Trying to lose weight but don’t care to track calories?
It’s an issue that many, including myself, struggle with. Sometimes, tracking and weighing each individual ingredient can feel like a major burden.
In this article, I discuss 4 of my favorite techniques for eating in a healthy manner for your goals, without having to count calories all the time.
Understand That It All Comes Down To Calories
First and foremost, even if you aren’t interested in tracking your calories (even though you should) it’s important to remember that your weight and fat loss will come at the hand of reducing calories.
While changing the types of foods you eat may make weight loss fairly simple, you need to do so by switching to those foods which are low in calories but also by reducing calorie intake from other sources. Essentially, it’s not directly the foods you’re eating that cause weight loss, but a reduction of calories that those foods afford you.
With this in mind, if you’re hoping to lose some weight or even just begin healthy eating habits, but don’t care to track calories, you’ll need to eat foods that can help you achieve the calorie intake you need, in the easiest manner possible.
Increase The Quality Of Your Food
Increasing the quality of your food is the most obvious suggestion, but is also certainly the most important if you don’t want to track calories.
With weight loss when not tracking, your food becomes more goal-oriented, in that each meal needs to help you reduce calories with ease. This is where quality comes in since eating more lean proteins and healthy fats will be very important for helping maintain or build muscle, while helping you feel fuller for longer periods of time.
Protein should be the first food you increase. Protein not only helps to maintain muscle when you’re restricting calories, but it also can help reduce feelings of hunger. Proteins have a 3 dimensional structure, which means they are more difficult to breakdown. This has two benefits for weight loss.
First, protein is thermogenic, meaning that you need to burn some extra calories in order to actually break protein down into amino acids. Second, since this process takes time, protein actually slows digestion down, much like fiber. When this occurs, you’re less likely to feel hungry, which means you have better control over your calorie intake for the rest of the day (1, 2, 3, 4).
Fiber, such as that found in leafy greens and other forms of vegetables is also imperative for your success. First, vegetables have such a large volume to calorie ratio, which means you can eat a lot with little risk of consuming extra calories.
Second, certain types of fiber absorb water in the gut, forming a gel like substance, again slowing the rate at which food moves through the gut. Together with protein, this creates a perfect environment for being able to control your intake with ease (5, 6, 7).
Lastly, healthy fats such as those found in eggs, avocados, nuts and oils like olive or coconut will help keep you full, while also providing benefits for optimal hormonal production and cell function.
Use Your Hands Or Measuring Cups As Metrics
If you want to eat healthily for a specific goal without tracking calories, you should still do at least some form of measurement. This can come in the form of using your hands, or even use a set of measuring cups.
The reason for doing this is so that you can first ensure that you aren’t overeating, but also so that you have a metric for continued progress.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight without tracking calories, things can become a bit difficult once weight loss plateaus. It becomes increasingly more difficult to accurately assess just how much food you need to remove from your diet in order to continue losing weight.
If you use measuring cups for various macronutrients, like measuring 1 cup of carbohydrate, you can document how many of those cups you’re consuming on average.
Based on this amount, once your weight loss plateaus, you can reduce the size of your servings to ¾ cup or even just reduce 1 serving altogether.
By measuring your food in some manner, you’ll not only be able to control your portion sizes, but you’ll also have a metric to manipulate once you need to reduce calorie intake further for continued progress.
Reduce Your Food Options
One of the biggest draws of flexible dieting and counting calories is that you can consume just about any type of food you want, as long as you still consume the appropriate amount of calories for your goal.
However, if you aren’t tracking calories, being able to consume a large variety of foods becomes increasingly difficult. If, for example, you want to have pizza or ice cream, when tracking calories you can account for those foods by removing other foods later on in the day.
If you aren’t tracking calories however, it’s very difficult for you to know just how much extra food you ate, and thus, how you should manipulate the rest of your meals.
By restricting food options to 10-15 items, you’ll have a much better idea of just how much food you’re eating. Not to mention, this could be increasingly more beneficial if you simply track calories for a day or two, using those select ingredients.
By doing so, you’ll have an ever better indication of just how many calories you are consuming.
4 Easy Ways To Eat Healthily Without Counting Macros
If you’re not interested in tracking your calories, you’ll need to adjust your food intake in different ways to ensure that you’re eating for an intended result.
Fortunately, the process isn’t too difficult and by using these techniques, you should be on the road to a better body without the burden of needing to track everything you eat.
- Halton, T. L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373-385.
- Lorenzen, J., Frederiksen, R., Hoppe, C., Hvid, R., & Astrup, A. (2012). The effect of milk proteins on appetite regulation and diet-induced thermogenesis. European journal of clinical nutrition, 66(5), 622-627.
- Veldhorst, M., Smeets, A. J. P. G., Soenen, S., Hochstenbach-Waelen, A., Hursel, R., Diepvens, K., … & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein-induced satiety: effects and mechanisms of different proteins. Physiology & behavior, 94(2), 300-307.
- Helms, E. R., Zinn, C., Rowlands, D. S., & Brown, S. R. (2014). A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes.
- Bolton, R. P., Heaton, K. W., & Burroughs, L. F. (1981). The role of dietary fiber in satiety, glucose, and insulin: studies with fruit and fruit juice. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 34(2), 211-217.
- Cho, S. S., Case, I. L., & Nishi, S. (2009). Fiber and Satiety. Weight Control and Slimming Ingredients in Food Technology, 227.
- Lefranc-Millot, C., Macioce, V., Guérin-Deremaux, L., Lee, A. W., & Cho, S. S. (2012). Fiber and Satiety. Dietary Fiber and Health, 83.