Losing weight without exercise can be done. Most of the time exercise will help and is often absolutely necessary. By the same token there are a few approaches that can be followed in order to achieve amazing weight loss or body transformations with little to no exercise.
With a few of these strategies exercise can even be counterproductive, especially for certain periods of time.
Exercise is to weight loss what milk is to cereal.
Not that I eat much cereal or anything but I think the analogy is pretty damn accurate. Cereal, of course, can be eaten without milk. Sometimes it works. But it’s just not the same in it’s non dairy-infused form. The relationship between exercise and weight loss is similar. You can have one without the other, but the results will not always be optimal.
With that said, there are times where not exercising is ok if you’re trying to lose weight, burn fat, build muscle or just “tone” up your body. In fact, there are actually a few situations where not exercising (but focusing solely on other methods) is not only unnecessary but also undesirable.
Now, many people think this is great news. NO exercise? Really? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Let me explain.
Most people fall into one of two categories.
- They either want to get great results from not working out and will do almost anything to get there if it means they don’t have to exercise
- OR they want to get great results and are willing to work out a little if it means they can get their body into awesome shape.
And of course there are people who fall somewhere in the middle and just want to have balance and are willing to make sacrifices to reach their goals.
Another factor that comes into play is how fit someone is to begin with and how far away they are from their ultimate goals. But really, this whole not exercising business can apply to anyone. That’s the point I would like to make here. It works for most and actually is especially effective if you are just starting off and trying to “get the ball rolling”. If you are already well on your way and just need to shave off those last few inches of body fat. So, ultimately, regardless of where someone is in relation to their long term goal, not exercising to lose weight, burn fat, build muscle or just look plain sexy can be an awesome strategy.
But we’re not really just talking about one strategy here. Sure, like I said, it’s a great – albeit contrarian – approach. The real question is what does it entail? There are a few different options that you can use to reach your goals without exercise and they all have different benefits and different applications.
The one common thread? They all involve modifying what you eat or how you eat…
Dieting Strategies for your BEST Body
As I alluded to above, there are many different solid approaches that you can use to change your body without exercise. I like using about four or five main strategies in sequence, one after the other regardless of the client’s starting point. They all involve slowly changing what you eat and how you eat and the idea is that they aren’t designed to be a quick fix.
While they can elicit some pretty quick, pretty incredible changes, they aren’t supposed to be a magic pill for a sloppy physique. They are designed to help shift your appearance relatively quickly – but only slightly. This helps with initial motivation and adherence to the new eating styles; more improvements are eventually seen but they take a little longer and build upon one another.
The ultimate goal with using the eating strategies that I’m going to outline below is to help people get into awesome shape and stay there. If the new dieting habits become just that –habits – then people tend to maintain or even improve their bodies as time goes on, especially if they introduce exercise and progress accordingly.
Change What you Eat and How you Eat It
There are four different eating styles that work together when used in sequence to elicit solid results over the long term. They can work when used independently but I find the progression from one to the next seems to favor long term progress. Here they are, in the most effective order.
1. High Protein, Low Carb, Fat Diet
This is one of the simplest ways to lose weight. Not only is it effective but it’s very easy to follow. The idea behind eating mostly protein is that stored body fat becomes the go-to energy source for the body – instead of dietary carbs. The great thing about this tactic is that it’s very hard to overeat protein. Said another way, it’s difficult to eat so much excess protein that it gets stored as body fat. So when people cut down their carb intake to almost zero – even if they drastically increase protein – they’ll still probably lose weight.
Not only does the protein rarely get stored as body fat (most of it will go towards muscle building or energy) but it also helps with satiety so people are less likely to have the same appetite for carbs that they normally would. Protein also speeds up your metabolism because it is more metabolically active than carbohydrate and, when consumed with fat, is healthier for the body. When people consume more protein, their rate of protein synthesis is increased and their blood sugar and lipid profiles are often improved as well. (ref:
How to lose weight with it:
I recommend trying a high protein low carb approach for approximately two weeks. Often I have clients who already are exercising cut down on their activity levels to try this two week diet blitz. This is because it can be difficult to drastically increase your protein intake while working out (since muscle cell turnover is so great). Whether you are or aren’t exercising, focusing on only low intensity activities during this period is the way to go. Since you will not be taking in (hardly) any carbohydrate, your muscle glycogen stores will be low and you don’t want the exercise to tap into your protein sources for energy.
