Walk the Weight Off: Walk To Burn Fat

Key Points

  • Walking to burn fat is popular because it's easy and beneficial.

  • The body breaks down carbohydrates for short-term fuel and fats for long-term power.

  • Burning fat doesn't always mean you're losing weight.

  • Walk to burn fat and improve your health.

The COVID-19 pandemic kept people from going to the gym, exercising in public, and attending group fitness classes. As a result, many Americans gained weight and body fat. Guess what? Did you know it's easy to walk to burn fat?

Gaining weight typically makes you unhappy. It causes self-consciousness, worsened health, stress, depression, and lowered self-esteem. Don't lose hope! Something as simple as taking a walk to burn fat changes the trajectory of your life, one step at a time.

Benefits of Walking

Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician known as the "Father of Modern Medicine," once said, "Walking is man's best medicine."

Walking in the city

He's right. There are tons of great reasons why people walk. Walking improves:

  • Overall fitness levels

  • Bone strength

  • Joint pain

  • Mood

  • Weight loss

  • Muscle loss

  • Mental health

  • Sleep

  • Energy

  • Risk of chronic disease

  • Hormone regulation

When you walk, your body burns fat and creates more lean muscle. More lean muscle means you burn more calories, even at rest. Walking also boosts your metabolism, leading to even more calories burned.

How You Lose Weight

Losing weight doesn't always mean you're burning fat. The body stores water to use in the future, leading to increased weight. Sweating out this extra storage of water results in a loss of water weight.

This means the number on the scale goes down, but you haven't actually lost any weight. Once you rehydrate, the water storage returns — and so does the weight.

The body requires nutrients to fuel its physical processes. Some bodily functions involve breaking down food, breathing, and sending blood throughout the body.

Nutrients break down into energy, called calories. When the body uses more calories than you eat, you lose weight. You lose weight because the body has to break down the nutrients to continue fueling the physical processes.

Woman going for a walk

For example, if you burn 2,000 calories in a day but only eat 1,600 calories, you have a 400-calorie deficit. The body must use carbohydrates and fats to compensate for those 400 calories.

This calorie deficit promotes weight loss but not necessarily fat loss. The body pulls carbohydrates and glycogen stores from the muscles for energy. Operating in a calorie deficit may lead to muscle loss rather than fat.

How You Burn Fat

Weight loss from burning fat is better than losing weight from a calorie deficit. Burning fat improves cholesterol and heart health. It decreases weight and burns more calories. It also lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure and enhances hormone secretion.

When you begin an activity, the body breaks down sugars it stores for quick, short bursts of energy. Continuing that activity for longer than 20 minutes forces the body to switch to long-term fueling methods — burning fat.

Energy for the Body

When completing a high-intensity exercise, the body must break down nutrients rapidly to provide energy. The body reaches for stored carbs because they break down quickly. Exercising at a high intensity also leaves less oxygen for the body to use for fat breakdown.

Burning fat takes longer and requires more oxygen. When exercising at a low intensity, like walking, the body has the time and oxygen to break down fat for energy.

Imagine you're camping (exercising) with a fire (energy). Using newspaper scraps (carbs) creates a short, fast fire. This fire needs constant, quick fuel. Using logs (fats) makes a slow, long-term fire. This fire requires more oxygen and time to burn thoroughly.

Moderate Intensity Walking

Walking at a regular pace requires minimal fuel, so the body uses little to no fat molecules for support. Walking too fast causes the body to switch to burning carbs instead of fat. Walking at a brisk pace is the perfect speed for burning fat.

To burn fat when walking, you must walk at a moderate pace. The American Heart Association defines "brisk walking" as 2.5 mph. The length of your legs and stride determine your brisk walking speed. For some, brisk walking may be up to 4 mph.

Walking as exercise

A walk must be moderately intense to burn fat. Moderate intensity means you're breathing heavier and a little sweaty but able to talk.

You're not working hard enough if you're singing a merry melody as you walk.

If you're physically unable to walk fast, walk longer or use hills to increase intensity.

Create Walking Workouts To Burn Fat

There are different ways to walk to burn fat. Choose the best way for you to get those steps in and burn some fat. Your fat-burning walking workout has three elements: time, frequency, and intensity.


Alter time to increase the intensity of your walk. Walk for more extended periods or try to shorten the time it takes you to complete your walk. If your usual plan is 30 minutes, work for 45 minutes. If you usually walk one mile in 12 minutes, shoot for 10 minutes instead.


Frequency is how often you walk. Frequency might be 30 minutes twice a day or one hour three times a week. The general recommendation is three episodes of moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes each week.


Working at the same pace and intensity over time means your body acclimates to the energy needed for the walk. As a result, your body needs less energy and therefore breaks down less fat. Change the walk's intensity to ensure you get the best workout.

Make a walk more intense by adding inclines. Walk on hills or bump up the slope on the treadmill for a more intense workout.

