When people are leading a passive lifestyle, sitting a lot on the computer in their offices, they tend to get overweight over time and everybody tells them that they need to get physically active or start to walk in order to shed those accumulated pounds.
However, these people then ask: How can you lose weight by walking? How should I do it, or where can I do it, or how often should I walk, and how long does it take to see results?
I remember vividly the times my dad told me that I needed to start moving because I would be severely obese in no time. Good thing, it did not happen, neither of both. Not until later did I start to workout.
In this article, I presume to explain how you can lose weight by walking, but also doing other things that will be super important if you want to be successful.
Before you can think about losing weight by walking, you need to understand what calories are and how calories dictate your success with weight loss more than anything else.
First of all, a calorie is defined by scientists as a unit of energy, which in nutrition is food. Food provides the body with nutrients that are converted into energy, which the body uses to get all its functions done. When you eat, your liver, pancreas and other organs are putting lots of effort into converting all the goods that you are eating into energy and deliver it into the bloodstream, so all body organs and each tiny cell get what they need in order to get their work done.
If somebody, for instance, will eat more calories than the body can use at the moment, these calories are stored for later.
And because people tend to constantly consume more calories than their body needs, these extra calories build up as fat, and usually as belly fat. And over time, that causes obesity.
Now that we have a more global understanding of what calories are and how they affect our weight, let’s bring it down to the question of how you can lose weight by walking.
Walking to Lose Weight
When you walk, your whole body has to work really hard to get oxygen to each and every cell, but also, lots of energy is used up (why else would you get tired?).
Your body is doing one thing when walking: It uses more calories than it normally would because the whole body is being asked to do more than it normally would do. And that is what we know as burning calories. When you walk, your body burns calories, either the ones that you had in the meal before or the ones that your body stored from a day ago.
But how can you lose weight by walking?
The answer is very simple. You need to burn more calories than you are taking in.
For example, if you consume 2,000 calories on one particular day, you want to use up at least 2,300 calories. That means you would burn the extra 300 calories from previously stored ones.
However, people tend to do exactly the opposite. They will take a brisk walk, or go to the fitness studio and work out really hard for half an hour, but afterward, they eat a full meal, patting their shoulder saying they deserve a good meal because of the hard work they did.
Your body uses around 2,000 calories per day for whatever you do that day. You even burn calories while sleeping. The body is in constant need of energy. Sitting on the computer is maybe not physically challenging, but your brain works really hard if you are studying for an exam or reading the newspaper.
The number of calories burned on a certain day all depends on what you do. A passive lifestyle will not get you 2,000 calories burned in a day, but if you walk around quite a bit in your job, or whatever it might be that you are doing, the number of calories goes up or down.
If you understand that losing weight is about burning more calories than you ate, you are on the right track. Weight loss does not mean you have to workout really hard. Sometimes the only change you have to make is to make a brisk walk, and other times you will have to cut down on your calorie intake.
Because of eating more when taking a walk, many people do not lose weight.
How Can We Know How Many Calories We Consume?
Personally, I never track how many calories I am consuming, but I am watching out for calorie-packed foods and eat these depending on the physical activity that I am involved in.
High caloric foods are considered those that have many calories packed into a few grams of food. For example, one avocado is at least 220 calories, whereas one cup of broccoli is only around 15 calories. Comparing these two nutrient-rich foods, you see that you can easily eat heaps of broccoli before you eat as many calories as you do when you eat only one medium avocado.
Foods that are high in calories are great for people that workout, hike, bike, swim because they use up a great number of calories during their workouts. However, people that lead a sedentary lifestyle, would want to aim for a few high caloric foods per day.
There are also many calorie dense foods that are considered empty calories, calories that do not provide nutrients to the body, and therefore fill the body up, but not giving many good things to it. Foods that are considered empty calories would be table sugar, sugar-loaded desserts, some fats, pizza, sodas, sweetened juices, highly processed meats like hot dog sausages, and others.
Most of the fast food restaurant chains are offering only foods that are calorie dense.
Here is one example:
IHOP Restaurant has the famous Country Fried Steak Dinner with Gravy. It is made up of a chicken steak, a few veggies and potatoes on the side, and a slice of garlic bread. On their website, they offer a calorie chart for each of the IHOP meals. This meal has exactly 1,060 calories, of which 620 calories are from fat. Of these 620 calories, we can assume that a great percentage would have to be considered empty calories.
