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How To Lose Weight Without Counting Calories: Is It Really Possible?

12 Comments | Diet

do you need to count calories to lose weight

  • “Calories don’t matter.” 
  • “You’ll never gain weight as long as you eat the right types of foods.” 
  • “Your body can’t gain weight if you don’t eat carbs because it keeps your insulin levels in check.” 

That’s just a taste of the bullshit I read and believed when I first started dieting.

Till this day, I still don’t really understand what the last point means.

What I do know is people have this deep hatred for calories and will do everything in their power to avoid it and chase after shortcuts instead.

So let’s settle it once and for all – can you lose weight without counting calories?

Here’s the only way to lose weight…

The only way to lose weight is by consistently eating in a calorie deficit.

I’ve said it 3455359 times by now but it’s an important fact to establish for this post.

I don’t give a fuck what foods you eat.

This isn’t about what type of foods you’re eating and nutrients. I’m simply saying, if you eat less than you burn, you WILL lose weight.

We clear?

Now on to the next point.

Calorie counting and weight loss go hand in hand

You can’t lose weight without eating fewer calories.

And you can’t eat fewer calories, without doing some sort of counting/tracking.

Even if you’re one of people who say, “I don’t count calories, I just reduce portion sizes.”

Well guess what, assface?

That’s the same thing.

assface #1

Reducing portion sizes is the same as counting calories, just worded differently.

Spending all day using your fist and palm to measure shit, doesn’t make you better than someone who counts calories.

It’s just a different way of tracking.

For every “fit pro” out there saying they don’t count calories anymore, I can guarantee they did so with a firey passion in the past.

Only after obsessively tracking calories/macros for 5+ years are they now at the point where they can confidently eyeball their diet more.

Your goal should never be to stop counting calories, it should be….

I don’t believe the goal should ever be to flat out stop counting calories.

The goal should be to spend minimal amounts of time thinking about calories.

If you want to lose weight and maintain a respectable level of leanness, then calories/portion sizes will be something you think about.

You just can’t keep these two competing thoughts out of your mind.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you just can’t eat like a fat ass every day without some sense of awareness around how much you’re eating.

It’s like saying you want to become a hooker but never want to think about the cock.

Realistically losing & maintaining weight without obsessive calorie counting

The way I see it, there are 2 ways to lose weight without crazy amounts of calorie counting:

  1. Following a strict meal plan where all calories and macros are planned out for you.
  2. Intuitive eating where you can get through the entire day without thinking much about your calorie intake.

The problem with #1 is you have no freedom. It’s “follow the meal plan or die.”  Stray away from the meal plan, you’re on your own.

For that reason, I’m not a huge fan. But I know there are some people who like the structure of meal plans which can help establish the habit of healthy eating and understanding portion sizes.

#2 is where I operate and hope most people can eventually get to.

My hope is you can get to the point where you can go to a restaurant, order a plate of pasta and say, “Ok this probably has 1000 calories, maybe more, but whatever, I’m not going to stress over it.”

carb count weight loss

That’s real freedom, right there.

5 steps to intuitive and stress-free eating

Step #1 – Cut back on fats and refined carbs

Arguably the simplest thing you do for the biggest results.

If you’re not going to count calories, then you need to cut back on the foods that have the most potential of adding “unnecessary” calories to your diet.

And these are almost always foods high in fats and refined carbs.

A.k.a. Your typical junk food.

So if you’re not going to count calories, you should dramatically cut back on foods like doughnuts and soda.

Which is a good idea on any diet plan, but even more important here since you’re not counting calories.

Do this and it’ll solve 90% of your weight loss problems.

Fruits are fine. Eat as much fruit as you want.

Step #2 – Eat more protein

If you’re not eating as much fat and carbs, guess what you’ll be eating more of?

Protein.

Pile up on unprocessed animal proteins, ideally without too much fat.

Step #3 – Establish your baseline diet

Your “baseline” is the diet you’ll be starting off with.

You can choose your meal frequency and the exact foods you eat.

For example, a baseline for you might be:

  • 2 meals per day
  • 2 pieces of fruit

So every day, you will eat 2 solid meals and 2 pieces of fruit. Those are your “rules” for the day.

For these 2 meals you can be pretty generous with the amount of food you eat since meal frequency is so low.

So I’ll pile up on the protein, real carbs like potatoes, and minimal fat.

Meal Frequency Note

The higher your meal frequency, the less full you’ll be at the end of each meal (e.g. if you eat 6 meals per day, you should NOT feel stuffed at the end of each meal).

The lower your meal frequency, the more full you’ll be at the end of each meal (e.g. if you eat one meal per day, you’ll be pretty stuffed at the end of the one meal but you’ll likely feel hungry at other points of the day).

Step #4 – Tweak Tweak Tweak

Step #4 is so so important.

Don’t fuck it up.

Most people fuck it up. Don’t be most people.

Once you have a baseline to work off of, you need to tweak and adjust your diet.

You should go into this way of eating 100% expecting that you won’t lose weight the first 1-2 weeks.