The key is to really cut down your carbohydrate intake drastically. Most people will see results from cutting down to 50g of carbohydrate per day, although some may even benefit from as little as 20-30g of carbs. People (myself included) have been known to lose five to ten pounds during this period – much of it body fat. The recent fad Ketogenic diet (Keto diet) suggests taking only 10 gm!
Problems with this Approach:
The problem typically comes in when people try to do this for extended periods or time or while also exercising. Eventually the body resists the low carb state and the dieter will binge on carb heavy foods only to gain the weight back. Another problem is seen when people try to exercise too much while cutting back on carbs. Their energy levels typically plummet (as can one’s mood) and binging or giving up to some degree becomes more likely.
*This is meant to be a short term tactic that sharpens your appearance and gives your motivation a jump start so that you can move on to other, longer term approaches.*
It’s also great for people who are in decent shape and want to look good for an upcoming event, and only have one to two weeks to do so.
2. Intermittent Fasting
This is another great nutritional strategy that normally elicits some pretty incredible results. It’s not as stringent in terms of specific rules and it can be pretty easy to follow over the long haul. It’s nice in that most people can adhere to it regardless of their lifestyle, training history, or goals and it gets most people results in even the trickiest of cases. So how do you do it? The idea is simple, only eat during specific times of the day and fast during the other periods.
The easiest (and most effective) way to do this is to fast for sixteen hours and eat for eight. For instance you would start eating at ten in the morning and then stop eating at 6 in the evening. For a lot of people eating four times per day is optimal but you can eat as often or as infrequently as desired. The key is to have longer periods of the day during which you don’t eat, than you do now. This will help lower insulin, raise glucagon, increase growth hormone, and stabilize blood sugar. All of which help with both fat burning and general health.
How to lose weight with it:
Intermittent fasting is pretty easy to follow. You can refer to my other intermittent fasting article here for more info but overall the main point to remember is this: fast for sixteen hours of the day and eat for eight. Because you are fasting, you don’t have to be as strict about your food choices, but the cleaner you can eat (especially if you’re not working out) the better. You will lose weight fast if you do this correctly – most of it will be fat – and you’ll keep it off.
Problems with this Approach:
Typically the only problem with intermittent fasting for weight loss is that people can’t get used to actually fasting. Most people are so used to eating six times per day that they can’t fathom the thought of going without food. What they don’t realize is eating too often is actually bad for fat loss and muscle building because it forces insulin levels to stay chronically elevated, which sets off a whole host of problems within your body.
Don’t listen to the supplement companies who tell you to eat ten times per day because they are WRONG. In any case, if you can adopt intermittent fasting it’s a great strategy that you can use indefinitely. It is really a great way to lose weight and you can lose weight fast if you actually apply it consistently.
3. Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is another great tactic that people who systematically plan their diets around workouts or athletic competitions often use. It’s also great for people who are not very active at all. The whole idea behind carb cycling is to rotate or “cycle” your carbohydrate intake each day according to your activity levels. Essentially with carb cycling you want to allow yourself to take in high amounts of carbs on your more active days where you are burning more calories and can use the extra calories towards physical endeavors.
Alternatively, on days where you aren’t very active you want to decrease the amount of carbs you consume because the idea is that your body doesn’t really need them and is more likely to store them as body fat.
*One other benefit of carb cycling for people who workout is that it does (yes it’s a cliché) keep your metabolism “guessing” because you are taking in varying levels of total calories from day to day.
*The important thing for everyone but especially those people who aren’t working out to realize (this does apply to everyone) is that cycling your carbs is great regardless of whether or not you are working out at all.*
Here’s why: there’s a hormone called leptin in your body which controls how efficiently your body burns body fat. The thing about leptin though is that it decreases when you decrease your calorie intake. So, yes, the whole idea of your metabolism slowing when your decrease your caloric intake does have a lot of truth to it. With that being the case, the they key then would be to try to keep leptin levels up – even while keeping calories lower than normal, right? That’s it. And that’s one more benefit of carb cycling, it will help with your leptin levels (which will help you burn more fat than if you kept your calories low all the time).
How to lose weight with it:
As I alluded to above, it’s all about cycling. If you aren’t working out, you don’t need many carbs period, but you can still benefit from this approach. Simply increase your carbs on days where you feel you are more active (ideally 2-3 days per week) and keep them lower on your “off” days. If you aren’t working out your probably don’t need more than 100g to 200g on your “active” days and can subsist on 50g or less on your “off” days. Some experimentation might be needed but these numbers are good estimates. Either way, the increase in carbs – even for those who aren’t active – will help keep that metabolic fire burning.
