Losing weight is a process that takes time and patience. And because it’s a long process it is important to find ways that give you the results that you actually like and prefer doing.
Because if you lost weight, but you hated the process, very likely you won’t fall off the wagon because its just not sustainable.
There any many ways to skin the cat, and if you’re looking for a realistic approach to maintain weight, this article will hit home with you.
What Is Calorie Counting?
Calorie counting is a method used to calculate and measure the amount of food intake. By knowing the calories from each food we eat, we’re able to estimate how much energy those foods provide and how much energy you should consume to achieve desired calorie goal.
This means you can control your food intake by measuring everything that you eat. So calorie counting is by far one of the most precise ways to lose weight.
But here’s the thing.
Losing weight and maintaining weight are two separate things. Because what brought you to where you’re right now may not work in the long term. For change to last, you need to be consistent.
And to be consistent you need something that you’re:
- Willing to do
- Ready to do
- Able to do
Try to remind yourself when last time you did something that you didn’t want to do? But you did it anyway. Maybe you’re “forced” to do it? Or maybe pushed? How did that make you feel?
Sure, you can do it few times. But would you do it in the long term?
Or have you done something that you weren’t fully ready or prepared to do. How did that make you feel? Same with counting calories.
People drop like flies after doing calorie counting wheel for years because it’s just not what they wanna do for the rest of their life. It is not a sustainable approach.
Sure, some people love to count calories. These are typically engineers and mathematicians. They love numbers, they work with numbers all their life. So it numerically oriented approach makes sense to them.
But for the vast majority of people willing to lose weight and to maintain their results, counting calories can bring more harm than good in the long term. Simply because it just disconnects you from the pleasure of food, it separates foods for “good” and “bad”.
Because after years of doing calorie counting, people tend to look at food as either low-calories or high-calories. Low calories mean you “can” eat, and high-calorie means you “cannot”.
Which is a mistake because this mindset can ruin relationship with the food.
How To Maintain Weight Without Counting Calories
Once you achieve your desired weight, now it’s time to look out for the strategies that will help you maintain your weight. And there are multiple ways to maintain your weight, even without counting calories. Here is the list.
People usually eat when they are rushed and distracted. This may lead to unnecessary overeating. Because when you rush, your body doesn’t fully register your satiety.
It takes approximately 15-20 minutes for your satiety signals to kick in. This means when you finish your meal in just couple od minutes you will likely to feel hungry again soon.
But when you slow down, not only you feel full with less food. But also you will feel less hungry for longer.
Eat when really hungry
People eat food for a variety of reasons. Not only to satisfy their hunger but also to fight against boredom, anxiety, stress, or just to feel better. So we use food as emotional support. This is called psychological hunger.
Which can lead to overeating.
That’s why people may feel hungry right after their meal. But the difference between physical and psychological hunger is that physical hunger goes away after the meal, where psychological hunger can stay.
There is not food amount that will satisfy the psychological hunger. The most critical step in maintaining weight without counting calories is to identify when you feel really hungry, and where you just feel like you want to eat.
Use smaller plates
Multiple studies confirm that eating from bigger plates influences our perception of how much food we put on the plate. And with bigger size we tend to add more food.
With the smaller plate sizes, we tend to put less food. This phenomenon is called sensory contrast illusion. The bigger the plate we use will create the illusion of having less food.
So we automatically refill more until we fill up the plate. Using smaller plates helps us eat less food without even realizing it.
Stop eating when 80% full
I come from the family where everyone had to finish everything from their plate. And if I didn’t, my parents made me feel like I did something wrong.
Which is a huge mistake.
Because I was carrying this habit for may years and it trained me to eat until all the food is gone, not until I was no longer hungry.
And when I made this switch to listen to my body, instead of relying on the external cues when to eat and when to stop eating, I could really feel when I feel like I had enough.
And that’s when you wanna stop eating.
Eat until you’re no longer hungry, satisfied, or 80% full. So if on the scale of 1 to 10 I would ask you how full you’re, you wanna stop eating when you reach 8 out of 10.
Eat more proteins
Our body digest different foods with a different effort. It takes a lot of energy (burned calories) to fully digest proteins. In fact, proteins are the most metabolically expensive foods to digest, absorb and redistrubute.
So eating more proteins not only will keep your satiety high, but will also increase your energy expenditute.
Another aspect of a high-protein diet is it will trigger muscle protein synthesis. And if you’re doing any resistance training, it will help you stay lean, keep your muscle mass and burn calories from fat.
Even when you’re on calorie deficit.
Eat more potatoes
Potatoes have one of the highest satiety scores of all foods. This means eating potatoes will keep you fuller for longer. Much longer.
Comparing rice, pasta, and potatoes, potatoes have almost twice as much satiety as the other two. This is important, especially if your goal is to maintain weight.
Because weight loss or weight maintenance is all about eating less food. And by having fewer cravings for foods, less appetite, and less hunger, you will automatically consume less, without counting calories.
