Have you been looking for ways to lose weight on Google? You need not do so anymore as the answer is quite simple – follow a ‘Step Diet’ plan. Basically, this means that you have to ‘move more and control portions’. The step diet requires you to walk 10,000 steps each day. It permits you to eat most things that you relish but you have to cut down on portion sizes by 30%. One can begin by walking 2,000 steps a day (15 minutes walk) and gradually increase the pace to 10,000 steps per day (burning a minimum of 400 to 500 calories per day). By walking on the treadmill at a speed of 4.5 mph for 30 minutes, the average individual would burn about 150 calories. Eating more consciously is an important part of this diet. For example, by skipping guilty pleasures such as that extra bowl of ice cream at night, a serving of aloo pakoras, or coke, one would further cut down their calorie intake by 300 to 375 calories. A simple way to maintain fitness is by following the 70:30 principle – i.e., fitness is 70% of what we eat and 30% of exercise.
The daily calories intake for a normal individual, as recommended by the USDA, is 2000 calories/day. For a successful weight loss of 0.5-1 kg, a calorie deficit of about 500 to 1000 per day is recommended. For healthy weight loss, exercise sessions should be a mix of strength training and cardiovascular training, not only cardio. Both modes of exercise burn calories, which in turn leads to stored fat being used as a source of energy.
By walking 10,000 steps a day and by making small dietary changes, we can address the obesity of our nation. Moreover, in the current Covid pandemic situation, as most of the citizens are advised to remain home, one tends to turn into a couch potato. Research shows that people who are leading a sedentary lifestyle (< 5000 steps/day) or are almost inactive (<2000 steps/day), are at a higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease.
THE STARVATION MODE
People often experience a point in their weight loss journey when the needle on the weighing scale stops falling lower and they get demotivated and give up. This phase is called ‘the starvation mode’ where the body tends to resist weight loss as we are eating lesser than earlier. The brain thinks that it might not get sufficient food and would have to starve and starts to conserve the food that we eat in the body. It instructs the body to store food in the form of fat, which is why weight loss plateaus after the successful shedding of a few pounds. To avoid going into ‘starvation mode’, strength training is essential. It speeds the metabolism back up and one keeps losing weight steadily.
Hence, by walking 10,000 steps a day and a minimum of 15 minutes of strength training, at least four times a week, one can push past plateaus and achieve the ultimate goal of weight loss, instead of a fad crash diet which helps to shed more of water and muscle weight (protein) initially but leads to a relapse of lost weight once the diet is terminated. It is quite straightforward if followed routinely. One need not run marathons to control weight, rather, strap on a smartwatch, lace up a pair of sneakers and put one foot in front of the other. Yes, you need to be more active!
The writer is Senior Physiotherapist, Aster RV Hospital.