The Step Diet Book: Count Steps, Not Calories, To Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever

The Step Diet Book: Count Steps, Not Calories, To Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever

By James O., Ph.D. Hill, John C. Peters, Bonnie T. Jortberg
Publisher: Workman Publishing; (May 1, 2004)

The Step Diet is not as much a diet, as it is a way to lose weight. Sound contradictory? The Step Diet encourages you to walk away your excess weight, without counting calories, carbs, or fat. The plan includes tips to reduce your food intake, but does not limit your choices of food. The Step Diet is a six stage program that takes you from assessing your current status, to maintaining your weight loss. The book includes a variety of charts, and also functions as a workbook to track your progress. The general idea of the program is to eat less and move more, which is a lesson many people have a hard time learning. We look for fad diets, gimmicks, and special tricks which are complicated and often hard to stick to. The Step Diet makes it simple. Your goal is to walk 10,000 steps per day, and eat 75% of what you used to eat. The book comes with a pedometer, so tracking your progress will be easy.

There are five principles of the Step Diet:

  • Maintain the proper energy balance: You will learn that your weight is determined by your energy intake and your energy expenditure. This is all you need to know to lose weight, or maintain your weight.
  • Small changes drive success. Instead of following drastic diets that force you to give up entire groups of foods (carb, sugar, etc) you will learn how to make small changes that cut your overall food intake, as well as burn more calories. The result is weight loss.
  • Start with physical activity. The main focus of this plan is walking, and the book shows you how to include more steps in your day. This automatically burns more calories.
  • Anticipate success, but not instantly. Those that successfully lose the weight AND keep it off, lose weight slowly. Quick weight loss is usually temporary. This plan encourages the small changes that are necessary to promote a reasonable weight loss of 1 or 2 pounds per week.
  • The maintenance of weight loss is more important than the speed or amount of weight loss. Keeping the weight off can be harder than losing it. The Step Diet helps you keep it off.

Stage One
Prepare for permanent weight management.
The first step of the plan lasts 7 days and allows you to determine how many steps you take each day. You will wear a pedometer and log your total steps each day in the handy chart in the book. At the end of the week, you will calculate the average steps per day. This will help you determine your daily goals and changes you will make. During this period, you will also keep a food log and assess your eating habits. You are not cutting back, you are just keeping a record.

Stage Two
Stop gaining weight.
This two week period helps you learn to control your weight by balancing your calories in with your calories out. You must follow this stage even if you are not currently gaining weight, as it lays the foundation for both losing the weight and keeping it off later.

Stage Three
Set your personal weight management goals.
The only time necessary for this stage is the length of time it takes to read the chapter. You will learn how to create a realistic goal, and how to track your progress.

Stage Four
Make small changes to lose weight.
This is the core period during which you make small changes in how much you eat, and how many steps you take each day. You will learn how to cut back your food intake by eating only 75% of your usual serving sizes, without changing your food preferences. You will learn many ways of increasing your steps to reach your daily goal of 10,000 steps. This stage lasts 12 weeks, no longer. Once you finish this period, you must follow the next stage to learn how to maintain any weight loss you achieved so far. Once you can do that, then you begin a new 12 week period to resume weight loss. Repeat as necessary.

Stage Five
Find your personal energy balance point.
This four week period teaches you how to maintain your weight loss. You will learn how to balance the energy you eat with the energy you burn. You must follow this stage even if you did not lose all the weight you wanted to lose in Stage Four. While it make take you longer to reach your goal, this strategy has proven more successful in helping people maintain their weight loss permanently.

Stage Six
You will learn to refine your energy balance skills to ensure life long weight loss success.

If you have more weight to lose, go back to Stage Three and set a new goal, then complete Four, Five, and Six again.

While the book does not include a diet plan to follow, and focuses on the amount of food you eat instead, it does contain several pages of helpful tips to eat healthier. You will be encouraged to eat better foods, but portion control is the key to success with this program. The program sounds very doable, and is a common sense approach to weight loss.


  • julie

    By following the progam, how much weight can I lose realistically? Of course I know this is a lifestyle change, so would be hoping to lose and maintain life-long.

  • marilou s. cabiltes

    hi..i have a problems on my diet skill..i can lose weight if i really wanted it..but when i am very busy at my work and i don’t have time to exercise then i gain weight again..how can i keep my weight without that much of exercising and diet..its kind a depressing.. :(