Getting visible abs is one of the most anticipated moments when you’re dieting. It’s not only the boost of self-esteem but also the confidence that you’ve achieved something.
But because it’s so damn hard to get abs, a lot of people throw the towel and give up right before the finish line.
So in this article I will share with you my best tips on how to get abs without counting calories.
How To Get Abs Without Counting Calories?
You’ve heard people saying abs are make in the kitchen, right?
Getting abs is as simple as being in a calorie deficit. That’s it.
A calorie deficit is basically eating less food. And when you’re consistent with it, after few weeks you can start to see results.
Eat when you’re physically hungry
Eating when you’re physically hungry automatically reduces your food intake. But you need to have a strong self-awareness and be able to differenciate when you’re physically hungry, and when you’re having just an appetite.
I call it psychological hunger.
People like to eat, not only to satisfy their hunger.
They like to eat to feel better, to reduce stress, or because they feel bored.
That’s is your number one goal to be really able to know when you’re hungry and when you just want to eat.
- Physical hunger tells you it’s time to eat
- Psychological hunger tells you you want to eat
Another aspect is that people eat in a hurry. And when you do so, you’re eating mindlessly.
This means you cannot tune in and listen to your body because you’re rushed, not relaxed.
Only when you’re relaxed you can actually know when you’re hungry or not.
Because when you’re eating on the go, you don’t really pay attention to your body cues. You just gobble the food.
Another aspect is when you’re relaxed you can really slow down and enjoy your meal much better.
- Don’t eat your meals when you’re stressed out or feeling rushed
- Eat your meals when you’re feeling relaxed.
It takes 20 minutes for satiety signals to kick register that you eat. When people eat fast, they can finish they entire meal within few minutes. This is not enough to feel satisfied.
This means you will likely feel hungry again very soon.
So the best way to extend your satiety time is to slow down when you eat. This means you can spend at least 15-20 minutes on your meal.
The best method to do so is simply to take a stopwatch and time yourself.
For the first few days, it will feel awkward.
But the more you do it, it will become second nature. And once you eat slowly on the automatic pilot, you will end up eating less food, without counting calories.
- Set up the timer for 20 minutes for each meal
- Put your fork down between each bite
Notice smells, flavors, and texture
This may sound like its got nothing to do with your getting abs.
Trust me, it will all make sense when you try it. Smell and flavor are the key signals that your body uses to communicate what you’re eating.
So when you conciusly sowl down your meal time and you focus on smelling and tasting each bite, your satiety hormones will spike up sooner.
Also, smelling and tasting your meal enhance your nasal chemosensory, palatability, and olfactory system.
And if you’re ever did shopping on the empty stomach you know exactly what I mean. The longer you’re not eating, the flavor and taste of your food improve.
The same with eating slowly.
This means food will taste much better. And when you’re already physically hungry, you will enjoy your food 10x more.
- Enjoy and savor each bite
- Chew a few more times than you think you need to
To be able to get abs without counting calories you need to be mindful when you eat. This means you need to embed a zero-tolerance policy for all kinds of distractions.
This means no watching TV when you are eating. This means no eating on the go.
This also means no eating while you’re driving your car or in front of your computer.
Those things make you eat mindlessly. And with mindless eating, not only your not paying attention to your body cues but also you’re likely to overeat.
Multiple studies show that distractions and mindless eating lead to overeating.
So you don’t have to count calories, as long as you made a promise to yourself that each time when you have a meal it will be without any mobile phones, laptops, TV, or phone calls.
- Switch off any mobile devices or place them somewhere away
- Always sit by the table, never eat when doing something else
Use food journal
Using a food journal is usually associated with counting calories. Because that’s what you’re using the journal for, right?
You don’t need to use food journal to count calories. You need to use it only to record what you eat. That’s it.
Fascinating studies have been done by Srinivas Pulugurtha from the University of North Carolina, where they discovered that adding the displayed countdown signals on the pedestrian intersections.
They concluded that there was a significant decrease in pedestrian crashes after the installation of pedestrian countdown signals (source).
In other words, just because people know how much time is left to the lights change, they don’t rush anymore.
Think about it.
Nobody is telling them to stop running across the street. They figured it out by themselves. This is how self-awareness works.
You don’t need any fancy gadgets or methods to eat less food. Using a food journal where you focus only on what you eat will do its job. It will be enough to trigger change.
On top of your food intake, you can also write down how you feel around your mealtime.
This is a great way to smoke out any emotional eating behaviors. If, for instance, you feel the urgent rush to eat, but you’re not really hungry, write this down.
It may sound super simple, even unnecessary.
But trust me. It will all make sense soon.
The simple act of writing stuff down directs your attention to the food you eat, not on the arbitrary numbers.
- Counting calories directs your attention to numbers
- Food journal directs your attention to what you eat and how you feel
10.000 steps a day
Walking 10.000 steps a day will burn around 400 to 500 calories. This is not essential. But it will add up significantly when you’re doing it every day.
When you’re walking every day for 10.000 steps not only you will burn extra calories, but also you will lower your satiety.
Low-intensity physical activity seems to lower appetite and cravings for food.
So having a brisk walk during the day can not only energize you but also reduce those food cravings.
Plus, daily walking is good for the overall health, too.
By the way, it doesn’t have to be 10.000 steps. Don’t think that if you can only hit 5000 steps a day, or even 3000 steps a day, it doesn’t count.
It does count.
But if you can squeeze in a extra 30 minutes and really use that for your walks it will pay you in spades.
- Take something to listen to like a podcast or an audiobook
- Don’t get caught up on the exact numbers. It’s about doing less for months, not doing more but give up sooner.
