I think you will agree with me when I say:
Weight loss is one of the most annoying and hardest parts of maintaining a good physique.
There is just a lot too it, isn’t there?
Even if you are a strong-minded individual who is willing to put in a lot of hard work for an aesthetic look, you’re still going to find it taxing.
Sometimes, don’t you just wish that there were some sort of shortcuts that can help you skyrocket your weight loss results?
Well, what if I told you that there are such fitness “hacks” that can actually help you amp up your weight loss performance with up to 120%?
OK, enough talk, let’s dive in:
Here are 15 evidence-based fitness hacks that will help you lose weight without exercising.
#1 Drink Coffee To Boost Weight Loss By 10-29%
The really bad rep that coffee has been getting over the last couple of years has really lead to us forgetting how healthy coffee can actually be.
When consumed in moderation coffee is a very powerful weight loss tool as its packed with antioxidants (similarly to green tea) and carries numerous health benefits.
In short, the way that it works is that it helps increase daily energy expansion and has a thermogenic function.
Both of these functions help facilitate weight loss, especially when combined with a good anaerobic exercise regime.
Just remember to drink your coffee clean of any added sugar as that will diminish its positive effects.
#2 Green Tea: Nature’s Weight Loss Gift
Due to its high antioxidant (called catechins) count and various health benefits one of which is aiding weight loss.
The hero without a cape here is the bioactive compound found in green tea – Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
This form of antioxidant in the tea can help inhibit an enzyme that breaks down the hormone norepinephrine – try saying that 5 times fast.
When this enzyme is inhibited the amount of norepinephrine consequently increases.
This hormone acts as a signal being sent to fat cells, telling them to break down fat. The more norepinephrine being produced the stronger the signal being sent.
This is one of the primary reasons why green tea seems to be a key ingredient in almost every fat-burning supplement on the market as it has similar characteristics of L-Carnitine (helps metabolize body fat).
An interesting study was ran by The University of Birmingham, which put together two different groups of men – 1) those who were given green tea extract; and 2) those who were given a placebo pill.
Amazingly, the group that ingested the green tea extract was found to have a 17% boost in their fat burning capabilities, which only dictates that green tea can help boost fat burning effects of exercise.
Another study published in the Journal of Health Science in 2004 that went on for 8 weeks concluded that the ingestion of green tea increased fat burning both during exercise and rest.
#3 Early Bird Gets The Worm
If you really want to impact your weight loss game then you will need to really reconsider your sleeping patterns.
A somewhat recent study of 54 volunteers concluded that individuals who woke up earlier in the morning were capable of significantly impacting their body fat storages (Read more about it here).
This interesting effect is connected with the fact that the sooner in the day our eyes, and body in general, is exposed to bright sunlight, the lower our body mass index (BMI) is.
Furthermore, the Northwestern University researchers mention that evidently the later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person’s BMI.
And if you are already an early shiner you might consider waking up even earlier as the researchers claim that as little as a 20-30 minute change can impact our BMI.
This explains why so many fitness models and athletes out there wake up super early in the morning to do their workouts.
If you are anything like me and you LOVE sleep you are probably thinking:
While I completely agree with you that sleeping in is one of the best parts of being alive, you might want to consider the various health benefits that waking up early carries.
The main culprits to blame for our incapability of waking up early are our gadgets that keep us up all night with their artificial light.
Furthermore, another study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the fat cells of people who to bed later at night (around 1.30am) had lower insulin sensitivity, which is closely related to weight gain.
You should see the guilty look of my face right now as I am writing this article in 12:40AM.
#4 Get your Zzz’s
While waking up early in the morning is beneficial for weight loss we must not forget about our zzz’s.
There is a lot of scientific literature out there that concludes that there is a direct link between how much people sleep and how much they weigh.
One interesting study followed roughly 60,000 healthy women for a whopping 16 years.
The women were divided into three groups: 1) those who accumulated 5 hours of sleep; 2) those who accumulated 6 hours of sleep; and 3) those who accumulated 7 hours of sleep.
At the end of the study it was concluded that the first group who slept the least were the ones who had a higher chance of becoming obese and even accumulating 30lbs of pure fat weight over the course of the study.
And this is just the direct effect!
