You don’t have to count calories to effectively drop weight, as long as you have the right tools in place. If you’re wondering how to lose weight without counting calories, the Fit Mother Project can help!
Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X) has helped over 10,000 men and women lose weight, get healthier, and increase their energy using strategies other than calorie counting.
Read below for more tips on how to lose weight without counting calories.
#1 – Use the Perfect Plate Method
By using the perfect plate method, you’re automatically getting the right proportion of nutritious foods that fill you up for long time periods without feeling deprived.
The Fit Mother Project’s perfect plate model is as follows:
- Fill half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, other leafy greens, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery, and other low-calorie veggies
- Fill one-fourth of each plate with nutritious protein foods like eggs, egg whites, chicken, turkey, duck, venison, very lean grass-fed beef, fish, shrimp, scallops, other seafood, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and protein powder
- Fill one-fourth of each plate with fiber-rich carbohydrates like quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, corn, green peas, black beans, pinto beans, lentils, chickpeas, other legumes, and fruit
- Choose 2-3 servings daily of dairy foods or plant-based alternatives including low-fat milk, plant milk, plant-based yogurt, low-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, reduced-fat cheese, plain kefir, and whey protein shakes
- Eat a small portion of healthy fats at each meal such as olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, other plant-based oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butter, hummus, olives, and fish oil
#2 – Choose Smaller Plates
When using the perfect plate method for weight loss without counting calories, choose small plates to avoid overeating at mealtime.
Smaller plates mean better control of portion sizes. Your plate may include 1 cup of non-starchy veggies, 1/2 cup of protein foods, and 1/2 cup of carbohydrates.
If you’re still hungry after a meal, choose portions at the next meal that are slightly larger but maintain your perfect plate proportions.
Aim to eat 4-6 smaller meals instead of just a few large meals.
Doing so helps keep your body’s metabolism high while avoiding hunger, physical and mental fatigue, and feeling deprived.
#3 – Drink Water Before Meals
Studies show that drinking water before meals leads to a significant reduction in food intake and is an effective weight control strategy.
Aim to drink at least 2 cups of water before each meal to trick your body into feeling full so you can eat less food without counting calories.
Drink water that's cool or cold, rather than room temperature and flavor it with cucumbers, fruit chunks, or lemon if you’d like.
#4 – Eat Low-Calorie Foods First
By eating foods containing the lowest number of calories first, you’ll feel full with fewer calories for more effective weight loss.
After creating a meal using the perfect plate method, aim to eat the non-starchy vegetables first after 2 cups of drinking water.
Next, eat protein foods or protein-rich dairy foods as protein helps fill you up, keeps your metabolism high, and allows you to maintain lean body mass while losing weight.
Last, consume carbohydrates and sprinkle healthy fats throughout your meal to help you feel satisfied.
#5 – Consume Food Slowly
Eating slowly helps your brain and stomach process effectively process the feeling of fullness.
Eating quickly increases your chance of overindulging, as it can take your body longer to signal satiety.
Eat as slowly as possible during meals and allow yourself plenty of time for eating.
If you struggle to eat slowly, take short breaks after eating each portion of your perfect plate or set a timer during meals.
#6 – Go Low-Carb at Night
Choose lower-carb foods at night, especially if you’re not as active during evening hours as you are earlier in the day.
While carbohydrates give you energy, eating too many of them allows your body to turn excess carbs into stored body fat.
Unless you’re physically active at night, focus on non-starchy veggies, protein foods, or lower-carb dairy foods in the evening.
The position stand of the International Society of Sports Nutrition is that consuming casein protein found in dairy products or casein powder at night maximizes lean mass and keeps your metabolism going strong.
If you feel hungry before bed, consider a casein protein shake.
#7 – Say No to High-Calorie Drinks
Drinking calories is fine if you’re consuming dairy foods or protein shakes, but avoid beverages containing calories from added sugar.
For example steer clear of sports drinks, juice drinks, sodas, lemonade, and sweet tea.
Avoid alcoholic drinks whenever possible too. Wine, beer, hard liquor, and mixed drinks can increase calories quickly without offering your body beneficial nutrients.
Say no to drinks containing artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame, neotame, and aspartame, found in many diet drinks.
Studies show that while these sweeteners are calorie-free, they induce sugar cravings and may contribute to obesity.
Instead, choose very low-calorie or calorie-free drinks like water, black coffee, or unsweetened tea to effectively drop weight without counting calories.
#8 – Steer Clear of Processed Foods
Cutting processed foods from your diet is an excellent way to drop weight and body fat without counting calories.
Highly processed foods are often high in calories but don’t fill you up like whole foods rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Foods to steer clear of include fried foods, refined grains like white bread and white rice, candies, other sweets, sodas, and other sugary drinks, baked goods, potato chips, other processed snack foods, and prepackaged meals.
Avoid processed meats like ham, salami, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and deli meats.
Because processed meats are linked with cancer, you have two good reasons to steer clear of these foods whenever possible.
#9 – Eat Out at Restaurants Less Often
Another answer to the question “how to lose weight without counting calories” involves cooking at home as often as you can.
Studies show that a higher frequency of dining out at fast food or sit-down restaurants is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI).
It can be difficult to control your calories when eating restaurant foods, as hidden ingredients and calories may lurk in even the healthiest-looking entrees.
