A dietitian has revealed the five reasons why aiming for 10,000 steps per day isn’t enough for weight loss – and what you should be doing instead.
For a number of years now, professionals and health experts have recommended that we need to walk 10,000 steps per day if we want to lose weight, but Australian dietitian Susie Burrell said this just isn’t the case.
‘The rather harsh reality of this is that 10,000 steps is not enough for weight loss,’ Susie wrote on her website.
‘Moving this much is good for our heart; our fitness levels, our mood and body in general, but if your goal is weight loss, the truth is that you are actually going to have to move a whole lot more.’
Susie outlined the five reasons why you shouldn’t be aiming for 10,000 steps daily, so what are they?
While walking 10,000 steps is all well and good, what many of us forget is that the rest of the time we sit down for between eight and 12 hours each day.
‘Walking for 60-90 minutes per day, or the rough equivalent of 10,000 steps for the average person, will support weight maintenance but in order to actually burn extra body fat and lose weight, we need to compensate for all the sitting and in addition burn a significant number extra calories each day,’ Susie said.
Try standing up and walking around as much as possible to counteract all of the bad things that happen to us when we sit down for long periods of time.
According to Susie, if you want to burn calories and ultimately increase your metabolic rate when you walk, you’re going to need to walk pretty quickly.
But, she added, the average person rarely elevates their heart rate for the required 30-40 minutes when they’re walking – and so this will never lead to weight loss.
‘A stroll is good for us, but you are unlikely to see significant drops on the scales unless you are significantly overweight and have many kilos to lose,’ Susie said.
How many times have you gone for a ‘big walk’, only to come home to treat yourself to an extra piece of chocolate or biscuit?
Susie said we always eat more when we think we’re being active as we give ourselves permission to eat higher calorie foods, but we have rarely burned off as much as we think.
Try to keep your calorie intake under control if you have walked 10,000 steps and feel like reaching for the treats cupboard.
If you need to snack more, reach for something that is energy-dense but satiating like mixed nuts.
In a similar vein, the dietitian explained that it is all too easy to eat more than we burn.
Susie said we typically burn between 60 and 80 calories per hour when we’re sitting down, and 100-120 calories per hour when walking.
This should mean you end up burning an extra 100-200 calories per day.
When many have achieved this, they think it’s okay to eat what they want, but the reality is that a single Tim Tam has more than 100 calories.
Finally, Susie explained that 10,000 steps is good for weight maintenance rather than actual weight loss.
‘Moving to promote fat burning and to burn a whole lot more calories means actual exercise, with an elevate heart rate and a step count of 15,000-20,000 per day, then you will start seeing results on the scales,’ Susie said.
It’s also always good to unite walking with a slightly more dynamic form of exercise, whether that is HIIT training (high intensity interval training), running, cycling or swimming.