Problems with this Approach:
The only problem with this approach is being consistent over the long term. A lot of people can go low carb for a short amount of time and then “fall off the wagon” and stop trying. The good thing about carb cycling is that it doesn’t require you to cut out carbs completely (like the short term high protein approach at #1) so most people can stick to it over the long haul. It also helps people to know that they can crank up their carb intake a little bit more if they add in exercise. Good for motivation and positive reinforcement.
4. Indefinite Paleo
I call this “indefinite” paleo and it refers to just that: being able to practice a paleolithic or “paleo” approach over the long haul, without much variation. It may sound a little bit extreme, but this dieting approach, by all accounts, seems very healthy and – until proved otherwise – is a very wise approach. For those who don’t know much about the Paleo diet, it’s a pretty simple, straightforward approach that doesn’t overload users with too many restrictions. It’s basically all about eating whole, natural foods that researchers theorize would be similar to those eaten by our ancestors some thousands of years ago.
Although there is some disagreement about when agriculture came about, (and, in a sense, how natural it is) the consensus is that eating anything that we could have hunted, gathered or grown, while avoiding anything man-made and processed is considered to be a Paleolithic eating style.
Researchers as well as trainers, nutritionists, and some (non-ignorant) medical doctors realize that the paleo diet carries with it a host of benefits from better hormone and blood lipid profiles (including better blood glucose readings and cholesterol levels) to reduced body fat and improved immune function. The idea is that the main contributes of these health improvements are both the lack of processed ingredients (hormones, synthetic fats, and carcinogens) as well as the presence of natural ingredients that the body craves.
*One interesting point to note is that the paleo diet does not limit meat consumption.*
Although lean meats are recommended, it encourages the consumption of animal proteins. It is good for people to realize this because it illustrates a larger dynamic that people should be aware of. Essentially, in many cases, especially with dieting strategies, people confuse absence with presence. In this case the health benefits of the paleo diet do not arise from the absence of meat (because meat eating is encouraged) but from the presence of other natural healthy foods. A good point for the vegans out there but I’ll save that discourse for another time.
How to lose weight with it:
Pretty simple here: if it comes in a box, don’t buy it! If it contains ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t eat it! (well, admittedly, that’s not always true, but you get the idea). This diet requires you to exclude most wheat and starchy carb sources from your diet, so cut out the bread. Focus on consuming 20-30 percent of your calories from lean meat sources. The bulk of your diet (unless your have a high protein requirement, then ignore some of this) should come from vegetable, fruit and healthy fat sources, with more coming from the vegetable side. Limiting fruit intake can be helpful, especially if you are trying to get ultra lean and are in good shape or have a very substantial weight loss goal and are very de-conditioned.
Problems with this Approach:
There isn’t much that can faulted with the Paleo diet. The biggest issue for people is giving up all the processed goodies (crackers, cookies, dairy products) and basic wheat products. For some people, such as athletes, they might find it difficult to get enough carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits but in most cases it just means they’re not trying hard enough. The fact that calorie counting and other irritating practices are thrown out the window makes it pretty sustainable and effective overall. It’s also healthy.
5. Take Diet Pills or Fat burner
Perhaps, this should be the last and least preferred choice when it comes to losing weight. Unfortunately, this is first thing which comes into most overweight and obese people. This website is dedicated to reviewing various slimming supplements available on the market. We have carefully analyzed pros and cons on every supplements reviewed here. Furthermore, all reviews contains a section with better alternatives.
How to Use these Strategies to Lose Weight Without Exercise
The truth of the matter is that any of these strategies will help just about anyone to lose weight, regardless of their starting point – or which one they choose. Ideally though, applying some degree of order to things, makes sense. As I mentioned above, starting with approach number one and going down the list is a pretty smart way to go for most people. To review, starting with the high protein diet allows you to jumpstart the weight loss/fat burning process and gain motivation by achieving quick, visible results.
Intermittent fasting can be used after this and, really, indefinitely if it works for you. Carb cycling can be used next as the third strategy and it also can be used over the long term but ( and this was not mentioned above). It can actually be combined with intermittent fasting for people who want to see greater gains or accelerate the rate of lipolysis (fat burning). Transitioning from this to the Paleo diet and sticking with a paleo approach or modified paleo is often very effective for most people. Paleo is probably the easiest of the group in terms of long term compliance. However, I often encourage you to alternate from one style to the next because increasing the variety helps with adherence as well as long term progress.
Try them out and see how they work for you!