Whether you go to the mall, the gym or the great outdoors, walking is excellent for boosting your metabolism and burning fat. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps build bone density and manage your weight. During exercise, your body burns stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Glycogen from your muscles provides immediate energy, while glycogen from your liver helps keep blood sugar stable. Consuming adequate carbohydrates from healthy foods keeps energy levels up and fuels your walking workout.
Carbs and Calories
Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, whereas body fat contains 9 calories per gram. When you walk, your body burns calories regardless of whether they come from carbohydrates or body fat. In order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. This leads to long-term weight reduction, as your body ultimately taps into fat stores during periods of calorie deprivation. A typical person will burn about 300 calories per hour of walking, depending on your body size and the intensity of your workout.
When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down to sugars and transported in your blood. This causes a rise in blood sugar levels, which triggers the release of insulin from your pancreas. Insulin lowers blood sugar and makes carbohydrate available for either immediate energy or storage. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver, or as body fat. After a few minutes of walking, your body taps into your muscle glycogen stores for energy. Having a diet adequate in carbohydrates allows you to store more glycogen and support walking endurance.
Aim to obtain about 60 percent of your calories from carbohydrates to provide sufficient energy for preforming and recovering from exercise. Healthy carbohydrate foods include; fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and whole grains. Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, peas and corn, are especially rich in carbohydrates. Look for carbohydrates that naturally have a high fiber content to promote satiety and regularity. Avoid refined carbohydrates like white rice and baked goods to avoid empty calories and unhealthy weight gain.
Walk more everyday to increase your physical activity level. Physical activity not only builds strong muscles and a slim physique, it also protects your heart, bones and mental health. Taking a walk after dinner is a good habit to decrease your stress levels and burn additional calories. If you can, walk to work or take a walk break during lunch. Parking further away from your destination and taking the stairs instead of the elevator are easy ways to walk more everyday. Invest in a supportive pair of sneakers to keep in your car for walks.
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Agriculture Consumer Protection: The Role of Carbohydrates in Exercise and Physical Performance
- The Nutrition Society: Muscle Glycogen and Metabolic Regulation
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Your Digestive System and How It Works