Can You Lose Weight Without Exercise?

If you’re not happy with the way you look in the mirror, you usually have two options: Diet or exercise. But, when there just isn’t enough time in the day to hit the gym, that doesn’t mean that your weight loss dreams are completely off the table.

You can lose weight without exercise if you’re creating a caloric deficit. To lose about 1 pound per week, you can cut out 500 calories from your diet per day. Limiting your fat intake and replacing fatty foods with healthier alternatives is a great way to cut more calories.

Losing weight without exercise takes a lot more than just cutting out soda and drinking a little more water. So, let’s go over what it takes to actually lose weight and then review some great ways to lose weight without exercise.

The Types of Weight Loss

As much as the word “calorie” might terrify you, your body actually uses calories as an energy source to survive.

If you’re just looking for a lower number on the scale, there are two ways to reach this goal: True weight loss and water weight.

True Weight Loss

This isn’t the technical term. But, we’ll use it for now to describe weight loss achieved through creating a caloric deficit.

When you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in through food, you’ll experience this type of weight loss. If you’re looking to keep the weight off in the long run, this is the type of weight loss you’re looking for.

We’ll go over this a little more later on.

Loss of Water Weight

As you probably already know, your body is composed of 60 to 70% water. That means even losing a little bit of this water weight will decrease the number that you’re seeing when you step onto the scale.

The issue is that most solutions for losing water weight are merely temporary.

Some of these solutions include….

  • Taking in less sodium. Sodium forces your body to retain more water than usual. Not only does sodium put excess strain on your cardiovascular system and heart, but it also packs on a ton of water weight.
  • Trying diuretics. These are also known as water pills and are used to reduce water retention. They force you to urinate more, meaning you’re helping to get rid of that excess water weight (and sodium) fast.
  • Engaging in exercise. You won’t lose a ton of water weight when you exercise, but any sweat you lose will begin to add up. Since you might be dead set on not exercising, this might not be the best option for you.

Even though you can definitely lose weight by reducing your water weight, you need to consider the potential consequences.

Losing too much water weight can actually cause dehydration and you’ll likely put the weight right back on once you rehydrate.

Exercise-Free Weight Loss Strategies

Simply telling you that you can lose weight without exercise doesn’t give you any information that you can actually use.

So, we’re going to walk you through the different methods you can try in order to lose true weight and not just water weight.

Creating a Caloric Deficit

Every second that you’re alive, your body is burning calories. You burn calories when you sleep, walk, run, clean, and literally any other activity that you can think of.

Knowing just how many calories you’re burning over the course of the day is key to losing weight without exercising.

What you’re going to need to figure out is your TDEE, also known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

Your TDEE takes into consideration your….

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Current activity level

Just use one of these TDEE online calculators instead of pulling out a real calculator and doing the formula yourself.

The calculator will predict how many calories you burn over the course of your average day. That number is also the approximate number of calories you need in a single day to maintain your current weight and activity level.

Since we know that weight loss occurs with caloric deficits, you’re going to want to consume fewer calories than your TDEE.

A 500 calorie deficit every day for a week should theoretically cause you to lose a pound of fat every week.

Remember: Your body does need calories and too much of a deficit will leave you feeling tired and impact the functioning of your body systems.

Limiting Fat Intake

Eating a ton of dietary fat over the course of the day doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be packing on body fat as well.

Think about it: We all know at least one person that can eat 3,000 calories in one sitting and not gain an ounce of weight, right?

The biggest issue with eating high-fat foods is that fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and proteins.

For reference, here’s a list of how many calories you’ll find in a single gram of each macronutrient.

  • Proteins: 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram
  • Fats: 9 calories per gram

By limiting your intake of high-fat foods, you can reduce the number of calories you’re taking in during the day and help yourself to achieve that caloric deficit.

But, don’t think that you should be cutting out all fats from your diet.

Your body requires fats to perform a lot of functions, including providing your body with insulation, helping cells to grow, and absorbing nutrients. So, instead focus on getting your fats from unsaturated fats rather than saturated and trans fats.

Note: Somewhere around 30% of your calories should come from fats in a healthy diet.

Making Food Replacements

Dieting is tough for a lot of people, especially if you have a huge appetite or just enjoy eating.

The good news is, one of the best ways to reduce the number of calories and fats you’re eating a day is by making simple ingredient replacements.

Here are some examples of what we’re talking about.

  • Swap out butter and replace it with margarine to reduce your saturated fat intake.
  • Replace whole eggs with egg whites for fewer calories and less fat.
  • Use fat-free or 1% milk instead of whole milk.
  • Drink water instead of any other type of beverage for a calorie-free, sugar-free, and sodium-free beverage.
  • Choose low-fat or low-calorie options when possible.

One of the biggest reasons that people struggle to stick to diets is that they do too much too soon.

So, instead of swapping your entire diet out for a brand new one, work on making minor changes to the foods you’re already eating.

Eating More Meals Per Day

Most people grew up eating three standard meals a day: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

However, eating a greater number of meals a day has great potential when it comes to triggering weight loss and improving your overall health.

In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers determined that consuming more meals a day (around six) can help you to reduce your hunger and appetite.

Now, there’s nothing that says eating more meals a day will make you lose weight.

But, let’s think about what a reduced appetite implies. When you’re less hungry, you’re less likely to eat, which also means you’re eating fewer calories.

So, eating more meals over the course of the day can help to reduce your binge eating habits and can help lead to weight loss in the long term.

Remember: These are meant to be small meals.

Final Thoughts

Try to focus more on the habits you’re building and sticking to your new dietary plan rather than the number you’re seeing on the scale (which is hard, we know).

The best things you can do are….

  • Create a caloric deficit by eating fewer calories than you burn.
  • Reduce your fat intake and focus more on protein and/or carbs.
  • Replace high-calorie and high-fat foods with healthier alternatives.
  • Spread out your food intake into about six small meals per day.

Remember: You want to actually burn calories, not just shed pounds of water weight. If you really want to maximize your weight loss, adding in exercise is ideal.