When it comes to exercise, some of you will be walking for mental health, some for better heart health, and some of you just to feel more active. However, I can be pretty confident a lot for you are looking for an effective way to shrink your belly. Whether you are aiming for visceral fat loss to look better in a bathing suit or reduce your risk of weight-related health complications, you may be asking yourself, what is the best way to walk to burn belly fat?
When you exercise to get in shape the body benefits are layered. By increasing your efforts, you are burning more calories so it is easier to meet the caloric deficit required to lose weight. You are toning your muscles so your body shape will look better, and building muscle improves your metabolic rate. Muscles use energy and fat stores energy. The more muscle you have the more efficiently your body will burn fat.
Building Muscles For Visceral Fat Loss
Every movement you make is only possible because of your muscles. It is the energy your muscles expend when you move that makes the exercise worthwhile. You move, you use energy, you burn more calories and you lose weight.
To grow your muscles you need them to work harder than they are used to, causing tiny fibres in your muscles to tear. Hormones in your body will respond by changing the way you metabolise protein, activating satellite cells, and enhancing tissue growth to fuse the damaged muscle fibres. Your muscles will repair bigger and stronger and will burn more calories when managing your body’s movement.
Staying hydrated and consuming enough protein will help your body repair and build your muscles more efficiently.
If you are walking for health and the benefits of a more active lifestyle, you might choose to build muscles by walking uphill reps, Nordic Walking, interval walking or powerwalking a portion of your daily step count. However, if you have the time even walking at your usual gait can give you weight loss and muscle building benefits.
Surely Fast Walking Uses More Energy
You would be forgiven for automatically assuming that fast walking burns more energy thus provides more fat-burning opportunities.
When you walk, muscles in your legs share responsibilities including keeping your whole body upright and balanced. Each leg works the hardest during the pronation – the cycle of your stride from when your ankle connects to the floor until your toes push off. It is during pronation the muscles in one leg become responsible for supporting your body weight before propelling you forward. Pushing your bodyweight harder, as is required when hill walking or fast walking is a good way to increase your health benefits in an efficient time.
Assuming the following is true:
- Your upper body weighs 50lbs
- Your usual routine delivers about 4000 footsteps at your usual gait
- You get 2000 footsteps a day doing a more intense form of walking
- More intense means 100% more metabolic energy is required
During your daily routine, each leg will support and propel 50lbs 2000 times. Your more intense walking activity will give each leg the task of lifting the equivalent of 100lbs 1000 times. Add this together and each of your legs lifts a cumulative volume of 200k lbs every single day. That’s almost 90 imperial tonnes or about 13 times the weight of an elephant.
Wow, Slow Walking Can’t Beat That
If you set yourself a higher step count target a couple of times per week, you can also strengthen your muscles and burn calories at a much easier pace.
Increasing your daily target to 10000 and then just strolling at a slow to casual pace, the cumulative weight you are lifting is 250000lbs or over 111 tonnes. Can you say #BeastMode? That’s about the same weight as the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario.
The good news is you can just complete everyday activities that require you on your feet moving around. As long as you hit the higher target, it does not matter how you get there. In fact, there are studies that have returned results that show walking slower than your usual gait also burns more calories when judged over equal distances due to the absence of momentum. Why not take the family out for the day.
Does That Mean Slow Walking Is Better For Visceral Fat Loss
To decide whether to walk fast or slow on your journey to burn visceral fat, you should look at the pros and cons of each and judge them against your daily needs.
If you are pushed for time, you might opt for a quicker more intense walkout, or if you have plenty of tasks to achieve on foot, you may opt for the higher step count.
Although a higher step count will most likely burn more calories, the majority of the energy will be taken from the food you have eaten that day in the form of blood glucose and the glycogen stored in your muscles. The daily activity will not target as much of your body fat directly; however, a greater calorie deficit will result in your body burning more visceral fat over time.
Raising your heart rate and exercising for a much shorter period will burn fewer calories but in a more efficient timeframe and maintaining a heart rate of a range of about 50 – 70% of your maximum heart rate will allow your lungs to draw more oxygen to the fat cells in your body meaning there is an immediate visceral fat loss. However, if you do not maintain a sufficient calorie deficit, this fat loss will be unsustainable as your body will just replace the fat you burn while walking.
So It’s None, Or Both Or Wait… What?
When you raise your walking game, any sustained walking routine will result in your increased calorie burn rate and your muscles getting stronger.
Walking for visceral fat loss can be achieved by maintaining a calorie deficit regardless of whether you walk fast or slow. However, the ubiquitous recommendation is to complement a balanced diet with a varied walking workout routine for the best and most sustainable results.
Do you have a go-to walking routine that utilizes fast and slow walks? Have you achieved a visceral fat loss with a walking workout of your own? Join the discussion below and help me share the magic of walking for health.