Food & NutritionHealth

6.5 Strategies To Melt Fat Without Counting Calories

I’m a big fan of calorie counting. There’s no doubt about that. I speak about this on various websites I write for and extol the virtues of having my customers all the time.

However, it’s unreasonable to expect people to count calories until the primordial seas once again wash over the Earth anew, bringing with them the end of time. That’s neither a healthy nor a sustainable way to live life. If anything it’s a surefire way to make sure you wind up obsessing over minutia.

If anything, counting calories and macros is a short-term tool that allows you to recalibrate your eye. You learn what servings actually look like, associate your hunger levels with certain calorie/macro intakes, and carry those skills forward into the days when you’re no longer shackled to MyFitnessPal.

But what do you do when you think you’re ready to make that switch and stop counting? If you’ve done that you know it can be a bit weird at first. All of a sudden you don’t have this running tab that tells you how many calories you have left to spend for the day.

For some people that can be crippling as they’re so dependent upon counting that they have no idea how to function without it. This is exactly why having strategies in place is paramount.

Here are 6.5 strategies to help you reach your goals without counting calories:

Create systems

Listen to any big Internet entrepreneur talk and they’re going to tell you about systems. Finding systems to manage your website, email list, clients, and so on. The whole point is that they understand they can’t manage everything in their head.

Instead, they’ve got bigger things to work on. Things to create, projects to throw themselves into, and events to attend. The systems allow their business to continue running without them staying in it all day long.

Habits are your dietary systems. They allow you to function and continuously work towards your goals without constantly having to question what it is that you’re eating, the calories in it, or if it’s good for you.

I like to make this connection because systems run on autopilot, as do habits. They’re both things that we don’t think about. They don’t require hands-on action to control or manipulate day in and day out.

They just run. We adhere to them, and our businesses and bodies are better for them.

What are some examples of systems that would work well for this example?

  • Having the same morning routine that supports your goals. The same breakfast, actions, etc.
  • The same lifting schedule throughout the week.

Creating meal prep habits into your week. This means having certain days that are dedicated to cooking, so you’re never caught in a bind that might lead to poor food choices.

Find little wins

One of the concepts I often talk about with my clients is getting little wins. It’s something I constantly hammer home because I believe so strongly in it.

But what is a little win?

A little win is nothing more than acknowledging you’ve done some behavior that is health supportive. It could be drinking water first thing in the morning, eating a salad at lunch, passing on the donuts, or any number of things.

The value with little wins doesn’t come from just one win though. It comes from piling up little wins and getting on your very own winning streak. When you’ve spent a full day piling up little wins, you suddenly start craving the idea of winning more.

So what do you do? You do things that help you win more. You keep building momentum with health supportive behaviors, and before long you’ve got one long winning streak going.

What about when you fail?

And herein lies the real beauty of little wins. Due to the very nature of them being little wins, when you fail all that you’ve got to do is shift your focus back to finding the smallest win possible, and restarting from there.

Maybe you made food choices you aren’t proud of. Instead of beating yourself up about it just shift your focus towards finding your next little win, and allowing that to get you back on track.

Every day is salad day.

I stole this one from Jill Coleman, who has been a proponent of eating a big ass salad for as long as I’ve followed her stuff. Years back whenever I first started paying attention to my health I would make a point to eat a massive salad once a day that was full of leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean protein.

I didn’t know any better. But I knew that eating a meal that was colorful and had plenty of micronutrients was bound to be good for me. Plus it was incredibly easy to pack.

You throw all of the ingredients in a medium sized Tupperware container and off you go.

But the real beauty in this isn’t that you’re eating a salad because salads by themselves aren’t all that special. It’s the commitment you’re making to having one meal each day that is incredibly nutrient dense and is bound to make you feel great about yourself.

That’s a little win, and that little win is easy to carry over into other little wins.

Eat protein at every meal

Obvious, right? You would be shocked at how many people still manage to get this wrong. Emphasizing lean protein is one of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure that you’re going to be satiated, and also eating to support your goals.

That satiation thing is important here. When you’re not counting calories it can feel a bit like you’re flying blind. Without a numerical value in place to guide you in how much you should eat it can become pretty challenging to listen to your body.

Which makes it all the more important that you try and get foods in that will satiate you. Of course, this is really just a fancy way of saying foods that are going to keep you full and satisfied without stuffing you.

And just so we’re clear, lean protein is not bacon that you cooked in butter. Lean protein sources are chicken, tuna, egg whites, lean cuts of beef, and lean cuts of fish.

By making sure that you’re getting something like this in at every single meal you’re all but guaranteeing you’ll be able to get enough protein to support recovery, and in turn become super jacked and shit.

Don’t drink your calories.

Just stop drinking your calories. That’s it. Plain and simple.

Okay, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I tend to look at protein shakes as a food type product, so I don’t include them in this list. But even protein shakes, the unofficial drink of choice of bros around the world, can become an unwarranted calorie bomb if you’re not careful.

