Walking for Fat Loss
by Jesse Cannone CFT, CPRS, CSPN
With obesity and disease increasing dramatically, many fitness experts are
recommending walking for weight loss and fitness. Some are even going so far as
saying that walking is the best way to burn fat and lose weight. I strongly
disagree with this and am going to show you why walking is NOT effective at
burning off body fat.
Yes, you read that correctly...
Walking is NOT effective at burning body fat and if your goal is fat loss you
might be wasting your time. I am not saying that walking is not beneficial, I am
saying that if fat loss is the primary goal, there are far better choices that
will deliver far better results.
The primary benefits of walking are increased blood flow and circulation,
improved recovery, and a strengthened immune system. There are several reasons
why walking in not the best choice when it comes to fat loss. Here are just a
1. Walking does NOT burn a lot of calories
The lower the intensity of the activity or exercise the smaller the number of
calorie s burned per unit of time. For example, you can burn more calories in 15
minutes of bicycling at a high intensity level than you can in 45 minutes of
2. Walking does NOT result in a large increase in metabolism
Another downside to walking is that because itís generally low intensity it
results in only a small increase in metabolism that will only last approximately
1-2 hours after the walk. On the other hand, metabolism increases are larger and
last longer (4-24 hrs or more) when you perform high intensity cardio workouts.
3. Walking does NOT weight, glycogen
Low intensity exercise like walking does not deplete muscle glycogen levels and
therefore, later that day if you have excess calories they will likely be stored
a s body fat whereas if you deplete the glycogen the excess calories will
primarily be stored in the muscles.
So why then do so many fitness and health experts recommend walking for weight
loss? One reason is that people donít want to hear that they have to work hard
so they figure some activity is better than none. Another reason is that the
body burns more fat for fuel when exercising at an easy pace, however, the total
amount of energy used is so small that you end up burning off little body fat.
Thatís also why when you choose the ďfat burningĒ program on your treadmill or
bike it has you exercise at any easy level. Yes, youíre burning fat, but so
little that youíd have to exercise at that easy pace for hours and hours each
High intensity cardiovascular/aerobic exercise is much more effective in burning
off the excess body fat. In fact, several studies have been done to prove this.
In one study they compared one group who did moderate level aerobics for 45
minutes with another group who performed high intensity workouts for 15 minutes.
They did before and after fitness testing including body fat analysis and found
that the group who performed the high intensity aerobics lost nine times as much
Want more proof? Here's something I cover in depth in my book
Burn Fat Fast....
Compare the bodies of a walker, marathon runner, and sprinter. If you are not
familiar with what a sprinter s body looks like, it is very muscular and has
little body fat while on the other hand the body of a walker will likely have
the opposite, little muscle and more fat. The sprinter does little or no low
intensity exercise and does primarily short hard bursts of work while the
marathoner overtrains so much they burn off both the body fat and the muscle and
thatís why they tend to look almost sickly thin.
So what should you do then if your main objective is to shed those excess pounds
of body fat?
1. Perform some form of high intensity cardio 2-4 times per week
2. Stabilize blood sugar to minimize the storage of new fat
I know some of you by now are saying ďI canít do high intensity exercise, I have
a bad kneeĒ and donít worry, I have a solution for you. The good news is that
high intensity is all relative to you and your current fitness level. For
example, fast walking up and down hills may be high intensity for you... it all
depends. So donít think that you have to start running or something like that.
Just slowly start to increase the intensity of your cardio workouts while also
maybe decreasing the time because you can either work hard or you can work long.
Also, you can make almost any activity or exercise high intensity.... here are a
increase your speed
use an incline or hills
perform intervals ( the most effective method)
Obviously, some exercises/activities or better suited than other s but the point
is if you want to burn more fat and make your workouts as productive as possible
you need to increase the intensity.
Heart Rate Guidelines - As with any changes to your fitness program be careful
and donít over do it. Just because high intensity workout s b urn more fat donít
think that youíll get even better result s b y doing it everyday - that will
quickly lead to over training and a loss of muscle which will only make it even
harder to burn off the fat.