It’s no secret that in order to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit. One of the best ways to do this is by counting calories.
However, calorie counting isn’t an exact science. Food is not always labeled properly, and how many calories you burn each day is dependent on a number of factors, all of which are difficult to accurately measure.
Yes, people who count calories do tend to experience better weight loss results than those who don’t, at least in what I’ve experienced with my clients. But calorie counting is a skill that takes practice, and not everyone has the patience or want to do it.
Since ‘hacks’ are all the rage these days, here are a seven you can use to help you create a caloric deficit and lose weight, without counting calories.
- Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is the act of purposely abstaining from food for a certain period of time. Despite what some may try to tell you however, IF isn’t a magic fat loss diet. What it is though, is a way to reduce meal frequency so that you limit your time spent eating during the day, thus limiting how many calories you consume.
Set yourself an 8-hour feeding window (Ex. Noon-8pm) and just eat normally during that time, while fasting the other 16 hours of the day.
- Add More Whole Foods to Your Diet
Whole, minimally processed foods are less calorically dense than their highly processed counterparts. Things like lean meats, fruits, veggies, and complex carbs not only contain fewer calories per serving, but also take longer to digest, meaning you wont feel hungry as often.
- Cut Out the Drinks
And by that I mean anything that contains calories like soda, juice, sports drinks, and your daily Starbucks order. By sticking with things like black coffee, tea, water, and zero-calorie sodas you can save yourself hundreds of calories per day.
The same goes for alcohol. Like I talked about in my previous article, alcohol is second only to fat in calories per gram. Not to mention that alcohol is often paired with other calorically dense beverages.
- Cook Your Own Meals
If you’ve ever eaten out while simultaneously trying to watch your diet, you know just how difficult it can be. I mean, at least once per week I see a list on social media for the “10 Worst Restaurant Menu Items” or something like that.
When you cook your meals at home, not only are you in charge of what you cook and how much, but how your food is prepared. Many restaurants prepare their food using added fats and sauces that can be hard to account for, but can pile on the calories real quick.
- Moderate Yourself
Know what you are eating each day. Not necessarily the actual food but the number of meals and snacks. By doing this, you can adjust based on how much weight loss you are seeing.
Use this template: Start out with 3 meals and 2 snacks. Each meal should fit onto one plate. That plate should be 50% veggies, 30% protein, and the rest carbs or fat. Your snacks should fit in the palm of your hand and consist of veggies, fruits, or protein. Adjust based on results.
- Stay Busy
Mindless snacking can be the enemy of weight loss, and usually occurs out of boredom. Don’t allow yourself to get bored. If you feel the snacking urge coming on, do something. Walk out of the room, do the dishes, laundry, go outside, watch a Youtube video, whatever it takes to occupy your mind.
If snacking is an issue, have a number of low-calorie, nutritionally dense foods on hand, such as apples, carrots, beef jerky, protein shakes, etc.
- Increase Your Activity
This can come in the form of formal workouts, but doesn’t have to be. Take regular walks outside, bike to work, shovel snow, play a game of pick-up basketball, park further away at the store…basically anything to increase the amount of time your body spends moving.
Counting calories is a great way to measure progress and maintain a deficit. But it can be mentally draining and certainly isn’t necessary to make progress. Employ one, or all of these tips to help get your progress moving in the right direction.