most standard dressings.
Vegetables & Protein Powder for Weight Loss
OK, so we’ve talked about how eliminating and substituting certain foods can help you lose weight without exercise, but there are a few things to consider eating more of as well. DeLissio recommends ramping up your intake of vegetables and whole grains since both help you feel fuller.
“Calorie-wise, a cup of vegetables has a negligible amount, yet they provide fiber, a little protein, and vitamins and minerals,” DeLissio said. “Most people do not eat vegetables, so exchanging some of their carbohydrates (like pasta, bread or bagels) with something green is a good option.”
According to DeLissio, swapping those refined grains for whole grains — like trading white rice for quinoa — adds fiber into your diet as well, which stays in your digestive tract longer, thus increasing fullness after eating. She also suggests loading up on protein and vitamins, two things many folks struggle to eat enough of throughout the day. We’ve linked some great protein and vitamin supplements in the next section.
Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey
BEST PROTEIN POWDER
Protein is an integral macronutrient everyone should incorporate into their diet, not just those looking to pack on muscle. For this reason, DeLissio suggests reaching for a protein powder if you struggle to get enough protein in throughout the day. In particular, she recommends opting for a whey protein isolate, as opposed to whey protein concentrate.
“The isolate has better absorption and contains more protein per scoop typically than the whey protein isolate,” she said. “It also has slightly lower lactose, which makes it easier to digest. Even though most powders are already easy to digest, this may be helpful to more sensitive individuals.”
This protein powder from supplement giant Optimum Nutrition delivers 30 grams of protein per serving, along with other key amino acids for boosting your protein intake.
Orgain Organic Protein Powder
BEST PLANT-BASED PROTEIN
This vegan protein powder is a great choice for those looking to up their protein intake while keeping things plant-based. With 21 grams of protein per two-scoop serving, the powder derives its nutrients from chia seed and rice and pea protein. At under $30 and with more than 35,000 reviews on Amazon, it’s easy to see why this is a go-to choice for plant-based protein.
NatureWise Vitamin D3
BEST VITAMIN D
Odds are, we all could use more Vitamin D. Our bodies produce it naturally when exposed to sunlight (or when we consume vitamin D-rich foods) but that’s often not enough. This supplement from NatureWise contains 125 mcg of vitamin D3 per serving, which accounts for more than 600% of the recommended daily value. It’s third-party tested and a great vitamin to incorporate into your daily diet.
Nature Made Vitamin B12
BEST B12 SUPPLEMENT
Another vitamin many folks are deficient in, vitamin B12 helps the body with DNA synthesis and energy production. This USP-tested-and-verified B12 supplement features a 150-count bottle, with each serving of soft gel capsules delivering 1000 mcg of B12, plenty to stave off any symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Counting Macros, Not Calories, for Weight Loss
DeLissio maintains an approach to training and weight loss that’s completely personalized to her clients. Everyone is different, after all, with different types of relationships to food and dieting. As a result, she understands that some tactics don’t work for everyone.
“Certain interventions will do more harm than good for certain populations,” she said. This includes counting calories and macros, a method for tracking everything you eat throughout the day. This can be triggering for some folks — particularly those who have dealt with restrictive food behaviors, eating disorders or binges in the past — in which case DeLissio opts for an approach that focuses on building a balanced plate of nutrients for every meal — 25% protein, 25% vegetables and 50% carbs — instead of diligently tracking each nutrient.
If her client has a good relationship with food, then macro counting can be a good place to start.
“Macro counting tends to be a temporary state with my clients,” DeLissio said. “It is a tool to teach them the composition of foods and to take a look at the big picture of the diet. Once an individual learns about portions and balance, we leave macros and focus on building intuitive eating habits.”
Cleber Fox Food Journal
BEST FOR MACRO COUNTING
As DeLissio said, macro counting can be a helpful tool for understanding what goes into your body on a daily basis. But proceed with caution. “If macro counting is appropriate, a food journal can be very helpful,” DeLissio said. “If it is not, it can lead to obsession and control around portions of food.”
If you’ve decided macro counting is the route you want to take, check out this food journal from Clever Fox, which sports a colorful and engaging design for keeping track of your daily food intake. It features pages for logging your body’s weight and measurements as well, and comes in nine different colors.
RENPHO Body Fat Scale
If we’ve learned anything so far, it’s that weight loss differs from individual to individual, and the tactics involved highly depend on each person’s relationship with dieting and weight loss. Tracking that progress can be effective, but it can also be deadly for your mental health. Still, if dropping pounds is your ultimate goal, you’ll want a good scale to monitor your weight. This sleek choice from RENPHO delivers plenty of body composition information beyond just weight, and syncs with your smartphone in a user-friendly app that logs your progress.
Consider Natural Appetite Suppressants
Finally, we know that some of our readers will be interested in natural appetite suppressants, which can help curb food cravings and thus cut down on excess snacking. DeLissio didn’t recommend these products, but we do think they can be a helpful addition to your new diet. Weight loss suppressants include supplements designed to help control your appetite and foods like dark chocolate, which have natural appetite suppressant benefits.
In our guide to the best appetite supressent for weight loss, we identified a number of ingredients that can be helpful in fighting food cravings and boosting energy levels: caffeine, yerba mate tea, green tea extract and apple cider vinegar. We can’t speak to the efficacy of these particular products, and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you’re struggling with weight loss.
Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies
Fans of apple cider vinegar will tell you that it can be used as a home remedy for all types of ailments, from dandruff to low energy. We can’t speak to the benefits of apple cider vinegar the way that a doctor could, but we are fans of these Golie Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies. And we’re not the only ones who appreciate these vegan supplements, which have earned an incredible 320,000 reviews on Amazon.
Burn-XT Thermogenic Fat Burner
BEST FAT BURNER
Burn XT Thermogenic Fat Burner isn’t just a popular fat-burning supplement; it’s also one of the most popular health products ever featured on SPY.com. This supplement contains energy-boosting ingredients such as green tea extract, caffeine and cayenne pepper extract. It’s important to remember that no supplement is a magic bullet for weight loss, and ultimately a better diet is the key to lasting weight loss.
It’s true: researchers have proven that dark chocolate has natural appetite suppressant properties. Chocolate can also act as a healthier substitute to your go-to desserts and chocolatey snacks, which means it’s a win-win for dieters. With dark chocolate, you can satisfy your sweet tooth instead of trying to deny it completely.