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The Other Fat-burning Mode

The Other Fat-burning Mode
Angelo Coppola

Did you know there is another fat-burning mode besides ketosis?

It doesn’t require a long fast or a special diet. Yes! You, too, can be a fat-burning machine and all it takes is a few simple steps. No, really, that’s all.

It’s called walking.

An adult’s natural walking speed is about 2.8 mph (4.5 kph) or roughly 105 steps per minute. One hypothesis about why we default to this speed is that walking at this rate burns fat for fuel. Any faster and we start to tap into muscle glycogen stores.

I’m sure you can think of a few reasons why our hunter-gather ancestors might have benefited from conserving muscle glycogen while traveling on foot. Hint: that glycogen comes in handy for bursts of speed and other strenuous exertions.

Fat also happens to be our most abundant fuel source. Again, this would have provided our species’ with a huge advantage during our hunter-gatherer days. Namely, we could cover vast distances searching for food or good locations to call home for a while.

Nowadays, our main source of transportation has a starter, motor, wheels, accelerator, brakes, and chairs. And unfortunately, it doesn’t burn our excess fat.

Walking provides huge benefits to humans. These include:

…and really the list goes on and on. If a pharmaceutical company could put the benefits of walking into a pill it would be worth trillions.

Some of the benefits above are attributable to exercise in general, but walking is such a great activity because it’s so convenient for most people. Plus, it’s how a lot of us get our reading time.

I’ve been doing a lot more desk work lately, working on the blog, working on a book, and working on the show. We just had my in-laws stay with us for a while. Life’s always a little extra hectic around the holidays. Plus, the shorter days, don’t help much with physical activity (dark before 5 nowadays). As a result, my walking has taken a hit this month.

So, instead of my typical pattern of taking 2-3 mile walks plus the occasional longer hike, I’m planning on taking three 15-minute walks a day. One after each of my two main meals and another anytime I need to clear my head a bit. I’m pretty sure finding 15 minutes is feasible even when I’m at my busiest.

Think you can give it a try, too? Maybe for the rest of the year? I hope you’ll join me! OK, heading outside now while the sun’s out…

A human being that never walks is like a fish that never swims , a bird that never flies, a kangaroo than never hops, or a snake that never slithers. We were truly born to walk.

  • Kevin Harper

    Great article – but pretty sure if you’re walking 800 steps per minute you are destined for many Gold Medals.

    • D’oh! Fixed it. I’m thinking 800 steps/min is right around 20 mph. That would tear through those glycogen stores. 🙂