Five ways to lose weight that don't involve calorie counting

Try these safe and sustainable expert-approved tips for weight loss

World Obesity Federation
(Image credit: World Obesity Federation)

You might think losing weight means obsessively counting calories and exercising non-stop but for long-lasting change that’s not the case. 

To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit (burning more energy than you use), but there are several things you can do to maintain a healthy relationship with food and exercise that don’t involve counting a single calorie or spending all morning on the treadmill. 

Good nutrition and exercise are the best places to start, in particular prioritizing foods that are nutrient-dense and filling. Doing full-body strength workouts also burns more calories than splitting your exercise into upper- and lower-body sessions.

We spoke to personal trainer and sports scientist Sergii Putsov and NASM-qualified nutritionist Daniel Herman for their weight loss tips

Daniel Herman
Daniel Herman

Daniel Herman is an NASM-qualified nutritionist, SAQ coach and founder of 

Sergii Putsov
Sergii Putsov

Sergii Putsov is a former national team weightlifter and has a PhD in Sport Science. He's renowned for his expertise in Olympic weightlifting training and international commentary, with numerous published research papers in the field. 

1. Prioritize protein

Protein is an essential macronutrient the body needs to function properly. It fuels the body with energy, repairs and builds tissue and muscle, and as it takes longer to break down and digest in the body, it keeps you fuller for longer. 

Herman says: "Protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, beans and legumes, make you fuller for longer, helping to regulate your appetite. Including protein in each meal can also support muscle maintenance, especially during weight loss, when there's a risk of losing muscle mass."

2. Combine cardio exercise with strength training

Yes, cardio workouts can help you burn more calories in a short space of time, but strength training will help you build muscle, which is a metabolically active tissue. This means that muscle burns calories without you even noticing—so having a higher muscle mass will help you maintain a healthy weight.

Pustov recommends trying mountain climbers, burpees or jumping exercises, if you want to combine cardio with strength training. 

Mountain climbers

A man performing mountain climbers

(Image credit: Getty)

Time: 30-45 seconds Sets: 3

Start in a plank position, with your hands on the ground, underneath your shoulders, and your body forming a straight line. Quickly alternate bringing each knee towards your chest, as if you're climbing a mountain. 

Jump squats

Image of woman doing jump squat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reps: 15-20 Sets: 3 

Start by doing a regular squat, then as you return to standing, jump up explosively. Upon landing, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep.

Beginners can start with lower reps or regular squats and build up to a jump. 


Man doing burpees on a rooftop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reps: 10 Sets: 3

Begin in a standing position, drop into a squat with your hands on the ground, then kick your feet back into a plank position. If you can, try and do a push-up, before returning your feet into the squat position and explosively jumping up. 

3. Practice mindful eating

Paying attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues can prevent overeating and aid weight loss, says Herman.

"Eat slowly, savor each bite, and avoid distractions like watching TV or using electronic devices during meals. This can help you recognize when you're truly satisfied, preventing unnecessary calorie consumption," he says. 

4. Drink enough water

There's some evidence to suggest that increasing your water consumption can help with weight loss, as it helps you feel more satiated. 

"Sometimes, our bodies can confuse thirst with hunger," says Herman. "Staying hydrated can help control appetite and prevent mindless snacking, supporting your weight loss efforts."

He suggests drinking water before a meal, but it's also a good idea to make sure your water bottle is on-hand throughout the day. 

5. Watch your portion size

Being mindful of portion sizes can help you lose weight without needing to count calories, says Herman, and there’s a simple way of doing this. 

"Use smaller plates, bowls and utensils to help control the amount of food you eat. This strategy can create a visual cue of a satisfying meal, even with reduced calories, and promote better portion control over time." 

Maddy Biddulph

Maddy Biddulph is a freelance journalist specializing in fitness, health and wellbeing content. With 26 years in consumer media, she has worked as a writer and editor for some of the bestselling newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and UK. 

She is also a qualified L3 personal trainer and weight loss advisor, and helps women over 40 navigate menopause by improving their physical and mental strength. At Maddy Biddulph Personal Training, she runs one-to-one and small group training for menopausal women who want to get fit to ease symptoms and feel like themselves again.