Which means that you need to be intelligent about this sort of thing. If you’re getting a protein shake from a place like Jamba Juice, then you’re probably better off just going home to make your own.

Of course, where most of this advice applies is with alcohol, soft drinks, and the like. These calorie filled drinks can be the death of several diets, including yours if you’re not careful.

“Wait. So don’t drink alcohol or anything?”

I’m not saying stop drinking forever, unless, of course, you have a problem with alcohol. What I am saying though is that you should pick and choose your drinking carefully when you’re no longer counting calories.

And the truth of the matter is that if you’re drinking 4 nights a week to the point that it ruins your diet then we probably have bigger issues to talk about than if you can continue making progress without counting calories.

Why this rule?

Part of the reason for this is because we didn’t evolve to drink calories for the most part. So our stomachs and brains have a tough time denoting from liquid calories just how full we are. This means you might be able to have a 300 calorie drink and then turn around and have an 800 calorie meal without even knowing it.

And to add to that point, most of the time you’re having liquid calories these drinks aren’t exactly the definition of health supportive. They contain a ton of sugar and other additives, which when overdone can be harmful to both health and physique.

It’s one thing if you’re counting macros and calories because it’s a bit easier to keep a handle on those things. But when you’re not, like I mentioned earlier, it can feel like you’re flying blind. Which makes removing those potential dietary landmines ahead of time all the more important.

Eat fewer carbs from a box or a bag.

Before the word police comes to castigate me here, I’ll make it clear that I’m talking about refined carbs. I’m well aware that rice and bagels come in boxes and bags. Don’t be a semantic asshole. People stop inviting you to parties when you do that.

And more to that point, quite acting like it’s the end of the fucking world to suggest that people remove shit quality food from their diet. If there is one thing the world of IIFYM has done wrong it has been their incessant desire to make it look like people eat nothing but junk food and get shredded.

This is why I think it’s important that people focus on removing most of those junk foods when they’re not counting macros or calories. You don’t have that built-in control system to help manage those highly palatable foods that are all too easy to overeat.

So what is the next best step? Removing them.

As an added benefit to removing them from your diet for periods, you begin to reset your cravings. When removing shit quality foods you undoubtedly have to replace them with something else, which in turn becomes a type of food that is more likely to support your goals. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.

The more you eat those foods, the more you crave them. The more you crave them, the more you eat them. It becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to you looking aesthetic and healthy as fuck.

Get in tune with your hunger

Do you eat because you’re bored? When you can’t find anything to watch on TV do you immediately reach for a bag of chips to munch on?

Do you eat because you’re bored? When you can’t find anything to watch on TV do you immediately reach for a bag of chips to munch on?

Or how about in the office? Do you walk past the communal candy jar and take some, even though you’re not hungry? Leaving you to ask why the hell you’re munching on the sugar coated sugar, to begin with.

Becoming aware of these hunger signals and behaviors is paramount to being able to eat for both aesthetics and health without counting calories.

We live in an environment that is set up to make us fat. Food marketing and food availability have made it all but impossible to get away from the never-ending assault on our taste buds.

This is by far and away one of the most important and difficult steps to this entire process. It requires interrupting patterns, an incredible level of self-awareness, and being able to cope with the inevitable failure of adhering to these very rules.

You’ve got to be able to understand that you will mindlessly snack from time to time. But you’ve also got to be able to understand that those mindless snacking spells present an opportunity to question why you’re mindlessly snacking.

Getting to the root of why you’re doing things, identifying it, coping with it, and in turn fixing it, is the key to long-term success when it comes to eating for health and aesthetics without counting calories.

On top of this, asking yourself about your hunger can be an enlightening process. I’ve found over time that many people who mindlessly snack because they think they’re hungry are just thirsty.

Weird right? But we as humans have this incredible ability to suppress our thirst and often wind up confusing our desire for water as hunger, and wind up overeating when in reality a little water would’ve gone a long way.

Putting these into action.

Moving from the world of counting calories and macros can be a bit terrifying if you’ve been used to counting for a long period. I’m not joking when I say that it causes some people legitimate anxiety.

Of course, that’s part of the reason why I think it’s all the more important to try and move out of that world at some point or another, and instead only use tracking and counting as a short term option to recalibrate yourself.

We as people weren’t meant to meticulously track anything and everything we eat. Food is far too important from a social and cultural perspective. You should be able to guiltlessly enjoy a meal out with family and friends, knowing full well you didn’t need to weigh out a single thing on your plate.

That’s why it’s all the more important to put these strategies into play. Doing things like building habits that you can follow and are health-supportive, placing a focus on nutrient-dense foods, eating lean protein, and paying attention to your hunger can carry you a long way.

Initially, it’s not going to be easy, you’re going to fuck up, and you’re going to feel lost at times. That’s okay. If you’ve taken the time to build in your systems and are focusing on piling up little wins, you’ll get back on track.

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