If you want to burn calories and lose fat faster without even breaking a sweat, then you’ve come to the right place.
You’re not going to need any special equipment, gadgets, or skills.
You’re not going to need to track your heart rate, time your intervals, or log your miles.
All you’re going to do is something that you’ve been doing every day since you were a toddler, and that you’ll do for the rest of your life.
It’s walking, of course, and while it’s no high-intensity interval training, it deserves more attention than it gets.
That is, it’s not the best way to lose fat rapidly, but it’s definitely the easiest way to burn additional calories and lose weight faster.
So in this episode, you’re going to learn why walking is an “unsung hero” of cardio workouts and how to use it to burn more fat without burning yourself out.
Would you rather read about the easiest cardio workout you can do? Then check out this article!
Mike: [00:02:01] Hey, Mike Matthews here from Muscle For Life and Legion Athletics. And in this video podcast, we’re going to talk about the easiest cardio workout you can do that actually works. So if you are sick of doing cardio, that makes you sick and if you want to know how to lose fat and get fitter, the “easy way”, then this is for you.
[00:02:21] And even better, you’re not going to need any special equipment, gadgets, or skills for this. You’re not going to need to track your heart rate or time your intervals or log your miles and you’re going to do something that you’ve been doing your entire life. Now I’m talking about walking, of course. Walking is the easiest cardio workout that you can do that does work.
And while walking is no high-intensity interval training, as far as fat burning goes, as far as effectiveness goes, it does deserve more attention than it generally gets. And the reason why is walking is a great way to burn more energy and thus burn more fat without placing any stress on the body, without impacting your recovery from your more intense workouts.
[00:03:08] So, for example, a study conducted by scientists at California State University with college-aged men and women found that the subjects that ran a 10-minute mile burned around 190 calories. That’s pretty good, right? You run two or three miles, you burn 400 to 600 calories. Now, subjects that walked a 19-minute mile, which is a brisk walk.
It’s not power walking, it’s not shuffling your feet, but it’s walking with some intention, they burned fewer calories than the people that ran the ten-minute mile, of course, but not as few as you might think. They burned about 111 calories. Now, of course, that’s not going to move the weight loss or the fat loss needle-like high-intensity interval training.
But if you do that several times per week, it can definitely add up. Furthermore, research shows that walking just a few miles per week is enough to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and all-cause mortality, which, of course, is death from any and all causes.
[00:04:10] So let’s do some simple math to put this in perspective. If you walk for an hour, you’re going to burn, let’s say, some around 300 calories. It might be a bit higher, but we will be conservative and say 300 calories per hour of walking. And if you were to walk three to four hours per week while you are cutting, that’s an additional thousand-ish calories per week burned. That’s pretty significant. That’s 4,000 calories per month, which is going to be an additional one half to probably three-quarters of a pound of fat loss per month.
[00:04:45] This is also something to keep in mind when you are traveling or when you’re on a holiday and you’re going to be eating a lot more food than usual. If you can walk for a few hours per day, you can buy yourself a lot of calories that you can eat, so to speak. Again, a few hours of walking is an additional thousand calories that you can eat just to stay at maintenance.
Now, when I’m traveling or on a holiday and I’m going to be eating a lot more food than I usually, just kind of eating at restaurants and who knows what’s really in the food, I like to combine that with skipping breakfast, intermittent fasting, basically. So I’ll skip breakfast. I’ll usually limit myself to one large meal per day. Two large meals can be tough depending on how large they are. You can eat a lot.
At least I can eat a lot of calories in one meal. I can easily eat 2,000 to 3,000 calories in one meal. So what I like to do is limit myself to just one of those meals per day, I’ll skip breakfast, and if the big meal is lunch, then fine, it’s lunch. My dinner is going to be smaller. But it’s usually the dinners.
Dinners are usually the big ones. So skip breakfast. Do a bunch of walking, as much walking as I can throughout the day. Have a small lunch, usually just a high protein lunch, simple. Have a high protein snack somewhere in the afternoon and then come into dinner with a lot of calories that I can eat just to reach my TDEE.
[00:05:59] You see, my BMR is about – my basal metabolic rate – is about 2,200 calories. So you take that, you add let’s say there are a thousand calories on top of that for walking and another couple hundred calories on top of that for other physical activity. So I’m at about 3,500 calories burned for the day. And sometimes I also do workouts as well.
I don’t work out as consistently, and when I’m on the road, if I’m on holiday, then I do here when I’m at home, but I usually will get in two or three resistance training workouts in a week as well. So if I’m also doing resistance training workout, you can add another three to four hundred, possibly even 500 calories burn on top of that.
So on a low day, I’m looking around 3,500 calories burned on a high day, probably upward of 4,000, which means I can go into those dinners or the munchies, I can go into those large meals with a lot of calories that I can eat just to hit maintenance. Usually 2,500 to 3000 calories in that one meal.
And that’s plenty for me. I don’t know about you, though. That’s plenty for me. I can eat that many calories very easily, but that’s very satisfactory to me. That means that I get to eat an appetizer or two that I want to eat, eat an entree that I want to eat and have some dessert and really have no consequences in terms of fat gain.
[00:08:47] Furthermore, walking has other benefits as well. And I’m gonna bring this back into the context of cutting in body composition, because when you’re cutting, one of the things that you need to keep an eye on is stress levels on the body, which manifests physiologically in various ways, including cortisol. So cortisol is your body’s stress hormone. The higher stress levels are, the higher your cortisol levels are. And wall acute spikes in cortisol can be good, like when you workout, your cortisol levels spike acutely, we want that. Chronically elevated cortisol levels: bad.
