Recently, a weight-loss hack that is effective, easy, and free got major buzz. Called “fasted walking,” it’s all about getting steps in before you eat breakfast — a trick proven to crank up metabolism and speed fat burn, then keep it going all day. It “gives you big payoffs with little sacrifice,” according to Dr. Oz, a fan of the technique.
What is fasted walking?
A pre-breakfast walk offers big advantages because 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 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 super quick 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 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!”
Katie reports that her energy increased, her sleep improved, and her prediabetes reversed itself. “I lost more than at any other point in my life — and I just turned 66,” Kathie marvels. All told, she’s down 50 pounds, and she’s continues her fasted walking regimen. “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.
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: Choose protein over carbs. Research shows this keeps blood sugar low and slows your shift to “sugar burning.” It also helps build more metabolism-boosting muscle. Below are meal ideas to get you started. As always, get your doctor’s permission to begin any new weight-loss regimen.
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.