Think about it, a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain through indirect causes:
- Feeling too sleepy to exercise;
- Wanting to attain more glucose (sugar) to wake up the brain;
- Your whole day is jet lagged and you don’t feel like doing anything, even cooking, so why not order some take out;
- Sleep deprivation also disrupts your satiety hormone (leptin) causing you to eat more.
Damn, all of that talk of sleep really made me sleepy.
Lack of sleep can seriously impact your testosterone levels, which in turn will lead to other serious problems such as loss of muscle mass and decreased metabolic rate – i.e. more body fat.
And it gets worse!
If you do not manage and provide your body with a sufficient amount of sleep you will end up spiking your cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Cortisol is responsible for muscle cannibalism and increased body fat accumulation – in other words, it’s the last hormone you want running around in your body.
Furthermore, a study that was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009 concluded that lack of sleep helps create insulin resistance – which is a term that I am going to explain later in this article, just keep reading.
All of this just proves how important sleep is to our weight loss performance.
#5 Drink Water Before Meals To Improve Weight Loss by 44%
Drinking water is essential to weight loss.
Proper water consumption can help boost metabolism by 30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours, which will help you burn off a couple of extra calories every day (study).
Drinking 2 liters of water a day has shown to help elevate daily energy expansion – helping you burn more body fat.
One study showed that drinking half 500ml of water about half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and improve their overall weight loss performance with up to 44%.
#6: Carb Manipulation to Help Lose Weight Like a Pro
I am not commonly known as a person who points fingers at the issue, but if I had to I would point directly at carbohydrates.
Usually, there are hundreds of factors that directly and indirectly affect our health and weight. As we literally just now concluded, not getting enough sleep can have a detrimental affect on your body fat percentage.
However, one of the primary reasons why there are so many people out there that are struggling to reduce their body fat is because of their carb intake.
Carbs give you energy, right? So that means that you need a healthy dose of carbs in order to have a good workout so that you can push towards successful muscle hypotrophy.
See, the problem is that at the same time while carbs help you accumulate more muscle mass it also helps you accumulate body fat.
The reason behind this is simple: when you consume a specific amount of carbohydrates, your body uses the quantity that it requires (say 150g out of 300g) and stores the rest (150g) as a secondary source of energy – i.e. body fat cells.
Carbs are essential!
There’s no doubt!
But what does one do if one wishes to develop and aesthetic physique while still retaining muscle mass?
This is where the technique commonly known as carb cycling or carb manipulation comes into play.
Carb manipulation is a classic fitness practice where one controls not just the quantity of carbohydrates that ones consumes but also the times when one consumes them.
Or in other words: you eat carbs when your body needs them and don’t eat as much when your body does not need them.
This in turn allows you to perform really well during your workouts and prevents you from storing any excess body fat during your resting days.
I recently spoke with Amira Lamb, aka the Holistic Hottie, who claims that carb manipulation is her number one fitness hack that helps her get ready for her bikini competition.
Here is how carb manipulation works:
There are two elements that fall into consideration:
1) Mapping out which are your working (workout) and rest days: This is basically where you take a look at your week and think about which days are your working days and resting days.
What you do afterwards is calculate your carb intake for your working days (more carbs so that you can perform better during your workouts) and resting days (less carbs so that you do not accumulate any excess body fat).
Steve Cook has provided us with a really useful tool that allows us to calculate the necessary carb intake during our training and off days.
The calculator is pretty vague and you will probably need to make some tweaks here and there – primarily by following your body weight – but it just gives a really good benchmark from where to start.
Just enter in your bodyweight (either in pounds or kilograms) and then you will get a graph with your training and off day carb consumptions.
2) Mapping out your specific working day and resting day: This is where you need to plan out your days and think about when are you going to need the most and least amounts of carbohydrates.
A rule of thumb here is that you need to consume 80% of your daily carbohydrate intake before your workout (40%) and after your workout (40%).
So for example: if your daily carb intake is 350g then 140g needs to be consumed before your workout and another 140g after your workout.
This is so that your body has a sufficient amount of glucose running in your blood to ensure good performance during your workout and proper recovery afterwards.
So now you are probably wondering: “What happens with the remaining 20%, John?”.
Well, you sort of just spread it evenly throughout the remainder of your day.
Usually, I map it out where 10% goes into my breakfast and the remaining 10% I split into two meals that I consume throughout the day.
And let’s not forget about the accursed night time!
Try to evade any forms of carbohydrates during sleeping hours, specifically 2-3 hours before going to bed.
