Are you tired of restrictive diets and calorie counting? Check out these 5 steps to lose weight without dieting!
Note from Dena: This guest post was written by Taylor Wilson, Dietetic Intern, as part of a research partnership between Back To The Book Nutrition and post-graduate nutrition students from the University of Houston.
We’ve all experienced it – the emotional onslaught that occurs when we continuously try and fail to achieve our weight goals. We’re promised results, achieving them for a time, but as soon as we drop the diet, we rebound, gaining all that weight back and end up right back where we started.
The cycle is frustrating, embarrassing, and can leave us feeling completely defeated.
The best way to lose weight and keep it off shouldn’t deprive or depress you, but rather invigorate and enliven you! It should nurture your body, improve health and strength, and advocate a positive relationship with food and your body.
These five strategies can help you shed the weight and keep it off for good without dieting or having to count calories!
5 Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting
1. Listen to Your Body
Sometimes there can be a disconnect between our brain and our stomach. We eat in response to stress or emotions rather than in response to actual physical hunger. I’m guilty of this too!
Mindful Eating Principles:
- Eat in response to physical cues (hunger and fullness) rather than emotions
- Create a healthy food environment (eat with others at regular meal times rather than alone at erratic times)
- Chose foods that are nourishing to your body, not just comforting to your emotions
- Gratefully consider how your food was grown and prepared
- Designate eating as a singular activity rather than while multitasking (driving, doing computer work, watching TV, etc.)
Learn more about mindful eating here.
2. Eat Real Food
Now that we have addressed when, why and how to eat, we need to talk about what to eat.
Real foods are those that are in forms that are minimally processed and closest to how they were created. Typically, these are foods that are grown, raised, or caught, rather than processed, refined, or packaged. Real foods are more nutrient dense and more satisfying than most processed foods, with the added benefit that we are less likely to overindulge in them.
Eat Healthy Protein at Every Meal
Protein helps to balance blood sugar and insulin levels (discussed more below) and keeps us satisfied for longer. Leaner selections will have the highest protein content per portion.
Choose high quality proteins:
- Pasture-raised, hormone-free meats, milk, and yogurt
- Pasture-raised poultry and eggs
- Wild caught fish
- Tofu, if organic and traditionally prepared
- Beans, peas and lentils*
- Nuts and seeds*
*Note: these are lower in protein so use them in combination with other, higher protein foods on the list.
Eat the Right Carbs
Carbs are our primary energy source, however, too much or the wrong type of carbs can spike insulin, promoting fat storage rather than fat burning. Choose whole, complex carbs over simple, refined and processed products, usually found in prepackaged foods and fruit juices.
Eat more of these healthy carbs:
- Whole fruits and vegetables (raw or cooked)
- Beans, peas and legumes
- Whole grains (actual grains, like rolled oats and brown rice, which are preferred over processed whole grains, like whole wheat bread)
Carbs are also a great source of fiber, which leads me to the next topic.
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Eat More Fiber
As we know with many diets, it is hard to feel satisfied, but when fiber intake is increased, you can feel full more quickly – which means eating less – and you obtain that elusive feeling of lasting fullness. Consuming more foods containing fermentable fiber (aka: resistant starch) has been observed to promote abdominal weight loss. (3)
Eat Foods Naturally High in Fiber
- Whole vegetables and fruits
- Cooked and cooled rice (more resistant starch forms once the rice cools)
- Hi-maize flour (Honeyville makes a non-GMO hi-maize flour)
- Potato Starch
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
Gut bacteria also consume fermentable fiber as food, promoting a healthy gut.
New research also shows types and amounts of gut bacteria may affect weight. For example, lean individuals have far more Bacteroidetes, while overweight individuals have more Firmicutes bacteria. (4)
Eat Healthy Fats
Fats are higher in calories so it may seem counterproductive to eat them when trying to lose weight, but a reasonable amount of healthy fat reduces inflammation, supports hormone balance and gut health, and helps us feel satisfied. All of these are fundamental to losing weight and keeping it off for good!
But not all fats are created equal!
