Wouldn’t it be nice to have easy ways to lose weight without dropping calories further?
I mean, on paper fat loss is easy. Reduce calories and BOOM ya get weight loss.
But what about when you can’t reduce calories anymore without that demon hunger dictating your every thought.
That’s why when it’s time to make an adjustment to an online coaching client’s nutrition plan I always ask “would you rather reduce calories or would you rather do…?”
At the end of the day, consistency is going to drive results. And if dropping calories will make your life harder, I don’t want that. You need easy ways to lose weight
So if you are at that point, here’s some adjustments you can make to keep riding that fat loss wave.
Easy Ways to Lose Weight Without Dropping Calories
TRACK CALORIES ACCURATELY
Listen, I get it. Tracking calories when you go out to eat is a giant pain in the ass.
“Hold on we can’t eat yet. I haven’t found how many calories are in this restaurant’s French Toast.”
I’m not talking about the few times you go out to eat. I’m talking about the oil you use to cook with and the bites, nibbles, tastes, and “just one Oreo” that you don’t track.
Adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan before you start cooking adds another 240 calories.
The “just one Oreo” combined with the bites, nibbles and tastes could add another 200-300 calories at the end of the day.
So when you think you’re eating 2000 calories you could be actually be eating 2500 calories and not know it.
Another thing to look at is cooked versus raw meat.
The nutrition labels show 4oz of raw meat. Which is good if you are cooking a single chicken breast. Weigh, cook, track, done.
But if you’re cooking in bulk then you have a problem. Unless you mark how much each one weighed which would be on a whole nother level of crazy.
When you cook meat, it loses water. How much it loses depends on how cooked it is. So you have to factor that in.
So to find the calories, you’ll want to multiply the raw weight by 1.1-1.5 depending on how cooked it is. ⠀
Still bleeding go with 1.1.
The consistency of a hockey puck go with 1.5.
This will give you the cooked calories and protein for your cooked piece of meat.
WEIGH OUT YOUR FOOD
Every home should have a food scale. They’re like $12 on Amazon (affiliate link) and they can save you months of aggravation.
Is the peanut butter you’re using 1 or 2 tablespoons? How much cereal is in that bowl? Is that 4 or 6 oz of chicken?
The serving size on nutritional labels are notoriously off for some foods. In my experience, peanut butter is prob the worst offender.
The serving size says 2 TBSP (32g)
Most people go with the TBSP measurement because it’s peanut butter. It’s fuckin delicious.
If you weigh them out it’s 2x the serving size. Those two TBSP run you about 300 calories.
Now let’s look at the food of my childhood.
The average serving size is about ½ a cup. Using a measuring cup, you’re obviously going to try to jam as much as you can into that because you want as many of those marshmallows as you can.
In that process you are also jamming in more calories. Could be 10 or 50 extra depending on how well you can balance an overstuffed spoon.
Measuring cups and eye balling amounts are subjective. The gold standard is using weight.
ADJUST MEAL TIMING
Before you go all “I knew late night eating was killing my progress”, hear me out.
Meal timing is somewhat important, but not because after 7 pm a 320 calorie container of Halo Top ice cream now contains 3000 calories, but you just don’t have enough time to digest.
When you eat late and go to bed, the time you have to digest the food is less than if you were to eat a few hours earlier. This simply means it’s not as far along in the digestion process.
Translation: You’ll weigh more the following morning.
Translation to the Translation: You have more food and water in your body.
Translation to the Translation to the Translation: This is not fat gain.
If you weigh yourself once or a few times a week and happen to eat late the night before, you might get a false higher reading on your weight. Depending on what you ate, you’re weight could fluctuate a few pounds.
For that, I would suggest either stop eating a few hours before you go to bed or weighing yourself everyday and take the weekly average. This way one or two increases after a late night at Buffalo Wild Wings doesn’t make it seem like your weight isn’t dropping.
Remember when celery was dubbed a “negative calorie food” because it took more calories to digest it than it contained?
Well that’s kinda where I’m going with this.
It’s all about the Thermal Effect of Food (TEF).
The TEF Cliff Notes version is each macro requires calories to digest. Of all three, protein has the highest TEF.
Protein: 20-35% of the calories you consume are burned off during digestion
Carbs: 5-15% of the calories you consume are burned
Fats: 0-5% of the calories you consume are burned off
So if you ate 100 calories of protein, anywhere from 20-35 calories of that would be used for the digestion of said protein.
Pretty sweet, right?
By keeping calories the same and increasing protein (in turn lowering carbs and fats) you’ll be using more calories to digest. It’s like an artificial calorie deficit.
Add to that protein is very satiating, so the whole dieting process becomes easier since you aren’t always starving.
God do I love me some protein.
When it comes to weight loss, calories are king.
Second to the throne are macros.
Going on that similar theme of TEF, increasing carbs over fat is another avenue to explore.
Yes, carbs are no longer the enemy when it comes to fat loss.
By increasing carbs you’ll also improve your performance in the gym since carbs are the body’s preferred fuel and help with recovery.
When it comes to fat, there’s only so much that it does for you. It’s main job is for hormone production, the digestion of fat soluble vitamins (like Vitamin D) and if carbs are scarce, energy production. But increasing fats beyond a certain point doesn’t mean more testosterone.
That fat set point is around 20-30% of total calorie intake.
Which is pretty cool cause that means more carbs, more of an artificial calorie deficit through TEF, and more pumps.
Recently, two of my clients were looking for the next progression with their diets.
We switch their macros by dropping fat slightly and increasing carbs to make up the calorie difference. So in the end, we didn’t drop calories just adjusted where those calories came from.
Both are now back on track losing weight.
ADD DIET BREAK
Diet breaks are times when well…you take a break from dieting. Pretty literal, I agree.
