Hi Im Jim for Jimshealthandmuscle.com and audiofittest.com and in this episode I’m going to talk about walking for weight loss, a simple calculation that you can do to estimate your optimum fat burning heart rate and a few tricks that might make your walking sessions more efficient so you can burn more fat stores and lose even more weight…. That was a lot of words all in one go!
So we’ve made it to the tenth episode and I’m actually really enjoying making these podcasts so I hope they are useful to you guys? Feel free to let me know what you think, as always, I really appreciate feedback… Is the sound quality ok? Is the content useful? Let me know in the comments / review section of the platform that you listen on. I have now actually figured out how to monitor these.
So back to walking for fat loss – In the last episode we talked about running and how to get started from a beginner’s point of view. Now running and jogging can be great for fat loss but I am fully aware that not everyone wants to start running 10k’s, half or even full marathons. And in some cases, peoples situation might be that they physically can’t run but they can walk.
Whether you are in a position where you can’t run or you maybe you don’t want to run to lose body fat, but you still want to lower your body fat percentage in some way, you can still get some great results simply by walking.
Although the tips in this episode are going to be highlighted from the perspective of someone potentially walking for weight loss, the same principals can be used if you are a runner who is looking to lose body fat.
The first thing I want to talk about is heart rate zones. We have covered this in a bit more detail in an earlier episode (I think it was Episode #5 “Is it better to lose weight than body fat?”). So I won’t go into it that much. But as a quick refresher – The BPM or beats per minute of your heart will have a bearing on the result of your cardio sessions.
The quickest way to calculate your optimum heart rate for fat burning is this –
220 – age = “X”
“X”/100 and then multiply “X” by 70 = optimum fat burning zone
If you find that this is hard to maintain for a cardio session of 30 to 45 mins, you can change the 70% to 60%.
However! This is a quick way to get a rough general guide based on the average person and fitness is a very personal thing meaning that not everyone is the same. So if you do want a more accurate estimate you can do this –
- Take a resting heart rate reading. To do this, sit down and relax for around ten minutes or to get your true resting hear rate do this as soon as you wake up in the morning. Find your pulse in your neck or wrist and time how many times your pulse beats in 60 seconds. This will give you a resting heart rate value of BPM (beats per minute). Remember this number. My resting heart rate is 66 bpm.
- Next 220 – age will give you a another number. Im 37 so 220 – my age is 183.
- Next take the 183 or whatever number you got from the 220 – your age and take away the number of beats per minute you got from your resting heart rate. So my calculation is 183 – 66. This gives me 117.
- Now take this number, in my case 117 and multiply it by 0.6. This will give you a minimum training intensity level. In my case this is 70bpm, to finally determine your optimum fat burning zone, you should add 65 to this number. This gives me a fat burning zone of 135 bpm.
This might sound like a lot of work but it should only take you a few minutes and in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty valuable information. Remember as you get fitter, especially if you are new to this, your resting heart rate zone will reduce, so you may want to re test your resting heart rate every few weeks to see what’s happening and maybe do the calculation again.
So you have figures out your fat burning zone and you have a number of beat per minute that your heart should be beating in order to burn fat in the most optimum way, great!… But how are you supposed to know if you are training in this zone when you are actually out there walking?
The best, most hassle free way to do this is to invest in a heart rate monitor. These things are pretty accessible these days. If you have a fitbit or something similar, it will show you on there, you could get a cheaper option that uses a strap around your chest and displays your heart rate on a watch or you can probably get a phone app . There are many ways to see what’s happening but if you are really averse to tech, you can just take your pulse periodically as you did when you found your resting heart rate. This might be a bit awkward though and I’d advise that you take advantage of the equipment that’s out there to help with this stuff.
If you really hate numbers and maths, you can’t be bothered with a heart rate monitor and you want to ignore all of the above, there is still a way to determine your fat burning heart rate, although its not the best way and taking the time to learn how your own body works and reacts to exercise is in my opinion invaluable and will help you progress much better.
You can just get out there start walking and find an intensity that you are able to maintain for 30 -45 minutes but makes you sweat. This works, but in my experience, if you are a beginner, it’s hard to find this sweet spot because if you aren’t used to testing intensity, it can feel a bit too much like a hit and miss exercise, so having a guide to work with is so much better.
Let’s talk about intensity now. What do I mean by intensity?
Something that I think is worth mentioning before we carry on is that although you get an optimum bpm for fat burning with your heart rate (in my case 135 BPM) you should not worry if you go slightly over this or worry that you have to keep it dead on 135bpm or whatever figure that you get, it will fluctuate. When I do cardio I listen to music and sometimes when Metalica is blasting in my ear holes I get a bit carried away and my heart rate goes up. This can sometimes be by 20 bpm, but all I do is slow my pace down until it drops.