Include Healthy Fats:
- Omega-3 fats from wild caught fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and lake trout, as well as other seafood
- Tallow or other fats from pasture-raised, hormone-free animals
- Unrefined olive oil and coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, etc.)
Omit Unhealthy Fats:
- Processed vegetable oils (canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, etc.)
- Fats from conventionally raised animals
- Trans and interesterified fats from hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils found in packaged foods
- Mayonnaise, commercial salad dressings, and other condiments made with vegetable oils
3. Take a Daily Multivitamin
Insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals can lead to deficiencies related to overweight and obesity. (5)
Common Vitamin Deficiencies:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- B Vitamins, especially B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), and B12 (Cobalamin). (6, 7)
Common Mineral Deficiencies:
- Selenium (8)
Whole food forms of nutrients are always best, but taking a high-quality multivitamin like this one daily can be a good back up to your healthy diet and can help correct deficiencies if present. Holistic Nutrition Coaching can help test for and correct nutrient deficiencies.
4. Stay Active
When you lose weight, your metabolic rate (resting energy expenditure, or REE) naturally decreases. Incorporating at least 150 minutes of exercise a week can increase your metabolism, preventing potential weight rebound. (9-11)
Incorporate a variety of exercises every week:
- Aerobic exercises: walking, jogging, biking, elliptical, swimming, etc.
- Weight lifting
- Resistance training
- Stretching and flexibility
Ironically, exercising too much can make it harder to lose weight by causing undue stress, possibly even leading to Adrenal Fatigue/ HPA Axis Dysregulation (HPA-D).
5. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep quality and quantity affects the regulation of hormones that manage stress, hunger and satiety, energy metabolism, and fat storage. When we don’t get enough sleep – the majority of Americans only get 6.5 hours of sleep per night – these hormones are negatively affected, increasing the risk for weight gain. (12)
Focus on getting 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night to avoid weight gain that comes with sleep deprivation.
Check out the two-part Series: All About Sleep. Take the 5-Question Sleep Quality Quiz in Part 1 and learn 5 things that sabotage sleep and how to sleep better naturally in Part 2.
Following these five steps will build healthy, positive habits to help you lose weight and keep it off, all without dieting or counting calories!
If you’re doing all these things and are still struggling to lose weight, read 5 Reasons You Still Can’t Lose Weight…and What to Do About it!
About the author: Taylor Wilson is currently a Dietetic Intern at the University of Houston. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences. Taylor hopes to utilize her knowledge of nutrition to better aid and improve quality of life for those who who need it.
Disclaimer: Information on this site is intended only for informational purposes and is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult with a trusted healthcare provider before implementing significant dietary change. Read additional disclaimer info here.
- Willard, C.(2016, October 13). 6 Ways of Practicing Mindful Eating. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/
- Olson, K.L., & Emery, C.F. (2015). Mindfulness and Weight Loss: A systemic review. Psychosomatic Medicine, 77, 59-67. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25490697
- Keenan, M., Zhou, J., Hegsted, M., Pelkman, C., Durham, H., Coulon, D., & Martin, R. (2015). Role of Resistant Starch in Improving Gut Health, Adiposity, and Insulin Resistnace. Advances in Nutrition,6, 198-205. Retrieved from http://advances.nutrition.org/content/6/2/198.full
- Boulange, C., Neves, A., Chilloux, J., Nicholson, J., & Dumas, M. (2016). Impact of the gut microbiota on inflammation, obesity, and metabolic disease. Genome Medicine,8(42). doi:10.1186/s13073-016-0303-3 https://genomemedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13073-016-0303-2
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- WellnessFX Team. (2014, July 23). 7 Important Minerals and the Signs that You Could Be Deficient. Retrieved August 02, 2017, from http://blog.wellnessfx.com/2014/07/23/7-minerals-signs-deficient/
- Redman, L. M., & Ravussin, E. (2011). Caloric Restriction in Humans: Impact on Physiological, Psychological, and Behavioral Outcomes. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling,14(2), 275-287. doi:10.1089/ars.2010.3253 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3014770/
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