11 Proven Ways to Lose Weight Without Diet or Exercise

Is it possible to lose weight without exercising? This sounds great in theory, even though the most effective approach has been shown to include changing what you eat and getting regular exercise.

For some people though, physical activity just isn't an option when trying to lose weight. There may be several reasons why you have to try losing weight without exercising:

You have an injury that limits or prohibits exercise.
You're getting ready for certain types of surgery, such as knee replacement, and the doctor wants you to lose weight fast. However, you can't exercise much or at all due to pain.
You have painful conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
You have diabetes and/or low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia. This means when you exercise, your blood sugar can reach dangerously low levels.
You struggle with motivation or desire to exercise. This may not be a solid reason to avoid physical activity, but it could be why you try to find ways to lose weight without exercise, says Amy Kimberlain, a Miami-based registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Exercise and Weight Loss

Exercise helps the body burn calories more efficiently, says Dr. Scott A. Cunneen, director of metabolic and bariatric surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and author of "Weighty Issues: Getting the Skinny on Weight Loss Surgery." This is because your metabolism speeds up during physical activity. Without exercise, your metabolism will likely slow down.

A speedier metabolism is one reason exercise is a natural companion to eating differently for weight loss. Depending on how much you exercise, it can help you lose weight more quickly. By watching what you eat, taking in fewer calories and burning off calories with exercise, you can potentially reach your calorie-cutting goal faster.

Weight Loss Without Exercise

If you can't exercise, it may take you longer to lose weight. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because losing weight slowly can help you keep it off more easily than quick weight loss, says registered dietitian Jill Weisenberger, a registered dietitian, author of “Prediabetes: A Complete Guide" and "Diabetes Weight Loss - Week by Week” and owner of Food Nutrition Solutions by Jill, based in Yorktown, Virginia. Losing weight too quickly may negatively affect your metabolism; losing weight more slowly can lead to more sustainable weight loss.

Think Long-Term for Weight Loss

Weisenberger encourages those interested in losing weight without exercise to think about their long-term goals. If you find yourself checking the scale every day, you may initially lose water weight. A better approach is to focus on weekly weight goals versus daily check-ins, Weisenberger advises. A healthy weight loss is one to two pounds a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For instance, you can set a goal of losing 10% of your body weight in three to six months. If you weigh 200 pounds, that's 20 pounds to lose. She prefers this to weekly weight goals, which may show some quick weight loss initially that can be attributed to loss of water, bone and even lean muscle mass in addition to fat.

Losing weight without exercise is possible, but it means you must focus more on cutting the calories you eat while still making sure you eat nourishing food. One pound equals roughly 3,500 calories. If you divide that evenly over a week, that's cutting 500 calories a day. Some examples of foods that are part of a healthy diet include:

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains, such as whole wheat spaghetti or bread.
  • Protein, such as beans, fish, nuts or lean meat or poultry.
  • A small amount of healthier fats, such as canola, soy or olive oil.

Foods and drinks to cut out or consume less of if you're looking to lose weight include:

  • Alcohol-based and sweetened drinks.
  • Baked goods, such as cookies and cake.
  • Candy.
  • Snacks, such as French fries and potato chips.
  • White bread.

14 Tips to Lose Weight Without Exercise

Losing weight without exercise is possible. It just takes extra planning and dedication. Here are 14 tips to lose weight without exercise:

Even when you can exercise, losing weight in a limited time period, such as in the weeks before a surgery, can be a challenge. Since you can't move as much, realize it may take longer and you may have some setbacks.

“Consistency is key; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best approach to sustainable weight loss is to adopt lifestyle habits that you can stick with long term,” says Sparta, New Jersey-based registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, author of "2 Day Diabetes Diet."

One common strategy used for weight loss is to play around with plate size and the portions on your plate. At dinner, use a smaller salad plate for grains and protein and a larger dinner plate for non-starchy vegetables, Kimberlain says.

This helps you to fill up more on those low-calorie veggies. Another plate idea: If you're at a holiday or special event with some of your favorite desserts, don't deprive yourself, advises registered dietitian Heidi Katte, an instructor with Milwaukee Area Technical College in Milwaukee. Instead, serve yourself a portion using a small plate instead of a large plate.

Playing around with plates also can help keep your portion sizes in check. Some sample portion sizes from the American Heart Association include:

  • One medium whole fruit.
  • Two cups of salad greens.
  • A half-cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal.
  • One cup of milk.
  • One ounce of cheese.
  • One ounce of cooked seafood or meat.

At many restaurants, you have the option of a salad or soup before your main entrée, says Leslie Bonci, sports dietitian for the Kansas City Chiefs and owner of the nutrition business Active Eating Advice. If you choose a healthier soup or salad, you can fill up on fiber before moving on to your entrée. If you’re already somewhat full, you’ll eat less of the main meal and perhaps even skip dessert.

In the U.S., especially at restaurants, we're accustomed to getting super-sized meals, Weisenberger says. Plan to eat only half of what you're served. Don't be afraid to take home leftovers.

Think about the last few meals and snacks you ate. Were you reading or watching something on a screen? Maybe driving and eating? It's easy to eat too much if you're not focused on what you're eating. Put away the phone, turn off the TV or remove whatever else distracts you to enjoy each bite. Eating mindfully by chewing slowly is another way to focus on what you're eating, so you're truly aware of when you're full, Katte says. Eating without distractions also can make you aware of whether you're eating because you're truly hungry or if you're just bored.