A Simple Strategy for Weight Loss (Without Counting Calories)

Anyone who knows about how weight loss actually works will know that it is dependent on calorie input vs. calorie output (study, study).

In other words, you must be in a caloric deficit (burn more calories than you consume) to lose weight.

Unfortunately, most people are completely unaware of this simple concept.

Most people believe that weight loss is the result of ‘eating healthy’ and avoiding junk food.

Well, I’ve got news for these people; you could eat the healthiest foods in the world, but if you eat too much of it on a daily basis, you’re still going to get fat.

On the other hand, you could eat junk food all day, but if you were in a caloric deficit, you would lose weight (though you’d probably feel pretty terrible).

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the most obvious weight loss solution is to ensure a caloric deficit through monitoring our calorie intake.

The problem with this however is that tracking your calorie intake on top of your ever-changing calorie requirements can be a bit of a headache.

First off, unless you are measuring out every single meal you consume, it is difficult to get a completely accurate assessment on how many calories you are consuming.

Secondly, your calorie requirements change on a daily basis, depending on your level of physical activity that day.

Obviously you would require far fewer calories lying in bed all day than you would if you ran 5 miles then went to the gym and lifted for an hour.

And finally, a major issue with tracking calories during a weight loss program is accounting for changes in metabolism.

This is because when we are in a caloric deficit, our body will adjust itself in response to lesser resources coming in.

This means slowing down its metabolism to adapt to a lesser food intake.

On top of this, achieving a lower body weight through calorie restriction results in the body requiring fewer calories to maintain (study).

This is problematic while trying to lose weight, because if we are continually eating the same amount of calories every day (even under our original maintenance), we will stop losing weight.

This is because our calorie intake that at one point created a deficit has now become our new maintenance level due to changing energy requirements.

This is precisely why people on diets always complain about plateauing with their weight loss.

So given all of these issues, how do we ensure that we are in a consistent deficit every day without tracking calories?

Let’s see..

 

1) Keep your activity level as high as possible.

This will ensure a high metabolic rate, and it will make it more difficult to be in a caloric surplus due to the amount of calories being burned.

Your best options for this are high intensity interval training and weight training.

 

2) Go to bed a little bit hungry every night.

By following this simple tactic, you will more than likely be in a calorie deficit.

Now, I cannot stress enough that you should not go to bed starving.

If you do, you most likely ate way too little, and your metabolism will quickly plummet if carried out for too long.

Remember, the optimal goal for weight loss is to be in the smallest deficit possible, to maintain a healthy metabolism, as well as preserve muscle mass.

Therefore, it is imperative that you go to bed feeling just a little bit hungry.

 

3) Eat in a condensed eating window.

A great strategy for adhering to a caloric deficit is something I continually preach on this site – intermittent fasting.

The main benefit of IF from a weight loss standpoint is that it is extremely difficult to overeat on calories in a condensed eating window.

From personal experience, when I was in University I allocated a 2 – 4 hour eating window every single day.

While I would stuff my face with as much food as I could during that eating window, I was still in a caloric deficit as represented by my rapid fat loss.

 

4) Keep your protein intake as high as possible.

An important point to note when trying to lose weight is that you should keep your protein intake as high possible.

This is for many reasons.

First off, protein is the most satiating macronutrient that exists (study, study).

This means that protein will make you feel more full than carbs or fats can, which will obviously go a long way in maintaining a caloric deficit.

Secondly, protein has a very high thermic effect (~30%), which means that your body will burn calories simply by digesting it.

And finally, maintaining a high protein intake during a caloric deficit is critical to preserve muscle mass (study).

Considering most people who want to lose weight would rather not have their muscles waste away, they would do well to maintain a high protein intake.

Since protein is a lot easier to track than calories since you don’t have to worry about metabolic fluctuations, it shouldn’t be a problem estimating how many grams you are consuming per day.

I usually suggest a minimum of 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight when in a caloric deficit. The more the better.

And if you don’t want to bother tracking protein, just ensure that you are eating a lot of meats, eggs, and/or protein shakes during the day.

