Even though creating a caloric deficit is vital for weight loss, counting calories is easily one of the most tedious parts of losing weight. I recommend that you track your calories and what you eat, keeping an actual goal in mind in terms of calories, carbs, fat, etc. This is become much easier to do because apps and websites make tracking calories super simple, but face it, sometimes you just forget to log your meals. Also, some people just hate calorie counting and wish there was another way. Well, you’ll be happy to know that you have options. Here are 6 ways you can continue your weight loss success even if you choose not to track what you are consuming. (Note: With these methods, you STILL have to eat right and use portion control. These methods will just help you…they can’t overcome poor eating habits.)
Include More Strength Training in Your Workouts
Generally, people believe that cardio the main thing you need to focus on if you want to lose weight. Perhaps, they were told this by a trainer or came to the conclusion themselves because they may equate strength training with “bulking up” or just building muscle. You’ll be happy to know that strength and resistance training isn’t going to make you a muscle-bound hulk. Women’s bodies don’t work that way and most women need supplements to achieve large muscle gains that could bring on a “hulk” look. The right exercises will give you a lean, more toned, curvy physique that wouldn’t be possible to achieve with cardio alone. Just compare the bodies of marathon runners and fitness models and you’ll see what I mean.
Now, that being said, I don’t think that you should focus solely on strength training. You do need to continue doing some kind of cardio for fat loss, just be sure you don’t omit some body weight work or exercises with weights. One of the most effective ways to get cardio and strength training into your regimen is circuit or interval training. Studies show that interval training is far more effective than traditional cardio and strength training practiced separately. Here is a great program to get you started from Bodybuilding.com
Don’t Eat 2 Hours before Bed
Another way people end up going over their calorie intake goal is by snacking right before bed. One study done by the American College of Sports Medicine showed that participants gained roughly a 1/4lb of weight per 100 calories consumed between 8pm and 4am.
Avoid feeling hungry before bed by ensuring you eat healthy meals with enough calories for your energy expenditure during the day. If you can stop eating by 9pm, that may be the best course of action. If you do feel hungry an hour or less before your bedtime, it is best to go to sleep on an empty stomach if possible and have a hefty breakfast in the morning than going to sleep on a full stomach. (Now, that’s a different story if you are pregnant, have blood sugar issues or other medical issues that would require you to eat for some reason. Follow doctor’s orders in that case.) Happy medium: If you just have to eat something, stick with veggies, popcorn and other low calorie foods!
Stop Binging on High-Sugar Foods
Some people have this idea that as long as they stay under their calorie limit they can eat whatever they want. This is absolutely not true, when it comes to binging on processed sugar. Sugary foods may be ok as a treat on occasion but don’t think your health will go unaffected if you stay under your limit.
“Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything. Levels of BDNF are particularly low in people with an impaired glucose metabolism–diabetics and pre-diabetics–and as the amount of BDNF decreases, sugar metabolism worsens. In other words, chronically eating added sugar reduces BDNF, and then the lowered levels of the brain chemical begin contributing to insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which eventually leads to a host of other health problems. Once that happens, your brain and body are in a destructive cycle that’s difficult if not impossible to reverse.” – Forbes
Honestly, a clean diet made up of whole foods is often so filling that you’d really have to try and overeat to break your caloric limit. This is especially true of raw diets and paleo diets. Whichever diet lifestyle you choose to follow, limit the bad foods and you won’t need to micromanage your caloric intake. When you do need a sweet fix, practice moderation and choose fruit first over processed sugar.
Drink Only Water and Herbal Teas
It seems like there is a lot of obsession these days with coffee, soda, diet soda energy drinks, sugar-laden juices and other beverages. While there are times when you can indulge in a sweet drink or one with caffeine, statistics show this happens far too often for many people. Consuming alcohol also fits into the mix, due to high carb content and the potential for addiction.
Giving up your favorite drinks sounds excessive but liquid calories are going to hinder your weight loss goals and overall health just as much as food. Remember that water should be a staple beverage…the main thing you drink. Herbal teas can also be beneficial for your health and the naturally caffeine-free ones may be the perfect alternative to coffee for some people. Do your research on tea to learn more about the benefits of the herbs you are drinking.
Stop Eating Before You Feel Full
A common habit is to eat until you feel full or even continue eating until you simply can’t anymore. This is an old habit but one that is often instilled upon people as children- perhaps it was your mother saying you couldn’t be excused from the table until you finished your plate. Also, many people feel guilty about wasting food.
Dividing you meals into portions is a great way to limit calories but you can take it an extra step by stopping eating when you feel roughly 90% full, even if there is still food left. Many people are surprised that when they do this they feel satiated and don’t feel overfed. Just because the food is served to you, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. At restaurants, you can also ask them to box up half of your portions so that you can take it home.
Visit Your Doctor for a Check Up
This may be a surprising tip for weight loss but visiting your doctor for a physical and blood panel work should be done. Especially if you find that you are eating well and exercising regularly for a month or two but still struggling to lose weight.
Sometimes underlying health conditions like pre-diabetes, diabetes, cancer, hypothyroidism or hormonal issues like PCOS and menopause can inhibit weight loss. These problems need to be treated not only to help you get to a healthy weight but also to prevent future health issues. Everyone, even if you are healthy and never get sick, should get a complete checkup prior to starting a new lifestyle. It’s a MUST!
Calorie counting and keeping track of your meals with a specific goal in mind is not the only way to lose weight, but it can really help. If you really hate calorie counting or perhaps aren’t getting the results you want despite staying under a recommended calorie limit, you should consider perhaps changing your diet and workout regimen. Embracing some of the tips above, dealing with the source of any emotional eating and nixing bad habits like smoking could really help.