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Can You Lose Weight Without Calorie Counting?
Updated on January 31, 2024
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Diet / Weight Loss
Can You Lose Weight Without Calorie Counting?
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Yes. While calorie counting leads to weight loss, it’s not the only way to lose weight. The key to losing weight is to create a calorie deficit.

A calorie deficit is when you spend more energy than the calories you consume.

However, there are other ways to achieve a calorie deficit without counting calories or relying on calorie-tracking apps.

How to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories 2

For example, you can drink water (which has zero calories) instead of a can of soda which adds 150 calories to your daily intake.

Switching to a vegan diet that consists of whole fresh fruit and vegetables may also reduce your total calories without calorie counting.

What is Calorie Counting?

Calorie counting is when you measure the number of calories you consume from the foods you eat. This includes the total calories you get from:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats

People usually count calories when they’re trying to reduce their calorie intake. To lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than what you’re used to eating.

What is a Calorie Deficit?

A calorie deficit occurs when you continuously provide your body with fewer calories than it needs. One way to achieve it is with calorie counting.

That said, there are other ways you can reach a calorie deficit and lose weight without tracking your calorie intake.

How Does Calorie Deficit Lead to Weight Loss?

Calorie deficits require you to eat fewer calories than the energy you spend.

Since you won’t get enough calories to provide all of your energy needs, your body will burn any stored fat and use them as an alternative energy source.

This fat-burning process is what causes you to lose fat and weight.

11 Ways to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

Below are some tips for reducing your daily caloric intake without a calorie counter:

1. Eat More Nutrient-Dense Foods

One of the simplest ways to reach a calorie deficit is to eat more nutrient-dense foods and less calorie-dense options. Here’s why:

  • Nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables tend to be low-calorie and are high in fiber, proteins, healthy fats, and water. They can keep you satiated for a long time.
  • Calorie-dense foods like sweets, starchy foods, and processed meats are usually high in calories, sugars, and saturated fats. They can cause food cravings and add significantly to your daily calories.

Eating more nutrient-dense foods (like fruits and vegetables) and less calorie-dense foods can reduce your calories and overall food intake.

You don’t have to completely avoid foods with high caloric density. Some like nuts, avocados, and fatty meats can be good for you on occasion. 

2. Make Healthier Food Choices

When deciding on what to eat, always choose healthy whole foods and opt for the healthier option. This may help with eating fewer calories. 

Here are some examples of healthy eating:

  • It’s better to get more protein from lean meats like chicken and turkey than it is to eat high-fat meats like beef and veal.
  • Whole fruits and vegetables are healthier and more satisfying than liquid alternatives like fruit and vegetable juice.
  • Whole grains are healthier sources of carbohydrates than refined grains.
  • When choosing between ultra-processed foods and red meats, go for the meat but eat moderately.

3. Control Your Sugar Intake

Eating your favorite desserts and pastries once in a while is fine for satisfying your sweet tooth. But you shouldn’t eat a lot of these sugary treats.

Foods and drinks that are high in sugar can increase your calorie intake and blood sugar. They can trigger cravings and cause you to eat more food.

You should also watch out for hidden sugars in food. Some examples are:

  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose

Adult women should consume no more than 24 grams (100 calories) of added sugars. Adult men can only eat up to 36 grams (150 calories) of sugar per day.1

4. Limit Your Use of Condiments

Sauces and dressings add calories to your food. Drizzling small amounts or using them as side servings to dip food into will help limit your intake.

But if you want to add flavor to your meals without the extra calories, use herbs and spices instead.

5. Eat Small But Healthy Portions

A quick way to decrease your calorie intake is to eat foods from a smaller plate. Make sure you maintain a healthy diet by portioning your meals as follows:

  • Fruits and vegetables – ½ of your plate
  • Whole grains – ¼ of your plate
  • Proteins – ¼ of your plate

Once you finish a small plate of food, wait until the next meal before you eat so you don’t end up eating more calories.

6. Opt for Home-Cooked Meals

While restaurants may offer nutritious foods, cooking your meals at home better ensures that you eat healthy and consume fewer calories.

It’s because you will have complete control over the ingredients and amount of calories you put into your food.

7. Create a Meal Plan

Meal planning lets you schedule meals up to several weeks in advance and decide which recipes to use.

Sticking to a scheduled meal plan may help you cut calories while ensuring that you eat nutritious foods. It also encourages healthy habits for eating.

For instance, you’re less likely to eat takeout if you plan your meals. 

You don’t need to count calories or macronutrients—such as your carbohydrate, fat, and protein intake—to create a weight loss meal plan.

As long as you consistently make healthy food choices and eat smaller portions than what you’re used to, you can get a calorie deficit.

8. Practice Mindful Eating

Stress, fatigue, sadness, anger, and boredom can trigger emotional eating. An emotional eater uses food as a means to cope with negative emotions.

If you’re an emotional eater, you need to pay attention to your emotions and how they affect your appetite. This is known as mindful eating.

When you eat mindfully, you can pay closer attention to your emotional triggers and stop yourself from eating food just to feel better.

It can help you avoid adding unnecessary calories to your diet, which can lead to weight gain.

9. Eat Slowly

Eating slowly gives your body enough time to suppress hunger hormones so you would feel full. Studies show that people who eat slowly:2

  • Feel more satisfied at the end of the meal 
  • Consume fewer calories
  • Drink more water than those who eat quickly

10. Drink More Water and Green Tea

Drinking water before meals satiates you and keeps you from quenching your thirst with soda or other high-calorie drinks. This helps reduce your calories.3

Green tea may also support your weight loss efforts. 

In a study, two groups of people were given a bottle of oolong tea each day. One group had green tea extract mixed into their tea. The other group didn’t have any.

The group that received green tea extract in their tea lost more body weight. They also had significantly lower body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI).4

11. Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is an excellent way to burn fat. When combined with a reduced-calorie diet, it can help you lose more weight.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics every week.

If you’re not used to exercising, you can start by walking for five to ten minutes per day. As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase the minutes you spend on brisk walking per day.

Check with your doctor before you increase your physical activity. People who are obese, overweight, and have heart problems may need specialized routines.

Are There Weight Loss Diets With No Calorie Counting?

Yes. Some weight loss diets don’t require you to count calories.

Intermittent fasting methods, like the 20:4 fasting diet, help you lose weight by limiting your food intake to “eating periods” when you’re allowed to eat.

A vegan diet restricts your meals to plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Since these foods are low-calorie and satisfying, they can reduce your calories. 

Noom’s weight loss program is another great option. It teaches you to build healthy habits so you can reach a calorie deficit without counting calories.

Remember to consult a nutritionist or dietitian before attempting to lose weight. Your doctor can determine the safety of a diet based on your current health.

In some cases, your doctor might recommend weight loss methods that require calorie counting—such as ketogenic diets.

Updated on January 31, 2024
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4 sources cited
Updated on January 31, 2024
  1. Added Sugar.” The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

  2. Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, PubMed.

  3. Drink more water to cut calories, fat, and sugar?” Harvard Health Publishing.

  4. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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