I’ve always emphasized that the most effective way to lose weight is to moderately reduce your daily calorie intake while engaging in exercise training and other forms of physical activity, as doing so creates the calorie deficits needed for weight loss. But, constantly counting calories day in and day out is not always the most practical approach for long-term weight management.
While losing weight is primarily a matter of creating calorie deficits, believe it or not, you can successfully manage your weight, improve your health, and substantially lower your risk of lifestyle-linked diseases without counting calories as all. Here are three simple strategies that’ll help you do just that.
Tracking Your Nutrient Intake
When it comes to weight loss and healthy eating in general, a common misconception is that calorie control alone is key. Oftentimes, this leads people to focus solely on counting calories. While creating calorie deficits by calorie counting will almost always lead to short-term weight loss, obsessing over calories can cause people to lose sight of good nutrition, thereby, inadvertently starving themselves of health promoting nutrients.
The body craves the nutrients housed in the foods you eat, not the calories themselves.
Weight loss aside, enjoying a 200-calorie portion of walnuts is always better than eating a 100-calorie snack pack. When all is said and done, a diet emphasizing sensible portions of high-quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein will likely negate the need for calorie counting by boosting the body’s natural fat burning mechanisms. Doing so will also help reduce cravings, curb hunger, and control appetite making it that much easier to eat less and lose weight.
Being Active All Day, Every Day
So, you clocked in over 500 calories on your elliptical trainer this morning. Good for you BUT not so good if the next 8 hours of your day were spent sitting in front of a computer. While a daily exercise bout is great, research shows that it’s totally counterproductive if you sit in a chair for a large majority of the day. Unbeknownst to many, it’s not the act of not exercising that increases the risk of obesity and related diseases but it’s actually the number of daily hours spent in a seated or lying position.
That said, if you’re really trying to lose weight, it’s better to maintain steady levels of physical activity all day, every day, as opposed to simply depending on a single high-calorie burning workout. Performing housework, taking the stairs throughout the day in place of the elevator, implementing an over ground walk into a lunch break or parking as far as possible from a destination all constitute physical activity. Implementing such activities into your lifestyle will surely keep your weight and your health intact.
Making Weight Training a Regular Practice
Weight (resistance) training is one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to successful and sustained weight loss. It’s true! This type of training is by far the best approach to preserving your muscle, which largely affects your ability to lose weight. This is especially important to understand if you’re obsessed with calorie counting. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the higher your metabolism the more calories you’ll burn at rest and during everyday physical activities.
Now, for those of you who feel as though cardio exercise is the best approach to burning calories let me clarify something here.
While you may burn a significant amount of calories during a typical cardio session, weight training induces an “after burn” effect for up to 12 hours meaning you’ll continue to burn more calories during any given activity, even at rest. To achieve maximum weight loss with weight training, make an effort to perform two or more sets of at least 8 exercises targeting all the major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, arms, and legs) using moderate-to-heavy loads.
I’m not at all against calorie monitoring.
Problem is, most calorie counters have a tendency to underestimate the amount of calories they consume while overestimating the amount of calories they burn. When combined with poor nutrition, such faulty calorie counting practices can actually hinder weight loss and even lead to unwanted weight gain. As an expert, I can assure you that implementing these three “non-calorie counting” strategies is by far the most practical approach to weight loss and overall good health.