Small lifestyle changes, and a little patience, may produce large results in regards to weight management. A national initiative, America on the Move
(AOM), is combating the obesity epidemic by encouraging individuals to make small changes in their dietary and exercise habits by decreasing food consumption by 100 calories per day and increasing walking by 2000 steps per day beyond current levels. The results of a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition
suggests that this approach may be successful.
The investigation, conducted by Stroebele et al., studied the impact that adopting this "small changes" approach would have on overweight adults. The subjects participated in a 1 week non-intervention period in which they were instructed to wear a pedometer and record their steps per day, in addition to keeping a diet diary to document their food intake. They then participated in a 2 week intervention period in which they were asked to increase their number of steps by 500 per week to reach a total increase of 1,000 steps in two weeks. During the intervention period the subjects were also asked to decrease their caloric intake by 100 calories per day. Suggestions on how to decrease food consumption were provided to the participants. The subjects continued pedometer and diet diary use during the 2 week intervention period.
The findings revealed that the participants increased their number of steps taken per day by an average of 1,454 steps. Their caloric intake was decreased by about 300 calories per day during the intervention period.
The investigators concluded that individuals may perceive the "small changes" approach to be more attainable and tolerable than following regimens that require greater caloric restrictions and more dramatic increases in physical activity; thus, motivating them to adopt these tactics. Although the study only investigated the short-term impact of the "small changes" approach, the researchers suggest that these strategies may be more easily adhered to in the long-run, resulting in a maintenance of healthier body weights for followers.
Although patience is needed while following the "small changes" approach for weight management because results may not be immediate, taking small steps toward a healthier body weight may be less likely than a leap to result in a "stumble" and set-back.
Suggestions for Decreasing your Daily Caloric Intake by 100 Calories*
Instead of: a slice of apple pie (302 calories)
Try: 1 medium apple, baked (72 calories) with 1 sheet of low-fat honey graham crackers, crumbled (60 calories) and 1 tablespoon of honey (60 calories) drizzled on top for a total of 192 calories.
Instead of: a slice of cheese pizza, regular crust (290 calories)
Try: one-half light multigrain english muffin (50 calories) with 2 tablespoons of pizza sauce (54 calories) and 1 stick of reduced-fat mozzarella string cheese (70 calories) for a total of 174 calories.
Instead of: 1 ounce (20 chips) of potato chips (150 calories)
Try: 1 cup of popcorn (15 calories)
Suggestions to Increase your Steps Throughout the Day
- Park a block away from the office and walk that distance to work.
- Put down the TV remote and walk to the set to change the channels.
- Shopping? Walk the perimeter of the store before you begin.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 28, No. 1, 63-68 (2009), "A Small-Changes Approach Reduces Energy Intake in Free-Living Humans," Stroebele, N., de Castro J.M., Stuht, J., Catenacci, V., Wyatt, H.R., and Hill, J.O..
Labels: America on the Move, decreased caloric intake, diet diary, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, pedometer, steps per day