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11 tips for how to lose weight without exercise

Sustainable changes to help you achieve long-term weight loss.

Written by
Leeza Schwarzkopf
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
May 15, 2024
min read
11 tips for how to lose weight without exercise
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We're constantly bombarded with messaging about exercise and weight loss in the media that you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's the only way to lose weight and keep it off.

But, there are a wide variety of reasons why exercising may be limited or not possible at all for some people. Perhaps you have a chronic illness or disability that prevents you from doing certain physical activities, or maybe work and family commitments leave you pressed for time.

Ultimately, losing weight involves a calorie deficit. This is when you eat fewer calories than what your body uses as energy. And, although moving your body is beneficial to your overall well-being, burning calories by smashing a workout isn't the only path to weight loss.

There are also dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to lose weight. With this in mind, we're exploring 11 ways you can approach weight loss without exercise.

These tips aren't focusing on ways to lose weight fast but rather on how to do it in a sustainable way to ensure the change is long-term. Let's dive in!

#1 Be mindful of your portions

There is a strong correlation between portion sizes and body weight, so being intentional about food portion size can help with weight management [1].

But, portion control doesn't always necessarily mean less food. If you're used to eating high-calorie foods, you may swap these for low-calorie foods and maintain similar portion sizes, because even though you're consuming a similar volume of food, you're actually eating fewer calories.

Examples of high-calorie foods (also known as energy-dense foods) are fatty meats and butter as well as healthy fats like nuts. And, of course, things like lollies, chips and deep-fried foods. Fruits and vegetables are considered low-calorie foods.

One tool that can aid weight loss is a portion-control plate. Not only can this be useful in moderating meal sizes, but the visual aids can help with portioning out the different food groups. These plates usually encourage more vegetable intake.

Pre-packaged food can also be helpful when it comes to managing portion sizes, especially with energy-dense foods. Snack food, such as potato chips or sugary beverages, that come in single or small servings can help reduce overconsumption.

#2 Eat more protein

If you often feel hungry between meals or think that reducing your portion sizes will leave you unsatisfied, you might consider increasing the amount of protein you consume [2]. Protein affects not only your muscle mass but also your appetite.

Some examples of lean protein include skinless chicken (such as chicken breast), fish, lean red meat, eggs, and low-fat dairy. Plant foods that contain high amounts of protein include tofu, beans, lentils and chickpeas [3].

Eating more protein-rich foods can help you feel more satisfied. Since your body takes longer to digest and absorb this nutrient, protein makes you feel fuller for longer.

There's also evidence that a protein-rich breakfast can help you eat fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. One study compared 2 groups of adult men — one group had eggs for breakfast and the other had bagels.

The group that consumed eggs reported that they were less hungry 3 hours after breakfast and they ate fewer calories over the next 24 hours.

#3 Add fibre-rich foods

Something else that will help you feel more satisfied while eating fewer calories is food that is rich in dietary fibre. These are plant foods such as whole grains, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables [4].

Like protein, fibre is also digested slowly. It also helps to maintain a regular appetite by preventing blood sugar fluctuations. Changes in blood sugar levels can cause feelings of hunger, but since fibre slows the absorption of sugar, it helps to maintain satiety [5].

#4 Snack less

Although eating healthy snack foods can help give you a boost of energy when needed, it can be easy to overdo it with snacking.

In fact, a comparison of data from national surveys in Australia, China, Mexico and the US "found that the highest prevalence of snacking was in Australia and the US (over 95%) where snacking provided one-third and one-quarter of total energy intake" [6].

This is because of portion sizes, snacking frequency and a tendency to reach for snacks with low nutritional value that are also high in sugar and fat such as chips, cookies, doughnuts and cakes.

Snacking in this way, in addition to meals, can mean we end up eating excess calories that our body doesn't need. It also leaves less room for more nutritious and filling healthy foods like protein and fibre [7].

#5 Make smart food swaps

If you're at the beginning of your weight loss journey and reshaping your eating behaviour seems a bit overwhelming, swapping your usual solid foods for liquid calories, as part of a meal replacement program, could be a good start.

Meal replacements, typically in the form of shakes, are widely accepted as an effective approach to losing weight because they can be easier to stick to than other lifestyle changes [1][8].

Meal replacement shakes provide a structure that's straightforward to follow and researchers say that people who use meal replacements to lose weight end up snacking less, consuming more regular meals and increasing their nutritional knowledge [9].

Although Pilot's Weight Reset Shakes are low in calories, they are formulated to meet over 40% of your daily vitamin needs and are high in protein and fibre. Plus, education and easy recipes are provided by Pilot's dietitians to help you build long-term healthy habits.

Replacing one meal a day with Pilot's Weight Reset Shakes and following a low-calorie diet can help you lose 4% of your body weight in 12 weeks.

For rapid weight loss, replacing 2 meals a day with a shake can help you lose up to 2 kilos every week for the first 4-6 weeks.

#6 Drink more water

Alongside a well-balanced and healthy diet, staying hydrated can help with weight loss in a few different ways. First of all, your brain sometimes mistakes thirst for hunger, so drinking enough water may help decrease the number of times you think you're hungry throughout the day [10].

Drinking chilled water can also help to stimulate your metabolism. This is because your body has to use more energy to heat up the liquid to match your body temperature during digestion. The more energy your body uses, the faster your metabolism becomes.

