11 Science-Backed Ways To Lose Weight Without Dieting

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Last updated on October 3rd, 2019 at 07:10 am

If you want to lose weight without dieting, working out for hours at the gym and counting calories, these science-backed tips for weight loss can help.

What Is The Healthiest Way To Lose Weight?

The keto diet, paleo diet, Atkins, 21-day fix…every year there’s a new diet we haven’t tried yet to get rid of that ugly extra weight that nobody should see (I’m being dramatic here…)

You know what never goes out of style? What always works when it comes to weight loss? It’s not a diet, it’s not a workout plan…it’s this: Listening to common sense and applying it. It’s the healthiest way to live.

What does common sense tell you? It tells you that you need certain nutrients, and a certain amount of them to nourish your body, so it can function properly and reduce chronic inflammation. This in turn will help you lose the fat. Common sense tells you that you can get all these necessary nutrients in their best form from real food.

It tells you that you need to move more, but not torture yourself in a gym for an hour every single day. Walking more in most cases is enough.

The Secret To Losing Weight Without Dieting

One of the key strategies for sustainable weight loss is to eat foods that are nutrient-dense and make you feel full AND satisfied longer. When you learn how to do that – you will lose the weight and then keep it off.

Healthy foods don’t necessarily have less calories than the unhealthier alternatives (for example whole grains vs. refined grains). The difference is the way these foods affect your appetite and satiety.

For example by eating the same amount of calories, you can be full for either 1 hour or 3 hours, depending on the food you ate.

What do you think is better? Of course, being full for three hours!

Because even though you eat the same calories before, in the first case you would eat more afterwards than you would in the second case.

In the end it’s not about how many calories you eat at the very moment, it’s about what happens next. It’s about how “effective” those calories are.

That’s the “big secret”.

You want to choose foods that keep you full longer and decrease your need to eat all the time.

The Importance Of Having a Plan

An easy way to eat healthy for the majority of the time is to have a plan. At least a loose meal plan.

For example on Sunday, find a few recipes you want to try during the week, make a grocery list and go shopping. Then you can decide to meal prep these recipes or to make them the day of. For those of you who you dislike (older) leftovers, I don’t recommend meal prepping, it’s not the freshest option out there.

If you’re new to eating healthy and don’t trust yourself shopping healthy groceries yet, you might want to try a meal kit delivery service like Sun Basket. You get all the fresh ingredients with recipes delivered to your home and you save a lot of time. If you’d like to try it out, you can get $35 off your first order here.

How To Lose Weight Without Dieting

11 Weight Loss Tips That Work

1. But first, vegetables

If there’s one group of foods that should never miss in a healthy diet – it’s vegetables.

They’re nutrient-dense and low in calories – the perfect combination to fill you up and give you a ton of essential nutrients and the phytochemicals you need to be healthy and to lose weight.

Vegetables are also our main source of vitamin C – a vitamin which is essential for the body cells to burn fat.

Eating your vegetables first, and increasing their amount is a great strategy to ensure you get your 8 servings and to also help you eat less calories without the need of counting like a first grader.

2. Be sneaky

Another great way to stay in a caloric deficit is to sneak vegetables into your meals. This way your meals have the same size and taste great, but don’t contain that many calories.

Plus you automatically increase the amount of vegetables you consume daily, which brings some extra benefits for your physical and mental health.

There are even studies on this and they show this simple trick works for adults (1) and children (2).

So if you want to make your children (or husband) eat more vegetables, this is worth trying.

The easiest way I sneak in vegetables into my meals is by blending them into to sauces, dips, soups, desserts or just adding them in wraps and curries.

For example if I make pasta with pesto, I would sneak in some vegetables in the pesto and reduce the amount of oil and nuts. This increases the amount of vegetables and saves a ton of calories.

I am not a big fan of cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles, but if you think these options would work for you, don’t hesitate to try.

3. Soups

People think they need to eat only salads to lose weight, but if you’re like me and like soups – I have some great news for you.

Soups are another type of food that can help you control your appetite and avoid overeating.

They’re low in calories, but increase satiety and help you eat less without starving. (3)

Plus they’re a great way to add some more vegetables to your diet.

Whether you eat a soup before your actual meal or as your main meal doesn’t matter. This has, again, been shown to work for children (4) and adults (5).

4. Eat a breakfast, this type is best

Research has shown that eating breakfast actually helps you maintain a healthy weight and if you skip it, you’re more likely to be overweight (6, 7).

But here’s where I probably make a mistake: You can’t just eat any kind of breakfast.

Because only cereal, more importantly cooked cereal is related to lower BMI.

Cooked cereal to me = oatmeal. It fills you up and keeps you this way for a long time. Even fruits and vegetables can’t compare to this healthy breakfast. (8)

5. More Low Glycemic Foods

Eating a low glycemic index diet helps overweight or obese people lose more weight and fat compared to those on a low-calorie/low-fat diet or a high-glycemic load diet. (9)

Now what’s the glycemic index, anyway?

Well it’s a system that ranks foods based on their effect on blood glucose levels.

Some examples of low GI foods include: lentils, beans, bulgar, oats, most fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs.

