If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn over a long enough period of time, i.e. you need to be in a healthy calorie deficit consistently; probably over a period of several months.
Weight loss is ALL about calories in vs calories out. But you already know that.
And that doesn’t really help you much.
Yes, tracking your calories is the most accurate and failsafe way to make it as sure as possible that you’ll lose weight.
But counting calories is tough, and it’s certainly not for everyone (STUDY?).
You do need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but you don’t necessarily have to count calories to get there.
There are plenty of small, habitual changes you can make to your daily life that will all add up and make it far more likely that you’re in a calorie deficit, without having to count calories.
These habits are tried and tested on all my clients and can work for anyone, regardless of your age, job or activity level.
My recommendation would e to pick 3 of these habits and stick to them religiously for a month
1. Weigh Yourself Daily
This is my number ONE habit for anyone wanting to lose weight, you won’t know what you need to do if you don’t know where you are now.
If you weigh yourself daily, you’ll get constant, actionable feedback on whether what you’re doing is working or not, which will let you know if you need to make adjustments.
If you wait a month between weigh-ins, it could be too late, in a month’s time, you can easily gain a couple of kgs.
While weighing yourself daily won’t make you lose weight on its own, I strongly believe this tactic is an incredibly powerful way to prevent weight gain.
If you know your weight has gone up 3-4 days in a row, you’re not going to keep smashing the takeaways, are you?
Is daily weighing obsessive?
It takes 5-10 seconds per day to step on the scales and record your weight, this is going to have zero impact on your life.
If you need a reality check, look at your ‘Screen Time’ app at how much time you spend on your phone daily
2. Eat Breakfast
This tip could also easily be ‘don’t eat breakfast.
Obviously, if you skip breakfast you’ll be eating fewer calories each day, which will help you lose weight. Or will it..?
Not eating breakfast could mean that you’re so hungry by lunchtime, that you eat more calories than you would have if you ate breakfast AND lunch.
Let’s look at 2 scenarios;
Scenario 1: You have a 350 calorie breakfast, then by lunchtime, you were moderately hungry and had a 450 calorie lunch. That’s 800 calories in total by 2pm
Scenario 2: You have no breakfast, by lunchtime you’re starving and scoff 1,000 calories. That’s 1,000 calories in total by 2 pm, 200 MORE than in scenario 1.
Eat breakfast 🙂
3. Lift Weights
Lifting weights builds muscle.
Muscle not only makes you look good, but it means you’ll burn more calories at rest. This is because muscle tissue requires more calories than fat tissue.
You don’t have to go crazy in the gym 6 days a week.
2-3 sessions will do.
Make sure you’re actually pushing yourself and implementing progressive overload.
4. Walk 10,000 Steps
No, 10,000 steps is not the ‘magic’ number of steps you need to lose weight.
In fact, there is no ideal number of steps you need to lose weight, BUT…
If you do 10,000 steps per day you can’t go far wrong.
For most people 10,000 steps means between 60-90 minutes of walking per day; if you have a mega busy job and kids this might be tricky, but it’s still doable.
In fact, if you commute into a city for work by train, you’re probably already doing close to 10,000.
Steps are easy to do, meaning they don’t require any willpower, or blood sweat and tears to get through. You might need a warm coat in winter though…
5. Increase NEAT
NEAT is non-activity thermogenesis; i.e.e anything you do that burns calories that ISN’T ‘formal’ exercise like running, swimming, cycling, training at the gym, or any other sport.
This could be steps (see above), fidgeting, walking downstairs to get a drink, stretching, itching your leg, or any number of the other micro-movements people make every minute.
Fidgeting is a subconscious thing that you can’t necessarily proactively increase but set a timer so every 25 minutes, you’re getting up out of your chair, moving around, and stretching.
5. Protein At Every Meal
Protein is good for weight loss.
This is because you burn more calories digesting protein than you do carbs or fat. Protein will also help keep you fuller, which reduces the chances of you slipping into a calorie surplus (if you’re NOT counting calories).
If that wasn’t enough, protein will help you build and maintain muscle, which you’ll remember from tip number 3, will help you burn more calories at rest.
6. Veggies and/or Fruit at Every Meal
Most veggies have next to no calories – if you include them in most meals, you’ll automatically eat fewer calories.
Most fruits have a few more calories than veggies but are still pretty low.
I’d recommend getting in a portion of fruit at breakfast, and a good portion of veggies at both lunch and dinner.
Fruit and veg is of course also, y’know, good for you, but you already know that.
7. Protein shakes
No, protein shakes AREN’T just for bodybuilders.
Unfortunately, necking whey protein won’t turn you into Ronnie Coleman overnight (or ever), but it will help keep you full for very few calories (one scoop of whey is typically around 100 calories), making it a great snack if you’re dieting.
It’s also very convenient, and very cheap. Get some.