Turn off TV
When you’re eating your meal at the same time while doing something else (like watching TV, youtube, or listening to podcasts) it will keep your attention on the things you do, not on the food you eat.
And when you eat mindlessly, you’re more likely to overeat. Multiple studies show that mindless eating surrounded by distraction is almost always the reason why people overeat.
Because you’re so invested in watching the show, you don’t realize when you’re no longer hungry. So you keep eating until your belly is physically full.
Use food journal
Using food journal is normally assosciated wit counting calories. But there are many other ways you can use it. Think of your mealjournal as the swiss army knife. It can be used in multiple ways. And instead of tracking your calories you can track things like:
- Habits (meal duration time)
- Food items (servings of veggies)
- Food sensitivities (allergies, food intolerance)
- Emotions (feelings around food)
When it comes to impulsive overeating, people are usually driven by some type of emotion. For instance, you may get stressed out because of X and you end up raiding your pantry.
So writing down the reasons “why you eat” can give you so much more information about your behaviors, comparing to counting calories.
Eat coconut oil
Eating coconut oil on the empty stomach first thing in the morning will give you a lot of energy, without spiking your insulin. 70% of coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids and it gets a different treatment than your regular long-chain fatty acids.
When you eat coconut oil it gets broken down by different enzymes, therefore, it goes immediately into the liver and is being used to create energy.
So when you’re looking for ways to reduce food intake, having a spoonful of coconut oil will lower the hunger, eliminate cravings and help you stay longer in the fasted state.
Do more walking
Walking is been one of the most underestimated forms of cardio. Everyone is talking about high-intensity training and strength training.
Which is important for strength and longevity. But you need to dedicate a specific time to that. And you cannot do strength training every day.
But walking is different.
Walking not only burns a lot of fat, but it also has less impact on your joints. Which means you can do walking every day.
Starting from 20 minutes of daily walking can add up to your energy expenditure, lower your stress and reduce your appetite.
Start doing yoga
Yoga is been known for its holistic way to reduce stress and improve your central nervous system activity. When we are constantly dieting, our stress hormones goes through the roof. Our sympathetic nervous system is active.
That’s why having an hour once a week of relaxing yoga sessions can stretch out the anxiety and activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
So you can relax and lower your cortisol levels.
It is also good for mobility, longevity, and digestion. Before I’ve started doing yoga I always thought it is only for women. And you need to be super flexible to get started.
Yoga is for every one. And every one of my clients who tried yoga said that they regret why they haven’t done it before.
Measure your results
There is a big difference between losing weight versus maintaining weight. Because weight loss can take you 6 months to get where you wanna be. But maintenance is a long-haul project.
So you need multiple touchpoints from where you’re getting your motivation.
And one of the best places to start is your own results so far. This means measuring your waist, hips, or using skinfold calipers. This can also mean taking pictures.
Because there’s gonna be some days where you feel like giving up.
And in those moments all you need to do is to look at your pictures. And compare where you’ve been on day one, and where you’re now.
How Can I Maintain My Weight Without Dieting?
After tapping yourself on the shoulder for a successful weight loss now is time to find some strategies to keep your weight off for good. And if you don’t like to count calories, there are many other alternatives available.
How can I maintain my weight without dieting?
You can maintain your weight without dieting by practicing mindful and intuitive eating. Mindful eating includes eating slowly, eating only when physically hungry, eating without distractions, and finishing eating when you’re satisfied, not physically full.
Get enough sleep
Multiple studies show that not getting enough sleep can lead to some health problems, including weight gain.
Having less than 6 hours of sleep on an ongoing basis will increase your blood sugar, lower your willpower and influence your food choices.
That way when you are tired you are more likely to have those moments where we just don’t give a crap about diet anymore. And it may feel like we are falling off the wagon.
I’ve noticed that each time when I have disturbed sleep, the very next morning not only I’m grumpy, but also my iron willpower for food is critically low.
So I tend to eat all the foods, that I normally wouldn’t. Or I tend to eat more.
Experiment with intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is an amazing way to eat less food, without worrying about calories. It is all about cycling the times of eating with the times of fasting.
There are so many ways to do intermittent fasting. Hourly fasting, daily fasting, or weekly fasting. You name it. And each of those methods works.
Remember that intermittent fasting isn’t about fasting more to get better results. The word “intermittent” is important.
Just like with exercise. You don’t get better results when you do CrossFit for 5 hours a day. You get burned out.
Same with fasting. You want to find an approach that is easy enough, so you can do it. Some of the types of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fast or one meal a day. Find what you like. And then repeat the process.
Drink zero-calorie beverages
This is my favorite tip because zero-calorie drinks can really help you combat those cravings for sweets. I love sweets. And when I’m doing calorie deficit, I always supply myself with zero-calorie beverages.
This way I can have some taste of sweetness, without going overboard with calories.
