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How to Lose Weight If You Can't Work Out, According to a Dietitian

You don’t need to sweat to drop weight, one expert says.

Just because you can't exercise doesn't mean you will be unable to lose weight. In fact, many people get started on their body transformation journey long before stepping foot in a gym. Samuel Dickerson (@betteryoubettersociety) is an online fitness coach and influencer on a mission: To help people lose weight and become the best version of themself. In one viral video, he offers tips on how to drop weight without exercising. "If you're trying to lose weight and you can't work out because you have an injury, or if you have a super busy schedule, then you need to really stick to your diet strictly. So this is how you eat to still lose the weight," he says in the clip. We also asked The Diet Diva, Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD/N, ACSM-CPT, a Board Certified Sports Dietitian, to weigh in on his strategy. 

Eat Two to Three Meals a Day

Shot of smiling young woman eating yogurt while sitting on stool in the kitchen at home.
Shutterstock/Josep Suria

Losing weight starts with your diet, says Dickerson. And, what you eat doesn't have to be complicated. "Eat two to three meals a day of protein and veggies," he suggests. 

Drink Protein Shakes

Various Protein sport shake and powder. Fitness food and drink.

Getting enough protein is crucial for weight loss. So, "on top of those meals, drink one protein shake," he advises. 

Related: Gabby Dawn Allen Shares Post-Surgery Fitness Workout

Here Are Examples of Meals

Image of young woman sitting in kitchen while eating fish and tomatoes.
Shutterstock/Shift Drive

Dickerson offers "meal examples" with enough protein. "It can be five to eight ounces of fish, chicken breasts, lean beef or Turkey breasts, any one of those protein sources with a side of vegetables," he says. 

Snack on Fruit or Protein Bars

Closeup on fit sports woman in sport clothes with chocolate raw protein bar using smart watch in the modern living room.

In between meals, he suggests fueling up on healthy items. "If you want to snack on something, you can either snack on fruit or you can snack on a protein bar," he says. 


Abstract image of people in motion with blurred background

If you can, he suggests "30 to 45 minutes of cardio daily" or "stuff that's low impact," he says. "You might not be able to jog, but if you can go outside and do a nice slow walk, do that."

Or, Use the Bike or Elliptical

Woman exercising in a gym with an elliptical cross trainer

There are other forms of cardio he recommends. "If you can go to the gym and get on the bike or the elliptical, if that's not going to cause you pain, do that," he says. "But if you can't do the cardio" he says to "just relax, just chill" and "you'll still be able to lose weight even though you're not really able to work out."

Related: Krissy Cela Shares Her Workout For a Chiseled Midsection

RDN Agrees


Collingwood supports his recommendations. "If your output (calorie burn) goes down because you are missing workouts for one reason or another, cutting back on the diet is a good idea," she says. But don't starve yourself. "Still eat several times a day but focus on the highest quality foods like lean proteins and veggies. You can definitely fit some fruit and whole grains in there, too. Just really watch the 'extras' like the lower nutritional quality foods." And, if you can "try to do something for exercise, even if it is just getting out for a 10 minute walk."

💪🔥Body Booster: Even if you can't exercise, try and move your body a little bit every day. Even a 10-minute walk will make you feel and look better. And if you enjoyed this article, don't miss 12-3-30 Walking Method: 20 Proven Tips to Lose Weight Faster.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more