How Fast to Walk for Weight Loss

Find the Fat-Burning Pace

Austria, Alps, Woman holding ski pole walking, side view
Westend61/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

When you want to walk off weight, it's best to walk at a brisk pace. Here's how to know if you are in the right zone for burning the most fat, and how to build up to that level. Learn how fast to walk and the best walking workouts when you want to lose weight.

Start With an Easy Walking Pace to Warm-Up

First, you want to wake up your muscles and let them know you plan to be active for a while. Walking at an easy warm-up pace for five to 10 minutes tells your muscles they can't just sit back and burn up the available sugars, they need to call on the fat reserves.

This is why you should not start off at a high speed. When you do that, your cells don't get the signal that this is a long-term activity. Instead of pulling fat out of storage to burn as energy, they burn up sugars only.

Speed Up to a Determined Walking Pace to Burn Fat

The speed to walk for optimal fat-burning is a "determined" pace or a "brisk walking pace."

  • At this rate, you should be breathing noticeably but able to carry on a conversation in full sentences. You will feel like you are exercising rather than just going for a stroll.
  • Your heart rate target should be 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. This varies by age. Use a target heart rate chart to find yours.
  • How should it feel? It should feel as intense as when you are walking fast because you are 10 minutes late for an important appointment.
  • Walk at this speed for 30 minutes at a time after your warm up. That will ensure you are releasing stored fat and burning it for energy.
  • If you aren't already able to walk for 45 minutes at a time, use a beginners walking plan to build up to that duration. Start by walking for 10 to 15 minutes at a time and add a few more minutes to your walking workout duration each week.

Raising your Metabolism

Good work, you've tricked your body into dipping into your fat stores for energy and you are walking in the fat-burning zone. You are also building muscle and raising your basal metabolic rate so you are burning more calories all day long.

How to Walk Faster

If you are already walking 20 miles total per week and want to get more results purely from walking, then you need to build speed as well as duration. You can use good arm motion and stride to speed up, as shown in the how to walk faster tutorial. Or, you can learn the Olympic racewalk technique to burn more calories per mile.

But What If I Can't Walk That Much?

Start with a beginners walking plan. It will get you started the right way to build up to being able to walk for 30 minutes at the fat-burning pace. Any amount of activity over your present level will help you achieve your weight loss goals, so go slow if that is what is comfortable.

But What If I Don't Have the Time to Walk for That Long?

If you just don't have enough free time in the day to spend 45 continuous minutes walking, then make the most of the time you have. Find the time to get in two to four 15-minute walks at a brisk pace every day. You will be burning calories and building your walking speed and ability and at least achieving the minimum recommended physical activity level for health.

How Many Calories Am I Burning Walking?

How many calories you burn while walking depends mostly on the distance you walk and your weight, with some slight variation for higher speeds. See a chart of how many calories you burn walking based on those factors. You can also see how many calories you burn based on walking time and pace and how many calories you burn based on pedometer steps.

Tips to burn more calories when walking include tactics such as using fitness walking poles, hills and high-intensity intervals, and simply walking more miles.

A Word From Verywell

You may want to lose weight fast, but losing excess body fat is often the real goal. Consistency in eating a healthy diet and enjoying exercise are what can keep you on course and get you to the finish line. Find the exercise schedule and activities that you will make an ongoing part of your life.