Can you lose weight without exercise?

how to lose weight without exercise

Regular physical activity is one of the most beneficial habits for improving our health, well-being, productivity, and energy levels. Exercise is also great for our mental health and general outlook on life.

But, as with many other topics, exercise is also surrounded by misinformation, which creates confusion. To that end, we’ve put together this resource to answer your top ten exercise-related questions.

 

Can you lose weight without exercise?

Not everyone can or wants to exercise consistently. But plenty of people would love to shed excess fat, improve the way they look, and boost their health. So, folks often ask, “Can I shed weight without exercising?”

The simple answer is that, yes, you can lose weight without doing a minute of exercise. Losing weight depends on creating and sustaining an energy deficit (1). In doing so, your body has no choice but to start breaking down fat and lean tissue, so it can get the remaining energy it needs. So long as you control your calorie intake and eat less than you expend, you will shed weight.

With that said, losing weight without exercise presents a couple of issues. First, exercise is beneficial for maintaining your muscle mass, especially while dieting (2). Regular physical activity stimulates your muscles, allowing you to lose mostly fat.

Second, exercise burns calories, making it easier for you to establish and sustain a calorie deficit (3). As a result, you can eat slightly more food and still lose weight.

Third, exercise improves insulin sensitivity, which is a measure of how sensitive your cells are to the hormone (4). Better insulin sensitivity is linked to enhanced fat-burning, superior muscle growth, and other benefits.

For more information on effective weight loss, check out our resource: How to lose weight – a comprehensive guide.

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How to get motivated to exercise?

Many people wonder how to get motivated to exercise because they struggle to remain consistent. For example, a person would start training but then lose interest and go back to old behaviors.

The problem is, finding motivation is the wrong way of approaching the issue. Motivation is a fleeting willingness to do something. We might feel motivated to do something after talking to someone or watching a video online, but it doesn’t last. Before we know it, we’ve lost the enthusiasm and are back to old behaviors.

A better way to approach exercise is to strive for a positive feedback loop. You do something positive, it brings results, and you feel enthusiastic about doing that thing again. Action produces results, which lead to more effort.

The best way to create a positive feedback loop is to start exercising at a manageable pace: ideally, short daily sessions. In doing so, you achieve two things. First, you establish a habit of regular exercise. Second, you build momentum, which increases your chances of staying consistent.

 

How much exercise should you do per day?

The answer to this question depends on the person’s age, athletic goals, injury history, schedule, diet, and more. But regardless of your situation, keep in mind that daily exercise means frequent stress to your body, so you need to be careful with the type of exercise, intensity, and duration.

For example, if you want to exercise daily, steer clear from intense activities like sprinting. While beneficial and relatively quick to do, sprints pile on too much fatigue, which you cannot recover from within 24 hours. Instead, go for less intense activities like jogging and weight training.

A good starting point is around ten minutes per day. That amount of exercise is somewhat easy to recover from, which would allow you to be active every day. You can gradually bump the duration and intensity as you gain experience over the weeks and months.

 

 

Interval training is highly effective at burning calories

Interval training is highly effective at burning calories.

What exercise burns the most calories?

An interesting paper from 2015 set out to answer this very question (3). In that study, researchers had nine recreationally active men complete four exercise modalities for 30 minutes. The goal was to determine the caloric expenditure of each activity.

The four modalities were as follows:

  • Lifting weights at 75 percent of one-repetition-maximum
  • Cycling or treadmill session at 70 percent of maximum heart rate
  • High-intensity interval session on a hydraulic system, where subjects did 20 seconds of intense activity, followed by 40 seconds of recovery

Researchers found that the subjects burned the highest number of calories when doing HIIT. Running on a treadmill, cycling on a stationary bike, and lifting weights followed with a slightly lower caloric expenditure.

So, there we have it. HIIT will be your best option if you want to burn the most calories per minute of exercise. But keep in mind that HIIT is also more challenging and tougher to recover from. So, aside from looking at the caloric burn, every trainee has to ask themselves, “What is a sustainable way to exercise?” If you’re interested in the best exercise practices, check out our guide: Top Cardio And Resistance Exercises For Diabetes.

What exercise burns the most belly fat?

Prevailing wisdom suggests that some activities are better for belly fat loss than others. But, the truth is, research shows that spot-reducing body fat is impossible (5). Sadly, we can’t do specific exercises to lean down our midsection, arms, thighs, or other areas.

To lean down a specific area, we have to lose fat from all over. At some point, the body will also burn fat from our desired regions. But not dietary or training practices will influence that.

Squats, deadlifts, and lunges are great for buttock toning

Squats, deadlifts, and lunges are great for buttock toning

What exercises lift your buttocks?