 

Conclusion

While maintaining a caloric deficit is essential to produce weight loss, it can be very bothersome monitoring your calorie intake.

If you would prefer to use a more relaxed approach, simply follow the steps listed, and watch the pounds fly off.

 

See you next time.

 

Comments

  1. Hi Jon,

    Just discovered your page a few days ago and I love it. Very informative and super easy to understand! So, thanks 🙂

    When I read it I am always nodding and agreeing, and in theory I know that loosing some kilos is not hard. It’s just the lack of self discipline that gets in the way sometimes. Do you have any advice on how to get more self-discipline or were you just born with it? 🙂 Living in Spain and having awesome food all around me and a completely different rythm (dinners at 11pm etc…) is not helping much either 🙂

    Cheers
    Carla

    • Hi Carla,

      First off, thank you very much for the kind words, it truly means a lot. And in regard to self-discipline while dieting, I can say that I certainly understand where you’re coming from, as I hate having to deprive myself of good food. This is why I use many of the tactics discussed in the article (especially intermittent fasting) to lose fat while still being able to enjoy life.

      Also, since weight gain and weight loss are primarily the result of calorie intake and not the types of calories you consume (i.e. junk food), I still allow myself to eat sweets and pizza even when I am dieting. I simply ensure that I am in a caloric deficit, as this will still result in weight loss. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight but are having trouble staying disciplined with food choices, I would recommend continuing to eat foods that you like, just as long as the overall quantity is lower to ensure that you are in a calorie deficit. As mentioned, this will still result in weight loss.

      Otherwise, keeping your activity level as high as possible is in my opinion the healthiest and most effective strategy for weight loss. This is because you do not need to be nearly as strict with diet if you are exercising all the time. I have personally found that even when I am not dieting, I am able to stay quite lean simply because I love to train. This is why I usually recommend finding a form of exercise that you actually enjoy doing in order to ensure adherence to it over the long term. Once you have done that, keeping weight off becomes much easier.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Thanks for the quick reply Jon!

        I am pretty active 5-6 times a week (running, i started crossfit 3 months ago and I joined the gym recently…I was active before as well, but mostly just cardio stuff). In terms of fat, it really is just my stomach – my legs look like I am a freaking top athlete and my arms are well defined as well. It is just really really hard to get a few pounds off the stomach area…which is quite frustrating as I see girls that are way less active or not active at all and have a flat stomach. But I am also very impatient, maybe it just takes a bit longer than I thought it would 🙂

        I think the problem is calculating the right portion size ( I am not a big fan of calculating calories, also I am not very good at it ). So if you don’t mind me asking another question – do you have any advice on how to decide which portion size you should eat? Does it come with experience? I mean if you tell me just stop eating when you are full….then that sounds easy, but honestly I don’t know when I am full. i eat what is in front of me 🙂

        Thanks 🙂

        • Hmm, I can definitely understand your frustration. It is possible that you have simply hit a sticking point with your fat loss, which happens to everyone. If that is the case, then you will need to either ramp up your training or be a little stricter with diet.

          For me personally, since I consume all of my calories in a condensed eating window, I do not have to worry about portion sizes since I only allow myself around 6 hours to eat every day. I find this to be a very effective strategy for controlling calories.

          If that option isn’t appealing, then I would try to consume as much protein as possible, as well as complex carbs over simple carbs. This is because complex carbs tend to be high in fiber, which is very thermogenic. Protein is also highly thermogenic, and is the most satiating macronutrient you can eat.

          By adhering to a very high protein diet, you will feel a lot more full than you would otherwise, and your body will burn more calories simply by consuming it. This is on top of its effects on building/retaining muscle mass during weight loss. Let me know if you have any more questions!

          • Thanks for the reply!
            I started IF 4 days ago actually after reading up on it here and other pages online 🙂 I’ll stick to it for a few weeks to decide whether I like it or not. This, a balanced nutrition and consistent exercise should definitely help! Looking forward to seeing some results.