8. Don’t Drink Calories
Most people don’t see drinks as containing calories because they’re not a formal meal.
But they do…
Full sugar sodas, fruit juice, milk and your favorite Iced Latte Frappuccino with whipped cream ALL contain calories, so an easy way to drastically reduce the number of calories in your diet?
Only drink zero-calorie beverages, and that still leaves you with a lot of choices; diet and zero-calorie sodas, black tea or coffee, and yes, water.
9. Low Calorie Alcohol
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking alcohol altogether; let’s be honest, alcohol is a big part of most people’s lives and no one actually WANTS to give it up altogether.
So what do you do?
Go for low-calorie alcoholic drinks like;
- Spirits and zero calorie mixers (e.g. Vodka and diet Coke)
- Light beers like Bud light or Michelob Ultra
Avoid having several pints of regular beer, wine, or any cream-based cocktails or spirits like Baileys (why would you drink that anyway?!)
10. Drink Caffeine
Caffeine has been shown to suppress appetite, pretty handy if you’re dieting.
It’ll also give you a mental boost, which is pretty handy if you’re doing any form of exercise.
Two things to be aware of, however;
- Don’t have high-calorie caffeine drinks like Frappachinos or Full Sugar Monster, stick to sugar free Redbull, Monster Ultra, black coffee or pre-workout drinks
- DON’T come to rely on caffeine – if you start having caffeine before every workout, you’ll feel like you need it all the time
11. Diet Soda
I’ve already mentioned that diet soda is better than full-sugar soda, but if you have a sweet tooth and you don’t already drink diet soda, you should consider it.
It’ll satisfy your cravings without packing any calories
12. Avoid Calorie Dense Foods
‘Eat less’ isn’t great advice for weight loss; that’s pretty obvious.
But “eat less calorie dense food” is great advice.
Calorie dense foods are foods that contain a LOT of calories for very little ‘weight’ or ‘volume’ of food. Some examples might be;
- Oil (Olive oil, Sunflower oil, Rapeseed Oil etc)
- Nut Butters (Peanut butter, Almond butter)
I generally never tell my clients to totally cut out any food, but cutting out the above will make your diet a LOT easier (if you eat a lot of them)
13. Eat Intuitively
Everyone will eat different amounts of calories each day.
If you count calories you’ll know the days you’ve eaten a lot, and you’ll eat less the next day.
If you’re NOT counting calories, you’re not going to know that, so eating intuitively will help you. Eating intuitively means using your intuition to know when and if you’ve eaten too much, the right amount or not enough day and each week.
This means if you’ve had a massive Dominos on a Saturday, you know you’re going to need to eat very light on Sunday to compensate.
14. Create calorie buffers
This is a great tip.
If you’re planning on having a huge takeaway on a Saturday night, don’t just eat normally during the day.
The likelihood is that what you’re going to eat will be between 1,500-2,500 calories. So, eat VERY little during the day.
If you have 150 calories for breakfast and 150 calories for lunch, you might still have a chance at coming in under your calorie target for that day
15. Don’t do TOO MUCH Exercise
This might sound like insane advice if you’re trying to lose weight, but you could be shooting yourself in the foot if you’re doing too much exercise.
An abnormal amount of exercise is not sustainable, it’s all very well doing 6 HIIT classes a week to lose weight, but are you going to do that for the rest of your life? Of course not.
We’ve all seen people that train and run a marathon but lose no weight; that’s because the amount of calories they ate compensated for the amount of exercise they were doing.
And this is another issue with extreme exercise ; it can stimulate your appetite so much that you end up eating more calories than you burned through exercise in the first place!
The lesson; do a moderate amount of exercise that you can enjoy, and that you feel you can maintain for the foreseeable future
16. Choose Sauces Wisely
Most people don’t consider sauces as containing calories, but they do.
Especially cream-based sauces like Ranch and Mayo.
You can easily add a couple of hundred extra calories to your meal with a few squirts of sauce, so be mindful about what you pick; Ketchup and BBQ sauces are better, hot sauce is better still!
A good rule of thumb? Avoid anything white!
17. Avoid Oils
You don’t HAVE to cut out anything to lose weight, but the one thing I recommend everyone stops eating immediately is cooking oil.
Any oil is VERY high in calories, and it’s not something you enjoy or even notice you’re eating.
So cut it.
Use Fry Light spray instead.
18. Take the Stairs
Steps are great, but uphill steps – or steps up the stairs are even better because you’re working against gravity and therefore burning more calories.
If you have stairs or steps on your daily route or in your office – use them. They’ll help you.
19. Focus on the Little Things
Don’t cut out the big things you have occasionally that you love like Pizza, or Chinese Food. That’ll just make you miserable.
But you can cut out smaller things you have every day that you don’t actually love that much. Stuff like sugar and milk in tea, sauces like mayo and butter in your scrambled eggs.