Luckily for all of us, there are countless fantastic exercises we can do to strengthen our gluteus muscle group and lift the buttocks. The hip thrust is among the most effective activities we can do (6). The full-body lift is easy to learn but allows you to overload your glutes with a lot of weight. As a result, you improve your core stability, reduce your risk of injury, and lift your buttocks.

Squats, deadlifts, and lunges are also fantastic exercises you can do to train your glutes and lift your buttocks (6, 7, 8).

Easier movements like glute kickbacks, side leg raises, fire hydrants, and glute bridges are also fantastic for developing your posterior.

In any case, consuming enough protein is also essential for muscle growth because it provides the building blocks your body needs. You can read more on the topic here: Protein – Learn About High Protein Foods And Supplements.

 

How long after eating should you exercise?

As a rule of thumb, you should give your body around two hours to digest a meal before heading into a workout. Otherwise, you risk feeling bloated and nauseous. You might even throw up if you train at a high enough intensity.

Of course, the amount of time will vary depending on the meal size and its composition. For example, you might need more than two hours to digest a huge meal. In contrast, you can jump into a workout within 60 to 90 minutes if you have a light meal that consists of carbs.

You should always listen to your body and how you feel before starting a training session.

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Can you exercise after botox?

Listening to your doctor’s recommendations will be your best course of action. Most people can exercise within four to six hours of receiving a botox injection, but it’s best to way at least a day before doing so.

Some doctors recommend waiting up to a week before pushing yourself hard after botox.

Can you exercise after a blood test?

Blood tests are typically done in a fasted state. Meaning, you should avoid having any foods or beverages between waking up in the morning and having blood drawn.

Medical specialists recommend waiting at least one hour before doing any physical work after a blood test, but postponing your workout more might be better. This is mainly because you might want to eat something after the blood test, so you’ll need time to digest the meal before heading into a workout. Of course, training fasted is also an option but listen to your body before deciding.

If your blood tests require multiple samples and you feel lightheaded, it might be best to take a day off and do your workout the next day.

Can I exercise after the covid vaccine?

No research suggests that we should avoid physical activity after having the covid vaccine. What matters most is how you feel following vaccination and if you’re up to exercising.

The most common side-effect people experience after vaccination is a slight fever that might or might not come with fatigue, nausea, and a headache (9). If you experience any of these symptoms, it might be best to give your body some time to rest before training.

Another effect of vaccination is muscle pain, especially at the injection site (the shoulder area). If you experience significant tenderness, give your body a day or two to recover before training. Alternatively, focus on muscle groups that don’t involve your shoulders. Having a lower body workout is a good alternative.

 

References

  1. Strasser B, Spreitzer A, Haber P. Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(5):428-32. doi: 10.1159/000111162. Epub 2007 Nov 20. PMID: 18025815.
  2. Cava E, Yeat NC, Mittendorfer B. Preserving Healthy Muscle during Weight Loss. Adv Nutr. 2017;8(3):511-519. Published 2017 May 15. doi:10.3945/an.116.014506
  3. Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, Joy JM, Mosman MM, McCann TR, Crona KP, Kim MP, Moon JR. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Mar;29(3):779-85. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000661. PMID: 25162652.
  4. Balkau B, Mhamdi L, Oppert JM, et al. Physical activity and insulin sensitivity: the RISC study. Diabetes. 2008;57(10):2613-2618. doi:10.2337/db07-1605
  5. Ramírez-Campillo R, Andrade DC, Campos-Jara C, Henríquez-Olguín C, Alvarez-Lepín C, Izquierdo M. Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):2219-24. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e8681. PMID: 23222084.
  6. Contreras B, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ, Beardsley C, Cronin J. A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyographic Activity in the Back Squat and Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises. J Appl Biomech. 2015 Dec;31(6):452-8. doi: 10.1123/jab.2014-0301. Epub 2015 Jul 24. PMID: 26214739.
  7. Martín-Fuentes I, Oliva-Lozano JM, Muyor JM. Electromyographic activity in deadlift exercise and its variants. A systematic review. PLoS One. 2020;15(2):e0229507. Published 2020 Feb 27. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0229507
  8. Muyor, José M et al. “Electromyographic activity in the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and rectus femoris during the Monopodal Squat, Forward Lunge and Lateral Step-Up exercises.” PloS one vol. 15,4 e0230841. 1 Apr. 2020, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230841
  9. Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine (CDC)

  • Dr Ganesh Naidoo
  • About the Author

    Dr Ganesh Naidoo BSc(biomed), MBBS, FRACGP is an Australian General Practitioner. He has significant clinical experience in multiple regions of Australia and has a passion for health transformation to improve clinical outcomes for all patients.

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