Losing weight without the exercise is easier than you think! Many studies have shown that there is about a 70:30 ratio when it comes to weight loss. In layman’s terms, that is 70% is attributable to diet, and 30% to exercise (1). In this instance, the phrase ‘You are what you eat’ has never been more close to the truth! If you want to lose weight without the gym, what you eat is vitally important.
This ratio is usually why many people turn to dieting to lose weight. Diets seem amazing and appear to work at first, but over time they may not work for some people. Many diets are designed to make it easier for your body to be in a calorie deficit, however, as your body may not be used to these new conditions, you may still feel very hungry and overeat as a result. This of course has a negative effect on weight loss in the long run, and may actually lead to weight gain. Hunger is one of the main reasons why people fail at dieting and weight loss because they find it hard to control once it strikes (2).
The key to losing weight through food is to consume foods that will reduce your hunger, and make you feel fuller for longer. There are some ways you can do this:
Choose Low Calorie Dense Foods
Your stomach has stretch receptors that are influenced by what you eat (3). Food causes the stomach to expand, and over time the stomach gets used to stretching to a certain level based on your eating habits. Each time that you consume food, the stomach is waiting to be stretched to that capacity. When the stomach has not been filled to that stretching capacity that is when you may feel hungry (4).
Studies have shown that eating low calorie dense foods is more likely to make a person feel fuller for longer (5). This is because low calorie dense foods have a lot of nutrients that can be used by the body (6) (7). This results in these foods going through a slower digestive phase while the nutrients are extracted by the body, which causes the stomach to be stretched for longer. This leads to reduced hunger and a longer feeling of fullness (8).
Manage Your Portion Sizes (Using Psychology)
The great thing about eating foods low in calories relative to their weight is that you can eat more of it. This enables stretching of the stomach the same way as it is used to, and thus creates the feelings of fullness (9). Also from a ‘calorie counting’ perspective, because they are naturally low in calories, eating these foods will help in reducing your daily total calorie intake – one of the key elements in weight loss.
There is also a psychological element here. If you are eating low calorie dense foods that take up the same amount of space on your plate as the food you have regularly, you are less likely to ‘feel’ like you’re not eating enough. Several studies have suggested that sizes of plates, bowls, spoons, and cups can unconsciously influence how much food someone eats (10). For instance, using large plates can make the food portions appear smaller, which may lead to overeating (11).
Eating from the same bowls and plates you are used to tricks the brain into thinking that you are eating the same amount of food that you usually do and therefore you will less likely overeat.
Eat Slower And Chew More
Eating a higher amount of food also means that more chewing is involved, and therefore slower eating. It has been proven that these factors greatly influence weight loss and reduced hunger as slower eating gives your body time to recognise when you are full (12). Chewing food thoroughly also leads to better digestion, and lessens the probability of developing disorders of the gut and undigested food being stored as fat.
Eating slowly may also lead you to consume fewer calories. As slower eating involves chewing your food thoroughly, this may aid lower calorie intake and help you lose or maintain your weight.
Eat Your Fibre And Water
Most low calorie foods are also usually high in fibre and water, the two most essential additions in food that aid in reducing hunger. They do this by adding bulk to food and slowing down the digestion process and thus makes you feel fuller for longer (13). Another perfect strategy for losing weight through food!
Creativity Is Key
Incorporating low calorie foods is all about being creative! Creativity is pivotal when trying to incorporate any new foods into your diet. This is because eating the same foods on a regular basis can lead to boredom. We have previously written a post on ways to incorporate foods such as vegetables into your diet, which you can check out here.
Other than herbs and spices (which should be staples in your diet — the food HAS to be tasty!), creating healthy low calorie dishes such as cauliflower rice, curries, noodles, and wraps will do wonders for your creative kitchen skills and help you to stick to having healthy, nutritious low calorie meals!
What Are The Best Low Calorie Foods For Weight Loss?
- Vegetables: Especially green vegetables.
- Lean meats: e.g chicken breast
- White fish: such as cod are low in calories. Fattier fish like salmon are also healthy, however they have moderately calorie dense.
- Fruits: Most fruits have a low calorie density due to their high fibre and water content. Fruits such as berries and melons tend to have the lowest density.
- Starchy carbs: Foods such as legumes and potatoes have a low calorie density once they are cooked as they fill with water.
- Grains: such as popcorn, oats and quinoa
Please note; There are some high fat/calorie foods such as nuts, avocado and olive oil that are also healthy, however these could cause weight gain if eaten in excess. When consuming these or any high calorie foods, eating them in moderation is key (14).
Who says you can’t slim without the gym? 😉
Eating foods with a low calorie density is one of the most effective methods of staying slim without the gym. It is also easy to implement, and unlike common diets, is easier to stick to (as long as you are creative) and it doesn’t require eliminating any food groups.
By basing 90% of your food intake on low calorie dense foods, you can easily reduce your calorie intake and lose weight with little effort.