Take a spoon of coconut oil
Coconut oil first thing int the morning not only can reduce your cravings, but it also can give you a lot of energy. Coconut oil is made 70% of medium-chain fatty acids.
The difference between medium-chain fatty acid and the long chain fatty acids is that medium-chain goes directly to the liver and is used for the energy, without breaking your fast.
So taking a spoonful of coconut oil in the morning can give you extra energy, without having a meal.
This way you can have your first meal later on, when you’re physically hungry.
- Buy unrefined (virgin) coconut oil because it’s been less processed
- One spoonful in the morning and one during the day to kill the cravings
Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a method popularly used to eat less food, without counting calories. There are several methods to use intermittent fasting, and they all range from the mind down to quite extreme.
Some people take it to the next levels by fasting for multiple days in a row. I don’t think there is nothing bad about it. But I don’t recomend it eaither.
Because more doesn’t mean better. It’s actually the other way around. It’s about the dose-response.
The “intermittent” part is really important here.
When the body fast (that means when you don’t eat) there is a cascade of processes going on. One of those is the production of cortisol (stress hormone).
So fasting is a stressful project for the body. Just like exercise. Exercise is healthy for the body. It is mild but good stress. Its invigorating, challenging and motivating.
So when you do weight for 1 hour 3-4 times per week you feel better.
But what if you would do weight 7 days a week for 5 hours? How long you recon you can last at this pace?
Same with fasting. Doing intermittent fasting not only burns more calories but also changes your relationships with food. The longer you fast, the more you appreciate your food. Some of the great intermittent fasting methods are:
- OMAD (one meal a day)
- ADF (36 hours fasting followed by 12 hours eating window)
- Warrior Diet (20 hours fasting with 4 hours eating window)
- 16/8 (16 hours fasting with 8 hours eating window
It doesn’t matter which approach you want to choose. There is no right or wrong, better or worse method here. It’s all about your lifestyle and your schedule.
Also, remember that this doesn’t have to be done every day. If you start OMAD, you don’t need to do it 7 days a week.
- Plan ahead and make sure the fasting window doesn’t affect your daily work
- Have some healthy snacks ready in case you will have trouble with keeping up. If so, not beat yourself up. Think about why it didn’t work.
Can You Get Abs Without Counting Calories?
After helping people get in shape for a number of years one of the most common questions I get is about counting calories. And because people are busy living their life nobody is spending extra time to discover are than any alternative, apart from counting calories to get abs.
Can you get abs without counting calories?
You can get abs without counting calories because abs are done from the effect of a calorie deficit for a long period of time. A calorie deficit is when your energy expenditure exceeds energy consumption. Therefore, you can get abs as long as you eat less food.
Getting abs means you need to reduce your body fat percentage, usually to a single digit. Which is hard to do. And a lot of the time people believe that the only way to know you’re on the right track is by counting calories.
Do I Have To Go On A Diet To Get Abs?
Dieting is the part of the process. You cannot get an omlet without craking the egg. So dieting and calorie deficit is not just the essential. This is the only way.
Do I have to go on a diet to get abs?
You have to go on a diet to get abs because losing belly fat can only happen when your body switch from using external sources of energy (your last meal) to internal sources of energy (stored body fat). The longer you stay on a calorie deficit, the better your results.
It doesn’t mean you need to diet for the rest of your life. As you diet, or when you’re on calorie restriction, your stomach is decreasing your gastric capacity. This means that you get full with less food.
This is body natural adaptation process.
Our body is like plastic gum. It will adapt to the changes and stimulants.
It’s like when you train your legs, your body adapts and makes your legs slightly bigger. When you add weight, your body will adapt again and increase size. When you stop training your legs, your body will respond again and reduce size.
That’s why when you eat less food, initially you may feel like you’re hungry. But the longer you do it the more you’re getting comfortable with less food, your body will adapt by less and less hunger.
Abs Without Counting Calories
If you want to get abs, calorie counting is just one of many ways to know are you hitting your calorie intake or not. Which means you can get lean without counting calories. As long as you eat less. More on that soon.
Calorie counting is not the only way. In fact, studies confirm that calorie counting can be inaccurate as much as 10-20%.
Because calories in versus calories out doesn’t take into consideration:
- Thermic effect of food (calories burned during digestion, absorption, and nutrient transit)
- How fresh or processed are the foods
- How healthy is our GI system
- Our non-exercise activity thermogenesis
- Synergistic effect of nutrients
- Hormonal levels
- Nutrient profile changes during the cooking process
So knowing how many calories are in the food is just one part of the coin. Let me show you a better way. No calculator required.
Abs Without Counting Calories Tips
Here are some extra tips on how to get abs without counting calories.
- There is no such thing as good or bad food
- Food is nutritious or not, but it can’t be good or bad
- No one should be telling you what food you should or shouldn’t eat
- Everyone eats more from time to time
- Use your friends and family as an emotional blanket, not the food
- It’s ok to feel emotional, but it’s not ok to use food to feel better
- You can’t feel happy all the time
- Hunger is not an emergency
- Good enough is better than perfect
Counting calories is such a prehistoric way to get lean.
Some people say getting a six-pack is a superficial goal, and you should aim for health, rather than displaying abs.
Which I understand. Because your number one priority should be health.
But I believe that people who say so think that calorie counting is the only way to get abs. And because counting calories is a big effort, they quit. And to justify their decision, now they point fingers at the process that esthetics shouldn’t be the goal.
Simply because they don’t know there are alternative ways, without calculating your food intake. This means you can get abs without counting calories. You just need to know what you’re doing.