You don’t just want to lose weight; you want to keep it off. Anyone who has done that successfully will tell you that nutrition is far more important than exercise. To cut calories and lose weight without starving yourself, get off the treadmill and adopt each tip below.

Tip: Eat real food. 
Can't exercise? Won't exercise? Focus on diet to lose weight.
Tip: Eat real food.
Can’t exercise? Won’t exercise? Focus on diet to lose weight.
Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Did you know that to lose one pound you need to burn 3,500 calories? So in order to drop that 10 pounds you’ve been complaining about for years, you’d need to burn 35,000 calories. Good luck creating that kind of caloric deficit at the gym.

Don’t get me wrong: exercise can certainly help you lose weight by increasing resting metabolic rate. But Americans are busier than ever and, realistically, we’re just not making exercise enough of a priority. How many of us sign up for a gym membership and then stop going after a week? How many of us have exercise equipment collecting dust in our basements?

Yes, you should exercise more, but unless and until you can commit to doing that regularly, a different approach is in order. As it turns out, the right dietary changes can have a much bigger impact on your ability to lose weight and keep it off, and without exercise!

We all understand that we need to cut calories in order to lose weight, but knowing it and making it happen are two different things. Each tip below will almost make the process of cutting calories seem effortless. Here are my top 5 tips to lose weight without exercise.

5 Tips to Lose Weight Without Exercise

Tip #1: Take It One Step at a Time

My first tip to lose weight without exercise is to start slow. This may sound counterintuitive, but we must remember that it takes time to establish new habits. Implementing change gradually will make it less likely we’ll revert back to our unhealthy ways.

Now let’s get specific. Start by serving your food on smaller plates. This tip tricks your brain into thinking your plate is full and therefore satisfies your hunger but with less food being consumed. Try that for a week and then introduce our second tip (below). Trying to implement several changes all at once is a sure-fire way to become overwhelmed, and when we get overwhelmed, we’re more likely to quit.

Tip #2: Eat Whole Foods

My second tip to help you lose weight without exercise is one that will also give you tons of extra energy throughout the day and improve your overall health at the same time. It’s pretty simple: eat real food! This means lots of complex carbohydrates: fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These foods take longer for the body to break down and metabolize, which provides a steady fuel supply throughout the day. Whole foods also help keep you full longer. This means you’ll take in fewer calories the rest of the day, which is obviously key if you want to lose weight and can’t (or won’t) exercise.

Tip #3 Keep a Food Journal

My third tip to lose weight without exercise is to keep a journal from the very beginning of your weight loss journey. This tip has been proven to keep you on track. We can’t remember the details of every bite we take throughout the day. By writing it down each time you’ll have a record of it and you can track your progress. This tip will help you see how close (or far) you are from your daily calorie target and can help you make the adjustments needed to reach your weight loss goal. Seeing that progress in black and white increases motivation and makes it less likely that we’ll stray.

Tip: Keep a food journal to help with accountability when trying to lose weight.
Tip: Keep a food journal to help with accountability when trying to lose weight.
Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Tip #4: Shop With a List

My fourth tip to help you lose weight without exercise involves a bit of advanced planning: never go to the grocery without a shopping list. This will help you avoid impulse purchases. These food choices tend to be high in calories. There’s a reason candy bars are strategically placed at the checkout counter, just waiting for you to give into temptation.

Another tip is to only shop the perimeter of the grocery store. You’ve probably noticed that most of the food in the middle aisles is the type that’s processed, addictive, and high in calories. The outside perimeter of the store is where you’ll most often find the fruits, vegetables, and proteins.

Tip #5: Stick to It

My most important strategy to lose weight without exercise is to be consistent. I know this is easier said than done, but don’t let yourself get derailed by the occasional slip-up. You’re human and sometimes you fall off the horse. What matters most is that you get back on and keep riding. Wipe the slate clean the very next day. Don’t beat yourself up because you had a burger and fries or one chocolate bar too many. To lose weight and keep it off long-term, you need to focus on the bigger picture. Weight management doesn’t come down to one meal, one day’s worth of meals, or even one week. It’s about the totality of all you do to lose weight.


When we decide to lose weight—either on our own or at the insistence of a doctor-—it helps to have a plan. The coronavirus lockdown has meant restricted access to gyms and fitness classes and less exercise overall. Even before the pandemic, exercise wasn’t a big priority for many Americans, especially not in the form and with the frequency needed to lose an appreciable amount of weight.

As it turns out, though, diet is far more important than exercise for long-term, sustainable weight loss. Each tip above will help you lose more weight than if you were to cut way back on calories and train yourself into the ground. Continuously reducing calories will only slow down your metabolism in the long run. Excessive exercise will have the same effect, not that many of us have the time in our busy schedules for it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

As always, I encourage comments.

Yours in health, Sarah