I hate when there is a new wave of diets. I roll my eyes at the new fad because some marketer came up with a different way of tricking you into eating less and teaching you how to lose weight without counting calories thinking that their new diet is completely revolutionary.
After spending years of experimenting on how to get flatter stomach without buying into the marketing hype of products and supplements I don’t recommend any type of diets.
You can get amazing results without having to resort to food restrictions which are what diets are all about. But the health industry constantly markets new diets and diet trends because it preys upon people's desire for a quick fix and the desire for novelty.
Look at those amazing results for Keto! What about all those pounds she lost while on Whole30. People rave about and swear by Paleo. Eat like our ancestors did!
And there is a lot of money to be made in it too! Like $60 billion dollars worth. Even though we know that,
- diets are temporary
- fat loss and caffeine supplements has no long term effects on metabolism
- there is no quick fix for weight loss (though we keep dreaming of one)
we still fork over our hard earned money hoping for a miracle.
What really blows my mind away is that no one talks about people who failed on the diet because it's bad press. No one interviews people who lost weight on the diet but have it all come back after getting off the diet within the month. No one knows that when you do multiple rounds of hard dieting each time those pounds will come back faster and be harder to lose.
Nope. All the marketers show is the short-term weight loss results and that’s that.
Here I offer another solution to help you lose weight without counting calories that,
- Is not diet related
- Doesn’t wreck your metabolism
- Doesn’t involve a list of banned food or behaviors
- Doesn’t involve counting calories
- Doesn’t require weighing your food
Did you ears perk up? Are you interested in knowing what this is?
The solution I’m talking about is changing your habits around food. Yes, weight loss involves cutting back on foods BUT the bottom line is cutting back on calories, not necessarily certain foods which I’ll talk about in a moment.
There is no miracle remember?
I believe that you can eat whatever you want and still get results but the catch is that you cannot eat as much as you want.
Instead of putting you on a no carb, no sugar, no processed foods, no dairy, no gluten diet because what else is there to eat but lettuce?! Let’s focus on changing your habits in relation to food.
So how can we incorporate this method of reducing portion sizes easily into your life?
Eating Habit #1 - Stop Eating Straight Out Of The Package
This is one method I know that if I don’t follow with my favorite snacks the whole bag will disappear and I will end up hating myself. I must apply this method when it comes to the Kettle Brand potato chips, the thick cut crunchy chips are just so addictive that it’s hard to stop once I start.
Before you go snacking on your snacks whether they are healthy or not get a separate bowl, put your snacks in the bowl and eat from the bowl itself versus from the package. This method creates distance between your ability to finish off the entire package and makes you mindful of how much you’re eating because you only finish the bowl not the bag.
Sometimes I find myself just getting a handful of chips and going back to my office on the second floor instead of grabbing a bowl. This forces me to go down a flight of stairs and back up if I want more chips, making snacking extremely inconvenient which prevents me from overeating.
A Tip: Use a smaller bowl for your snacks. The smaller the bowl the more it looks like you’re eating when you fill it up.
This leads to eating fewer calories as oppose to using a regular bowl and putting half which doesn't look like much. Check out Delboeuf Illusion below. The black circles are the same size in both plates but it looks smaller on a bigger plate. Use this optical illusion to trick your brain that you’re eating more than you really are.
Next time when you snack use the smaller bowl. Cutting back instead of cutting out will help you lose weight without feeling deprived.
Eating Habit #2 - Learn To Cook Delicious Meals At Home
Right down the street from my house I love this Indian restaurant called Pakwan which I order from only on the weekdays not weekends. They have this plate lunch special that I absolutely adore. You get a choice of their meat curry, a veggie mix, basmati rice, and naan for $12.95.
I love this plate lunch special because I get a little bit of everything for lunch as oppose to ordering the full sizes of each dish. The portion sizes are perfect for me.
Because I love Indian food so much I wanted to cook it myself and learn about the spices.
Ten YouTube home cooking videos, one grocery store trip for spices, and 45 minutes in the kitchen later my veggie curry is nowhere as tasty as my Pakwan lunch.
It’s missing this flavor and oomph that I cannot pinpoint. Next week I share my dilemma with my Indian clients and I figured out why.
The two main ingredients that I’m missing are ghee (clarified butter) and coconut milk in my cooking. I’m missing the fat component in my Indian dish! Well that explains why Pakwan’s food tastes way better and probably contains lot more calories than my dish.
Often times when we eat out and order healthy we underestimate the calories in our foods. The portion sizes that we get served are much bigger than what we usually eat at home which leads to overeating.
This is why the obesity problem keeps growing every year. Check out the chart below that illustrates how the average calories consumed by a US adult has increased over the year and how it’s related to the obesity rate.