You do this by increasing calories (mainly carbs) to your maintenance level (~12-14x body weight in lbs) anywhere from 1-3 weeks.
When you diet, your hormones and metabolism adjust to the newer smaller you and to the amount of calories you take in. The body is always trying to come back to homeostasis. So when you add a diet break your metabolism gets to relax a little.
Think about it like this:
You know how you feel during the week? Stressed, tired, always on the go? Then when the weekend hits and you want to relax? That’s what your metabolism goes through during a diet (the week) and during a diet break (weekend).
Depending on how low calories are and in how much of a deficit you’re in, a good rule of thumb is every 8-12 weeks take at least a one week diet break.
ADD REFEED DAYS
This one isn’t so much as a direct way to lose more fat, but it still helps a ton.
If there was an overarching theme to fat loss it would be consistency.
Consistency with eating in a calorie deficit.
Which would trickle down to being more consistent with food prep, moving more, etc.
And consistency is where I see people struggle the most because they feel like they are depriving themselves which often leads to binges.
That’s where refeeds come in.
These are 1-3 days of eating at maintenance calories based on your current weight.
This allows for what I like to call “Controlled Binging”. Rather than going buck wild, make sure to add in some foods you love so long as you keep calories at your maintenance amount. Pay attention to macros, but don’t die by them, focus on calories first and foremost.
Refeeds provide more of a mental benefit than a metabolism-fat-burning benefit.
Sometimes you just need a light at the end of the tunnel to push through and that’s exactly what refeed days do.
A study published in 2005 recruited 20 people. Half of them were lean, while the other 10 were obese self-proclaimed “couch potatoes.”
After tracking them for 10 days, researchers found that the obese people sat for 164 minutes longer during the day. To add to that, the leaner group stood for about 152 minutes longer than the obese group.
The research team did some math stuff and determined that if the obese subjects did nothing else other than stand or stroll as much as the lean group, they would burn an additional 352 calories per day.
That’s 3500 calories or a pound of fat after 10 days of just standing and walking a little more.
This is why I tell all my online coaching clients to aim for 8-10k steps a day. Go about your normal day, just make things a little harder than convenience. Things like parking a little bit further from the office, taking the stairs rather than an elevator really add up quickly.
Your body is funny. Funny in the sense that it makes sense in this crazy world.
Your body is always trying to maintain a balance. For example, if you don’t sleep enough, you’ll crave high energy foods like carbs and sweets to makeup the energy.
Sleep deprivation causes brain neurons to slow down which inhibits decision making. It also increases a hormone called ghrelin which tells your brain that you’re hungry. On the flip side, the hormone that tells your brain you are full, leptin, gets released in lower amounts.
A blind person can see that is a recipe for disaster. But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the science:
In this study, the subjects either slept 8hrs/night for 4 days or slept 4hrs/night for 4 days. When sleep deprived, participants reported an increase in hunger & appetite for calorie dense foods with high carb content.
A 1999 study showed that a reduction in sleep to 4hrs/night for 6days lead to a 40% slower glucose clearance as a result of a decrease in insulin sensitivity. To add to that, the ability of glucose to get rid of itself independently of insulin was 30% lower when sleep deprived. So we crave more carbs but slow down our ability to process them. Finally, not sleeping led to significantly higher cortisol levels (stress hormone) in the afternoon and evening.
A study published in 2010 looked at the relationship of sleep and dieting. The broke the study up into two 14 day parts; a 8.5 hour in bed phase and a 5.5 hour in bed phase. With calories equated, the subjects lost 6.6lbs per session. But here’s the interesting part: for the longer sleep session the subjects lost 3.1lbs of fat and during the short sleep session they lost 1.3 lbs of fat.
If you’re struggling with cravings and overeating, try getting more sleep at night.
Stress plays an important role when it comes to working out and getting results. And I’m not just talking about the “Why is this guy such an idiot” type of stress. I’m also including stress created by dieting and working out. Too much stress can derail a perfect plan and stop results almost completely.
Your metabolism acts as a stress barometer. Too much stress in any area leads to it manifesting in another. For example, too much exercise stress and going or staying asleep might become an issue.
When you’re stressed, the hormone cortisol spikes. From an evolutionary perspective that is a good thing.
You see danger, cortisol spikes causing an increase in carbs and fat metabolism, increase insulin release and boosts energy. It’s making you ready to fight or run.
On the flip side of that, prolonged cortisol spikes lead to water retention, increase in insulin which could slow down fat loss, an increase in blood pressure and increasing cravings for fatty and sugary foods.
This is why with online coaching clients I like to drop calories and add in cardio as needed and in small increments.
I’m not saying you need to meditate for 3 hours a day, but when it comes to burning belly fat, stress management is a must.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could increase calories and lose weight?
Well in some rare cases you can.
If you’ve been dieting for a long time and the results are there, there’s usually 1 or 2 things happening here:
You aren’t eating as little as you think, or the less likely scenario,
You just aren’t eating enough.
If you fall into the latter category, ramp calories up to maintenance by reverse dieting. Like I mentioned before when we talked about stress, your body might just need a break from dieting.
Recently, a client of mine came to me with this issue. He was playing or reffing basketball 3-4 nights a week, hitting the gym, sleeping like shit, constant cravings and eating ~1600 calories. Over the course of a month we increased calories by 1100.
His weight dropped, sleep quality increased and his cravings went down.
While this might seem like the best adjustment in this article, it’s not going to work with most people. If your sleeping like shit, your not making progress in the gym and you have constant cravings, it might be time to increase calories. Other than that, nail the other ones first before going with this option.
Wrap It Up B
Well there you have it and there it is. 11 easy ways to lose weight without dropping calories more. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s sustainable if you want results. Dropping calories more so you hate life and binge isn’t the way.