Ah yes, the age old-question – ”Can I lose weight without exercise?” Transitioning back to routine after quarantine and the holidays has indeed catapulted this question back into the spotlight. The search for the best way to lose weight is top of mind for many. While there are many proven benefits of regular exercise for overall health, there is no right or wrong way to embark on your weight loss journey. Your journey will be unique to you and your needs. Today, we shed light on the numerous lifestyle habits that you can incorporate into this process without breaking a sweat. Whatever you decide to try, I encourage you to consider it a lifestyle shift that you can sustain happily.
If you’re unsure of where to start, don’t worry. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Prioritize the Big Three (Protein, Fibre, and Healthy Fats)
Many people throw in the towel on weight loss goals when following restrictive diets because they feel deprived or hungry all the time. While hunger is a normal sign from your body indicating that it’s time to eat again, it isn’t fun to constantly feel this way, especially if you’ve just finished eating. By combining protein, fibre, and fat, you can naturally increase the satiety factor of any meal. Why? Protein for instance, takes longer to digest than other macronutrients, therefore giving you longer lasting energy. It can also reduce your body’s ghrelin levels – the hormone that regulates hunger. Research has shown that people who consume 30% of their calories from protein eat almost 500 calories less a day than those on a lower protein diet! Fat plays a similar role in that it stays in your stomach longer, therefore, reducing gastric emptying. Lastly, fibre plays a role in satiety, by slowing down the time it takes for sugars to pass through your bloodstream. It prevents those blood sugar crashes, keeps you full, and even manages cravings!
2. Make Time for Mindful Eating
How you’re eating is just as important as what you’re eating. There’s an abundance of evidence supporting the link between distracted eating and overconsumption of calories. This is because we aren’t tuning in to our body’s natural hunger and satiety cues. I mean, think back to the last time you might have finished an entire bag of chips while watching your favourite TV show. Our brain is so focused on the other task at hand that we miss the essence of eating. Carving time for mindful eating gives our stomach the ability to communicate fullness more effectively to our brain. This process takes about 20 minutes, which is why slowing down is key and may naturally help you eat less!
3. Choose Water More Often Than Juice and Soda
As we just mentioned, it takes our body time to process food and signal satiety. When we mindlessly chug back a green juice on our way to work, because we missed breakfast, we remove the smelling, biting, and chewing process completely. A shorter interaction time interferes with our brain’s ability to recognize any psychological satisfaction. Another drawback to drinking fruit juice is that you miss out on all that dietary fibre found in whole fruits. As we discussed, fibre plays an important role in blood sugar control. Studies show that poor blood sugar control associated with regular consumption of sugary beverages is significantly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. The good news is that choosing water more often can help to flush out those excess sugars, reducing the risk of diabetes while keeping you hydrated!
4. Maintain a Regular Eating Schedule
While skipping meals and cutting out snacks may seem like a shortcut for weight loss, the reality is that it might be doing more harm than good. Even relatively mild food deprivation can lead to overeating at our next meal, more cravings, and throwing our blood sugars out of whack. Interestingly, one study found that meal skippers would end up eating 45% more calories than those who maintained a regular eating pattern! Waiting until we’re ravenous to make our next meal choice also increases the likelihood of making unhealthy choices because we’re more likely to grab what’s most convenient. That fast food drive-through starts to seem a lot more appealing!
5. Manage Stress & Emotional Eating Patterns
It isn’t easy to take charge of our health when we’re struggling with stress or other uncomfortable emotions. It can take a toll on our ability to plan, prep, cook, and so much more. This is largely tied to cortisol, our stress hormone, that communicates with brain regions that regulate our mood, motivation, and fear. Increased cortisol can also result in the secretion of ghrelin (remember, that’s our hunger hormone), so when we feel mentally drained and hungry, it’s common to reach for comfort foods as a coping mechanism. Now it’s totally normal to eat in response to emotions; however, if this is our only means of coping, it becomes problematic. Aim to include a variety of non-food related coping strategies like journaling, meditating, taking a hot bath, talking to a friend or licensed therapist.
Remember, there’s no right way to start this process. Every path leads to learning and setbacks can also teach us to be kinder to ourselves. Whether you start by adding a few more greens here and there, throw in a morning meditation or gratitude practice – that is up to you. Whatever you decide, I encourage you to consider it a lifestyle shift that you can sustain happily.