[00:09:22] Now, when you’re cutting the primary ways you control physical stress levels and cortisol levels are regulating how many calories you eat and how much exercise you do and how intense that exercise is.
[00:09:34] Now, many people, of course, make the mistake of eating far too little, exercising far too much, and especially doing far too much intense exercise. For example, I often hear from women who are told to eat anywhere from 800 to 1,200 calories per day, sometimes with far too little protein, often with far too little carbohydrate, and to do a lot of rigorous exercise on top of it.
Four to six intense weightlifting workouts per week, in addition to one to two hours of cardio per day, with some of those workouts being high-intensity interval, of course, not two hours, but anywhere from 45 to 75-minute high-intensity interval workouts. And that is a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for feeling like shit, for being very hungry all the time, struggling with cravings, and ultimately running into serious symptoms related to overtraining.
And that’s why I pretty much always recommend a more moderate approach of an aggressive but not reckless calorie deficit of about 25 percent. And if that’s too much, dialing it down to 20 percent and doing no more than four to six hours of weightlifting per week and no more than one to two hours of high-intensity interval cardio per week or three to four hours of very low-intensity cardio per week like walking.
[00:10:56] And I particularly like walking because unlike many forms of exercise, it places very little stress on the body. In fact, research shows that walking can even counteract the effects of stress and reduce cortisol levels, which is going to make for a better all-around cutting experience. And studies show that this is especially true if you go walk in nature, that walking in nature, surrounded by nature, has a particularly calming effect on the body, which is interesting.
[00:11:26] Now, another thing I like about walking is that it minimally impacts muscle gain. And studies show that cardiovascular exercise does directly impair muscle and strength gain to one degree or another. There is an interference effect and the magnitude of this effect depends on how much cardio you are doing, what types of cardio you are doing, and when you are doing it, but it is there in all cases.
[00:11:52] For example, studies show that running clearly impairs muscle and strength gain. While cycling and rowing, not so much. Now, there are two likely reasons for this. One is that cardiovascular exercise that mimics the biomechanical movement of a muscle-building exercise like a squat in the case of cycling or a row, like a dumbbell row or a barbell row or a cable row in the case of rowing involves and trains the same muscles.
Now, I don’t want to go too deep into the physiological weeds here, but how this basically works is: by doing cardiovascular exercise, you are improving your body’s ability to generate energy aerobically, of course, with oxygen. Whereas when you’re doing a heavy or intense weightlifting session, you’re relying more on your anaerobic energy system without energy.
That said, when you are lifting weights, a portion of that energy still is being provided by your body’s aerobics system, so by doing cardiovascular exercise, especially the cardiovascular exercise that trains the same muscles that you are training in your weightlifting workouts, you are improving those muscles aerobic capabilities, which will translate into better weightlifting performance.
[00:13:06] Now, the second reason why certain forms of cardio like cycling and rowing don’t interfere with muscle and strength gain as much as others, like running, has to do with impact. Lower impact cardio doesn’t cut into your post-workout recovery in the same way that higher-impact cardio does.
[00:13:25] So, again, in the case of cycling and rowing, and of course in walking, and swimming is another good one as well, you have very little tissue damage that results from these workouts, which means less tissue that needs to be repaired, on top of all the tissue needs to be repaired from your resistance training workouts.
[00:13:42] Another thing I like about walking is that it preferentially burns body fat. So while walking may not burn that many calories, studies show that the calories it does burn come primarily from our fat stores. And just so you understand why, when you exercise, you burn both carbohydrates and fat.
So you burn glucose if it’s available if you’ve eaten food before you worked out, eating carbohydrate in particular before you’ve worked out, if it’s not available, if you’re training in a fast and state than the form of carbohydrate is going to be glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and in the liver. And then you have body fat, that’s the other source of energy. That’s also what is burned when we are exercising.
[00:14:23] Now, the proportion of carbohydrates to fat-burning changes based on the intensity of the exercise. So lower intensity exercise, exercise that is primarily aerobics results in a lot of fat burning, whereas high-intensity exercise, exercise that involves a lot of anaerobic activity is going to result in a lot of carbohydrate burning.
This, by the way, is why some people say that low-intensity exercise is generally more effective for losing fat than high-intensity exercise. That low-intensity cardio is better than high-intensity cardio and or high-intensity weightlifting and those people are mostly wrong. If you want to read about that, click on the link to the high-intensity interval training article down in the description below. And if you’re listening, head over to Legionathletics.com and search for “interval” and check out the article that I wrote on it.
[00:15:16] All you really need to know for this discussion is: if you want to lose fat as quickly as possible, then you want to do as much high-intensity interval training as possible. However, you can only do so much because even if you do something like rowing or cycling, it’s still stressful on the body. It’s more stressful than walking, of course. And if you want to augment your fat loss with as little added stress to the body, that’s what walking is for.
[00:15:42] And I should also mention that if you want to maximize the fat-burning benefits from your walking, then I recommend you walk in a fasted state and you combine it with a few supplements, namely caffeine, synephrine, and yohimbine. If you unlearn why, click the link to the article in the description down below on fasted training. Or if you’re listening, head over to Legionathletics.com and search for “fasted” and check out that article.
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
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