It's hard to burn fat without exercise. In fact, it's more common to lose weight without changing your diet and just exercising. However, calorie restriction and altering your intake of macronutrients can both facilitate weight loss if you're unable to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Burn Fat Without Exercise
It isn't easy to lose fat without exercising. Most people usually do so by incorporating exercise like jogging, strength training or team sports into their daily routine. If you'd rather burn fat without exercise, you'll have to make some serious changes to your diet and eating habits.
Most people who want to get leaner without exercise resort to dieting. In many cases, it's perfectly safe and healthy to reduce the number of calories you're eating to reach your weight loss goals.
According to Harvard Medical School, eating between 500 and 1,000 calories below your total weight-maintenance calories daily can help you lose weight safely. Reducing your calorie intake by around 500 calories per day over a week can help you lose one pound, while eating 1,000 calories less can help you lose about two pounds. This approach can help you shed the extra weight without putting your health at risk, but it takes time.
It is, of course, possible to reduce your calories further in order to lose weight without exercise more rapidly. However, you shouldn't dramatically reduce your calorie intake unless your doctor has recommended it. Such cases are rare, and they're only used in specific situations, such as for people who are about to undergo weight loss surgery.
Limitations of Calorie Restriction
Dramatically reducing your calorie intake for rapid weight loss is considered a very-low-calorie diet or a crash diet. These slimming plans typically require you to consume 800 calories per day, but you may need to eat more or less depending on the exact diet.
Crash dieting can certainly promote rapid weight loss. However, it may also have long-term, negative effects on your health. According to Medline Plus, potential issues associated with quick weight loss may include:
Gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, diarrhea and constipation
Gout, a painful inflammatory condition
Loss of bone density
Loss of muscle
One of the major drawbacks of crash diets is that they aren't sustainable in the long run. They're likely to help you lose fat without exercise, but are highly unlikely to have positive long-term effects. People who lose weight through crash dieting tend to put the pounds they've lost back on when they go back to their regular diets.
There are certain cases where low-calorie diets are recommended by a healthcare practitioner. With extreme, very-low-calorie diets, you may lose as much as three to five pounds per week. This is likely the fastest way to torch fat without exercise.
However, in such situations, your doctor or nutritionist will supervise your diet to make sure that the meal replacements and other products you're consuming provide all the essential nutrients you need to stay healthy. It's not recommended that very-low-calorie diets are followed for longer than 12 weeks.
Dietary Fiber and Weight Loss
Calorie restriction can be challenging as it leaves you hungry. Generally, hungry dieters are more likely to break their diet plans.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, increasing your dietary fiber intake can help you feel fuller for longer. This nutrient also causes more frequent bowel movements and helps lower your overall calorie intake. According to an August 2018 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber potentially does this by slowing down the absorption of nutrients you consume.
Soluble fiber is thought to interfere with the absorption of fat and cholesterol, slowing down their digestion. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, helps promote healthy, regular bowel movements.
While fiber is undoubtedly healthy and good for you, it may not be the most satiating. According to the chapter "Dietary Strategies to Increase Satiety" from Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, published in April 2013, protein is the most satiating macronutrient.
Consider a High-Protein Diet
High-protein diets — and even just protein-rich foods — may speed up weight loss. According to a small study published in the Nutrition Journal in September 2014, protein-rich snacks may improve appetite control, increase satiety and reduce overall calorie intake in healthy women.
Other studies support these findings. While the standard recommended amount of protein consumption is around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, higher protein intakes have been shown to facilitate weight loss while preserving lean mass. The exact amount of protein you may consume can vary, though.
An August 2012 review in the British Journal of Nutrition reported that a small increase in protein intake (in the range of 1.1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight) can support weight loss and may even help lower blood pressure. However, a small September 2013 clinical trial featured in the FASEB Journal reported that doubling your intake (1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight) might be ideal if your diet's duration is fairly short.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the average American man weighs 197.8 pounds (89.7 kilograms), while the average American woman weighs around 170.5 pounds (77.3 kilograms). Based on these two studies, men could consume as much as 143.5 grams of protein per day. Women could consume as much as 123.7 grams of protein per day.
Following Healthy, High-Protein Diets
There's nothing wrong with increasing your protein intake to support your weight loss goals. However, if you decide to follow a high-protein diet, make sure that you're doing so in a healthy manner. According to the American Heart Association, excessive consumption of animal products can mean you're ingesting too much saturated fat, which is bad for your heart and arteries.
Fortunately, protein doesn't come just from meat products, such as cuts of beef, lamb, pork and chicken. You can also obtain it from eggs, milk products (particularly whey protein) and organ meat. Some types of organ meats, such as beef and pork liver, are extremely rich in nutrients.
Protein also occurs naturally in a variety of plant-based sources. Protein-rich plant-based food includes soy products, such as tempeh and tofu, seitan, nuts, seeds and legumes. These foods are particularly good for you as they're rich in both dietary fiber and protein, unlike animal products.
- Nutrition Journal: "Effects of High-Protein vs. High- Fat Snacks on Appetite Control, Satiety, and Eating Initiation in Healthy Women"
- Advances in Food and Nutrition Research: "Chapter Three - Dietary Strategies to Increase Satiety"
- FDA: "Dietary Fiber"
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Dietary Fat, Fibre, Satiation, and Satiety — a Systematic Review of Acute Studies"
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the Agency’s Efforts to Better Equip Consumers with Nutritional Information About Dietary Fiber in Their Food"
- MedlinePlus: "Diet for Rapid Weight Loss"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- American Heart Association: "Saturated Fat"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Body Measurements"
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Dietary Protein - Its Role in Satiety, Energetics, Weight Loss and Health."
- FASEB Journal: "Effects of High-Protein Diets on Fat-Free Mass and Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Weight Loss: A Randomized Controlled Trial."
- MayoClinic.com; Healthy Weight Pyramid Tool; November 2010