How to lose weight without cutting out carbs

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Or fats, or meats, or whatever thing it is you’ve been told to stop eating

You don’t even need to do this, although it looks pretty badass

I’ve seen and heard a lot of people try to answer some variation of “what’s the best diet for weight loss?”

Some swear by the Mediterranean diet. Then you’ve got things like the carnivore diet, the keto diet, the Atkins diet, and so on. 

But short of trying to survive on granulated sugar, the best diet is one that you can stick to and puts you at a caloric deficit.

Because it’s not so much what you’re eating but how much of it you’re eating. If you really wanted to, you could probably live off the McDonald’s menu and still lose weight if you played your McRewards the right way.

And that’s essentially what this article is about — putting together your own diet plan that lets you eat whatever it is you want to eat (within reason) and lose weight at the same time.

Here’s how you can do it in 5 steps:

1. Figure out how much you burn in a day.

This doesn’t have to be exact, mostly because your body fluctuates from one day to the next in terms of how many calories you burn.

The point is to give yourself a rough baseline estimate of how much energy you’re using on average everyday.

Now that you know how many calories you’re burning, it’s time to figure out how many calories you should be eating. But to do that, we’ve got one more step to take:

2. Set your weight loss goal.

Although we just spent the first step fidgeting with numbers, your weight loss goal doesn’t have to be based purely on what the scale says. 

In fact, it might be even better for you to use visual cues as benchmarks for your goal. Maybe you want to be able to see your six-pack abs. Or you want to be able to cut down a couple dress sizes.

I like to follow the SMART goal framework when it comes to creating goals that you can stick to. Essentially, you want to make sure that your goal has the following qualities:

  • Specific — know exactly what the goal is that you want to achieve
  • Measurable — you have some way of tracking your progress and yardsticking your goal
  • Attainable — it’s a goal that you can actually accomplish
  • Realistic — you don’t need to live in a Marvel universe for this to work
  • Time-sensitive — there’s a particular timeline you have in mind for achieving your goal

Now, you don’t need to strictly adhere to each of these criteria. The point is that the more detailed you can be with setting your goal, the more likely you are to be able to achieve it. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Something as simple as this works:

“I will lose 10 pounds in the next two months.”

Take as much time as you need to set a goal for yourself. The goal is what directs everything else that happens.

3. Calculate how many calories you should eat.

Generally, speaking, if you wanted to lose a pound in a week, you’d have to eat 3,500 calories less than what you normally eat in a week, which averages out to a 500 calorie deficit per day.

I want to reiterate that this is a general approximation — depending on your situation, you may end up either above or below this number. But 500 calories is a good rule of thumb to use.

Now, what exactly does 500 calories look like?

Well it could look like this…

Or it could look like this…

Or it could just be this

The easiest way to figure out how many calories are in whatever it is you’re eating is to look at the nutrition label.

And if there’s a nutrition label, there’s still plenty of apps and online tools you can use to help you get an idea of how much you’re eating in calories.

At the most basic level, the foods we eat are broken down into 3 types of macronutrients:

  • Fats
  • Proteins
  • Carbs

Each gram of fat is equivalent to 9 calories of energy. Proteins and carbs are both rated at 4 cals/g.

From here, it’s a matter of adjusting your meals to make sure you’re eating at a calorie deficit. Which brings us to step 4.

4. Plan your meals ahead of time.

I find the best way to manage my caloric intake without needing to calculate my calories every time I cook something is to plan my meals ahead of time.

So for example, this is one of the meals I make for myself:

I’ve broken it down by the different ingredients that go into the meal and the macronutrient count for each ingredient.

This format allows me to tweak the amounts that go into the meal so that I know before I actually prep the meal how many calories I’m going to be taking in.

All I’ve really done is put together a recipe for the given meal. In this case, we’ll call it salmon and rice. I might have another meal such as breakfast, which looks like this:

After I’ve assembled all the meals I plan on preparing for myself, I’ll put them into a daily lineup that I can use for the rest of the week:

You don’t have to be as boring as me and eat the same meals day in, day out. You can set up different days where you have different meals, as long as you’re eating at a caloric deficit.

Now, owing to my frugal upbringing, I’ve chosen to set this up myself and manually create an inventory of all the different foods I eat and their respective nutritional values.

But if you don’t get a kick out of playing around with Excel functions and formulae, then you’ll probably be better off with something like MyFitnessPal or FatSecret’s Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker for Weight Loss. To be clear — I’ve never used these tools myself, but I’ve heard good things from people who do use them. And no, we don’t get affiliate money from either link. 

At the end of the day, you’re really looking for a system that helps you to:

  • Figure out how many calories go into each meal
  • Plan out your meals ahead of time so that your total daily caloric intake is accounted for
  • Track your calories over extended periods of time

Now, can you track your calories as you go? For sure.

In fact, I’d recommend starting out by just keeping track of how many calories you eat on a regular basis before you start cutting back. This helps set a baseline for comparing your caloric intake later on and also helps you identify which food groups you want to keep and which ones can be subbed out for choices that make it easier for you to hit your calorie limit.without going over.

Alright, so let’s quickly go over the 4 steps we just covered:

  1. Figure out how much you’re eating in a day
  2. Set a goal for yourself
  3. Calculate how many calories you should eat to stay in a deficit
  4. Plan your meals ahead of time

Now the very last thing that you’ll need to do to help you lose weight is to track your progress.

5. Track your progress.

This last bit is maybe the most important part of the weight loss process. And it’s the main reason why lots of people pay lots of money to personal trainers and coaches to help them lose weight: accountability.

“Perfection,” as Chef Marco Pierre White once put it, “is lots of little things done well.” And that’s all it really takes to achieve any goal. Lots of little things that you just do over a long span of time.

But you have to actually do those things over and over and over again to be able to achieve the goal.

Like only eating what you’ve portioned for your meal.

And not adding in a Junior McChicken here and there.

Now, you don’t have to flagellate yourself like the albino dude in the Da Vinci Code. 

But you do want to make sure you’re sticking to the plan that you carefully laid out in step 4.

If you need to set up a calendar where you tick off every meal, then do that. Or maybe you keep an honest daily log of everything you eat.

And of course, you’ll probably want to weigh yourself.

But remember:

“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do.”

As in if you’re not sticking to the plan and being honest with how much you’re eating, then don’t expect the scale to move.

This is why you’ve gotta have a goal that makes you wish you’d started losing weight a week ago. The more clear and desirable your goal is, the easier it is to remember why you’re losing weight in the first place. And that’s what helps you keep yourself in check on those days where you think you “deserve” that jam-filled donut.


So, just to bring everything back home, here are 5 steps you can use to help you lose weight:

  1. Figure out how much you’re eating in a day
  2. Set a goal for yourself
  3. Calculate how many calories you should eat to stay in a deficit
  4. Plan your meals ahead of time
  5. Stick to your plan

I hate to sound like a sweater at Urban Outfitters, but you got this.

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