People should eat approximately 2,000 calories per day, which obviously depends and varies on the complexion of the body, the lifestyle one leads, and many other factors. However, if you take the 2,000 calories as a guideline, you could only eat the country fried steak dinner twice a day and you would have consumed more than 2,000 calories. And that without considering the number of empty calories consumed.
The problem is that most of us tend to eat 3 big meals like the one mentioned during a day, not to mention all the snacks and drinks that we consume besides that.
Here is the bottom line:
You are most likely exactly that person that leads a sedentary lifestyle and you wonder: How can you lose weight by walking. If that is the case, you should watch the calories that you eat and start walking. If you can manage to walk off more calories than you eat, you are on the road to success with your weight loss.
Examples Of Calorie Dense Foods
There are many foods in the market that are calorie dense, some of them nutritious and others packed with empty calories. Here are some examples to give you an idea of what to look for:
- Quinoa – 222 calories per cup
- Raisins – 299 calories per 100 gr
- Raisin/Nut cereal – up to 400 calories per cup (without milk)
- Peanut butter – up to 100 calories per tablespoon
- Dark chocolate – at least 600 calories per bar
- Trail mix – 700 calories per cup
- Cream of broccoli soup – 500 calories per cup
- Guacamole – 360 calories per cup
- Vanilla ice cream – 145 calories per half a cup
- Smoothie – up to 400 calories per 20 oz cup
- Big Mac at McDonald’s – 540 calories
- Domino’s Cheese Pizza – 200 calories per slice
- Burger King Whopper – 630 calories
- Subway Italian BMT – 780 calories for the foot long
- Five Guys Cheeseburger – 840 calories
- The Chipotle Burrito – 1,085 calories
Now, here is a list of calories for drinks (per 12 ounce servings):
- Soda – up to 189 calories
- Bottled sweet tea – up to 140 calories
- Orange juice – up to 168 calories
- Cranberry juice cocktail – up to 205 calories
- Whole milk – up to 220 calories
- Nonfat (skim) milk – up to 125 calories
Examples Of Low-Calorie Foods
- 1 celery stalk – 7 calories
- Romaine lettuce – 9 calories per cup
- 1 cucumber – 40 calories
- 1 medium tomato – 25 calories
- 1 carrot – 30 calories
- Jicama – 45 calories per cup
- 1 peach – 37 calories
- 1 grapefruit = 74 calories
- Strawberries – 50 calories per cup
- Watermelon – 51 calories per cup
- Papaya – 54 calories per cup
- Apricot – up to 75 calories per cup
- 1 orange = 60 calories
- Blackberries – 62 calories per cup
And here is the best 0 calorie drink: Water
The list of foods goes on, but with this extensive list, you see that fruits and vegetables are the best foods to eat because of the low number of calories they have. And all the processed and fast foods will not help you to lose weight even if you would be walking. They are just too calorie dense. You would need to walk quite a bit in order to achieve weight loss.
How Long Should You Walk In Order To Lose Weight?
The answer was already given above. Depending on what you eat and what you have to lose, you need to walk. I strongly recommend that you do not overdo it at first. If you are not used to walking daily, you should not start by walking daily either. Make small attainable goals. Start with 20 Minutes 4 days a week. Stick to the plan for 4 weeks, then gradually increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of the workout.
Remember, you will ONLY be successful if you stick to it. That is the only and best recipe to follow. It really doesn’t matter at first how long and how often you walk, the thing is to walk. If you do it consistently, you will see results in some time.
Also, try to be realistic. Change your eating habits and then start walking. If you are not willing to change your eating habits, do not expect marvelous results from walking. As stated above, weight loss depends more on what you eat than how much you walk.
My take on this is that if you change your eating habits by replacing empty calories with nutrient-rich foods, be it the ones with low calories or the calorie dense foods, you will only speed your weight loss up when you walk. However, if you are not willing to change your food, be aware that walking will disappoint you greatly as you will not see results.
Concluding, it is possible to lose weight by walking, yet only if you consume fewer calories than can burn. Remember to consume low-calorie foods during the day and only a few nutrient-rich dense calories. Avoid sweet drinks as much as possible; drink water throughout the day, and lastly, take a brisk 20-minute walk and you should be seeing results in a short time.
Let me clarify one thing: In this article, I have addressed walking as a method for weight loss. I am fully aware of the health benefits of walking and would recommend doing that if you are trying to lose weight or if you are on the road to a healthier you.
And finally, as always, did you like this article? Was it informative? If so, please share with your family, friends, and colleagues so others can learn about: How can you lose weight by walking.