The third reason why staying hydrated can help you lose weight is the fact that water doesn't add to your calorie intake. If you drink water instead of sugary drinks such as juice, soft drink, sweetened tea or coffee, you'll ultimately consume fewer calories.

#7 Avoid distractions when eating

There are many things that can compete for your attention when it comes to mealtime. People eat while watching TV, scrolling through their phones or working at their computers all the time. But, these distractions can impact your brain's recognition of fullness cues [11].

When you eat in a mindless manner, it's easy to end up eating your meal quickly, feeling like you haven't enjoyed your meal and consuming more than your required food intake [12].

Try to practice mindful eating by keeping away from your screens at mealtime and solely focusing on the flavours and textures of your food. This also involves reflecting on how you're feeling before deciding to eat. Your brain can mistake tiredness and anxiety for hunger, so be mindful of what you actually need.

#8 Eat slowly

Eating slowly is an extension of mindful eating. In contrast to scoffing down a meal quickly, when you take the time to chew your food slowly, you end up having a better appreciation for your food and the eating experience as a whole.

Research shows that enjoying the pleasure of food in this way typically keeps calorie intake to a healthy limit [12].

Another way you can pace yourself while eating is by taking a break halfway through your meal. Check-in with yourself to see how satisfied you are so far.

It may be helpful to think of a fullness scale with one being starving and 10 being totally stuffed. It's recommended to aim for a 6 or 7 satisfaction rating by the end of the meal.

#9 Focus on your sleep quality

Aside from focusing on developing healthier eating habits, there are other lifestyle factors that contribute to weight loss efforts. Weight management is one of the many health benefits of getting a good night's sleep.

Poor sleep quality or lack of sleep increases the body's hunger hormones and stimulates the brain to consume more food [13][14].

One study compared the weight loss results of people who slept 5.5 hours a night, versus those who slept 8.5 hours a night, for a fortnight. Participants were also on a calorie restriction.

The researchers found that those who had less sleep only expended half the amount of calories throughout the day than those who had a good night's rest, meaning their bodies were less efficient at weight loss.

#10 Get your stress under control

There's a mental health aspect to weight maintenance, too. Emotional eating can be a coping mechanism for people going through a challenging time.

A study on snacking found that those who reported feeling very stressed were likely to snack at least 3 times more throughout the day than those who said they were only somewhat stressed [15].

Another study found that people who had higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression throughout the COVID-19 pandemic also experienced more weight gain than those who had better emotional well-being [16].

While it might not be possible to completely eliminate stress from our lives, it is possible to manage it in a healthy way. This may be through a more formal and professional setting, such as stress management programs or practising cognitive therapies with a psychologist.

It can also involve incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily life. This could take the form of meditation, breathing techniques, music therapy, yoga or massage.

Try a holistic and clinically-proven program

Another way to lose weight without solely focusing on exercise is with holistic weight loss treatment. Enter: Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program.

This treatment includes breakthrough medicines that work to regulate your appetite, overhaul your hunger hormones and safely lower your set point, which is the weight your body fights to maintain, according to your biology.

This is coupled with personalised health coaching, which includes one-on-one goal setting with an Aussie practitioner as well as round-the-clock community support from our medical team, health coaches, and like-minded men that keep you accountable. 

And, there's also a weekly check-in with your practitioner to track your physical, mental, and biometric progress and make adjustments to your program.

Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program takes a multipronged approach to weight loss and it doesn't rely solely on exercise to make it happen. Our experts teach you how to make lifestyle changes that will help you lead a healthier and happier life.

Photo credit: Getty Images


  1. ROLLS, B.J. What is the role of portion control in weight management?, International Journal of Obesity, 2014.
  2. Fill 'er up! Protein at breakfast impacts satiety, Environmental Nutrition, 2010.
  3. ALIC, Margaret. Csiro Total Wellbeing Diet, The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets, 2019.
  4. FORTIN, Marie, and BLACKWELL, Amy. Fiber, The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets, 2019.
  5. SCHENKER, Sarah. Satiety and Appetite Control, The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets, 2019.
  6. Wang Dantong, et al. Snacking Patterns in Children: A Comparison between Australia, China, Mexico, and the US, Nutrients, 2018.
  7. WEXLER, Barbara. Nutrition, Healthy Living, 2013.
  8. HALLE Martin, et al. Meal replacement by formula diet reduces weight more than a lifestyle intervention alone in patients with overweight or obesity and accompanied cardiovascular risk factors--the ACOORH trial, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021.
  9. HEYMSFIELD, S B, et al. Weight management using a meal replacement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies, International Journal of Obesity, 2003.
  10. John Hopkins University, Yes, drinking more water may help you lose weight, accessed 12 October 2022.
  11. FREY, Rebecca, and CATALDO Laura Jean. Mindful Eating, The Gale Encyclopedia of Fitness, 2017.
  12. KADEY, Matthew. Mindful Eating: Eat, Drink, and Think: A more thoughtful way of eating can bring health and happiness, Environmental Nutrition, 2017.
  13. Adequate sleep helps weight loss, Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week, 2012.
  14. CHAPUT, Jean-Philippe, and Tremblay, Angelo. Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity, CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2012.
  15. Stress and Gen Z Are Reshaping Food and Health Trends: Younger consumer preferences, emotional snacking, trendy diets, and inflation are key themes in how Americans eat today, Nutraceuticals World, 2022.
  16. Mental health challenges contributed to weight gain for people with obesity during COVID-19, Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA, 2022.
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