How To Lose Fat Without Working Out (8 Crucial Tips)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: April 2, 2024
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In my time as a personal trainer, I’ve had many clients who couldn’t exercise for a period of time due to certain injuries. Many of them thought that losing weight would be impossible.

However, I’ve always managed to find ways for them to kickstart their fat loss before they could get back to the gym and crank their weight loss goals.

In this article, I’m going to share various weight loss techniques that don’t require exercise but which proved to be quite effective both for my clients and me in times when excessive movement wasn’t an option.

Quick Summary

  • To achieve weight loss without working out, you can follow several strategies, including drinking water, getting enough sleep, cutting down on calorie-dense foods, intermittent fasting, and consuming more protein-rich foods.
  • Genetics, medical conditions, and personal fitness goals can limit the effectiveness of losing weight without exercise.
  • Poor sleep is often underestimated by clients who associate it with a lack of physical activity and weight gain, but numerous studies published in PubMed Central have consistently linked inadequate sleep to increased weight gain.
  • In my opinion, achieving weight loss without exercise is feasible through various strategies, but it's important to remember that a combination of a healthy diet and regular physical activity is the most effective approach for long-term results.

Is It Possible To Lose Fat Without Working Out?

Yes, it’s possible to lose fat without working out. Although, working out can speed up your fat loss significantly, based on my experience.

There are many other ways you can lose weight without getting your heart up. But keep in mind that to lose body weight through these methods requires hard work and patience.

Best Ways To Do It

A woman drinking water

My clients have consistently achieved weight loss and fought back unnecessary weight gain by using these methods of losing body fat.

1. Drink Water

From my personal training experience, water is a miracle liquid that can help you lose belly fat quickly over a period of time.

Many studies back up the relationship between drinking water and losing weight, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [1] [2].

Here are some of the ways water can help you lose fat:

  • It increases the metabolization of stored fat and carbohydrates [3].
  • It can reduce overall liquid calorie intake [4].
  • It helps the body get rid of waste [5].
  • It enhances calorie burning [6].
  • It's the best natural appetite suppressant [7].

It can be challenging to remind yourself to drink lots of water. So, here are some tips to increase your water intake:

  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.
  • Drink at least one glass (8 oz) of water before every meal.
  • Keep a full water bottle or glass next to your bed.
  • Eat water-rich foods (like stews, curries, broths, smoothies, fruits, and vegetables).

Related Article: Is Hot Water Good For Weight Loss

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

A peacefully sleeping person

Ensuring adequate sleep and improving sleep quality are, in my personal experience, among the best methods to shed pounds without physical activity.

Sleep is one of the many things new clients don’t seem to take seriously because most of them relate sleeping to lack of physical activity — and by extension, weight gain. However, repeated studies published in PubMed Central have shown a strong correlation between poor sleep and weight gain [8] [9].

Other studies have shown that lack of sleep may lead you to increase your calorie intake, making you gain weight in the long run [10].

Think of sleep as nutrition for your brain. Most people require seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Achieving this was a challenge for many clients, including myself.

So, over the years, I learned the following tricks that can help trigger a good night’s rest:

  • Avoid heavy meals at least two hours before bedtime and sugar and caffeine for six to eight hours.
  • Drink low-caffeine tea to reduce cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, according to the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition [11].
  • Keep away from your phone, computer, and television for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Use your bedroom for rest and sleep only. Take your work into another room.
  • Have a bedtime ritual before turning off your light to teach your body that it's time to sleep.
  • Turn off the lights; darkness makes your body release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, according to the Brain Disorders & Therapy [12].

“Sleeping longer may affect the secretion of appetite regulatory hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, which may inhibit intakes of foods and energy. … Moreover, sleeping more reduces the time for eating.”

- Dr. Lu Qi, PhD, Director of Tulane University Obesity Research Center

3. Cut Down On Calorie Dense Foods

In my role as a personal trainer, I emphasize the importance of calorie control for weight loss. Controlling your calorie intake is key to losing weight without exercise.

Focusing on what you eat, especially avoiding high-calorie foods, helps create a calorie deficit essential for weight loss.

Trans fats, most sugary beverages, candy, and other processed foods with empty calories can add those extra pounds. Even if you do eat wholesome food, a calorie-dense addition can throw off your balanced diet.

Especially avoid sugary drinks as they make it quite easy to consume extra calories.

This is because liquid calories don't affect your fullness as solid foods do, based on the study published in PubMed [13].

However, some calorie-dense foods (like nuts and avocados) are healthy and contain essential nutrients. So, instead of cutting them out, eat them in smaller portions.

While reducing calorie intake is a known method for weight loss, it's important to be aware of the limitations and potential health risks of very-low-calorie or crash diets, which can lead to fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, and a high likelihood of regaining weight afterwards.

4. Intermittent Fasting

An empty plate with spoon and fork and measuring tape

Intermittent fasting, which I've seen many clients benefit from, serves as a popular alternative to traditional calorie-restricted diets.

A 2020 study showed that intermittent fasting effectively reduced weight in people with obesity [14].

Intermittent fasting differs from crash diets as it involves eating a balanced amount of calories in a limited window, like 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of eating.

It's important to focus on nutritious meals during your eating period to ensure your body receives all essential nutrients.

5. Consume More Protein-Rich Foods

It's a common belief that a high-protein diet can contribute to substantial muscle gain. However, in my experience, achieving significant lean mass requires a combination of protein intake and weight training.

Importantly, a diet rich in protein can help increase fullness, often more effectively than high-carb diets, aiding in weight loss [15].

The next time you’re at the grocery store, reach for lean protein sources like beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and greek yogurt. MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) protein sources like nuts, olive oil, and avocados are also great options.

