Does Going for a Walk Immediately After Dinner Help You Lose Weight?

Woman walking cross country trail in autumn forest
Woman walking on a trail in autumn (Image: Anetlanda/iStock/Getty Images)

Finding a moderate-intensity exercise you enjoy and building it into your daily routine can help you lose weight. Walking at a regular time, like first thing in the morning or right after dinner, can increase your chances of sticking to your exercise plan on a long-term basis. That is key to successful weight loss.

The Facts

To lose a pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories, according to Harvard Health Publications. Generally speaking, a 1-mile walk burns about 100 calories, but you can lose more by walking faster or longer. Maximize your walk’s fat-burning potential by walking at a pace of 3 to 4 mph. You will need to walk on most, if not all, days of the week to achieve weight-loss results through walking.

Exercising on a Full Stomach

A popular myth cautions against exercising right after you eat due to the likelihood of cramps or other digestive woes. Your body diverts as much as 25 percent of its blood flow to the digestive track right after eating, which can cause competition with your muscles if you engage in high-intensity exercise, like jogging, right after eating. Robert McMurray, a media spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine, tells the AARP Bulletin that this competition is not an issue with light-to-moderate intensity exercise.

Post-Dinner Exercise and Increased Fat Burning

A 2007 study by Surrey University and Imperial College London published in the “Journal of Endocrinology” found that exercising after dinner might help elevate hormones that suppress appetite. Twelve adult volunteers consumed the same breakfast. After the meal, half of them rode an exercise bike for an hour while the other half did not exercise. Researchers then encouraged the volunteers to eat whatever they liked. The exercise group did eat more after their exercise session, but — after taking into account the calories burned during their exercise session — they consumed fewer calories overall than the idle group. The researchers found that the levels of the hormones PYY, GLP-1 and PP, which tell the stomach when it is full, increased during and after exercise.

Considerations

Combining exercise with dietary changes will yield quicker, more effective weight loss than walking alone. Boost your consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and cut out refined sugars and fats. Giving up just one treat a day, like a cookie or glass of wine, can cut 100 calories a day from your diet. Once you lose the weight, you will need to continue your after-dinner walk to keep it off.

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