Prepare meals at home as much as possible so you can control which foods and ingredients you're putting in your body.
Doing so helps you achieve better portion control without counting calories during weight loss.
While dining out every now and then is perfectly okay, don't make it a regular habit if getting lean is your goal.
#10 – Listen to Your Body's Hunger Cues
Listening to your hunger cues helps you stop eating when you feel full, and prevents you from eating when you’re not hungry.
Before taking a bite of food, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry.
If you’re not sure, try drinking a glass of water and reevaluate your hunger cues.
Reasons other than feeling hunger some people eat includes stress, depression, boredom, seeing or smelling food, or being in social situations where food is present.
#11 – Stay Active Throughout the Day
When you’re wondering how to lose weight without counting calories, keep yourself active all throughout the day in addition to planned exercise.
Doing so helps you burn off the extra calories needed for effective weight loss.
You must burn about 500 more calories than you eat every day to drop about 1 pound each week.
To keep yourself active and get excess weight off, engage in at least 30-60 minutes of scheduled weight loss exercise every day.
In addition, aim to keep your body moving another 45-60 minutes each day.
Doing so might mean taking stair climbing or walking breaks during work, doing extra house cleaning, walking your dog, doing yard work, playing with your children outside, or grocery shopping.
#12 – Weigh Yourself Every Day
Weigh yourself every day to determine if your current weight loss strategies are effective.
Weigh yourself at the same time each day and track your progress over time in a journal.
Review the results every week. A good weight loss goal is to drop 1-2 pounds weekly, as this weight loss rate is often effective for long term success.
Studies show that daily weigh-ins are more effective for weight loss than less frequent weighing.
Accountability and routine self-monitoring play key roles.
If you haven’t lost weight after two weeks of making lifestyle changes, try using smaller plates or burning more calories through physical activity.
#13 – See Your Doctor Regularly
Sometimes the cause of stalled weight loss is associated with medical reasons.
For example thyroid disorders, unbalanced estrogen or progesterone levels, stress, or sleeping problems can contribute to a slowed metabolism or increases in appetite.
If this is the case for you, getting proper medical treatment can drastically increase your chance of getting excess weight off.
Your personalized treatment plan might be as simple as taking medications or undergoing hormone replacement therapy.
Make sure to set aside at least 7-8 hours each night to get the sleep your body requires.
See your doctor regularly to optimize your health, quality of life, and weight loss.
#14 – Record Your Intake in a Food Journal
Writing down the foods and drinks you consume each day helps control your food intake, even without counting calories.
Studies show that a higher frequency of food logging is associated with greater weight loss over a six-month period.
Why is this the case?
Recording your food intake makes you more mindful of the quantity of food you’re eating, regardless of whether you track calories.
Doing so helps you see the correlation between the volume of food you eat and your body weight, allowing you to adjust weight loss meal plans as needed to achieve your goals.
Use a paper or online food journal to record intake at each meal and snack. For best results, be consistent with journaling by not skipping days.
#15 – Make Healthy Eating Swaps
Use a few simple food swaps to significantly reduce your intake and lose weight without counting calories. Examples of healthy eating swaps to try include:
- Use salsa or mustard in place of higher-calorie condiments
- Choose zucchini noodles or whole-grain pasta in place of regular pasta
- Pick low-fat dairy foods over full-fat dairy items
- Choose broth-based soups with veggies over cream-based soups
- Use cauliflower crust instead of traditional pizza crust for homemade pizzas
- Pick cauliflower rice instead of traditional rice
- Snack of fruit with nut butter instead of sweets
- Choose low-sugar protein bars over granola bars
- Eat air-popped popcorn, nuts, or veggies with hummus instead of potato chips
- Choose black bean or veggie burgers over hamburgers
- Pick plain Greek yogurt over traditional or fruit-flavored yogurt
- Opt for lettuce wraps instead of hamburger buns or bread
- Choose olive oil- or vinegar-based sauces and dressings instead of tomato sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and traditional salad dressings
- Opt for oatmeal without added sugar
- Pick nut milk over cow’s milk
- Choose unsweetened coffee or tea
- Pick unbreaded lean meat, fish, or poultry over breaded and processed meats
- Drink a protein shake in place of one or two meals
- Sip on calorie-free seltzer instead of soda, diet soda, or alcoholic drinks
- Flavor water and tea with lemon instead of sweeteners
#16 – Join an Online Weight Loss Program for Women
Studies show that joining an online weight loss program designed for women enhances diet quality and weight loss.
Online weight loss programs are convenient and give you the option of social media and community support from people with similar weight loss goals.
Recruit your spouse to join the Fit Father Project to stay motivated for a healthier lifestyle together.
The Fit Mother Project 30X (FM30X) program has helped tens of thousands of people reach their goal weights and keep the weight off for life.
If you're ready to learn more about how to lose weight without counting calories, sign up for the Fit Mother Project’s free fit mom jump start kit to get started today!
Your new friend & health coach,
Erin Coleman, B.S. – Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.
She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as a Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.
Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife and a Mom to two beautiful children.
Clinical Nutrition Research, 2018
International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2017
American Cancer Society
Current Gastroenterology Reports, 2017
American Journal of Health Promotion, 2018
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2015
Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2017
Nutrition Journal, 2014