I know a lot of people try and lose weight without exercising. It’s an extremely tempting thought to entertain, as it would require much less physical effort than the alternative. But, can you really lose weight without exercise? The obvious answer is, of course you can lose weight without doing any exercise. There are countless examples of this, from rather gruesome things like the rapid weight loss experienced by those who’ve been placed in internment camps in the past, to my own experience of simply eating less and experiencing a reduction in overall body size. Remember, at the simplest level, losing weight comes down to consuming less calories than your body needs on a daily basis.
To find out how many calories you should be eating per day, I recommend reading this article.
That said, I do not believe weight loss via calorie restriction alone to be the best method of weight loss. It’s also not an effective method to maintain weight loss, for reasons that I’ll explain in a moment. Another major downfall of this method is that you’ll have no control over the composition of your body, that is, the ratio of muscle to fat. Let me explain.
When you go on a calorie restricted diet in order to lose weight, you will lose body weight. Note that I said weight, and not fat. Don’t get me wrong, you will lose fat, but you will also lose muscle. Muscle is an important part of your fat-burning metabolism, and just by existing it causes you to burn more calories at rest than you would without it. Muscle is responsible for giving you a pleasant looking physique, and is also a huge aid in keeping the pounds off once you’ve lost them. Without exercise, you give your body no reason to hang on to its additional muscle, and your body starts to use it as a fuel source. Exercise combats this and causes your body to rely more heavily on its fat reserves than muscle for fuel. Do not underestimate the importance of this.
To really answer this question fully, it’s best to examine what your goal is. If you’re in your mid 50‘s for example, have a lot of extra padding, and just want to lose 10 pounds or so, and aren’t really too concerned with your overall body composition, then attempting to do this via diet alone is a plausible and acceptable way to go about this. Through some small changes in your diet, you should be able to achieve this without much trouble at all. It also shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain through your ongoing diet.
However, if you’re looking to lose a lot more than 10 pounds, lose those LAST 10 pounds, or if your goal is to have a visually appealing body, one that you have complete control over the fat to muscle ratio, then I would strongly recommend using exercise in addition to your diet to achieve this. There really is no substitute for either of these things when it comes to weight loss (and muscle building, for that matter). The addition of weight training and cardiovascular exercise does not simply give you a threefold increase in the results of being on a diet by itself; rather, they work synergistically to give you results that are closer to 10x any one of these things alone. Exercise in addition to a clean diet really does make that big of a difference to your physique.
Not only will exercise aid in weight loss and keeping those pounds off for good, it also provides you with a myriad of health benefits that you won’t get any other why. Forgoing them out of laziness or to make room for an extra half hour of television a day just isn’t worth the trade-off.