If you’re done with using diets to lose weight only to gain it back and you’re looking for a lasting solution that won’t cost you time solving the same problem over and over, this is the post for you. In this post I’m going to break down how to lose weight without dieting.
- Why dieting works at first
- Why it doesn’t work in the long-term
- The puzzle pieces that you can manipulate to get the results you want without dieting
It’s going to be a long post, but I promise you that it would be worth your time.
Why dieting works at first
Being successful at weight loss using dieting happens because you’re forced to change. Most diets provide rules, structure, the energy deficit your body needs, and a clear plan to follow that force you to change your patterns to help you lose weight.
For example with a low-carb diet, you’re cutting down your carbs drastically. And if you eat a lot of carbs to begin with, this will force you to cut down what you eat as well.
Now on to why they don’t work…
Why they don’t work in the long-term
They stop working in the long-term because you’ll eventually return to regular life…because the rules, structure, and plans for most diets are hard to stick to except dieting is part of your job description.
There’s the measuring, the counting, the avoiding, etc—and if you live a life outside of being a professional fitgirl, this will be hard to do long term.
When your busy season comes knocking…when you’ve got deadlines, client work, and kids crawling all over you, the measuring, counting and avoiding will eventually fall by the wayside.
Your old habits will slowly come back in and the weight will come back with a vengeance. And it’s not just you that this happens to. It happens to each and every one of us who’ve unsuccessfully tried measuring, counting, and avoiding to lose weight.
Now there are certain tools that you need to have in place to lose weight without dieting. In the rest of this post, I’m going to zoom in on the four puzzle pieces you need to tweak to get results without dieting.
These puzzles will give you the structure you’ve come to expect from a diet without the angst that comes with measuring, counting, and avoiding.
The four puzzle pieces you need to tweak to get results
These four puzzle pieces are a breakdown of how to put the four food types that support weight loss together in the right balance. This will help you get the results you want without wasting time on unsustainable diets or costing yourself the energy you need to crush your boss lady goals.
Let’s dive into each one
#1 Start by loading up your plate with nutrient dense veggies and fruits
You might have heard that you need to eat your veggies and fruits to lose weight, and it’s great advice. And here you’ll discover why it’s a key puzzle piece.
Eating more veggies and fruits will help you naturally eat fewer calories. But it’s not just about cutting calories, it’s about the quality of the calories that you’re eating.
Losing weight and staying healthy requires your cells to function the way they were designed. Your cells need to absorb the nutrients you feed it and have the raw materials it needs to process those calories and do their jobs.
But if you’re cutting calories without making sure that you’re still giving your cells the right raw materials to do their jobs, you’ll struggle with losing weight even though you’re eating less.
Eating your veggies will help you stay:
- filled up because their bulk and fiber,
- hydrated because of their water content,
- and nourished because they’re packed with vitamins and minerals so your cells have the raw materials to help them do their job.
Because lasting weight loss really does happen at a cellular level, and a nutrient deficiency that’s caused by cutting calories without paying attention to nourishment will set you up for failure.
So eat your veggies and fruits to get the quality nutrients your body needs.
Make sure you eat filling protein at every meal
To successfully stick to what you need to do to lose weight, you’ve got to feel good about it. Feeling hungry all the time on a diet is not something anyone enjoys. And protein can help you handle that.
Eating animal and plant protein gives you the raw material to build calorie-burning muscle, but it also takes quite a bit of time for your body to digest it. So you’re getting a one-two punch!
On the front end, you get the benefit of not feeling hungry within an hour of eating. And on the back end, you get the calorie burning benefit of muscle that’ll help you burn calories at rest.
You don’t have to go overboard with protein either. Eating some protein at every meal is all you need to get started. And I give you a full list of ideal protein sources in the companion worksheets that come with Weight Loss for High Achievers.
Don’t skip out on fat, but don’t eat too much of it
This is a classic mistake that we all make. We want to lose fat, so we decide to cut the fat and there’s some logic behind that. Fat has 9 calories a gram, almost 2X the number of calories of carbs and protein. Even alcohol has fewer calories per gram than fat.
