There is no magic formula for weight loss. To successfully shed excess pounds, it's necessary to burn more calories than you consume. Adding walks to your daily routine is one way to up your calorie burn, but it's not just a matter of hitting the pavement for as many miles as you can cover. In fact, there is no specific number of miles that will work for everyone. Instead, the way you walk plays an important role in how successful you are at burning calories and losing weight.
High Speed vs. Low Speed
Taking a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood will burn calories, but at such a slow pace, it will take a lot longer to burn enough calories to lose weight. Walking more quickly, however, will burn more calories in less time so you'll end up covering fewer miles. Walking at a pace that would allow you to cover 1 mile in about 18 minutes will burn almost 5 calories per minute, according to Amby Burfoot, member of the Running Hall of Fame and 1968 winner of the Boston Marathon, writing for "Runner's World." If you walk fast enough to cover a mile in about 12 minutes, you'll burn about as many calories as you would running, which averages out to about 16 calories per minute, Burfoot reports.
Interval Training vs. Distance Walking
Interval training, which is when you alternate between walking slow for a period of time and then walking fast for a period of time, can help you burn more calories in fewer miles than distance walking at a consistent and steady pace. In fact, interval walking can increase your calorie burn by as much as 100 percent, according to Michele Stanten, an American Council on Exercise certified fitness instructor and author of "Walk Off Weight: Burn 3 Times More Fat with This Proven Program." To do interval walking, you walk at a moderate pace for a minute or two and then walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds to one minute. You'll repeat this pattern for about 30 minutes, and it's effective because the periods of fast walking burn more calories than a 30-minute walk at the same pace the whole time.
Strength Training to Increase Endurance
Strength training burns fewer calories than cardio, such as interval walking, but in the long run, taking time to build strength can help you burn more calories during your cardio sessions. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat, according to Leslie Goldman, a body image expert writing for "Runner's World." Lifting weights helps build muscle mass, which means you'll burn more calories on your walking workouts. Building your muscles can also improve your performance and boost your speed. Squats and rowing-type movements are also good strength builders.
Healthy Eating to Complement Walking
A key component of weight loss is cutting calories because the fewer calories you consume, the quicker you'll lose weight. In addition to your walking routine, eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories will help you reach your goals more quickly than walking miles and miles and eating whatever foods you want. Stanten notes that you'll need to eat enough calories to fuel your body and give you the stamina necessary to walk, but watching your intake is a powerful way to shed pounds. Three meals and one snack per day is a good goal. These meals and snacks should include fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables; protein from lean meats, beans and lentils; healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, avocados and salmon; and plenty of water.