Your metabolic rate is at its slowest then because your body is about to go into hibernation (sleep) so your metabolism is not working at its full capacity as it does during the day.
Interestingly, sumo wrestlers abuse this as they strive to consume high quantities of food right before they go to sleep so that they can accumulate large amounts of body weight in very brief spans of time.
Take a look:
Carb manipulation is a sure method that will help you put carbohydrates into good use and ensure that you reduce your overall body fat percentage.
#7 Cinnamon: The Miracle Spice
Ok, I’m about to drop the science hammer on you so you better put your thinking caps on!
It is considered that weight gain and obesity related problems can be traced back to insulin resistance.
Insuline resistance is a condition where your body, or more specifically your cells, literally become resistant to the effects of insulin.
You see, when you consume a carbohydrate rich meal, the digestive enzymes break it down to simple sugars such as glucose.
Glucose is then used for the production of ATP or energy in cells.
Insulin is the one hormone in the human body that helps drive glucose into cells that need it to produce ATP. Insulin is basically the usher that helps glucose find the right seat. So to speak.
Due to the fact that refined carbs are digested much quicker by the body it causes the blood stream to be flooded with glucose (this is known as hyperglycemia – a condition where there is an excessive amount of glucose released in the blood stream), which creates an insulin spike – i.e. more insulin is produced so that all of that glucose can be ushered to the right cells.
The problem is that the cells soon become numb to the effects of insulin. This means that higher quantities of insulin are required to drive the same amount of carbohydrates.
This only causes the cells to become more and more resistant to the effects of insulin over time, which ultimately leads to your body storing more body fat.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself: “So what if my body’s producing more insulin, where’s the harm in that?”.
Well, see, in the presence of this lovely hormone, the body wants to store fat rather than burn it. This puts you in what is known as a “fat storage mode” or scientifically known as a metabolic syndrome.
An article that was published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2011 showed that rats in the study had more than 50% reduction in their post-meal glucose after the consumption of cinnamon.
Another study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009 which followed 8 participants who took 3 grams of cinnamon on a daily basis. There was an average of 27% reduction in insulin response on the 14th day of the study.
The only downside was that as soon as the consumption of cinnamon ceased so did the positive effects that it delivered.
What these studies prove is that cinnamon is an extremely powerful weight loss spice that will really help you keep your insulin levels down and will help you control your blood sugar and ultimately help you lose more body fat over time.
Furthermore, another study published in the Journal Diabetes Care in 2003 showed that cinnamon can actually help reduce LDL Cholesterol or bad cholesterol with up to 27%. This will not directly impact your weight loss performance but will definitely improve your overall training capacity.
#8 Smaller Plates For a Smaller Waist
Instead of looking at the type of food or the portions that you consume we are going to assess what you put your food on.
The “Smaller plate study” is the name of the experimental study that was started out by Dr Brian Wansink and Dr Koert van Ittersum.
What these two marvels concluded will really leave you in awe.
Their study was all about how by changing the size of the plate would affect people’s perception of how much they eat.
By altering the size of the plate from the traditional 12inch one to a smaller 10inch one the two researchers found that this reduced the amount of food the subjects ate without impacting how full or satisfied they felt.
These smaller meals lead to a 22% caloric reduction.
According to some specialists from the “Small Plate Movement” one can lose up to 20lbs of body fat just by decreasing their plate’s diameter.
So how exactly does this work?
Well, according to Dr. Wansink and Dr. Ittersum the reason why the small plate study proved successful is due to an optical trickery known as the “Delboeuf Illusion” – affects our perception of the relative size of an object.
To put in other words: If you put an object next to another object against which you can compare it’s size, the size of the initial object seemingly changes in size either growing or shrinking.
The way that this translates to our plate is that by putting our food on a larger plate we end up thinking that we’ve not consumed enough.
But by placing the food on a smaller plate we believe the exact opposite.
However, the two scientists warn us to not use plates that are smaller than 10inches in size as we cognitively pick up on the illusion and we tend to go for an extra plate.
#9 Slow Down
Most people, including me, tend to eat their food fast as if they have some sort of a meal schedule where they’re only allowed to eat for 3 minutes.
Well, it turns out slowing down and taking your time with your chow is the smarter alternative as there are some studies out there that slower food consumption can help improve weight loss performance.
It is considered that quick eaters are 115% more likely to become obese than slow eaters (study)…
I wish you could take a look at my guilt-enriched face right now.