(Data pulled and calculated from the ERS/USDA and NHANES data Did the Food Environment Cause the Obesity Epidemic?)
Eating at home ensures that you have control over your portion sizes and you eat fewer calories overall. You add less salt, sugar, and fat to your meals bringing down the calories per serving.
A Tip: If you don’t want to be hassled with cooking everyday meal prepping is super effective at helping people lose weight without counting calories. There are two main reasons for this.
First, we eat healthier when we pre-decide what to eat ahead of time as oppose to letting our hunger drive our decisions at the last minute. When you conscious decide ahead of time you’ve made a choice to eat that pre-made meal.
Second, when you decide ahead of time it means that you are more likely to stick to your portion sizes versus eating however much we want because we’re starving.
These are two habits are what differentiates between people who succeed at losing weight without counting calories and keeping it off versus ones who don’t.
Eating Habit #3 - Get Your Carbs From Vegetables
I only started measuring and weighing my food when I started working with my trainer. I had no idea how to go about it, what to do with my macros, and seriously how much I was eating before my trainer.
All I knew was that I was not seeing any results – on the scale, the way my clothes fit, in the mirror etc – from just eating healthy.
I thought I knew what I was doing but apparently not which was why I asked for help.
You know how in the Matrix when Keanu Reeves chooses the Red Pill that will show him the truth about the world he lives in and how the Matrix is a computer stimulated program created to enslave the human race?
Well once he swallowed the Red Pill there was no going back and no unknowing what he knows.
I had the same experience working with a trainer when it came to weighing my food.
I couldn’t be blind anymore and ignore really how much I was truly eating when I weighed out everything I ate and recorded it into My Fitness Pal. I was eating ‘healthy’ but even too much of healthy can cause you to not see results and that was exactly what was happening to me.
When I weighed my carbs everyday I couldn’t help but cry on the inside because I couldn’t eat as much as I usually did without going over my macros in that category. My plate looked sad with less rice than usual.
I felt sad because I had to eat less to see results and the whole affair of eating was just sad for me. The reason why it was so sad was because I grew up eating rice for every meal. As a Chinese-American rice was my staple. It was my rock at every meal. If the whole meal sucked at least there was rice which made it better.
However, I soon discovered that I was able to eat more food if I got my carbs from vegetables instead of rice or pasta. It was fewer calories and fewer total carbs which meant I had room to eat more throughout the day.
Do this to your next meal: take half the carbs you usually eat and substitute it with vegetables instead. You’ll find yourself more satisfied after your meal without feeling hungry and automatically eat fewer calories. Adding more vegetables to each meal is how you can easily lose weight without counting calories.
A Tip: The leafier the vegetable the more filling it is for you. Vegetables like kale, spring greens, collard greens, and cabbage are considered high volume type of foods meaning that they take up a lot of space on your plate and in your stomach.
When you switch out your calorie dense low volume carbs like pasta, bread, and rice with low calorie, high volume foods you’ll eat fewer calories.
Eating Habit #4 – Eat Till You’re 80% Full
No one who wanted to lose weight has ever said I don’t like eating. See the problem is not eating. We need to eat to survive. Our entire culture celebrates with food. We ignore our emotions using food. But it’s not eating.
The problem is eating too much at any given time. We’re distracted when we eat. We’re sitting in front of the TV watching Netflix or Amazon Prime while scarfing down our meals. I love watching Youtube videos while I’m eating my dinner. We don’t pay attention to what we’re eating, how much we’re eating, and how the food is making us feel. We just keep eating till the food is gone.
Did you know that it takes your brain 20 minutes to register that your stomach is full?! As you’re eating sensors in your stomach is ‘sampling’ the food, its collecting data on fullness, volume, and liquids. All this information is sent to your brain and your brain does an evaluation based on data collected in the past.
Your brain compares previous experiences where you’re eaten the same amount of food and whether to judge that’s enough or you need to eat more. Your brain reflects on the initial portion size before you started eating with past images of yesterday’s meal to tell you how much you should be eating to reach fullness.
This communication between your stomach and your brain takes about 15 to 20 minutes. It takes that long for your stomach and your brain to come to an agreement that you’re full and to put down the fork.
So what happens when you’re scarfing down the burger and fries dipped in ketchup? Or you’re inhaling that slice of cheese pizza because it smells so good? You completely override the signals! By the time you’re full you’re way past fullness and in some cases you’re stuffed.
Instead of eating to be full eat to be 80% full.
A Tip: Pay attention to the texture, flavors, temperature, and consistency of your food. Imagine you’re a food critic trying to write a description of what you’re eating and you need to be as thorough as possible.
If you love food then instead of eating it as fast as you can really savor it. Lengthen the time you spend with each bite. Make eating as leisurely as possible and enjoy the meal.