The same is true if it goes the other way. If you realise that your heart rate has dropped below your target heart rate, you should up your pace to get it back on track. It may take a bit of time to get the feel for the intensity that you should be walking at but before long you will know what sort of pace you need to be walking at even without a heart rate monitor.
In the last episode, I rambled on about training intensity in a more general sense. There is a difference between showing up to the gym every day for an hour and going through the motions and showing up to the gym for that hour and actually working out so that your time is not wasted or more accurately, the time you spend in the gym is going to give you results so that you are progressing and working towards your fitness goals.
The same thing is true when it comes to walking for weight loss. Now when someone hears the phrase “Walking for weight loss” it does sound appealing because walking is easier and more accessible than jogging or running for most people. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy! You still have to raise your heart rate, you still have to put in the time and you still have to be consistent.
This is why you should follow the above steps and make sure that you are working within your fat burning heart rate zone. Depending on who you are, just by going out for a gentle stroll, looking at the trees and the clouds, stopping to chat to people that you might bump into is not ideal. In other words, by saying that you are going out to do a walking session for weight loss for the next 45 minutes and then going out and strolling around for 45 minutes isn’t going to cut it.
The sooner that you can get your heart rate up to your personal fat burning zone, and keep it there, the more valuable your session will be and the better results you will get form it. A good way to get your heart rate up right from the start of your walk is to spend a few minutes jogging on the spot or just jumping up and down. You might be surprised at how quickly your heart rate gets up there.
So a brisk, constant walk is what you are looking for when you start walking for weight loss and I would suggest that you aim for at least 30 minutes, ideally 45 minutes. With fat burning it is more important to get the time in than the distance so if you are more interested in lowering your body fat percentage than covering distance, you should make the time your most important variable.
If you are very new to this idea, I appreciate that you may feel uncomfortable at first but I can assure you that this won’t last long. The reason that this may feel tough is that you are actually using more muscles than you would have before and you are pushing your body more than it is used to.
A few quick tips for the beginner weight loss walker
- You may feel that you are out of breath – To deal with this, learn to control your breathing, slow deep breaths. I find that a lot of beginners find it useful to take a double breath in (first small breath in when the left foot hits the ground and the second small breath in when the right foot hits the ground and the same again with the exhale.
- You may feel that your shins start to burn – To deal with this, you may want to take longer strides. This will take some pressure off
- Swing your arms and get a rhythm going – Swinging your arms from side to side will help you get a rhythm going and will drive you forward.
- Make sure your posture is good. Don’t lean forward, head up shoulders back and make sure you are not pronating your feet.
Getting the intensity right and maintaining it for the duration of your cardio session is what will make the difference when it comes to earning your fitness and weight loss results.
Remember that you need to be challenging yourself and if you are sweating but you are comfortable to maintain a consistent pace, you are doing a good job of fat burning! This is where you want to be so try and get that rhythm going early in your walking session, the longer you stay in this zone, the more fat you are burning. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the more consistently you are able to do a walking session, the more efficient your body will become at burning the fat, so this is something to think about too.
Fasted cardio and interval training
If you get your training intensity right for fat burning, you stay consistent and your diet is as it should be, you will get good fat burning results from walking at a steady state, but there are a few tricks that you can use to boost your results. If you are a total beginner, please don’t feel that you have to start doing this stuff right away. In my opinion, it’s more important to get the stuff we have already talked about right first. But once you have got that down and you feel like an extra challenge, you can then start to use this stuff.
I never like to get too scientific but In recent years, there have been studies done to disprove the fasted cardio for weight loss theory and some would say that it actually prevents the amount of calories that you burn at rest after the cardio session when compared to having eaten before the session. If that makes sense…
So you would burn less calories during a cardio session if you have eaten than you would doing the same cardio session fasted but after the cardio session you would burn more calories when you are at rest.
Anyway, the point is that this is actually up for dispute. What I will say about fasted cardio though is that some people actually prefer doing their sessions this way as they are more comfortable in a fasted state. Also, in my opinion, breakfast is an important meal and I know a lot of people that skip this meal as they just aren’t hungry in the morning. Doing a cardio session might actually help to increase appetite and therefore push someone to eat breakfast.
Whether you want to try fasted cardio or not, there is stall a fundamental issue that I will discuss in another episode and this is that, as far as I know, you still have to have a calorie deficit when it comes to your diet. This is also something that people may disagree with me on but I can only speak from my own experience and I’ve never experienced someone losing body fat percentage from eating more calories than they are burning on a day to day basis and there are a few things that you can tweak to help your body become more efficient at burning fat but this is also a big subject and is for another day.