An interesting study carried out by the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health looked at the weight changes of 529 men over an 8 year period. Those who were reported as fast eaters gained more than twice as much as the slow or medium eaters.
Bloody hell, twice as much…
It has been considered that one of the primary reasons why slow consumption is so beneficial is because it helps increase the production of satiety hormones as your brain is provided with enough time to receive fullness signals.
On the other hand eating too quickly can lead to overeating and in some cases hyperglycemia and this can lead to insulin resistance as we previously mentioned.
By slowing down your eating your are increasing your sense of fullness and satisfaction – as a consequence you eat less food (more specifically fewer carbohydrates).
#10 Leave your Comfort Zone
We all love our comfort zone!
It’s nice, it’s relaxed and most importantly it’s conveniently easy and simple.
Which is exactly why you need to try your best and escape from it, break out of its chains that are holding you back!
Ok, maybe I went a little overboard there.
Our comfort zones are most often our biggest issue when it comes to weight loss.
We always look for shortcuts: driving to our gym instead of walking, cycling or even running to it; we prefer taking the elevator instead of stairs; we prefer laying around all day instead of doing something physically demanding.
I will give you a real example with myself:
As a student I would often lead a quite passive and stationary life – I would use the bus to travel to my university, walk to the nearest grocery shop, when studying I would usually stay in a sited position for a good 1-2 hours, I would often use the elevator.
One day, I decided that it would be a good idea to run a wee bit of an experiment with myself, where I remove the majority of my comfort.
I bought myself a bike, which as a long-term investment ended saving me a pretty decent amount of money monthly, and I started riding my bike to uni and to further away supermarkets.
I stopped using the elevator and when I was studying I would get up and do some stretches, jumping jacks, high knees, burpees, anything that can potentially elevate my heart rate.
By using Lifesum, I managed to track how my weekly caloric need had changed after implementing the changes.
Believe it or not, my weekly caloric intake went up with the whopping 3,200 calories or roughly 450 calories per day.
Granted, that did mean that if I wanted to retain my muscle mass I needed to increase my protein intake, but it was quite impressive to see these numbers.
Keep in mind that 1 gram of body fat is 9 calories. By implementing carb manipulation into the equation (meaning that all consumed carbs have a purpose) that means that the ratio at which carbs are used as energy over fats is 5:5 – meaning that 225 calories or 25 grams of fat is used for energy.
That means that, hypothetically, I will burning of 10lbs of body fat per year by just leaving my comfort zone.
The number is just hypothetical, but it really helps you understand how by just doing something that you don’t find comfortable can really help you improve your weight loss performance.
#11 Cold Showers: 400% Metabolic Boost
I have already written an article that pinpoints all of the health benefits that cold showers carry (check out here).
And if you’ve read the article you would know that one of the major benefits is improved weight loss performance.
Cold showers can impact your weight loss either directly or indirectly.
Directly, would be where cold showers help you increase your caloric burn – as your body is exposed to lower temperatures it requires for your body to increase your heart rate (metabolism) so that it can pump more oxygen and nutrients (for energy) so that it can heat itself up.
A study by the S-VYASA University concluded that when our bodies are immersed in cold water there is a significant increase in our metabolic rate – up to 350 or 400%, which is quite impressive.
Furthermore, cold showers are notorious for activating the production of brown adipose tissue or more famously known as “brown fat”.
Brown fat’s primary function is to generate heat in the body.
Due to the fact that brown fat is highly metabolic, just two ounces of the stuff can burn up to 500 calories a day.
Brown fat is considered to be located in the upper section of our chest and traps (at least in adults) so if you are using cold showers as a form of cold water submersion you would want to make sure that you are hitting those areas.
I spoke with Ben Greenfield, who is a well-known athlete who specializes in fitness performance, and I asked him to share with me what does he categorize as his number one fitness hack and he answered:
“Take a 5 minute hot-cold contrast shower at the beginning and end of day: 20 seconds cold as you can go, 10 seconds warm, 10 times through. That’s it! Cold fluctuations is one of proven ways to convert white adipose storage fat into metabolically active tissue!”
The direct impact that cold showers have on weight loss performance is absolutely shocking and without doubt something worth exploring.
