Buzz is building about a weight-loss hack that seriously spikes fat burn while still being really easy to do and totally free. Called “fasted walking,” the key is simply getting steps in before you eat breakfast — a trick proven to crank up metabolism, then keep it high all day. It “gives you big payoffs with little sacrifice,” according to Dr. Oz, a huge fan of the technique.
Rumor has it a famous chef used the approach to drop 25 “pandemic pounds” while liberally sampling her own decadent creations. Then there’s Paige Davidson, 58, who tried the trick because it seemed manageable despite bad knees. “I started slowly, just 20 minutes at a time. Within six months, I was in the best shape of my life!” says the Kentucky mom, who shed 110 pounds. Meanwhile, fitness guru Jorge Cruise has seen the walking twist work wonders: Women drop up to 13 pounds a week!
What is fasted walking?
When an MRI revealed excess weight was causing Lisa Asbell’s intense knee pain, she was stunned. Even at 300 pounds, “my blood work was good, so I told myself I was fine,” admits the Florida nurse, 54. Soul searching followed. “Giving up foods I love had never worked for me, so I decided not to do it again.” Instead, Lisa listened to her body and ate until she was just full. For exercise, “I walked as far as I could — and always before breakfast so I wouldn’t get busy and skip it.” Did it boost her fat burn? Did it ever! She lost a quick 15 pounds without a special diet. Her pain subsided too. “I suddenly felt like a teenager,” says Lisa, now down 126 pounds. She still does fasted walking. “It’s been the best thing I could have done for myself!”
Why does a before breakfast walk offer such a big advantage? One key reason: You wake up each morning having used up all of your body’s main fuel — blood sugar — during the night. If you walk before you eat anything to replenish your sugar supply, your body has no choice but to start burning a whole lot of stored fat as fuel, explains fasted exercise expert Jason Fung, MD, author of the bestselling The Obesity Code. Basically, a pre-breakfast stroll really jolts your metabolism into action: A Japanese study found that exercising on an empty stomach immediately doubles fat burn compared to exercising after a meal. Better yet: Separate research shows that pre-breakfast walkers set themselves up to burn as much as 876 percent more fat than their sedentary counterparts.
And it doesn’t matter if you only have time for a superquick fasted walking session. The slimming boost continues even after you sit down.
Why does fasted walking work?
“Our bodies have the wonderful ability to adapt to what’s available. When we regularly exercise after our supply of stored blood sugar is depleted, our muscles ‘learn’ how to use fat as energy,” shares Dr. Fung. Studies show that our muscles actually begin producing more fat-burning compounds. So if you make walking before breakfast a habit, “you train your muscles to burn fat.” And once that happens, you can indulge in a little of that candy you bought for trick-or-treaters and your fat metabolism stays elevated. Dr. Fung adds that stamina also increases nicely because “you’re powered by an almost unlimited energy drawn directly from your fat stores.”
Bonus: British scientists found that, unlike walking after you eat, walking before breakfast has a unique ability to activate various genes linked to effortless weight control. And that helps further reprogram your body to get lean!
Is it possible to overeat while using this trendy walking hack? Sure. But it’s less likely to happen, per Brigham Young University scientists. Their study found that morning exercise triggers biochemical changes that significantly reduce hunger for 24 hours. So you’ll eat less without trying. All you have to do, say pros, is plan to go at a steady pace for 20 to 60 minutes or use the step-counting feature on your cellphone to aim for 5,000 to 7,000 steps.
What kind of results can you expect?
After losing on keto and maintaining for decades, “I started having too many cheat days and I regained a lot of weight,” admits Kathie McAtee. So when a co-worker got lean just by eating his normal foods in a shorter window each day — a form of intermittent fasting — the New Jersey grandmother decided to try it, bumping her breakfast to later in the day. It didn’t go well initially. “I was often hungry, at least in my head,” she recalls. “Honestly, I started walking before my first meal of the day just to distract myself.” And then an amazing thing happened: “Not only did my hunger get much better but some days, I had none at all!”
Pounds began to disappear steadily, even though Kathie opted not to do strict keto again. Her energy shot up, her sleep got sounder, even her prediabetes reversed itself. “I lost more than at any other point in my life — and I just turned 66,” Kathie marvels. “My goal was to drop 30 pounds, but I guess my body didn’t realize. I felt amazing and just kept losing.” All told, she’s down 50 pounds. Kathie still goes for a fasted walk most days simply because she loves it. “My pace has gotten pretty energetic. I can go a mile in 16 minutes and often out-walk much younger ladies at the park. I get a real kick out of that,” she says. “And I’m just so proud of myself when I pull on my size-6 jeans!”
What breakfasts amplify the results?
While a pre-breakfast walk increases fat burn no matter what, experts say the right post-walk meal will enhance results. The secret: Just go for lots of protein and fewer carbs. Research shows this keeps blood sugar low and slows your shift to “sugar burning.” It also helps build more metabolism-boosting muscle. Want meal ideas to get inspired? We’ve got ’em here! As always, get your doctor’s okay to try any new weight-loss approach.
CHOCOLATE MILK BOWL: Blitz 3 ⁄4 cup nut milk, 2 scoops unsweetened protein powder, 1⁄3 cup almonds, 2 tablespoons cocoa, stevia and ice to taste. Garnish with low-sugar fruit.
BREAKFAST SALAD: Top a big salad with eggs (any style), a little nitrate-free breakfast meat, and a drizzle of olive-oil vinaigrette or your favorite no-sugar-added dressing.
PROTEIN TOAST: Toast low-carb bread and spread with cottage cheese; add low-carb toppings like berries or sliced veggies and smoked salmon.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.