A lot of people out there want to lose weight, but the thought of counting calories and/or macros can seem restrictive. I will start out by saying that whether you count or not, you must be in a deficit of calories (meaning consume less than it takes to maintain your weight) for weight loss to occur. These tips can facilitate staying in a deficit without tracking the numbers.
I also want to point out that when I speak about weight loss here, we are referring to body fat and not muscle loss or other tissue.
1. Eat your veggies (and other fibre)
Fibre (the “other” macronutrient) does a great job of keeping us full. This component of plant foods adds bulk to the stools (which keeps us regular). It also feeds the good bacteria in your gut, contributing to a healthy microbiome.
When we consume high amounts of vegetables, we are getting a solid dose of fibre for satiety, as well as a boatload of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for very little calories. We get more bang for our buck than if we were to consume something low in fibre which doesn’t keep us full and contains a higher amount of calories (such as white bread).
I recommend filling half your plate with fibrous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, zucchini or asparagus. Complex carbohydrates are also great sources of fibre (such as whole grains and legumes).
2. Quit snacking
Snacking in and of itself won’t make you gain weight, but if it makes you go over your deficit or maintenance calories, it will definitely stall weight loss.
If you consume larger and less frequent meals and avoid munching throughout the day, you will likely consume less calories overall without even having to think about it. Keep tempting snacks out of the house. If you get hungry between meals, portion a snack on a plate and take your time to enjoy it instead of mindlessly eating from a bag.
If you feel tempted to snack at night, try having herbal tea or chewing gum on occasion (not too frequently as it can cause bloating and contains artificial sweeteners).
3. Drink lots of water!
By now we all know that thirst sometimes disguises itself as hunger. Yet many of us are not on point with water intake, especially in summer months.
Aim to consume half your weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. So if I weigh 140 lbs, I aim to get 70 oz of water, which is almost 9 cups. Remember you’ll need more if you’re active and even more when it’s hot outside.
Besides potentially helping to ward off false hunger, drinking adequate water will also help your body deliver nutrients to your cells and to keep your bowels moving regularly, which can both aid in weight loss.
4. Protein with each meal
Protein is a key macronutrient the body needs for growth and repair, energy, hormone production and several other processes (as all our cells contain protein).
In the context of fat loss, this nutrient aids to maintain lean muscle mass during a period of caloric restriction. It takes the body the most energy to break protein down compared to the other macronutrients, so it can be beneficial to consume a large portion of your calories from lean protein sources. Lean protein allows you to stay full with less calories.
My favourites include chicken breast, lean ground turkey, and whole eggs.
5. Manage stress
Easier said than done… but it truly is the root cause of overeating for many people. When we eat, it is not always due to the fact that we are actually hungry. Stress can trigger a desire for instant happiness in the form of having some pleasurable treats.
We can’t avoid stress completely, but managing it is important so it does not sabotage your health (and waistline). If you feel triggered to binge on some chocolate after getting worked up about something, try to step away from the situation. Put your shoes on, get out the door and go for a nice walk. Call a friend for a chat. Go for a workout. Get your mind off of the desire to eat mindlessly.
By implementing these things consistently – I say that because we need to do this for a period of time to achieve weight loss, not just a few days! – we can reduce caloric intake without having to monitor every calorie and macro we consume.