Yes, they make things taste a bit better, but cutting them out isn’t going to make you any less full, and you could potentially save thousands of calories a month.
In fact, you could drop weight JUST by doing stuff like this.
20. Chew Gum
Gum is sweet and it contains no calories. It can distract you if you’re hungry and may even satisfy that sweet craving you have after dinner.
Stock up on it.
21. Swap Chocolate Bars for Protein Bars
Everyone loves chocolate bars – they taste great.
Problem is, most chocolate bars contain 250-350 calories and they don’t really fill you up that much.
Protein bars are much lower in calories (typically 180-220) and will fill you up for longer. And they taste as good as regular chocolate bars. Win-win.
22. Eat Out at Chains
Go to McDonald’s, and Pizza Hut, and Five Guys, and Nandos and Burger King.
Yep, you heard me. But do one thing; check how many calories are in what you order.
While some of the options that these chains offer are very high in calories, at least know how many you’re taking in. Just being aware of your calories will subconsciously help you restrict later on in the day (and the week).
23. Low-Calorie Ice Cream
Are you a psychopath?
If not, then you obviously love ice cream. The problem is ice cream is really high in calories – well not anymore.
There are tons of low-calorie creams you can buy in most supermarkets now – one of the most famous is Halo Top. Most of the flavours are about 350 calories for a WHOLE tub.
Yes, Ben & Jerry’s tastes better, but if you eat a whole tub of that, you’re looking at over 1,000 calories.
24. Fatty Meat for Lean Meat
Meat is great, it’s packed full of protein, contains vitamins and minerals you can’t get from other food and is delicious.
Dieting doesn’t mean giving up meat, but it might mean limiting fatty meat like fatty cuts of beef, pork and fatty fish like Salmon and Mackerel.
Luckily there are some easy swaps you can make. Swapping out Pork Sausages for Chicken Sausages can save you a few hundred calories, as can swapping Beef mince for lean beef mince, or if you want to go one step further, Turkey Mince.
As general rule poultry and white fish are the leanest types of meat and fish.
25. Eat the Same Things Over and Over
When you’re dieting, you don’t need to stick to a ‘meal plan’ or have chicken and rice for every single meal.
BUT, eating the same meals can help?
Why, let’s say you eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday that you know are 800 calories combined. You know that you’re having a healthy, relatively low calorie, high protein breakfast and lunch by default.
Congratulations – rather than worrying about 3 meals per day you’re now only worrying about one!
26. Allow Treats
Repeat after me.
EAT. THINGS. YOU. LOVE.
For most people that’s probably going to mean pizza, chocolate,cake, beer and wine.
While these things are high in calories, if you deprive yourself of them, life will be miserable and you’ll give up dieting. Allow yourself the occasional treat. That means 1-2 times a week.
27. Drink Water
The most boring and cliche tip on this list.
We all know we need to drink water, but it’s worth me reminding you. It keeps you hydrated and helps keep you full.
Just do it.
There’s no magic amount, just try to drink BEFORE you start getting thirsty
28. Don’t Get Emotionally Attached to the Scales
I’m a strong advocate of weighing yourself every day.
But you should do this so you can get a long-term look at how your weight is trending over time (weeks and months).
Do NOT get hung up on the day-to-day changes, because your weight WILL go up some days – if you let this get to you you’ll quit after 2-3 weeks.
Weigh yourself, log it, move on.
29. Body Measurements
We don’t only care about scale weight, at least we shouldn’t.
You also need to be aware of the shape of your body changing, and you can do this by taking measurements every month.
Guys – take a chest and waist measurement
Girls – waist and hips
30. Before and After Pictures
Taking photos is also really important.
You look at yourself in the mirror several times each day so you won’t notice gradual changes.
But if you take photos once a month, you will.
You don’t need to share these with anyone, but referring back to them will make you realise how far you’ve come and keep you motivated.
31. Get a Dog
This relates back to the tip about walking; if you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself to walk, get a dog.
You’ll pretty much have no choice!
32. Buy Workout Gear
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to exercise is to buy some new exercise gear.
Fold it up and put it by your door so you don’t miss it.
Or just wear it to bed so you’re ready to go as soon as you open your eyes.
33. Take up a Sport
Playing sport will help you burn calories but also give you another very good reason to lose weight.
In most sports, your performance will get better if you’re lighter.
You’ll be able to move faster, stop sooner, and turn more quickly.
34. Set goals
The final tip but definitely not the least important.
Rather than saying ‘I want to lose weight
Say ‘ I want to lose 10lbs by May so I can fit into that dress for the party.
You NEED to have a REASON.
Joe is an online weight loss coach and qualified personal trainer of 15 years who helps busy, professional men and women lose fat and build muscle.
Having a 9-5 desk-job, Joe understands the struggles of juggling a hectic life with trying to maintain a good physique.