How to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories -- Easy Tips to Lose Fat

Whole Food Weight Loss

A quick guide to easy weight loss with whole foods -- without counting calories. Enjoy good, satisfying food and never eat "diet food" again. How to create a calorie deficit for weight loss; fast ways to eat less without getting hungry; losing weight with simple portion control; fast and effective ways to burn more calories -- and updated weight loss tips.

Counting calories right at the beginning of a diet can help you get control of your eating to begin losing weight. The good news: you don't have to count calories to lose weight. Learning portion control and increasing your activity can help you keep your weight loss on track. This doesn't mean counting celery sticks and going to the gym every day. You simply learn to eyeball portions, take your time reducing portions and cutting out second helpings and any overeating habits -- if you have any habits such as eating without paying attention or eating for emotional reasons or eating at night.

Once you begin to manage your eating and reduce stress, you don't have to think about weighing and measuring food to lose weight. Make weight-loss a lifestyle change rather than a short-term deprivation diet, and you can be on your way to a lifetime at a healthy weight. I lost more than 50 pounds this way, and you can do it, too.

What no one told me during all the years I tried all kinds of diets and failed was that once you stop eating trigger foods you stop having cravings and losing weight becomes easy. Trigger foods make you want to eat more. Sugar, refined grains, starchy foods, deep-fried and breaded foods tend to increase food cravings. They can also make you bloated. So when you eat sweets, fast food, potato chips, white bread, white rice and pasta you're set up to overeat, feel worse and look heavier.

When you eat more whole foods and cut down on refined carbohydrates, you have more energy, better moods, better mental focus and a flatter belly. Once you aren't ruled by food cravings, easy weight loss success is yours!

Easy weight-loss trick to try today: Set a time to stop eating two to three hours before bedtime. This is a strategy I learned from celebrity personal trainer Bob Greene.

April 2013 update:

Good Reading for Eating for Health: Eating natural foods for your health can have the benefit of easy weight loss. Read books by brain specialist Dr. Amen and Dr. Hyman for inspiring examples and practical suggestions on how to improve your energy and health while achieving a healthy low-fat body weight for life.

Remember, it's not what you weigh, it's what your weight consists of! Recently I started eating more sugar and grains due to spending time with someone who eats more of those things than I do. I only gained 1.5 pounds, but my body fat increased 4 percent and I developed a muffin-top at the waistline. Ugh. Once you get used to less sugar in your life, it becomes a lot easier to keep the fat off.

Exercise for weight loss: easy, quick and fun

Father-Daughter Joggers at Morro Bay, California by Mike Baird
Father-Daughter Joggers at Morro Bay, California by Mike Baird | Source

How to Lose Weight

To lose weight, consume fewer calories than you burn off in activity -- and reduce your stress.

  • Cut high-calorie foods -- or limit them to small servings
  • Reduce portion sizes
  • Drink water -- instead of sweetened beverages or alcohol. This simple trick cuts your daily calories. Most people don't realize that sodas, sweetened iced tea and other liquid calories can add hundreds of calories a day -- and keep you overweight. Preliminary evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners may increase your appetite -- although further research is needed.
  • Combine a reasonable eating plan and exercise. Avoid fad diets, fasting and eating too little -- excessive calorie restriction triggers your body to hold onto fat! Combining calorie reduction and exercise is the healthiest and most effective way to lose body fat -- and keep it off forever.

Calculating Calories

Checking your calorie intake at the beginning of your weight-loss journey can give you an idea of where you're at and what you need to do to get the weight to come off. If counting calories rubs you the wrong way, skip it. I had better success with weight loss -- lasting weight loss -- once I stopped dieting and learned how to eat.

If you opt to check your calorie intake:

  • Write down the calories of everything you eat and drink for at least three days.
  • Make the record as accurate as possible by checking the serving sizes on nutrition labels and looking up foods in a nutrition book or online food tracker.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. For example, a serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons. If you ate 6 tablespoons, multiply the number of calories per serving by three for the total calories for the servings you ate.
  • The American Heart Association suggests limiting serving sizes to the size of your fist – except for protein. A serving of meat, fish or poultry is 4 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Count beverage calories, and pay attention to these portion sizes, too. Sweetened sodas, sugary iced tea and coffee house drinks can add hundreds of calories a day to your diet.

