For most of us, walking 6 miles every day is no small feat. This distance is not only challenging for your body but will also eat up quite a bit of time.
While walking 6 miles each day and following a weight-loss diet will probably help you lose weight, it may not be the most realistic (or healthy) option for you. Instead, creating a sustainable calorie deficit and exercise plan will help you build healthy habits and keep weight off for the long haul.
The Weight-Loss Basics
Whether you're counting macros, going paleo or following a vegan regimen, all weight-loss diets boil down to a calorie deficit. This is when your body burns more calories than it takes in, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While it may be tempting to dramatically cut calories for faster weight-loss results, health professionals recommend you lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week max, according to the Mayo Clinic. This rate will help you build healthier lifestyle habits, ultimately making long-term weight loss more realistic.
First, you'll need to get an idea of how many calories you're eating each day to sustain your current weight — also known as your maintenance calories. One way to do this is by tracking your calories and weight over several weeks using a food diary or app.
Want an Easier Way to Calculate Your Calories?
From here, you can slowly cut calories from your daily diet to create a deficit. Trimming your maintenance level by about 500 calories per day will yield about 1 pound of weight loss each week, per the Mayo Clinic.
Cutting some of the processed foods out of your day-to-day diet is a great place to start. Sodas, sweets and many snack foods are all high in calories but low in nutrients, leaving you craving more.
At the same time, you'll want to prioritize nutrient-dense foods (more on that in a minute).
By creating a healthy calorie deficit, you can expect to safely lose between 4 and 8 pounds in a month. Walking 6 miles every day can help accelerate the weight-loss process and provide some added health benefits, too.
Walking 6 Miles to Burn Calories
Increasing your exercise and creating a consistent workout routine will help increase your calorie expenditure each day.
The amount of calories burned while walking varies from person to person. Plus, outside factors like your speed and incline will affect how many calories you burn on your walk.
Generally, though, a 155-pound person walking at a pace of 15 minutes per mile will burn about 500 calories on a 6-mile walk, according to Harvard Health Publishing. A 185-pound person will burn about 600 calories walking at the same speed for 6 miles.
Gauging your own walking pace can be challenging. Using a fitness watch or walking app is a great way to track your pace more closely, giving you a more accurate estimate of how many calories you burn during your workout.
In addition to weight loss, walking workouts will provide an array of other health benefits. Walking each day can reduce your stress levels and keep your knees and joints healthy. Brisk walkers may even be less likely to die from heart disease than slower walkers, according to a study published August 2017 in the European Heart Journal.
While walking 6 miles is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and increase your calorie burn, it's probably not necessary each day. Aim to get between 150 and 300 minutes of walking each week, as recommend by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Instead of hitting 6 miles each day, spread these 150 minutes across the week and walk for time instead of distance.
Healthy Eating and Exercise for Weight Loss
Ultimately, creating a balance between healthy eating and exercise will help you meet you weight-loss goals.
When it comes to diet, prioritize whole, healthy foods. At each meal, try to fill your plate with plenty of vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and a great source of fiber — a nutrient that regulates blood sugar, helping you feel full, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Contrary to popular belief, carbs are actually a big part of a healthy diet. But the quality of your carbohydrates matters. Refined carbs like white pasta or bread are usually pretty high in calories and low in other nutritional benefits. Whole grains (think: brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and pasta) or vegetables are healthier alternatives, per the CDC.
Your protein intake is another important component of weight loss, as it helps you retain your muscle mass and keep your energy high, according to the Mayo Clinic. Prioritize lean proteins like poultry, fish or low-fat dairy over red meats to keep your overall calories lower.
Alongside your diet and walking routine, incorporate some other forms of exercise, like strength training. Strength training just a few times per week will help increase your muscle mass, improving your overall body-fat-to-lean-mass ratio (aka your body composition).
What's Your Body Fat Percentage?
Use LIVESTRONG.com's Body Fat Calculator for a customized estimate.
Not a fan of strength training? There's no shortage of exercise forms out there. Whether it's yoga, boxing or swimming, find an activity you enjoy and build it into your weekly routine.
So, while walking 6 miles a day and dieting will help you achieve your goal, sustainability should be a top priority. Slowly shifting to healthier eating and exercise habits that you can maintain will help you lose weight and keep it off for the long haul.
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to the Weight-Loss Basics"
- Mayo Clinic: "Why Do Doctors Recommend a Slow Rate of Weight Loss? What's Wrong With Fast Weight Loss?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- European Heart Journal: "Association of Walking Pace and Handgrip Strength With All-cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality: A UK Biobank Observational Study"
- CDC: "Walking"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fiber"
- CDC: "Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight"
- Mayo Clinic: "Nutrition Rules That Will Fuel Your Workout"