Simply putting one foot in front of the other is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health and increase your daily calorie burn.
But if you want to create a realistic, long-term weight-loss plan, you'll need to take your diet and overall exercise regimen into account. Instead of spending tons of time walking, build healthy habits that you can comfortably (and happily) sustain.
The Basics Behind Weight Loss
No matter what meal plan you're following at the moment, nearly all weight-loss diets use a calorie deficit to help you lose weight. This is when you burn more calories than you consume, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It's tempting to cut calories quickly for faster weight-loss results but most health professionals recommend that you stick to a weight-loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week at most, per the Mayo Clinic.
Losing weight slowly will help you keep the weight off in the long term by encouraging healthier lifestyle habits rather than a crash diet.
To create a sustainable calorie deficit, you'll first need to find how many calories you're eating each day to maintain your current weight (aka your maintenance calories). You can do this by tracking your food and weight across several weeks, using a food diary or app.
When you've found your maintenance calories, you can slowly trim calories from your daily diet to create a deficit. You can safely cut about 500 calories per day to lose about 1 pound each week, explains the Mayo Clinic.
Replacing some of the processed foods in your diet is the easiest way to get in a deficit. Chips, sweetened beverages and sweets are high in calories but low in nutrients, leaving you hungry and craving more. Instead, you'll want to eat mostly nutrient-dense options (more on that below).
Want an Easier Way to Calculate Your Calories?
Walking 2 Miles to Burn Calories
Increasing your daily steps and creating a weekly workout routine will help up your daily calorie expenditure.
While there are estimates regarding how many calories you'll torch while walking 2 miles, total burn varies from person to person. Factors like pace, incline and wind resistance can all affect the amount of calories you burn on a walk.
For some guidance, though, you can use these numbers to estimate your overall calorie burn from a 2-mile walk, thanks to Harvard Health Publishing.
Calorie Burned While Walking 2 Miles
Walking 4 mph
Measuring your own walking pace is tedious, to say the least. But you can use a walking app to monitor and track your pace, giving you a more accurate ballpark of how many calories you burn while walking.
Walking a few miles daily is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health but it's probably not necessary every single day. Instead, try to get between 150 to 300 minutes of walking each week, recommend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Instead of hitting 2 miles each day, spread your weekly cardio exercise across the week and walk for time, not distance.
Eating and Exercising for Weight Loss
While fad diets and rigorous exercise routines can help you lose weight quickly, they'll ultimately do more harm than good. Building healthy habits is more beneficial in the long run.
Where your diet is concerned, prioritize whole foods. Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables in a wide range of colors. Veggies are rich in vitamins and fiber, a nutrient that helps keep your digestion regular, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Plus, vegetables have low calorie density — that is, they're low in calories relative to their volume.
Carbohydrates are another part of a healthy diet, despite what current diet trends dictate. While you should enjoy a croissant (or two) every now and again, you'll want to eat mainly whole grains or healthy carbohydrates like brown rice, oat meal, sweet potatoes or whole grain pasta.
Eating enough protein each day will help you retain muscle mass and keep your energy up while you're in a calorie deficit, according to the Mayo Clinic. To keep your overall calories low, prioritize lean protein sources like poultry, fish or low-fat dairy.
While walking 2 miles a day can help you burn calories and improve your overall health, building sustainable, long-term habits should be your top priority.
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to 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 Eeights"
- CDC: "Walking"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fiber"
- Mayo Clinic: "Nutrition Rules That Will Fuel Your Workout"