Fast Tips

  1. Keep commitments to yourself. Successful weight loss begins with making promises to yourself and keeping them.
  2. Track what you eat and your exercise time. This is one of the top success strategies of people who achieve their weight loss goals. You don't have to weigh or measure everything you eat -- just make quick notes to stay aware of how you're eating.
  3. Practice portion control. The American Heart Association suggests using your fist as your measuring tool. A serving is about the size of your fist, except for protein -- a serving of meat, fish or poultry is 3 to 4 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards or half a fist. A serving of cheese is a 1-inch cube or a quarter cup of feta. Feta cheese, low-fat mozarella and reduced fat cheeses are lower in saturated fat than hard and creamy cheeses.
  4. Eat more vegetables. Vegetables help to fill you you up with few calories, and provide healthy fiber and antioxidants. Build most of your meals around vegetables and it becomes easier to lose weight. Start lunch and dinner with a salad or vegetable soup -- or have a large salad with lean protein as your meal.
  5. Practice stress reduction and get enough sleep. Excessive stress promotes fat storage -- especially in the belly, and makes it harder to lose weight. People who don't get enough sleep tend to consume more calories.
  6. Move more. Build in more physical activity every way you can. Stand up when you're on the phone, do chores at a faster pace, use an exercise machine in front of the TV, get outside and walk every day. Exercise helps you burn calories more efficiently so you become leaner -- and it busts stress and helps to keep your problems in perspective. This can reduce food cravings and break the habit of overeating.
  7. Distinguish between actual physical hunger and emotional urges to eat. Keep a journal and discover what's eating you. Methods such as EFT -- Emotional Freedom Technique -- can help to break the hold of old traumas, low self-esteem, early conditioning about food, bad habits and emotional issues that undermine your attempts to create a better life.
  8. Get help if you engage in binge-purge, starvation diets or harmful behavior toward yourself.
  9. Recover from slips by letting it go and reconfirming your goals. Missing a workout or eating something that isn't on your plan doesn't have to ruin your progress. Forgive yourself and persist.
  10. Affirm to yourself that you can do it. This time, you'll create a healthy lifestyle and get in the shape you've always wanted for yourself. You *can* do it.
  11. Go for it! I'm rooting for you.

Reducing Calories or Eating Less Without Counting Calories

It can be helpful to find out how many calories you're actually consuming. Here's how: Add the total number of calories for the days you tracked and divide the total by the number of days. For example, if you tracked your calories for five days, divide the total calories by five. This gives you an average number of calories per day.

Reduce your daily calories by 500 to 1,000 calories to lose one to two pounds per week. Provided your weight has been stable at your current calorie intake, this reduction creates a calorie deficit for weight loss. Reducing your food intake to 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day will help most women lose weight safely. Men need to cut back to 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day, according the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

An easy way to lose weight without counting calories or feeling hungry is to cut starches and sugar. Try it for a week.

If you crave starch, pick a version with fiber, such as a sweet potato, brown rice, wild rice or old fashioned oatmeal. These foods are more filling than processed foods and have a slower impact on your blood sugar. Cutting out sugar can reduce food cravings and make it easier to eat less. Eat vegetables and protein at every meal to feel full and keep your blood sugar at an even keel.

A great trick I learned from Bob Greene, Oprah's personal trainer: quit eating two to three hours before bed. This simple rule cuts out night-time eating -- a danger zone for many of us. At night, it's easy to eat from boredom, stress or loneliness. This kind of eating has nothing to do with hunger.

Emotional eating undermines weight loss, and it can cause weight gain. I discovered that when I stop eating two to three hours before bed, it's easier to eat a healthy breakfast. I used to hate the idea of eating first thing in the morning.

Burn More Calories

Add moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week to support your weight loss. If your fitness level allows, choose vigorous-intensity cardio, such as jogging, running, kickboxing or step aerobics for a higher calorie burn and faster results. Track the time you spend exercising in your fitness journal or online tracker. Performing high-intensity interval training can help you lose fat faster.

Lose Weight Without Counting Calories Tips

  • If you have difficulty cutting calories, increase your daily exercise time or intensity. Burning more calories allows you to consume more calories and still lose weight -- as long as you consume and burn fewer calories than the level that maintains your current weigh
  • Count beverages, refills, second helpings, food you eat while cooking, food you eat while watching TV, food you eat off someone else's plate, snacks, and everything else. Little tastes and things you eat while doing something else can add up to many excess calories each day.
  • Consult your doctor about any medical concerns, and before starting a diet or exercise program. This article is presented for informational purposes only.