Of course, you don’t wanna be silly about it. Just because something has zero calories doesn’t mean you can drink tons of it. This is not the water.
It’s a treat. And it should be consumed in a controlled way.
From time to time. Once or twice a day. I personally think that there is nothing better than cold diet coke on the fasting day.
Take cold shower daily
This one I’ve been practising over a year already. I like cold showers first thing in the morning because they wake me up immediately. At the beginnig is terrible. I feel like I hate my live.
But once you get used to it you notice that
- It’s not as that bad
- You can be more productive, asap
- You feel less hungry
And that was a game-changer for me. I don’t have any studies to back this up. Therefore I will only talk from my own experience. Every morning when I wake up I feel slightly hungry. Maybe 4 out of 10.
But once I take a cold shower immediately hunger drops to 2 out of 10.
Choose satisfying foods
After counting calories for over a decade, I have this embedded chip in the mindset that I should eat only the foods that are low in calories. So I would dissect the skin from my chicken. Or I would remove egg yolks. Or I would eat dry chicken breast.
This is ok because all of them have “fewer” calories. But they are also less satisfying. This means if I only eat egg whites, I will get hungry soon.
And once I’ve started to choose more satisfying foods, like whole eggs instead of egg whites. Or pork belly instead of chicken breast. Or even ham instead of plain tuna.
I’ve noticed that I feel full for much, much longer. So I ended up eating less food. Without counting calories.
Eat more vegetables
Having a good portion of vegetables is a time-tested method to add the bulk to your food, without adding calories. Vegetables are low-calorie dense food because of extra fiber and water amount. So they will keep you full, they have tons of minerals, and if you do them right, they taste delicious.
One problem I see people have with veggies is the time. It just takes so much more time to buy, prepare, cut, cook, and clean after the meal that is made of a variety of veggies.
In that case, you need to step up and organize your kitchen. Make sure your kitchen is set up properly with a good set of knives, chopping boards, plastic containers, and a separate area of food prep. The more convenience you bring to cook inconvenient foods, it will pay you in spades
Get an accountability partner
Having someone who has the same goals as you have can be really motivating. It is not a requirement for success. At least for some people. But for many, having someone that is in the exact shoes as they are right now given a sense of certainty.
Because sometimes it can get very lonely.
Especially if someone is surrounded by resistance, negativity, bad comments, and lack of support. That’s why having this one person who is there, doing the same thing, can be really all you need in times of doubt. Use that.
This is something that can also add some fire into the tank. Meditation is getting bigger than ever before. For good reason.
What is meditation? It is simply a practice of your mind where you counciously think about where you’re right now. Its about focusing your thoughts on things like breathing where you tring to clear your mind from all the negative details that are surrounding you.
This can also be thinking about the past where you focus on something that your feel really grateful for. In the times of the stress, especially when I’m in the situation out of your control, instead of negative self-talk I immediately re-focus my thoughts on what I feel grateful for.
That can be people that you’ve met. Or the places you’ve visited. Or the smile of your kid. It can be anything. And once you bring back this memory, all of a sudden the stress is gone. And now you can clearly think again.
Can I Maintain My Weight Without Counting Calories?
Losing weight and maintaining weight like day and night differences. Because to maintain your weight in the sustainable way you need something that not only works long term, but you can also enjoy doing.
Can I maintain my weight without counting calories?
You can maintain your weight without counting calories because counting calories are just one of many methods to measure food intake. Other methods you can use to maintain your weight is portions size, mindful eating, intuitive eating, and intermittent fasting.
What Can I Do Instead Of Counting Calories?
The only way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit. This means you need fewer calories than your body burns. So you need to know somehow when you’re eating more, and when you’re eating less. Counting calories is one of the ways to measure your food intake. But there are alternatives.
What can I do instead of counting calories?
Instead of counting calories, you can practice intermittent fasting or mindful eating. Intermittent fasting helps you eat less food, without worrying about counting calories. Mindful eating helps you navigate your food intake by relying on internal body cues.
Can I Still Lose Weight Without Counting Calories?
I used to worry that the only way to lose weight is by counting calories. And because I’ve never liked this method I believed that this process will never work for me because I have no willpower.
Can I still lose weight without counting calories?
You can still lose weight without counting calories because calorie counting is just one method to measure your food intake. To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. Another way to control your food intake, apart from calorie counting, is intermittent fasting.
Maintaining weight is much different than losing weight. That’s why most people who diet lose their weight back. Because they use the same approach that gets them to lose weight. Which is not gonna work.
Because you need more consistency than perfection. And it’s ok to be good enough. Better is better than perfect. And perfect is usually the way to avoid bad feelings and emotions. Because when we fail, we feel bad.
So by me being perfect I’m making sure I will avoid those uncomfortable feelings. But that’s just not how the world works. Feeling bad is as natural as feeling happy. It’s a part of the process.