By Elle, the MyFitnessPal R.D.
Any number of things can prevent us from exercising — injuries, medical conditions, lack of time or motivation, or simply disliking exercise altogether — the list goes on. While we encourage all of our members to eat healthfully and be physically active, we know for some it's neither possible nor realistic to do both. As a result, we're frequently asked, "Is it possible to lose weight without exercising?"
The good news is yes, it is possible to lose or maintain weight without exercising. Weight loss, at its core, is about creating a calorie deficit — that is, burning more calories than are consumed. This can be done by eating less, moving more, or doing a combination of both. For those who are unable to exercise, weight loss or weight maintenance success relies on making smart food choices and consistently staying close to those daily calorie goals.
Here are our top 6 tips to help you achieve weight loss or weight maintenance without exercise:
- Log diligently – Logging foods daily creates an awareness of the energy foods provide in relation to the energy our bodies need.
- Listen to your hunger cues – Decide if eating is a want or a need. If it's a want, try to save those calories for when you physically feel hungry.
- Eat nutrient dense foods & balanced meals – Get the most nutrition out of the calories you eat by consuming more whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and reduced-fat dairy – foods that will provide protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals at every meal. These will leave you feeling satisfied longer than foods that are high in calories but not much else – like sweets and sodas.
- Plan & prep meals for the week – Jot down some healthy breakfast ideas, brown bag lunches and spend some time cooking up a meal to reheat for dinner during the week. This will minimize the impulse to grab take out or make poor choices when hungry. Check out our Summertime Shape-up Meal Plan for a handy, printable planner!
- Work in any activity you can do – Small things like walking meetings, parking farther from the grocery store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, creating a standing work station or doing chores while watching television add up! Take advantage of burning a few extra calories whenever you can.
- Be realistic – The truth is, dropping pounds will likely take longer without exercise. By setting a realistic weight loss goal of ½ to 1 pound per week, you’re less likely to feel deprived or discouraged and give up. Improving our health should be a life-long journey, not a race to hit a certain weight or fit into those skinny jeans.
We hope you find these helpful! Feel free to share any tips you might have for other members who aren't able to exercise but still want to maintain or lose weight. Have a great weekend!