Common dieting advice is to “eat less, move more,” and, for the average individual, that’s usually enough to get the job done, or at least get the ball moving in the right direction.
But, telling yourself to constantly “eat less” gets old after a while, and it can also have the unintended consequence of making your cutting phase seem that much more arduous or taxing on your lifestyle and outlook.
Today, we present 6 tricks for boosting weight loss that have nothing to do with dieting or consciously telling yourself to eat less.
6 Tips for Easier Weight Loss That Don’t Involve Eating Less
#1 Drink Water Before Meal Time
Drinking enough water throughout the day can help stave off hunger, support hydration, and boost metabolism.
Research also shows that having a glass or two of water before eating a meal can help reduce the number of calories you consume.[1,2]
Drinking water also has the added benefit of transiently increasing the number of calories you burn.
And, to top it off, research also notes a link between water intake and reduced risk of weight gain and lower calorie intake.[4,5]
By and large, this is due to the fact that water is taking the place of other calorie-containing beverages, like sugary sodas, juices, and gourmet coffee drinks.
When meal time approaches, make sure to have a tall glass of water before eating, and also make sure to sip water throughout the day to stay sufficiently hydrated and support metabolism.
#2 Increase Non-Exercise Activity (NEAT)
We all know that regular exercise (both cardio and resistance training) are important for cardiovascular health as well as strengthening muscles. Exercise also helps burn calories, which supports weight loss.
But, compared to how many calories you burn in an entire day, the amount burned during a typical 30-60 minute workout is a drop in the bucket.
And, there’s only so much “exercise” you can do before you run yourself into the ground, physically and mentally.
Fortunately, there is another way to boost the number of calories you burn during the day without having to knock out another cardio session -- increasing your NEAT.
NEAT stands for “non-exercise activity thermogenesis”, and it accounts for the calories burned during activities that don’t qualify as “exercise” (structured physical activity).
Walking the dog, folding laundry, cleaning the house, taking the stairs, etc all contribute to NEAT and can be a sneaky way to increase how many calories you’re burning each day without it feeling like you’re significantly ramping up the amount of exercise you’re doing.
Simple ways to increase your NEAT are to take the stairs whenever possible, park at the back of the parking lot when going to the store, get up and take a stroll around the office once an hour or so to stretch your legs and give your eyes a break from staring at the computer screen.
#3 Create a Meal Plan
The old axiom holds that “failure to plan is planning for failure” and this holds very true when it comes to weight loss.
If you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to achieve your weight loss goals, you won’t accomplish them. It’s as simple as that.
And, weight loss success begins first and foremost with what you eat, as well as what you don’t eat.
To lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit, and the only way to know with reasonable certainty that you are, in fact, in a deficit is to track your calories.
Far and away, the reason most people don’t lose weight is that they don’t track their nutrition, which means they don’t have any idea of how many calories they’re actually eating, which, according to most researchers, is far more than they think.
By creating a meal plan (and sticking to it), you control what foods you eat and have a better grasp on how many calories you’re actually consuming.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. You can knock out an entire week’s worth of meal planning in as little as 15 minutes once you get the hang of it.
If you need help getting squared away with meal prep, here are 10 tips for easier meal prep.
#4 Brush Your Teeth After Eating
We all have a tendency or craving for a nibble of something sweet after mealtime. These little indulgences add to total daily calorie intake, but many individuals fail to track these bites and nibbles, which can be one of the reasons they’re not losing weight even though they might think they are in a deficit.
One simple way to stop this is to brush your teeth as soon as you’re finished with your meal. The minty fresh taste will make you stop and think twice about going back into the pantry for some high-calorie snack.
This strategy is particularly useful for individuals who struggle with late night cravings.
#5 Establish a Bedtime Ritual
Sleep deprivation is a known contributor to weight gain.
The reasons for this are many as not getting enough sleep has been shown to[7,8,9,10]:
- Disrupt hunger/satiety hormones
- Disrupt energy production, storage, and utilization in the body
- Reduce activity levels
- Decrease training intensity
- Decrease motivation (which reduces the desire to train)
- Impairs recovery
- Increases cravings
- Lead to insulin resistance
Despite the importance of sleep plays in getting results from your diet and exercise program, a significant portion of the population fails to get sufficient sleep each night.
If you’re one of these individuals, try scheduling a consistent bedtime each and every night to make sure that you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep.
Other measures you can take to promote a better night’s rest, include:
- Making your room as dark as possible
- Keeping the room cool (between 66-68℉)
- Wearing loose, comfortable clothing
- Avoiding blue light exposure 2 hours before bed
- Avoiding stressful things (email, texts, social media, news) in the hours before bed
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
- Having a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea
- Stretching/light yoga
#6 Remember Your “Why”
Weight loss takes time, there’s no two ways about it.
Individuals embark on their weight loss journey with a high degree of motivation, but these feelings of motivation can start to dwindle as the weeks go by, especially if the rate of weight loss starts to slow.
When times get tough, it helps to remember you “why” -- why you decided to lose weight in the first place.
It helps to write down the reasons why you want to lose weight and keep them posted in places that are easy to see so that you’re constantly reminded of why you embarked on this journey in the first place.
Seeing your reasons can provide a rapid infusion of energy, motivation, and excitement to continue to push hard with your diet and training to achieve the best results possible!
- Davy BM, Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Wilson KL, Davy KP. Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(7):1236-1239. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.013
- Van Walleghen EL, Orr JS, Gentile CL, Davy BM. Pre-meal water consumption reduces meal energy intake in older but not younger subjects. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007;15(1):93-99. doi:10.1038/oby.2007.506
- Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, et al. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(2):300-307. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.235
- Zheng M, Allman-Farinelli M, Heitmann BL, Rangan A. Substitution of sugar-sweetened beverages with other beverage alternatives: a review of long-term health outcomes. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(5):767-779. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.01.006
- Pan A, Malik VS, Hao T, Willett WC, Mozaffarian D, Hu FB. Changes in water and beverage intake and long-term weight changes: results from three prospective cohort studies. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013;37(10):1378-1385. doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.225
- Lichtman SW, Pisarska K, Berman ER, et al. Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects. N Engl J Med. 1992;327(27):1893-1898. doi:10.1056/NEJM199212313272701
- Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain. (2016, July 13). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-ties-between-lack-sleep-weight-gain
- Donga E, van Dijk M, van Dijk JG, et al. A single night of partial sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance in multiple metabolic pathways in healthy subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95(6):2963-2968. doi:10.1210/jc.2009-2430
- Schmid SM, Hallschmid M, Jauch-Chara K, Born J, Schultes B. A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. J Sleep Res. 2008;17(3):331-334. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00662.x
- Engle-Friedman, M. (2014). The effects of sleep loss on capacity and effort. Sleep Science, 7(4), 213–224.https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.slsci.2014.11.001