Increasing your speed also improves intensity. If your regular pace is 3 mph, bump it up to 3.5 mph. Walking uphill is more intense because it burns more calories than walking on flat terrain.

Two friends walking

Walking Workouts

Tailor your walking workout to your routine. Adjust factors so you enjoy your time and look forward to walking. Check out a few of the following walking workouts.

  1. Plateau your routine for a great walk. Walk for five minutes at 2.5 mph, then increase to 3 mph for 20 minutes, and finish with five mins at 2.5 mph.

  2. Alternate speed on your walk to burn fat. Walk for five minutes at 2.5 mph, then 10 minutes at 3 mph, then 10 minutes at 2.5 mph, and five minutes at 2 mph.

  3. Gradually increase for an excellent fat-burning workout. Start with 10 minutes at 3 mph, then 10 minutes at 3.5 mph, followed by 10 minutes at 4 mph. Finish with 10 minutes at 2.5 mph.

  4. Stagger your workouts throughout the week to put your body under constantly changing pressures. Walk for 30 minutes on Monday, 60 minutes on Wednesday, and 45 minutes on Friday.

  5. Use inclines to see more sweat. Walk an outdoor route with hills, or use a program on your treadmill.

Your workout should align with your goals, schedule, and preferences. Do you want to increase stamina, improve your heart health, or lose weight?

Walking To Lose Weight

When walking to burn fat, you may not always lose weight. Muscle weighs more than fat. When you burn fat, your body increases lean muscle. Losing one pound of body fat might mean gaining a pound of muscle.

The simple truth of weight loss is you have to burn more calories than you consume.

Counting Calories

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories you burn daily just by living and breathing. BMR is different for everyone. Find your BMR using the Harris-Benedict formula.

  • Women: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in centimeters) – (4.7 x age in years) = BMR

  • Men: 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years) = BMR

To convert pounds to kilograms, divide the number of pounds by 2.2. For reference, 1 kg equals 2.2 lbs.

1 inch equals 2.5 centimeters. To convert inches to centimeters, multiply inches by 2.5.

For example, the BMR for a 27-year-old female who weighs 180 pounds and is 5'6'' is:

655 + (9.6 x 81kg) + (1.8 x 170cm) – (4.7 x 28) = ~1,600

This female's BMR is 1,600. She must burn more than 1,600 calories daily to lose weight. A calorie deficit of 3,500 calories a week — 500 per day — results in losing one pound a week.

Calorie Deficit

There are two main ways to achieve a calorie deficit: diet or exercise. If your BMR is 1,600, you may technically eat 1,100 calories to achieve the 500-calorie deficit to lose a pound a week.

Dieting is a great way to lose weight, but dangerous if you're not eating enough calories. Eating too few calories forces your body to devour your muscles and organs for fuel.

The phrase, "I'm so hungry, my stomach is eating itself," may not be far from the truth.

Walking with a friend

Dieting is safe and helpful when you eat enough to keep your body functioning. Eat no less than 1,200 calories a day, even on a diet.

In the example above, the woman must burn another 100 calories daily to eat enough for essential functions and reach the calorie deficit.

Diet and Exercise

Dieting with exercise is the best way to lose weight. Adding exercise means you add calories to your daily limit. You need a 500-calorie deficit, so don't limit yourself to a few hundred calories. You might eat 1,800 calories a day and still lose weight if you're burning 2,300 calories daily.

It's fairly easy to eat 2,300 calories. A 30-minute walk burns 150 calories. Walking 10,000 steps in one day burns another 750 calories.

You can do those 10,000 steps throughout the day, not all at once. You don't have to wake up at 5 a.m. and walk five miles to "get your steps in."

Staying Motivated

It's challenging staying consistent when it comes to exercise. You want a nap just as bad as you want a thinner waist. Remind yourself why you started. Hold yourself accountable and set realistic goals to encourage yourself.

For more encouragement, include others in your walks. Ask a friend to join you for an evening stroll. Ride your bike instead of driving to work or school. Park farther away from your destination to force yourself to take more steps.

Be aware of your surroundings, don't walk alone at night, and always use the buddy system.

Keep your walks stimulating by changing up your routines. Try new parks, gyms, or treadmills to mix it up and keep you interested. Ask your coworkers to walk with you on your lunch break or even host a meeting while walking around your building.

Take Your Measurements

First thing on your list: take your measurements. Remember, losing fat doesn't mean losing weight. If you don't see that scale move, keep going. Using measurements as progress instead of weight ensures you keep going even if you don't see improvement on the scale.

Woman walking

Burn Baby, Burn

Now you know the secret to walking to burn fat. It's free, feasible, and for everyone. Walking to burn fat doesn't need skill, athleticism, or long hours in the gym. It does provide many health benefits.

Lowering body fat percentage burns more calories at rest. It also improves mental health and boosts metabolism. Reducing fat prevents heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.

It's exciting to learn that simply walking sheds inches from your waistline.

Where are you to walking next?

Follow FitAndFab for more advice on healthy ways to burn fat.

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