Walking: Is it a waste of time or fat burning friend? Jamie finds out
When I started training clients, fat loss was purely about diet and exercise. As the years have gone on, education has improved and since the introduction of Fitbits everyone wants to know about ‘Steps’
‘How many steps do you do a day?’
‘How many steps should I be doing?’
‘I better get out and get some steps in.’
But does walking help fat loss? I can see why people are so sceptical. You don’t sweat very much (unless we have had a week of insane weather as we have recently enjoyed.) It doesn’t make you out of breath (unless it’s up a massive hill or a flight of stairs) and you see plenty of people walking around who are obese (if it’s so amazing then why isn’t the majority of the population skinny?)
Why is it so good? Why do people obsess over hitting certain targets, aand will simply going for a small walk help make you skinny?
The Fat Loss Burger
Imagine losing weight was like making a burger. Controlling your calorie intake would be the beef pattie (or whatever vegan-friendly alternative you might enjoy). You could sit and eat the burger with a knife and fork and you would lose weight with minimal fuss, it would just be a bit bland and boring.
But there are many ingredients that make an average burger amazing.
The bap, the cheese, the sauce and so on. Just like there are several other ways to maximise fat loss while helping you look incredible and feel even better.
Exercise, good sleep, enjoying nutrient-dense food and - in keeping with this week’s theme - walking, will help you reach your goals while not sacrificing your health.
How does walking actually help burn fat?
If you haven’t read one of my articles before I will often talk about ‘Energy Balance’ which means that if you want to lose body fat you need to burn more energy on a daily/weekly basis than what you consume (eat).
That means the more energy we burn, it will give us the greater potential for fat loss (providing we control the calories we eat across the full week).
Many would think that burning energy would mean running or going to the gym (two great forms of exercise) but walking has been proven to be a super-effective low impact form of exercise that will allow you to burn plenty of calories without burnout or muscle soreness.
Why 10,000 steps per day?
Do you hit your ten thousand a day? Why 10,000 is deemed the holy grail of step targets I’m not too sure, but this is my theory.
The average desk worker walks about 2000-4000 steps per day which can leave 6,000 left to hit the magic 10k.
It takes roughly 10 minutes to walk 1k steps which would mean the average desk worker would be advised to walk an additional 60mins per day to reach their goal.
Whether that’s 30mins in the morning and 30mins at night or simply hitting all 60mins in one walk, the main takeaway is that someone will have walked an extra seven hours across a full week which is a massive amount of calories burned, compared to those that would have been consumed sitting watching Netflix.
Remember these figures are for inactive desk workers, if you move around a lot more in your job you are going to want to increase your targets to make sure that your step target is benefitting your fat loss goals. If you walk 9ksteps on average in a working day doing an extra 10mins of walking a day isn’t going to make much of a difference.
Walking outside... it’s not just for the waistline
Going out for a walk will boost your chances of fat loss but that’s not where the benefits end.
Getting out in fresh air and walking in nature has been proven to boost your mood, help with mental health and allows you to listen to an audiobook or simply reflect on your thoughts. It’s a time where you can focus on yourself which is something many forget to do.
Walking by itself probably won’t be enough to see an amazing fat loss transformation, however, increasing your step count while you are controlling your calorie intake is the best way to maximise energy balance and see great results. If walking isn’t something you enjoy then try to move in other ways that you can see yourself sticking to. Go for a daily cycle, go for a swim or anything that gets the blood and endorphins flowing.