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Can You Lose Weight Without Exercise?

lean female flexingYou hate exercising, but you still want to drop some pounds. Can you lose weight without exercising? Here’s your answer…

What Happens When You Try Losing Weight Without Exercise

While it might seem like the easier way to lose weight, attempting to do so will stack the odds against you. Not only will exercise make it easier for you to lose weight (and especially fat), but it has many numerous health benefits.

When you restrict calories, your body draws on its energy reserves to fuel itself. Many people automatically assume that fat is the fuel your body uses when you diet. Yes, your body does use fat stores, but the ratio of fat to muscle it uses is much higher if you exercise. In other words, you will burn more fat and less muscle if you provide a stimulus like exercise.

Without exercise, you give your body no reason to hold onto its muscle. Muscle is highly energy intensive to maintain, and it’s one of the first things to go on a calorie restricted diet if you do not provide a stimulus to keep it. You might be able to lose a comparable amount of weight through diet alone, but weight does not always equal fat. You will have a much higher percentage of weight loss come from fat if you hold onto your muscle.

Read more about the difference between weight loss and fat loss.

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise increases your insulin sensitivity and boosts your natural growth hormone levels. These two things put your body into a perfect metabolic state to mobilize fatty acids.

I don’t think it’s any secret that exercise burns calories. However, by burning an extra 500 calories through exercising every day, you either enable yourself to eat 500 more calories a day, or you lose about an extra pound every week. On a calorie restricted diet, you’re already eating so few calories. Why not have a higher chance at success, and allow yourself to enjoy more delicious food, and eat more nutrients?

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Muscle “eats” fat, and the majority of fat burning occurs in the mitochondria. Where are these mitochondria located – mostly in muscle. You can increase your total mitochondria and their density through exercise. You can also lose mitochondria through lack of exercise. The more mitochondria you have, the higher your metabolism can potentially be, and the easier it will be to lose fat.

Here are 10 more ways to boost your metabolism and fat loss.

Is Exercise Necessary For Weight Loss?

So to answer the question – yes you can, but you will:

  • Lose muscle
  • Slow your metabolism
  • Have to eat less than if you were exercising
  • Not be able to enjoy cheat meals to the same extent
  • Not get the natural fat loss benefits of growth hormone
  • Not have improved insulin sensitivity
  • Have a much harder time getting a six pack
  • Have increased hunger cravings
  • Not be as healthy
  • Have a worse body composition
  • End up wishing you had exercised

If those aren’t enough reasons, here are 50 benefits of exercise you probably didn’t know.

You can lose weight without exercising. However, even though working out can be tough, in the end, it’s the easier way to achieve your goals. Find an activity you enjoy doing and push yourself at it. Have fun with it!

  • Deb Dorrington

    I started to incorporate excise with my weight loss program and although it is early days I can already see the difference. Thanks for this posting I enjoy reading all your info and tips…you ‘rock’..

    • Coach Calorie

      Thanks Deb. Good exercise can make all the difference.

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  • http://www.facebook.com Suzi Su

    I have CFS/ME and actually can’t exercise without ending up bedridden for a couple of days, do you have tips on losing weight without exercising but with mitigating the negatives you’ve listed or at least reducing them?

    • Coach Calorie

      The best thing you’re going to be able to do Suzi is keep your diet in check. A perfect diet will mitigate many of the negatives brought on by dieting without exercise. However, only exercise is going to produce muscle growth. Don’t be surprised if you lose some muscle.

  • Jane P

    I’m 40 and have a congenital (ie. was born with it) heart condition which prevents me from being able to do any cardio exercise (I get breathless within 30 seconds of cardio exercise and then pass out if I don’t stop what I’m doing immediately). I’d still like to lose some weight though but want to do it safely – could I do weights and lose weight?

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Jane, that’s something your Dr is going to have to answer for you, but if they clear you to start a fitness program, I think walking is a great start. The biggest difference is going to be made by your diet.

  • jo

    i have been following weightwatchers for nearly 3 weeks and spinning for about 10 weeks not, have only lost 2.5lbs. why am i losing weight so slowly to begin with, im going on holiday in 3 weeks and want to lose at least another 5lbs, what am i doing wrong?

  • Erika

    Hi Tony,I love your site! I am trying to help my 20 yo daughter find a way to lose some weight! She is in school full time plus working 30 hours a week in a restaurant. With that and homework and her lack of interest in exercise she doesn’t make time for it! Any advice on where to start for her? She is 5’7 and 180#. I have had her start tracking her calories and she was averaging 1400-1500 a day. I definitely think she us under eating and has been for a very long time. I would appreciate any advice you might have! Thank you!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Hi Erika, I’m not sure of your situation, but I will say that your daughter will have to want to lose weight more than you want her to if she is to ever have long term success.

    The good news is nutrition will do the majority of the work for her and once she sees results from that, it’s not unusual for people to add in exercise later.

    I’d focus on her diet first. I wouldn’t jump to calorie counting yet. Instead, I’d first have her log everything she currently eats for a week. Then, I’d start making very small changes to her diet that she can handle. Maybe that means a few less sodas (don’t eliminate yet), or maybe that means adding veggies to one of her meals. Small changes until they become habit. Then repeat.

    • Erika

      Thank you so much for your response. She actually came to me asking for guidance. I have always been a healthy eater and avid exerciser but am not sure how to guide her without the excercise. She did ditch the soda quite a while ago! Thank goodness! I was thinking since she was undereating she should slowly increase her calories at the same time as eliminating “junk” carbs and replacing with helathy carbs like sweet potatoes and other strrachy veg. Also her protein is pretty low, so trying to get that to slowly increase!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    I have no idea Jo, as I have very little info to go on. However, I would stop looking at your progress in terms of pounds. Instead, take a closer look at your health and body composition. Weight loss is a side effect of being healthy. Try to be healthy, consistently, and be patient, and the weight will come off.

  • Beth

    I have a Polar Heart rate monitor that shows calories burned while I’m working out. I am wanting to know how many calories I am burning throughout the day. Would you recommend the Bodybugg, FitBit or perhaps another that I am not familiar with. Thanks for your input.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie
  • Linda Dieter

    Every muscle in your body is its own little fat burner!!!!