Certain dairy products could also be an option, as Dr. Ingo Schmitz-Ubran of FitnessDoc shares that the presence of casein and whey can affect the individual metabolic rate.

He says that consuming a snack rich in these proteins before bedtime may elevate the overall metabolic rate due to their thermogenic effect during digestion – which could help one’s weight loss goals.

Related Article: Are Protein Shakes Good For Weight Loss

“A healthy, balanced diet with a small deficit in calories will ensure body fat loss, providing you eat protein spaced out regularly across the day to protect your muscle mass.”

- Laura Clark, Registered Dietitian & Sports Nutritionist

6. Eat Foods Rich in Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber rich foods

Incorporating fiber-rich foods into your diet, as I've recommended to my clients, can lead to a sense of fullness with fewer overall calories and aid in appetite control.

Incorporating high amounts of dietary fiber into your diet not only helps you feel fuller for longer, but it also plays a critical role in slowing down the absorption of fats and cholesterol and promoting regular, healthy bowel movements, contributing to a more effective weight loss strategy.

A 2019 study published in PubMed with 345 participants found that dietary fiber intake promotes weight loss and increases dietary adherence among obese adults [16].

Here’s a list of fibrous foods you can add to your diet:

  • Legumes: Navy beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, green peas, and lentils.
  • Fibrous vegetables: Artichoke, potato, broccoli, and parsnips.
  • Fibrous fruits: Apple, avocado, pear, raspberries, oranges, and prunes.
  • Nuts and seeds: Buckwheat, quinoa, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
  • Whole grains: Freekeh, bulgar wheat, and pearled barley [17].

7. Weight Loss Supplements

I've found that many supplements, which fall into this category, can assist in weight loss through various mechanisms, as I've advised my clients.

For example, multivitamins for women and multivitamins for men can help the systems in your body function better, which can ultimately lead to more efficient weight management.

Protein powders are also a good option for the same reason high-protein foods help with weight loss - more satiety and much lower sugar spikes.

But there’s a class of supplements specifically designed for losing fat, and I’m talking about fat burners for men and fat burners for women. Those that contain all-natural ingredients and come from reputable brands can really move the needle when it comes to losing weight without working out.

8. Weight Loss Surgery

A woman in the middle of a surgery

Weight loss surgery, often considered a last resort, can be necessary for those who've gained weight due to unavoidable circumstances, like injury rehabilitation.

These surgeries typically reduce stomach size, leading to a feeling of fullness with less food and thus fewer calories consumed.

If you opt for such surgery, it's crucial to adhere to your doctor's dietary and supplement guidelines to compensate for the reduced food intake and potential nutrient deficiencies.

Are There Limitations To Losing Weight Without Exercise?

Pinching her excess arm fats

Yes, there are limitations to losing weight without exercise. These are:

  • Personal Fitness Goals
  • Medical Conditions
  • Genetics

Losing fat without exercise is a good option for you if you want to see some moderate weight loss. But if you want something more, you’ll need to exercise.

Let’s look at how these factors — without exercise — can limit your fat loss goals.

Fitness Goals

The duration and specificity of your fitness goals might require you to engage in moderate to high levels of exercise.

While losing belly fat without working out is possible, it won’t give you a ripped physique or significant strength gains. These require cardio and strength training alongside your “sedentary” weight-loss strategies.

Also, if you want to lose weight quickly, exercise will speed up the process while increasing your strength, muscle mass, and cardiovascular endurance. That’s why I always recommend my clients do some form of exercise.

Medical Conditions

A doctor checking a patient up

There are a host of medical conditions that don’t allow certain people to lose weight as quickly as the average person. These conditions are chronic stress, Cushing's syndrome, Syndrome X, hypothyroidism, and certain hormonal changes.

Hypothyroidism, for example, slows down your metabolism and stores more fat than you can burn — especially if you're not physically active, according to the WebMD [18].

The good news is that, with many of them, you can still lose some weight with the help of exercise.

In some severe cases, health conditions make weight loss nearly impossible (even with exercise). If you suffer from such a condition, we highly recommend you speak to a healthcare professional and get on some medication.

Genetics

Not all bodies are built equally; some are more metabolically active and lose weight faster, while others struggle to lose an ounce of weight.

You can blame your genetics for making you more susceptible to gaining weight, but that doesn’t mean you have an excuse not to lose weight.

A 2016 study found that regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you with weight loss, regardless of your genetic makeup [19].

That being said, I’ve had clients who needed a little bit of an extra boost. In such cases, I’ve advised them to add a natural fat burner to their daily supplement intake. These supplements help you lose weight by stopping extra fat accumulation, burning more calories, and controlling cravings.

FAQs

Can I Lose Belly Fat Without Exercising?

Yes, you can lose belly fat without exercising. How much belly fat and when you shed it is up to your body.

Should I Exercise If I Can Lose Body Fat Without It?

Yes, you should still exercise even if you can lose body fat without it. Exercise improves your mood, helps lower blood pressure, and reduces your risk of many health problems.

What is the Quickest Way to Lose Weight Without Exercise?

The quickest way to lose weight without exercise is by reducing your food intake. Everyone expends calories throughout the day. By expending fewer calories from food, you burn more body fat.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24684853/
  2. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/102/6/1305/4555169
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4901052/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628978/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24684853
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4121911/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951287/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519150/
  10. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jhn.12813
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5703787/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334454/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21519237/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7021351/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18296329/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31174214/
  17. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323133
  18. https://www.webmd.com/obesity/features/why-arent-you-losing-weight
  19. https://www.bmj.com/content/354/bmj.i4707
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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