Portion Control Without Counting

  • Eat vegetables with nearly every meal or snack. They're good for you; they're filling and they're low in calories.
  • Have a green salad or broth soup before eating lunch or dinner. This curbs your appetite so you eat less of foods higher in calories.
  • Limit starches, including grains, to one serving per meal. A serving of potatoes, pasta, rice or oatmeal is a 1/2 cup -- that's about the size of a tennis ball.
  • A serving of protein, such as meat, chicken or fish, is 3 to 4 ounces. That's about the size of a deck of cards or the middle of your palm.
  • Limit most servings to the size of your fist -- except for non-starchy vegetables. Your fist makes a great measuring tool, because you have it with you everywhere.
  • Limit fat servings to the size of the first joint of your thumb. Olive oil makes a great salad dressing and you can stretch it with water and lemon juice or vinegar. A serving of avocado is 1/4 of a medium avocado or 1/8 of a large one. A serving of nuts is a small handful, or in many cases, about 2 level tablespoons. My favorite almonds are about 12 whole almonds per serving.
  • Once you learn to eyeball smaller servings and eat more vegetables and fresh fruit, it becomes easy to eat less.
  • Use smaller plates and bowls. It's easy to overeat by habit. Train yourself to limit your portions by serving your food on smaller plates, such as a salad plate. Put your portion of protein on 1/3 of the plate, starch if desired on 1/3 of the plate and fill the remaining 2/3 of the plate with vegetables: an easy method of portion control without counting.
  • Always serve your food onto your plate, instead of putting serving dishes on the table. This way you know how much you're eating. Stop taking second helpings. It can take practice to break the habit, but the simple act of deciding on portions and sticking to it will save you a lot of excess calories and make your weight loss easy.

April 2012 Mid-Life Weight-Loss Success Update

I'm now within 12 pounds of my goal weight.

I eat primarily organic, whole foods. I rarely consume anything made with sugar or processed grains.

Regular physical activity has become a lifestyle. I hike, bicycle, use a stepper with ski poles and a cardio rider, walk briskly, do a lot of vigorous yard work, do yoga and lift weights.

I'm 51 now -- while it can be challenging to lose weight at mid-life, with the right balance of healthy eating and physical activity, you can do it.

High-Intensity Interval Training and circuit training are great time savers for a high calorie burn. Twenty minutes of HIIT covers my exercise most days.

Best wishes to everyone for better health, safe weight loss and improved fitness.

Lose Weight Without Counting Calories 2012 Update

The commitment to focus on health has unexpected rewards. I spent more than a year specializing in health and fitness articles. That allowed me to work at home and continue writing a novel.

I continue to do the Tibetan 5 Rites regularly -- a dynamic yoga practice that keeps me limber and pain-free. I bicycle, take hikes, use a stepper with ski poles, take walks -- and lately I've been pushing the endurance cardio with hour-long hilly walks. I do all my own yard work by hand -- no power tools. I do it at a fast pace.

My diet consists of primarily whole foods: salads, fresh fruit, nuts, virgin olive oil, yogurt, eggs, meat in moderation, salmon, chicken, natural bacon now and then, sweet potatoes, protein shakes, coconut milk, dark chocolate, tea, organic espresso, red wine in moderation. It's my own blend of a modified carbohydrate-low-glycemic-Mediteranean diet.

I rarely buy any kind of processed food, and I do most of my own cooking. I grow organic herbs and use sea salt. Food tastes better when it's fresh and hasn't been loaded with excess salt and sugar. Once in a while, if I really want a cookie or some ice cream, I have it. I don't crave those things any more. Oh yeah, I haven't counted a calorie or felt guilty about eating in years. I was a fat child and bulimic in college, so it's been a radical transformation. I had to care enough about myself to make better choices. Every day, our choices create our lives.

At 51, I feel great. I can climb a giant rock or a cliff face out at the coast or bicycle up a hill without becoming winded. Years of yoga have kept me flexible and help me maintain good posture. Unlike most middle-aged people I know, I don't spend time talking about physical complaints. I've done a lot of things to avoid becoming one of those people who recites symptoms of ill health to anyone who will listen. I made the decision to become aggressively healthy. You can, too.

Trent, aka hikeguy

Copyright Travis Arts 2012, all rights reserved. Protected by Copyscape.

