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How To Lose Weight With A Sedentary Job (5 Desk Job Tips)

Alex DePinto
Published by Alex DePinto
Last updated: October 10, 2022

People with a desk job that involves sitting at a computer for eight hours a day are among the most common types of clients I get as a personal trainer.

It shouldn’t be surprising that limited physical activity makes it difficult to lose weight.

But there are some simple things you can do to burn a few extra calories and develop healthy habits. And these changes can have a major impact on your overall health as well.

Let me show you what I mean.

Quick Summary

  • Sitting at a desk job all day can have serious implications for posture, back pain, weight, and maintaining good health.
  • Many people think it’s impossible to lose weight at a desk, especially with the temptation of the office vending machine.
  • Breaking that sedentary lifestyle is a vital step to avoiding serious health conditions, and there are simple ways to improve your body composition.

Is It Possible To Lose Weight If You Work At A Desk?

A man holding two light dumbbells at work

Yes, it is possible to lose weight if you work at a desk all day. And weight loss doesn’t have to rely on a regular trip to the gym each day.

In order to lose weight with a desk job, you have to carefully monitor energy expenditure and calorie intake.

If you can achieve a calorie deficit during your working day, even with prolonged sitting, then you can still lose belly fat effectively [1].

What that means is that you have to gain control over how many calories you eat and then burn more energy than sitting down and using your brain achieves.

I’ll get to some specific tips and habits to develop shortly, but you have to pay a lot more attention to eating low-calorie and healthy food and then setting regular reminders to get up and move around more.

Not only will this burn calories, but it can also help improve your concentration levels for the work you’re doing.

Why Do Office Workers Gain Weight?

Office workers gain weight in a desk job because they consume more calories than they burn. Studies have shown that 9 out of 10 office employees blame their job for their weight gain [2].

And the same time, research has shown that these same people can pile on an average of 12 pounds, which ultimately can lead to diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. These are all terrible problems that you could be setting yourself up for.

Many of the problems come down to a vending machine that doesn't have any healthy snacks, and when people get up from their desks, it’s to head to a cafeteria, break room, or a meeting with co-workers where they will be sitting down again. 

There simply is a complete disconnect between making it possible to become more physically active and avoiding sugary treats.

Unfortunately, there are many types of professions where sitting at a desk for many hours at a time is unavoidable. But it’s important to consider that it’s still possible to achieve weight loss as an office worker.

“One in four employees is too 'stressed' to think about eating healthily at work, according to a survey that exposes how work pressures have affected eating habits.”

- Ashleigh Webber, Editor at personneltoday.com

5 Tips For Burning Fat At Your Desk

A person searching for fitness tips and a woman stretching on her table

The following five tips can significantly help with weight loss and will also bring other health benefits for anyone who spends a lot of time at a desk.

1. Stop Snacking

Research from the World Health Organization and Personnel Today has shown that the negative eating habits of office employees are directly tied to job-related pressure and the work environment [3]. The result is that many people turn to junk food, sugary treats, and cans of soda.

And all that directly influences blood sugar levels with the potential for insulin resistance, which is the main reason more and more obese women and men struggle at work.

In order to lose weight at work, you need to either stop snacking altogether or find healthier snacks like nuts that contain lots of healthy fats.

And don’t think that switching to diet soda is a solution; there’s plenty of evidence that artificial sweeteners can cause weight issues [4].

2. Drink More Water

Staying hydrated is important, especially if you’re in an air-conditioned work environment. But there’s also an effect called water-induced thermogenesis [5].

If you drink a pint of water in about two minutes, you can boost your metabolic rate and burn more calories to shrink your fat cells.

And it’s also a good idea to have a few cups of green tea for the fat-burning effect and its antioxidants[6].

3. Do Deskercises

A woman pointing at her dumbbell

I’m not suggesting that you stand in the middle of the office and do jumping jacks and sit-ups. But there are simple chair exercises you can do to lose weight.

My favorite chair workout is triceps dips. Simply get your legs straight under the desk, and balance on the front edge of the chair. Then dip your body down by flexing your elbows.

You can also do some squats to get some movement into your leg muscles.

And don’t underestimate the effectiveness of stretching as one of the more low-impact ways to lose weight [7]. It can also help people in a desk job to maintain better posture.

Also, consider sitting on a stability ball for at least part of the day and even see if you can get a standing desk to not end up sitting all day long.

4. Set Reminders To Move

Another major problem with weight gain at the office is that people don’t move from the time they get to the office until it’s time for a lunch break.

And then they sit down again to eat.

What you need to do is set up a reminder on your phone or smartwatch every 30 to 45 minutes. When it goes off, stand up and walk to a water cooler nearby.

This should add hundreds of steps to your working day and keep you metabolically active at a higher rate.s

5. Take Supplements

A person holding two supplement

One of the biggest problems with gaining weight at work is the temptation of snacking and not moving enough.

One way to better deal with carbohydrate cravings and burn some belly fat is by using fat burners. You can check our articles where we are trying to find the best option.

They have natural ingredients that can increase how many calories you burn even when you’re resting. These supplements are not going to reduce the effects of eating a box of donuts while watching TV.

However, they can make quite a difference when you consistently take them.

FAQs

Does Working At A Desk Make You Fat?

Yes, working at a desk can make you fat. Because your body and muscles will hardly be under any kind of physical strain, it’s most common for people with desk jobs to gradually gain more weight.

Is It Possible To Burn Fat Without Exercising?

Yes, it’s possible to burn fat without exercising. As long as you burn more calories than you’re taking in, your body has to resort to fat reserves for energy.

Start Dealing With Love Handles At Work

All of the above weight loss tips should become part of your daily habits.

They won’t replace going to the gym or other exercises for losing weight, but they can have a significant impact on avoiding low-calorie burning times.

These can boost your metabolism enough to lose a few extra pounds over the months ahead.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18025815/
  2. https://nypost.com/2019/06/11/your-office-job-might-be-making-you-fat/
  3. https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/work-pressures-leading-to-unhealthy-eating-habits/
  4. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/10/07/1044010141/diet-soda-may-prompt-food-cravings-especially-in-women-and-people-with-obesity
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14671205/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649093/
  7. https://www.healthshots.com/fitness/weight-loss/you-need-to-do-these-5-stretches-for-10-minutes-daily-if-you-want-to-lose-weight/
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