You can find a list with the GI of over 100 foods here. The article also explains how important the serving size of a particular food is.

A low-glycemic diet is also recommended to reduce inflammation, which is involved in the development and progression of many chronic diseases. This type of eating is also shown to help reduce acne (10).

As for how to put this in action – check out these 11 easy healthy food swaps.

6. Water, Water, Water

Water. We are made out of it.

And if you don’t get enough of it, you might experience some serious issues like headaches, feeling cold, but most importantly for weight gain: cravings.

Yes, you might actually really be thirsty and not hungry. Who knew this is a thing and not an old lie people just say.

Another reason to drink more water for weight loss is because it can actually help you burn more calories. Again I did not think this was true, but it is! One study demonstrated that drinking water increases metabolic rate (energy expenditure) by 30%. (11)

So it’s a good idea to drink a glass of water before you eat anything. Then see whether you’re hungry or not. If you’re not – don’t eat, if you are – have something nutritious. That’s a very important weight loss habit that can really help.

7. Snack on nuts

People are afraid to eat nuts, because they’re so high in calories and fat.

And if you’re on the calorie counting train, you’ve probably been avoiding nuts like the plague.

But nuts provide some of the best nutrients and are related to longevity (12) and to better cognition in older adults (13).

Nuts are also shown to lower risk of being overweight.

Now how can something that has twice as many calories as a burger be better for your body?

Well, the reason for this is that the calories in nuts are not as easily bio-accessible as the calories in a burger. This means, yeah, you might be eating 600kcal if you eat a bag of almonds, but your body will not absorb all these calories.

On top almonds and peanuts are shown to decrease appetite and the desire to eat more after that. So eat nuts as a snack. (14)

When you do this, you won’t feel like you’re starving, in fact you’ll feel pretty full.  This will protect your from making bad choices for your meals later and prevent overeating.

A handful of nuts a day is more than enough.

8. Face the growling

So, you’re in a quiet room, like for example the library (or at a seminar), when your stomach starts growling as if you’re keeping an angry cat in there.

Do not be afraid of that feeling.

While you shouldn’t let yourself starve, this feeling is your actual signal: “Hey, it’s time to go and eat something”.

Not before that. Don’t eat to prevent feeling hungry.

People are so afraid to say this. It’s like if you tell someone to let themselves feel hungry for even a minute you’re pushing them into an eating disorder.

But if you start eating to prevent hunger, you’re setting yourself up for overeating.

I know it, because I’ve done it.

So, be mindful of that and really understand when you’re hungry and when you’re bored or in hunger prevention mode.

9. Get Your Gut Health Together

It’s shown that the human gut flora, obesity and weight loss are connected.

While it’s not quite clear how, we know that an “unhealthy” gut can lead to chronic inflammation (15). Chronic inflammation on the other hand in many cases leads to weight gain and obesity.

Another interesting finding is that the gut flora of healthy lean people is very different than that of obese individuals, the likely reason being the way they eat.

One exciting study showed how when gut bacteria from lean individuals were transplanted in obese volunteers, those obese volunteers lost weight. (I read about it in this book, Ch. 3 & 7). You can read more on how to improve your gut health here.

10. Chew Your Calories

The form of your food and calories also matters for weight loss.

When you eat foods in their natural state, whole and unprocessed, your satiety level increases.

When scientists compared the effect of whole apples to apple juice and sauce in one study, they found out that eating fruit whole suppresses appetite more, while juices or sauces did not suppress appetite or increase satiety. (16)

I for example would hardly ever eat a whole bag of peanuts. But a jar of peanut butter? Not really a problem for me.

As I mentioned in tip #2 and #3 the exception to this rule are hidden vegetables and soups. These decrease the calorie density of the meal, while keeping you full.

11. Watch what you drink

Not talking about the well-known calorie monsters aka sodas, alcohol and sugar-loaded drinks. Talking about healthy foods that can actually sabotage weight loss for you.

Smoothie here, cappuccino there, even if you don’t drink any cokes or fruit juices – you’re probably getting some sneaky calories from just your drinks.

Stop it.

Things add up.

As I said: form matters as well. And grabbing a drink on the go is not as satiating as sitting down for an actual meal (17).

Plus, while I do think healthy smoothies are great and they really are, adding something like peanut butter, dates, honey, whole fat milk or agave syrup to a smoothie will never help you lose weight.

In fact it might actually make you gain weight.

Make sure the smoothies you drink contain mainly fruits and vegetables and drink your coffee black or with just a little milk/ preferably non-dairy milk.

Final Thoughts

Now, I know. These are a lot of things you need to consider.

But don’t be overwhelmed thinking about them.

Just start with the 1st tip if you can’t do everything at once.

Hope these tips help you and when you’re (one day) ready for some quick workouts to support your diet, take a look at this list with my favorite 10-minute Youtube workouts.

You Might Also Like:

  • How to stay motivated to exercise and eat healthy
  • 5 morning habits to help you lose weight
  • How to eat to reduce inflammation in the body
  • How to lose weight and never, ever gain it back
  • 7-day fun workout plan to lose weight
  • 15 healthy snacks to help you stay slim

This post was originally published in March 2017.

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