Weight-Loss Maintenance Without Counting Calories -- 2013 Update

As most people who have lost a significant amount of weight can affirm, losing weight is only the first part of the job. Keeping excess weight off requires some mindfulness.

I'm 52 now, and I'm wearing the smallest waist size of my adult life, a 31 - 33, depending on the cut of the jeans. I'd felt pretty comfortable at a size 34, yet when some financial setbacks triggered an unexpected weight-loss, I discovered that it feels great to be leaner. The strange thing: this was the first time in my life I went through a crisis without overeating. There were times I had to deliberately increase my calorie intake -- the first time in my life I'd ever needed to keep weight *on.*

One challenge was I started eating more carbohydrate-rich foods than usual: pastries, cookies, candy, bread, muffins, pie -- yet because I was eating so little overall, I didn't gain weight. Now that I'm back to a normal appetite, I'm taking more care to workout regularly so that I can continue to fit into all my new jeans.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Set a schedule for exercise and stick with it. I take a half-hour hike nearly every day and do intervals, alternating brisk walking with jogging. The trail has moderate uphill sections, so I get some good intensity. Some days I do the hike fasting. Whether or not exercising in a fasting state is beneficial remains controversial. As with all diet and exercise changes, talk to your doctor first.
  • Challenge yourself. Fit in endurance cardio at least once a week. I like to take an hour-long beach walk or hike once a week. The longer, continuous cardio is a great way to burn fat. It takes 20 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise to gain benefits, so the time you spend beyond 20 minutes does you the most good, within reason.
  • Drink water throughout the day, and aim for at least eight glasses. I carry stainless-steel eco-friendly water bottles with me everywhere I go. I have a 16-oz. one I keep in the car and use for long hikes, and an 8-oz. I use on my hip-belt for short and moderate hikes.
  • Pay attention to how your clothes fit and adjust your eating as needed. For me, how my jeans fit is instant feedback on how I'm doing with my eating and physical activity. If they're fitting tight at the waist, I step up my physical activity and re-enforce having an eating cut-off time. I still don't count calories, so reducing the number of hours a day that I eat automatically reduces calories without much effort. I limit carbohydrates and focus on lean protein and vegetables when I want to drop excess weight efficiently.
  • Reduce stress. Regular exercise helps with this. I also use EFT, hypnosis, deep breathing and reading Buddhist books, novels and enjoying cartoons, comedy and funny friends for stress-relief. Recent research confirms that stress contributes to weight gain and makes it harder to lose weight. It can also contribute to overeating and less self-care. Taking care of yourself with downtime, taking breaks from your routine, enjoyable exercise, good contact with other people, nourishing food and a happier life pays off with better health and a better self-image.
  • Make Protein and vegetables with healthy fats the stars of your meals. Olive oil, olives, nuts and avocado in moderation can help to prevent and reduce belly fat.

I'm a lot happier with how I look now that I'm in a normal weight range and no longer obese. I wish you the same success. Make 2013 your year for shedding everything that's holding you back and make it the year you change your life. You deserve it!

Weight-Loss Information Resources


The American Heart Association: Losing Weight

Basic information, including a calorie-burning chart for common exercises.

The American Heart Association: Five Goals to Losing Weight

Details on portion control, food substitutions, exercise, keeping a food journal -- and the habits that can sabotage weight loss.

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Comments 4 comments

theslimdude 3 years ago

I just cant imagine that I couldn't count calories and macros, just isn't for me.


HikeGuy profile image

HikeGuy 4 years ago from Northern California Coast Author

Thanks. I like Bob Greene's five rules -- they simplify weight loss. It's much more difficult to lose weight without exercise -- and the results can be unfortunate because of a higher risk of sagging and loose skin. Increasing physical activity helps the body burn calories more efficiently -- and increasing fitness makes weight-loss results much more attractive. Making time for exercise pays off with better energy levels, lower stress and a stronger, healthier body.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

Some sound dietary advice here. I have gained weight through doing a desk job 5 days a week for the last 12 years, and also after giving up smoking around 8 years ago. I don't have the time for regular exercise, and although I eat fairly healthily most of the time, can't seem to lose any weight at all. I think I just need to put a bit more thought and dedication into it, and I may succeed. Counting calories has very little appeal for me, so it was good to hear about your own personal experiences, it sounds like the right mental attitude had a lot to do with your success - thanks for the tips. :)


HERBERT ubaldo profile image

HERBERT ubaldo 4 years ago

You can also use ebay and amazons to your article,

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