"Eat less, move more."
This is the message we receive from various health gurus and nutrition organizations.
They assume that the only reason people gain or lose weight is because of calories.
This is simply wrong, because our bodies are much more complicated than that.
Different foods affect hunger and hormones in different ways and all calories are NOT equal.
The truth is... there are many things you can do to lose weight, without ever counting a single calorie.
Here are 7 proven ways to put fat loss on "autopilot."
Losing weight can be as simple as changing your breakfast.
Two separate studies have shown that eating eggs in the morning (compared to a breakfast of bagels) can help you lose fat without trying.
In one of these studies, 30 overweight or obese women ate either bagels or eggs for breakfast (1).
The egg group ended up eating fewer calories at lunch, the rest of the day and for the next 36 hours.
Put simply, the eggs were so fulfilling that the women automatically ate fewer calories at subsequent meals.
In another study, 152 overweight men and women were split into groups. One group ate eggs, the other ate bagels... both groups were on a weight loss diet (2).
After 8 weeks, the egg group had lost significantly more weight than the bagel group:
- 65% more weight loss (2 lbs vs 1.3 lbs).
- 61% greater reduction in BMI.
- 34% greater reduction in waist circumference.
- 16% greater reduction in body fat percentage.
The difference in weight loss wasn't huge, but it clearly shows that simple things like changing one meal can have a small effect.
Another awesome benefit of eating eggs is that they are among the healthiest foods in the world. New studies show that they do NOT raise your bad cholesterol or give you heart disease, like previously believed (3, 4, 5, 6).
If you think you don't have time to cook a healthy breakfast, think again. Preparing a breakfast with some eggs and veggies doesn't have to take any longer than 5-10 minutes.
Just set your alarm clock a few minutes earlier... problem solved.
Bottom Line: Studies show that eating eggs for breakfast can help you automatically eat fewer calories, compared to a breakfast of bagels.
The human brain is the most complex object in the universe, gram for gram.
It tends to work in mysterious ways... and the control of eating behavior is incredibly complicated.
It is the brain that ultimately determines whether we should or should not eat.
Interestingly, there is one neat thing you can do to "trick" your brain into thinking that it has eaten more food.
This is using smaller plates.
The larger your plates or bowls, the less your brain thinks you have eaten. By using smaller plates, you trick your brain into feeling more satisfied with fewer calories.
Bottom Line: It is possible to "trick" the brain into thinking that it has eaten more food by using smaller plates.
For some strange reason, protein has gotten a bad rap.
Many people think that it can "leech" calcium from the bones and cause kidney disease.
However... this is complete nonsense, which is not supported by science.
There is a lot of evidence that protein can increase fat burning and reduce hunger, leading to automatic weight loss.
One of the reasons for that is that it takes the body more calories to digest and make use of protein, than it does fat and carbs.
Protein also increases satiety, leading to significantly reduced hunger (11).
In one study, increasing protein to 30% of calories lead to an automatic decrease in calorie intake of 441 calories per day (12).
The best way to get in more protein is to eat more animal foods like meat, fish and eggs... preferably at every meal.
Bottom Line: Increased protein in the diet can boost metabolism and reduce hunger. It can also increase muscle mass, helping you burn more calories around the clock.
Another way to feel more satisfied with fewer calories is to eat foods that have a low energy density.
This includes foods that have a high water content, such as vegetables and some fruits.
In one study, women who ate soup (low energy density) lost 50% more weight than women who ate an energy dense snack (23).
Another benefit of soluble fiber is that it gets broken down by bacteria in the digestive tract to produce a fatty acid called butyrate, which is believed to have significant anti-obesity effects... at least in rats (27).
Combining animals (high in protein) with a bunch of plants (low energy density) is a recipe for success.
Bottom Line: Choosing foods with a low energy density (like vegetables and some fruits) can help you feel more satisfied with fewer calories.
Probably THE best way to start losing weight without calorie counting or portion control is to reduce your carbohydrate intake.
In one study, 53 overweight/obese women were randomized to a low-carb group or a calorie restricted low-fat group, for 6 months (30): Women in the low-carb group lost twice as much weight (8.5 kg - 18.7 lbs) while eating until fullness, compared to the low-fat group (3.9 kg - 8.6 lbs), which was calorie restricted.
Getting into the range of 100-150 gram carbs per day can be useful. If you want to lose weight fast, then going under 50 grams per day can be extremely effective.
Another great benefit of reducing carbs... it lowers your insulin levels, which makes the kidneys start shedding excess sodium and water from the body, significantly reducing bloat and water weight (31, 32).
Bottom Line: Cutting carbohydrate intake can reduce appetite and cause automatic weight loss, without calorie counting or portion control. It also leads to significant reductions in water weight.
Two things that often get ignored when discussing health (and weight) are sleep and stress levels.
Both are incredibly important for the optimal function of your body and hormones.
For these reasons, it is very important to make time for quality sleep, as well as avoiding unnecessary stressors in your life.
Bottom Line: Poor sleep and excess stress can mess up important metabolic hormones like ghrelin, leptin and cortisol. Getting these hormones under control should reduce appetite and unnatural cravings.
Coconut oil has some unique properties that can help reduce appetite and increase fat burning.
It is loaded with fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).
These fatty acids get metabolized differently compared to other fats... they go straight to the liver where they are either used for energy or turned into ketone bodies.
By making a few simple changes that optimize hormones, reduce hunger and boost metabolism, you can lose a lot of weight without ever counting a single calorie.