Your Fat Loss Secret Weapon: STEPS!
These days, tracking your daily steps has become synergistic with fat loss. Commonly, people preach “increase your steps and eat less.” Simple enough, right?
So, why are steps useful? More importantly, why is tracking your steps useful?
Simply increasing your steps when you first start a diet is easy. Most people get motivated to get outside and move around when they begin a diet. It’s exciting!
Although, just telling a client to go for more walks is actually different to giving a client an exact step target!
Why do I set a specific range for clients to achieve when dieting for fat loss? Isn’t fat loss just about a calorie deficit? Eat in a calorie deficit and lose fat, right? Yes! But, there are variables that impact this.
Before I answer the question of why tracking steps is such an integral tool to fat loss, let me explain firstly what steps are not:
- Steps are not magic for fat loss.
- Steps are actually quite time INEFFICIENT if your goal is to burn as many calories as possible in a short time frame.
- Achieving a step target does not mean a calorie deficit does not matter, a calorie deficit always matters for fat loss.
- Steps can be hard to achieve for busy people working office jobs versus that of a person in an active job, e.g. a personal trainer on the gym floor.
- High steps targets are not for everyone.
Now, if steps are not all that calorie costly, then why do them?
Ok, so let’s think of fat loss… We need a calorie deficit to lose weight. Simple!
For example, a client has a TDEE of 2500 calories (their maintenance), and they create a 500 calorie deficit each day, therefore consuming 2000 calories a day.
Initially they achieve fat loss. In fact, the first month fat loss comes easy. Then 4-5 weeks in it slows, and by 7-8 weeks in it totally levels off.
People are confused by this, as they are still eating 2000 calories a day. Why is their deficit no longer working?
This is a very common issue!
There is no problem so to speak. The client has just begun to experience “metabolic adaptation”. This is your body’s natural response to fat loss.
Your body decreases NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) levels. NEAT is your incidental movement. Things like fidgeting, tapping, pacing around on the phone, walking around the gym between sets while on Instagram, etc. Basically it’s unplanned activity which still very much contributes to fat loss. This movement is expending calories; it contributes to you creating a calorie deficit.
The longer we diet, the more weight we lose, and the more the body tends to experience metabolic adaptation. NEAT levels lower. In some people it’s very minimal, and in others it’s far more pronounced.
For example, some clients I have done 12 week cuts with, both at the same weight, body fat level and training goal. Same exact TDEEs.
Let’s say both clients have a TDEE of 2500, and both started their cuts on 2000 cals. One client finished their cut on 1900 cals. Only dropped 100 cals over 12 weeks further to get them their goal result.
The second client finished on 1300 calories. A further 600 cals drop compared to the other client.
Why? Their bodies are different and experience different levels of metabolic adaptation.
So, where do steps come into all of this?
STEPS are a fantastic way to ARTIFICIALLY ensure NEAT levels stay elevated.
Remember, metabolic adaptation is when the body decreases movement of which we cannot control. We move less, we expend less, which means our TDEE is lowering, therefore the original calories are no longer working.
Having a client track steps is a great way to ensure their movement stays elevated even when their body does not want it to.
Remember, when we start fat loss we tend to be motivated to get out and move more, but the longer we go, the more fatigued, less motivated and often hungrier we are…none of which says “hey let’s move a lot.”
Having a step goal forces the client to get up and move, ensuring the client keeps their activity consistent. Yes, we cannot control NEAT levels lowering, but we can control your daily movement through steps.
Keep this consistent, to best ensure consistent calorie expenditure is being achieved over the fat loss period.
The standard 10,000 steps a day protocol can be the difference between someone hitting a plateau or someone who consistently loses and loses over the same time period.
If you want to keep losing fat, ensure not just calories are being met. Ensure your daily movement is staying up and not dropping off.
Steps can be a simple but powerful weapon to combat fat loss plateaus.
Have a step goal! Be consistent!
Simple but powerful tool!
Coach Mark Carroll