If you were to ask gym-goers ( looking to lose weight) whether running or walking burns fatter, you can bet almost all of them would say running. However, this article will reveal some hidden truths on how walking can be a more effective fat loss strategy.
First of all, let’s see how many calories each of these exercises burn.
1 hour of running burns approximately 1,000 calories.
1 hour of brisk walking burns around 500 calories.
These calorie figures are approximate as they are determined by the pace of the walk/run and the weight of the individual. Thus, in terms of calorie expenditure, there is no competition, as running burns a lot more calories than walking does. But, are calories burned the best way to determine which one is best for fat loss? Being in a deficit of calories is essential for fat loss. However, different forms of exercise burn different types of calories, depending on the intensity.
Low Intensity = Calories from Fat
When low-intensity exercise such as brisk walking is performed, the body recognizes that the exercise isn’t intense, and so the main source of energy (carbohydrates) is not needed. Instead, the energy comes from stored fats – the secondary source of energy. Any exercise that raises your heart rate above 70% of your maximum heart rate, signals for your body to use carbohydrates as your main source of energy. Thus, it is important to recognize not just the amount of calories burned, but what type of calories are burned. There is no point in having more calories burned if these calories are coming from carbohydrates as opposed to fat stores.
High Intensity = Hormone release
One advantage high-intensity exercises has over low-intensity exercise is that when done in sprinting fashion, it can release Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which is a powerful fat burning hormone. For real-life examples of the fat burning effects of HGH, you don’t have to look any further than sprinters in the Olympics. Sprinters have some of the lowest body fat levels on the planet. HGH is also responsible for building lean muscle mass, resulting in the bulky muscles some of the top Olympic sprinters possess. Studies have proven that HGH levels can increase by as much as 500% – when incorporating High-Intensity Interval Training (Sprint training). (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12137178?dopt=Abstract). For maximum HGH release, do sprints lasting for 30 seconds, as opposed to shorter sprints. Longer sprints have been shown to cause a significant rise in the mighty fat burning hormone. A sprinting training program could be as the following:
Sprint by running on a field or cycling on a bike for 30 seconds and then resting for 30 seconds.
To increase the intensity each week, simply reduce the rest period. Or increase the resistance of the exercise – run uphill or increase resistance on the bike. These sprinting sessions otherwise known as High-Intensity Interval Training should not be done for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you can perform the session for more than 20 minutes, then the exercise is not being performed as intensely as it should be.
Intense weight training exercise can increase testosterone levels as well as HGH levels. Testosterone (the male hormone) is responsible for burning fat and building muscle – similar to HGH. For maximum testosterone and HGH release via lifting weights, you should stick to heavy compound exercises. These are exercises that use multiple muscle groups, with examples being pull-ups, bench press, squats, deadlifts etc. For an even bigger rise in HGH and testosterone try out the 5×5 lifting method. This strategy involves lifting a weight so heavy you can only achieve 5 reps. Then rest for a minute and repeat for 4 more sets (5 sets in total). The 5×5 system was adopted by Arnold Schwarzenegger and increases testosterone due to the increase in the weight being used. In the fourth and fifth set, 5 reps may not be completed and 3 or 4 reps may only be possible.
As walking burns calories directly from fat stores and running doesn’t, it certainly has its advantages. However, running at full intensity (Sprinting) also offers its own unique fat burning advantages – due to its HGH release. Therefore, to say one training method is better than the other is difficult, but a combination of both would be ideal for increased fat loss.
My name is Harry Wilson. I’m the author of Good Health Planning. Whether it’s workout routines, diet ideas or a guide to the equipment you need, we’ll help you get in the best shape possible. Follow my twitter: @ghealthplanning
Thanks for this post – I’m always wondering if I should stick to walking more or if I should up the pace!
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