We have seen a lot of diets that tell you that you don’t even need to exercise to lose weight, and we’ve also seen plenty of workout plans that will ask you to do an hour of intense exercise each day. We now find a happy medium between the two in the form of the Step Diet, which simply asks you to get up and get moving. For more than a decade, people have been following this plan to become more active and lose weight.
The original Step Diet book was written by James O. Hill, and finds a plan to get you taking more steps throughout the day. What makes this plan easy is that counting steps is a lot easier than counting calories, which is something that you won’t have to do. So will the Step Diet really work for you since you don’t have to count calories over and over again? Let’s look at the aspects of the plan to see if it is the right one for you.
Behind the Step Diet
It’s no secret that following an exercise plan is certainly going to aid in your weight loss goals, but most people tend to overdo it by trying to go from a sedentary lifestyle to working out at the gym over and over. Most sedentary people only take around 1,000 steps per day, especially when you work a desk job. The idea behind this diet is to increase the amount of steps you are taking on a daily basis and cutting your food intake down.
To get started on the Step Diet, you wear a fitness tracker or pedometer to find out your daily average steps per day for the first seven days. After establishing your average steps, you increase that number by an average of 2,000 per day. You keep doing this every week until you have reached an average of at least 10,000 steps per day. All the while, you will cut down on your regular portions by 25 percent, still eating the same foods that you love.
On average, 10,000 steps is about equal to five miles. Walking five miles per day should be able to burn around 500 calories on a daily basis. If you were eating 2,500 calories before and only taking 1,000 steps, you were barely burning off any of those calories. After cutting portions and increasing your daily steps, you’d be eating 2,000 calories and burning 500, which is much closer to being able to help you lose weight.
Of course, the plan says that you don’t have to count calories to lose weight, but it certainly won’t hurt. Also, you will be motivated to make your daily step totals higher and higher, which should lead to increased weight loss. However, the official Step Diet was to promote healthy lifestyle changes that you can use for a lifetime. The weight loss might be slow at first, but once you start to get more active and able to get more steps in, the weight should come off faster.
How Does Walking Help?
While 10,000 steps per day has been the usual accepted amount for a healthy lifestyle, how much is walking going to help you lose weight? A large study by the National Weight Control Registry took thousands of members and asked them to exercise for 60 minutes per day. Most of the participants engaged in walking, reaching around 10,000 steps. The steps plan and cutting down on portions ended up being beneficial, as people lost an average of more than 70 pounds and were able to keep most of the weight off after several years.
Not only did the participants lose weight, but their overall health improved tremendously from adding 60 minutes of walking. It showed that people who added something as simple as walking to their everyday activities were able to shed weight quickly. Some people avoid walking because they don’t feel that it’s a hardcore workout that’s going to burn a lot of calories. Granted, running will burn more calories on a per mile basis, but walking is still a huge benefit even if you’re not covered in sweat.
Walking doesn’t usually add up to a fast weight loss plan, as adding 10,000 steps and lowering your portions could likely lead to just one pound of fat lost per week. Still, heading in the right direction at a slow pace is much better than seeing the number go up. Many people that find themselves walking for exercise eventually turn to running for an increased calorie burn, which will make the weight loss faster as you burn an average of 60 more calories per mile.
You also have to be mindful of your speed when it comes to burning calories through walking. Some people are able to walk at a brisk pace of around four miles per hour, which would allow them to burn twice as many calories in the same amount of time as someone strolling at two miles per hour. Making the most out of your exercise time is going to help, as there is even a wide range for walking speed just like there is with running.
What’s on the Menu?
Now, you aren’t asked to count calories to lose weight on the Step Diet, but it’s nice to get an idea of how much you need to burn to lose weight. For this example, we’ll take a 5’5” woman that weighs 180 pounds and doesn’t get much physical activity at all per week. To lose two pounds per week, this woman would have to take in just 875 calories on a daily basis. That would be hard to do, but adding 10,000 steps to her daily activity would bring that number to around 1,375. That’s much easier to operate around.
Let’s take a look at a sample menu that would bring a lot of healthy yet delicious foods while still helping to lose weight with 10,000 steps. It might not be as hard to follow as you think.
Breakfast – One small apple with one cup of nonfat yogurt (230 Calories)
Lunch – Six inch turkey sandwich with one cup of watermelon (355 Calories)
Dinner – Four ounces of chicken with one cup of corn (330 Calories)
Snacks – One peach with a handful of almonds (140 Calories)
Total Calories – 1,055
Breakfast – One bowl of bran flakes with fat-free milk and a banana (310 Calories)
Lunch – One cup of veggie soup, six ounces of yogurt and one veggie burger (350 Calories)
Dinner – Four ounces of shrimp with three cups of spinach and a baked potato (400 Calories)
Snacks – One pear and one cup of raw veggies (120 Calories)
Total Calories – 1,180
Breakfast – One cup of cheerios and fat-free milk with berries and almonds (250 Calories)
Lunch – Whole wheat pita with two ounces of tuna and light mayonnaise with baby carrots (275 Calories)
Dinner – Three ounces of grilled steak with zucchini, pineapple and a sweet potato (400 Calories)
Snacks – Air popped popcorn, berries and almonds (250 Calories)
Total Calories – 1,175
Summing it Up
As you can see, you don’t have to try and lift weights until you are able to pick up a car. And you don’t need to run or cycle until your legs feel like they are going to fall off. Instead, you have to be very mindful about how much you are moving, as burning calories by walking is also going to increase your metabolism. One of the biggest reasons that people tend to gain weight is that they are often sitting at their desk, and then going home to watch television the rest of the night on the couch.
You don’t get much time throughout the day to exercise, but fitting in steps while on a lunch break or when you get home is going to add up. Burning 3,500 calories per week from walking is going to help you at least maintain your weight if you don’t change much about your eating habits. Cutting down on what you eat little by little until you are burning calories at a deficit is what’s going to help you trim down, even if you are eating the same foods as before.
Thankfully, counting your steps is much easier than it used to be thanks to technology. Pedometers are very cheap, and fitness trackers are also more readily available. Most will be able to tell you exactly how many steps you’ve taken, and how many calories you’ve burned. Using this knowledge, you can take one step at a time to your goal weight, and adding exercise will make maintaining that weight much easier.