When you do that you’ll be able to pinpoint when you hit the 80% mark instead of the 100% mark. This rule applies to whatever you’re eating. Being mindful with your meals is one of the quickest ways to help you lose weight without counting calories.
Eating Habit #5 – Make Protein Your Best Friend At Every Meal
One of the best macros you can eat is protein. Not only does 30% of the calories that come from protein get used through digestion but it’s the key to a satisfying meal that keeps you full.
No matter how determined you are to succeed at losing weight or how much you grit your teeth to lose those 10lbs as soon as hunger kicks in all bets are off. Your goals are in the trash. You give yourself permission to eat that slice of cake thinking you’re going to burn it off. You start making compromises around food that you never thought you would.
Then your progress stalls or you even gain weight and there goes another fail.
As you start eating fewer calories hunger will happen. It’s expected so plan for it with eating more protein.
Protein is the building block for muscles and is important for a lot of other bodily functions such as cell and tissue repair. It’s also the main macro for muscle conservation, satiety, and responsible for a little boost in your metabolism during digestion because it’s highly thermogenic.
Making sure you’re eating a sufficient amount of protein in your diet is the key to staying the course to losing weight.
What is the optimal protein recommendation per meal? 1 palm full of protein.
For most women this is a lot of protein to be adding to their diet. Start slow when adding more protein into your diet. You can start with meeting this at dinner then next week add it to lunch.
When I introduce my clients to a new eating I like to set their expectations and say that it’ll take about 2 weeks to get into a rhythm and routine where they’re eating everything they’re supposed to.
I find that the greatest opportunity to increase protein in your diet is at breakfast where we’re mostly eating a bagel, toast, or just coffee. You’ll find that you’re probably not even protein at breakfast or if you are then it’s just an egg which is not quite a ‘palm full’.
A tip: Vary your sources of protein and cook them with different flavors for variety. For me, it’s usually chicken. I get tired of eating chicken breast every week but because it’s easy and it’s fat free I buy it every week. To make it palatable I have a handful of recipes in rotation that I like to make.
Come up with a handful of recipes so you’re never tired of eating the same kind of protein every week.
Eating Habit #6 – Carry A Water Bottle
Okay so not an eating habit but a drinking one. Right now we are in the middle of a juice craze. Green juice, organic fresh pressed juice, cold pressed smoothies, master cleanse juices etc.
People are wild about juices. It makes us feel that we’re doing something healthy for our bodies by drinking juices. Juice beats soda right? Wrong!
Kombucha drinks, smoothies, green juices and most healthy drinks all contain some form of sugar even if they contain vitamins/minerals, electrolytes and antioxidants. It may not be fructose or sucrose but could include some form of manmade sugar such as sucralose in which case the label will say ‘sugar free’ because the body cannot digest it and instead gives you gas.
I hardly buy bottled juice of any kind because it’s pricey for you what you get and the selection of juices is just overwhelming. When I'm that thirsty I want a guaranteed delicious drink not some juice that has great packaging.
So I go to my trusty beverage – water. Yes, it’s boring but hey it quenches my thirst!
One time I was dying of thirst when I was doing my Saturday grocery run at and I picked up a coconut pineapple drink. I love coconut anything and love eating pineapples so I thought why not try it out? I’m from Hawaii so it made logical sense.
It was delicious and low in calories compared to the other juices they had on the shelf. I was pleasantly surprised!
But juice is something I consciously choose to rarely drink because eating fruits is very different from drinking the juice.
When you eat fruit, you also eat all the fiber that comes along with and it slows down the amount of insulin released which slows down the absorption of sugar. Drinking fruit juice is just like drinking straight sugar even if the sweetness comes from fruit.
Most juices are extracted from the fruit months before it gets to the shelf. The juice is stored in holding tanks before it’s ready to be packaged. After sitting around juice loses its flavor and color so manufacturer’s need to add back flavor and color to the juice. All done and said the state of the juice is completely different from when it was originally extracted.
Due to the high sugar content drinking juices contains a lot of unnecessary calories. In fact, the coconut pineapple juice I had at the grocery store contained not 1 but 2 servings!
So switching your daily drink from what you’re currently drinking to water is a small habit change that helps you lose weight without having to count calories.
A Tip: Have multiple water bottles so that you’re never without your water. Keep one at your esk at work, in your work bag, gym bag etc. When you make it super convenient for yourself to drink more water you’ll turn it into a habit much faster.
In this post I just showed you 6 eating habits that you can easily incorporate into your life that will help you lose weight without calories. Applying these simple eating habits can help you kickstart your goal to lose the belly fat and excess weight. Here is a recap of the 6 habits,
- Stop eating straight out of packages.
- Learn to cook delicious meals
- Get your carbs from your vegetables
- Eat till you’re 80% full
- Make protein your best friend
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times