Cold water exposure also carries a barrage of other benefits that help you improve your weight loss capacity indirectly:
- It helps you boost your energy levels, which can deliver a much more explosive and powerful workouts
- Acts as a serious mental pump – remember that we speak of weight loss, we need to remember that the longer you manage to remain in the game, the better the results you’re going to notice
- Cold showers are also well-known for being beneficial to sleep. As mentioned previously in the article sleep is essential to your weight loss performance.
#12 More Fats and Protein Early in The Morning
We’ve all heard the saying: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.
As it turns out there might be more truth behind this statement than we thought.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a series of experiments where they divided a group of people into two distinctive sub-groups.
The groups were categorized based on whether they were being fed a high-fat breakfast (45/35/20 percent fat, carbs, and protein), or a high-carb, low-fat breakfast (10/70/20).
Furthermore, the high-fat breakfast was followed by eight hours of high-carb eating and vice versa.
The whole experiment continued for 12 weeks.
What followed was something quite interesting:
Even though the total macros were similar between the two groups, the one who ate a high-fat breakfast burned more body fat throughout the day, plus they were shown to be much leaner than the high-carb breakfast group.
The conclusion from the study is that breakfast programs your metabolism for the rest of the day.
A high-carb breakfast causes your body to rely primarily on carbs as your source for energy, whereas a high-fat, lower-carb breakfast will program your body to run on fat.
This is why an egg breakfast is the way to go:
Studies show that by replacing your generic grain-based breakfast with an egg one, you thus unlock a whole new level of weight loss as such breakfasts have shown positive efects on fat burning (check out this study and this one).
#13 Spicy food Can Help You Burn Up To 119 Calories a Day
If you are like me and you love spicy food, then I have some good news for you:
Spicy food helps you constrain your appetite, which helps decrease total calories consumed throughout the day (study).
Spicy food is also notorious for it’s impact on calorie burning.
According to the Chemical Sense review, the spice increases your body’s temperature, which may elevate the amount of energy you expend.
Results vary from one study to another, but it has been concluded that cayenne peppers can help you burn as much as 119 calories a day, say the authors of the Chemical Senses review article.
The only downside is that according to studies spicy food does not give the same boost to people who are overweight or obese:
Meaning that spicy foods work best for those who are leaner.
But, even if a bit overweight, it would still help you burn off some extra pounds of fat.
#14 Super Foods For Amazing Results
When it comes to weight loss, super foods are your best friends!
They are nature’s miracle workers as they help us lose even more body fat just by including them in our diet.
Now, I have already written an article where I have listed 30 fat-burning foods where I have explained the properties of all of the foods and how they help us lose more weight.
One of my favorite ones out of the 30 is the grapefruit:
A study that was carried out by The Scripps Clinic in San Diego reported that subjects who ate half a grapefruit or drank 8oz of grapefruit juice two to three times a day were capable of losing an average of 4lbs of body fat in just 12 weeks.
There were even some reported cases where some individuals lost more than 10lbs without even being on a diet. Wow!
Another really good one is coconut oil and its medium-chained fatty acids – this type of fatty acids are treated by the body as a primary source of energy (as carbohydrates) even though they take considerably longer the breakdown as they are still lipids (fats).
This can seriously help you control your insulin levels, increase the amount of fat being metabolized and decrease your body’s propensity to store fat.
Another really good one is garlic – it helps activate diet-induced-thermogenisis (similarly like spicy food) and thus help you burn more energy and more body fat.
And these are just to name a few!
#15 More protein = More Weight Loss
Protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss!
This is because your body requires to use more energy (calories) to metabolize protein compared to the amount required to metabolize fats and carbs.
One study in women showed that by increasing their protein intake from 15 to 30% of total calories helped them eat about 450 fewer calories per day. They also lost about 11lbs (5kg) in just 12 weeks time.
In another even more interesting study:
Two groups of people were put on weight loss diets for 10 weeks. Both groups at the same amount of calories, but different amounts of protein.
Records show that both groups managed to lose weight. However, the high-protein group lost about 1.1lbs (0.5kg) more, and a larger percentage of body fat.
Furthermore, another study shows that a high protein diet increases daily caloric burn with 80-100 calories.
Just by adding a bit more protein to your diet you’ll be capable of burning off a noticeable amount of body fat.
Tell Me What You Think
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on the matter down in the comment section.
What would you say is your favorite fitness hack from the list and what do you believe I should have included.
Let me know!
And don’t forget: