How to Lose Weight Without Exercise
1. Slow down your carbohydrate absorption
When you consume food containing carbohydrate, your digestive system breaks it down into sugar, which then enters the blood stream [i]. The presence of sugar in your blood stream (increased blood sugar levels) causes the release of the hormone insulin, which in turn prompts cells to absorb sugar for energy or storage.
As cells absorb sugar, blood sugar levels fall. The body then produces glucagon, which prompts the liver to release stored sugar, thereby ensuring that the brain and cells throughout the body have a steady stream of sugar [ii].
If carbohydrate absorption is faster (i.e. from processed carbohydrates like white bread or white rice which enter your blood stream faster), the insulin response is more immediate and more extreme. Over time and with habitual consumption of these processed carbohydrates, your body becomes resistant to the regulatory benefits of insulin. The result of this is that sugar is absorbed by cells less efficiently, leading to weight gain.
By slowing down the absorption of carbohydrate, the resulting insulin release will be more gradual, leading to efficient absorption of sugar at the cellular level and more effective weight control.
Here are three ways to slow down carbohydrate absorption:
1. Consume soluble fibre
Soluble fibre is an effective way to slow the digestive process, which leads to slower carbohydrate absorption. The benefits of consuming soluble fibre are decreased need for insulin, thereby decreasing the likelihood of insulin resistance and improving weight control.
Soluble fiber is found in oats, barley, aubergine, okra, apple, citrus, beans, lentils, flaxseeds and nuts [iii].
2. Don’t forget the protein
Protein takes longer to digest, so including a source of protein with each meal will help slow the digestive process, including the carbohydrate sources that you consume with your meal.
Good sources of protein include eggs, meat, fish, seafood and poultry. Nuts and dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, are also good sources of protein.
3. Watch the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)
GI is the value out of 100 assigned to foods based on the speed of how fast blood glucose levels are elevated or decreased [iv]. A GI score of 55 or lower is considered ‘Low GI’. A GI score of 70 or higher increases blood sugar quickly, and is best avoided if your goal is weight loss [v].
While GI is an excellent general guide, for specific portions, GL will provide you with a more accurate measure of how different foods impact your blood sugar levels by measuring the impact per serving.
GL is graded on a scale from 1-20, with >10 considered Low GL, and 20+ considered high GL. The healthy target is to keep your total daily GL intake >100 [vi].
The way to calculate GL is as follows:
(Glycemic Index x Carbohydrate per serving)/100 [vii]
For a list of foods and their Glycemic Index (and Glycemic Load) click here [viii]. A quick cheat to help you figure out what’s low versus high GL is to choose whole grains over white, processed alternatives (i.e. whole wheat bread and pasta instead of white).
So when you are shopping for groceries, actively seek low GI and low GL foods. By balancing these choices with protein and soluble fibre, you will control carbohydrate absorption and in turn control blood sugar levels.
2. Always stay hydrated
Staying hydrated puts you in a better position to lose weight, regardless of your level of exercise. According to an Obesity Journal Study [ix] increasing hydration levels to over 1L per day amongst premenopausal women was associated with significantly greater weight loss for women in all diet groups (the subjects were divided into 4 groups, each adhering to a specific diet plan i.e. Atkins, The Zone, etc.).
What is significant about this study’s findings is that the increased hydration resulted in significant weight loss regardless of diet plan, energy intake or physical activity [x].
So if you are looking for a surefire way to accelerate your weight loss without exercise, drinking more water to keep yourself hydrated is a great starting point regardless of what else you are doing. To determine how much water you should be drinking, check out our simple to use Hydration Calculator which calculates how much you personally need to drink on a daily basis.
Your body needs to use energy to bring cold water up to body temperature before it can be utilised [xi]. Specifically, to bring ice cold water up to body temperature you use 1 calorie per fluid ounce [xii].
So for example, if you are a 150lb female, by consuming 73oz of ice cold water daily (2.1L, please see our hydration calculator here to work out how much water you need) you will burn an additional 511 calories per week, or 26,572 calories per year. At 3500 calories per pound of fat, that means you will not be gaining 7.6lbs in a year by drinking water. If you are struggling to lose weight, this is an easy win.
3. Control portion sizes
Perhaps the most important part of the nutrition/weight loss equation is to control portion sizes based on what you actually need for each day, as opposed to making choices based on fad diets or guesswork.
By taking proactive control of your portions with each meal, you will develop habits that will help control your intake. Because calorie counting is an inexact and often flawed methodology[xiii], developing habitual portion control will be more effective and more consistent. Click here for a free portion control guide from our friends at Precision Nutrition. It will show you how to measure your portions using your hands.
By monitoring your weight once you start doing this, the change you will see will justify the adjustment!
4. Pace your meals
According to a 2013 study, there is a direct correlation between reduced speed of eating and reduced feelings of hunger and caloric intake[xiv].
Because your body takes 20 minutes to inform your brain that you are full (through the release of the hormone ghrelin), by decreasing your speed of consumption your body will have time to inform your brain that you are full, thereby controlling overeating.
So by slowing down your eating time, you will be eating what your body needs as well as responding to feedback that your body provides about how full you are. Try the following to slow down those meals:
- Eliminate distractions: TV (in fact, all electronics) off
- Use your phone: set your phone timer to 20 minutes, and get started
- Chew: 20x per bite, so you can savour and enjoy the experience as opposed to motoring through the meal
How you can lose weight through nutrition only
To lose weight through nutrition only, take the following steps:
- My Fitness Pal: spend at least one day on the My Fitness Pal app, recording how much you currently eat (no editing allowed!)
- Fit to Last Hydration Calculator: visit our hydration calculator to determine how much water you need to be drinking daily, based on your current body weight
- Portion Control: download the portion control guide to start adjusting your portion sizes
- Follow the advice in this post, ensuring that you weigh yourself every 2 weeks.
- Drop me an email with any questions, and watch your body change!
Losing weight or changing body composition with nutrition only is challenging, but not impossible. The key is to know where you are now, know where you need to be to change, and then adjust your habits to make the necessary changes engrained.
Follow these steps and you will see changes, no gym membership required.
To learn more about healthy eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.
ABOUT JAMES STARING
James Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.
[i] Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar: Harvard School of Public Health: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/
[iii] Jacob, A: What factors slow the absorption of carbohydrates? http://www.livestrong.com/article/500047-what-factors-slow-the-absorption-of-carbohydrates/
[iv] Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods: Measuring carbohydrate effects can help glucose management: http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods
[v] WebMD: How to use the Glycemic Index: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/glycemic-index-good-versus-bad-carbs
[viii] Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ Foods: http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods
[ix] Stookey, J, Constant, F, Popkin, B and Cardner, C: Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2008.409/full
[xi] Getting & Staying Lean with Proper Hydration: How does Water help with Weight Loss?: https://www.fitnessblender.com/blog/getting-and-staying-lean-with-proper-hydration-how-does-water-help-with-weight-loss
[xiii] Precision Nutrition: The Surprising Problem with Calorie Counting: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/problem-with-calorie-counting-calories-in