If you do lose weight, awesome.

If you don’t, don’t be disappointed.

Have patience.

I will fuck slap you in the face if you message me complaining how you didn’t lose weight the first week.

Luckily making tweaks is easy:

Here are the easiest ways to you can make:

  • Eliminate liquid calories like soda and juice.
  • If you’re drinking more than 5 (alcoholic) drinks per week, cut it back to 1-2.
  • Stop snacking. People tend to underestimate how quickly a “handful of nuts” here and a “couple of chips” there can add up.
  • If you’re not, try eating just one big meal per day. I talk more about eating once per day here.

The more you tweak your own diet, the more you learn about what your body needs and your unique quirks.

beer weight loss

Step #5 – Staying consistent

Most people think that just because they bought new supplements or hired a personal trainer, that all their problems will be solved.

But money doesn’t solve a lack of discipline.

When you have a problem like “I need to lose weight,” the only thing you can do that will guarantee success is testing and tweaking.

Test a diet to see if it works, then tweak it if it doesn’t. Rinse and repeat forever. 

That’s dieting success in a nutshell.

And the only way you can keeping testing and tweaking is by staying consistent and disciplined.

You will never get the chance to tweak your approach to dieting if you’re not consistent.

So even if a diet doesn’t work at first, don’t give up hope.

The sole act of not giving up and modifying your approach puts you ahead of pretty much everyone else.

5-step summary

  1. Cut back on fats and refined carbs (aka. Junk food)
  2. Eat more protein
  3. Establish your baseline diet.
  4. Tweak your baseline if you’re not losing weight
  5. Stay consistent

Calories matter. How much they matter is up to you.

The cool thing about counting calories is you can take it as far as you want.

If you’re an elite level athlete or bodybuilder, you’ll have be more precise with everything related to your diet. The 5 steps I outlined above will likely not work well for you.

But if you’re just trying to lose/maintain weight and look good, then it’s definitely possible to do so without obsessive calorie counting.

How do you approach counting calories? Let me know in the comments.

For a complete step-by-step training and nutrition program on building your best possible physique, check out Superhero X12.

Dayna
November 8, 2017

I 100% agree on tweaking it’s rarely going to be perfect the first time. Many people get discouraged when they start a new plan and don’t lose weight in the first week. Patience seems rare these days.

Reply
    Keith
    November 8, 2017

    Almost all problems can be solved with some patience 😉

    Reply
Amber
November 7, 2017

I loved this article. Fantastic read .
Just adding a point of interest that works for us. We don’t count a big bowl of steamed vegetables we have with a steak etc.
In my meal plans veggies are like fruit.
I’ve never seen a fat fucker from over eating vegetables.
I only count calories in potatoes,pumpkin, kumara + corn.
Cauliflower , broccoli , beans, peas, ,squash , asparagus, mushrooms etc.
Steamed / boiled & enjoyed immensely.
And if I go out- I’m eating what I want 😉

Reply
    Keith
    November 7, 2017

    Yes, i never count raw veggies or veggies that are cooked in any way that don’t add extra cals. Same goes for most fruits. Yes, agree with you on the list as well 🙂

    Reply
Eric Rockwood
November 7, 2017

I do actually count calories and just eat one meal a day. I’ve actually found that when I don’t count I tend to not eat enough and will lose weight. I’m more of a numbers guy though and enjoy it. I used to obsess about it but now I eat a massive bowl of some kind of veggies without tracking it, ill eat an apple here and there, and I go to the grocery store every day to grab a free cookie sample. There are ways to count without obsessing but I also will tell people to just track for a week or so to actually understand what a real serving looks like.

Reply
    Keith
    November 7, 2017

    yes it would be hugely helpful if most people just spent a few weeks counting obsessively just so they an understand what portion sizes are.

    Reply
Edwin Madison
November 7, 2017

Great post Keith. Loved reading it.

The best part of the post is Step #4: Tweak…

It is a fact that most of the people don’t tweak their diet. If it isn’t working for them, they will quit and lose heart. Even if its working and you are losing a few good pounds every month, you still need to tweak your diet. You can do better. You never know and the only way to know is to try it yourself. Experiment as much as you can.

It is such an important phase of losing weight but it is often ignored, unfortunately.

Eddy

Reply
Hunter R
November 7, 2017

Great article. I wanted to ask a question about lifting/strength training while trying to cut or lose weight. In general, if you are in a period of trying to cut or lose weight- do you change your goals of strength training?
Ex: do you change the amount of reps, sets, frequency, Weight progression, lifting to failure etc.?

Reply
    Keith
    November 7, 2017

    to keep things simple, do the same routine you were doing when bulking. Your goal should simply be to maintain strength and training intensity.

    Reply
Adelisa
November 6, 2017

Love this post. I’ve been obbbsessed with counting calories in the past but am only now more relaxed about it. Life is so much better.

Reply
    Keith
    November 6, 2017

    Thanks Adelisa. Life can def be more stress free when you’re not thinking about cals all the time.

    Reply

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