You’ve probably heard about people who have lost a lot of weight doing nothing at all but walking. You’re probably wondering if that’s true, or just a weight loss myth. I’m happy to tell you that you can really lose weight even if the only physical activity you do is walking, but there’s one important caveat, - you have to watch what you eat, too. In my book, Reboot Your Body: Unlocking the Genetic Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss, I go into great detail about how diet and exercise go hand-in-hand to achieve permanent weight loss, but I’ll give you a quick synopsis here:
Exercise is a Catalyst for Weight Loss
If you’ve started implementing a healthy diet in order lose weight, adding physical activity, such as walking, can make your weight loss happen a lot faster. By walking for just 30 minutes a day, you can lose an extra 10 to 15 pounds above and beyond what you would lose through diet alone over the course of one year. Of course, this assumes that you’re not eating more to make up for extra those calories you’ve burned. Read on to learn more about this common weight loss mistake.
Exercise Can Cause You To Eat More
Have you ever started a walking or other exercise program in the hopes of losing weight, only to find that your efforts got you nowhere? There’s no doubt that you were burning more calories than you previously had been, so what went wrong? Weight loss is a function of calories in versus calories out, so the only logical explanation is that while you were increasing the number of calories you were burning, you were also increasing the number of calories you were consuming, probably without even knowing it. Our bodies have a natural tendency to keep things the same, and that includes our overall calorie balance. When we start burning more calories through activity, our bodies signal us to eat a little more to compensate for this so that we can maintain body weight, even if that weight is higher than it needs to be. This is why it’s important to keep track of what and how much you eat at the beginning of your weight loss effort.
The More Intense Your Activity Is, the Faster You Will Lose Weight
Okay, so you’ve started walking regularly and you’re keeping careful track of what you eat. Weight loss is happening, but you’d like it to happen a little faster - what can you do? You might be thinking about cutting even more calories from your diet, but I would caution against this. Cutting calories drastically low can slow down your metabolism, and it’s practically impossible to maintain a very low calorie diet over the long term. Instead, try increasing the pace you walk at, pick a hilly route or both. For every .75 mile per hour faster or 2% increase in incline, you’ll burn around 25% more calories in those same 30 minutes. This translates to an additional four or five pounds lost per year. So it’s possible to lose around 15 to 20 pounds per year, just by walking and watching what you eat.