But it’s not just about the calories. Like I said earlier, it’s also about making sure your cells are functioning optimally when you’re cutting these calories. You don’t want to lose the weight and find out that you’ve sacrificed your health to do it.
And fat plays such a huge role in your health. Your body can’t use the vital vitamins A, D, E, & K without it. This means that if you’re not getting enough fat, your body won’t be able to do anything with these vitamins even if you’re getting a ton of them in your diet.
Let’s zoom in on vitamin D. You can get it by hanging out in the early morning sun, but your body needs fat to process it. And some research studies have found that if you don’t get enough vitamin D:
- you could be heavier,
- have more tummy fat,
- have a higher BMI,
- and end up with less calorie-burning lean muscle mass.
And it’s not just the vitamins, eating more healthy fats can help your cells function better, from having permeable cell walls to take in nutrients and spit out by-product to the beautiful skin that comes with enough healthy fat in your diet.
You don’t have to eat buckets of it to get the benefits. Cooking with reasonable amounts of healthy Fats will set you up for success and I give clear guidelines on what these amounts and healthy Fats are in Weight Loss for High Achievers.
Choose the right carbs
Carbs have become the bonafide enemy of the day, but they’re not the big bad that most diets will have you believe. You crave carbs because your body needs the energy to drive your goals and carbs are the quickest way to get that energy.
It’s not because you don’t have the discipline, instead, your body sees a gap and wants to fill it as quickly as possible to stay fueled and ready to do what you need to move your life forward.
The thing is, most of the carbs that we have access to are refined and processed carbs that are quickly digested so your body gets the energy hard and fast and then you get the foggy brain feeling that comes with a crash after it’s all gone.
This is why instead of cutting out carbs altogether, choose the right carbs. The right carbs will give you the energy you need, but in a slow and sustained way so you don’t get the energy crash that comes with refined carbs.
The right carbs are starchy vegetables and whole grains. They’ll give your body the fuel, but have fiber in them so that the release of sugar into your bloodstream is slow and sustained over a longer period of time so you skip the energy high-and-crash cycle.
This also means your body has more time to burn the calories you eat over time instead of storing it as fat as quickly as the glucose gets into your bloodstream.
You get the energy to crush your goals and you skip the fat storing madness that comes with the sugar high. Win-win!
Make it easy to remember
So you’ve got a lot going on and it’s not exactly easy to carry all this information around in your head when you’ve got a life to live and goals to achieve.
This is why I distilled these puzzle pieces into a mental model for lasting weight loss that’s easy to remember called VAFs®. And it’s essentially the four food types—like I laid out above—that need to be in your regular meals to help you lose weight without dieting.
- V – non-starchy Vegetables & Fruits: the puzzle piece you need to load your plate with or just get more of
- A – Animal & Plant Protein: the puzzle piece you need to eat at every meal
- F – healthy Fats: the puzzle piece you need stop avoiding and that you need to eat in moderation to keep your cells functioning
- s – starchy vegetables & whole grains: the types of carbs you need to choose to fuel to you and your goals
It’s time to take action
The whole point of this article was to answer the question “if I don’t go on a diet, what else can I do to lose weight?” And so far, I’ve shown you the puzzle pieces that need to come together in how you eat to get the results you want.
So the question to answer to help you take action today is this—what puzzle piece can you start with now to start eating healthier in a way that supports your weight loss goals.
Starting with the hardest thing isn’t always the best way to go because if you fail to do it consistently, you’ll convince yourself that you aren’t capable of the consistent action that it’ll take to get the results you want.
The results you want come with a combination of confidence and action. And starting with the easiest actions that you can do consistently will help you build the confidence you need to take on and consistently crush it at the hard things.
P.S. Want to get an entire system that’ll help you lose weight without dieting? Then check out my book Weight Loss for High Achievers. Chapter 4 of the book has everything you need to use VAFs® to eat healthy and lose weight without dieting.
I created it to be the busy woman’s guide to losing weight without dieting and it’ll be a great go-to resource for you if you’re ready to take action.
Originally Published: May 2017; Updated: June 2018