Does Walking Burn Belly Fat? Here’s What You Should Know 

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There are a few people who would contest that they wouldn’t like to have more defined abs. Even if you don’t aspire to have a svelte six-pack, having a toned midsection tends to help us feel confident in your body.

Moreover, aside from wanting a certain aesthetic or physique, having a strong core and strong abdominal muscles can help support better posture, breathing mechanics, movement efficiency, and athletic performance and can decrease the risk of injuries, particularly to the back muscles and spine.

But, does walking burn belly fat? Is walking a good way to lose belly fat? In this article, we will discuss if walking to lose belly fat is the way to go and how to lose weight with walking.

We will cover: 

  • Does Walking Burn Belly Fat?
  • Is It Important to Lose Belly Fat?
  • Does Walking Help Lose Belly Fat?
  • Does Walking Burn Fat?
  • How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking?

Let’s jump in!

People power walking.

Does Walking Burn Belly Fat? 

Many people take on a walking exercise program not only to enjoy the health benefits of walking, such as reducing their risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers but also to help manage weight.

Any form of exercise has the potential benefit of helping you lose weight because physical activity increases your energy expenditure. The more calories that you can burn, the more likely it will be that you can generate a caloric deficit (burning more calories than you are consuming), which will result in losing body fat.

But, does walking burn belly fat?

The short answer is that walking can help you lose belly fat, but it’s more complicated than that.

First of all, it’s important to establish that you can’t spot reduce body fat. In other words, if you want to lose belly fat, you cannot preferentially select to lose weight just on your belly. 

Whether you are losing fat because you are walking or performing some other type of exercise that ultimately helps you expend more calories than you are consuming, or you are dieting and consuming fewer calories than you are burning (or both), your body will be in a state of caloric deficit, and you will start losing body fat.

A person pinching their belly fat.

However, the body mostly loses fat in a fairly uniform manner, meaning that you will lose belly fat at the same rate that you lose fat on your thighs, just as you will be losing the fat that fills out your cheeks, fat on your butt, fat on your upper arms, etc.

Even if you were just doing targeted ab exercises, such as hundreds of sit-ups per day, you wouldn’t necessarily lose more belly fat than the rate of fat loss in other areas of your body.

With that said, depending on your hormonal profile and where you predominantly store fat in your body, you can experience an uneven distribution of fat loss, such that you lose a somewhat disproportionate amount of fat in one region of the body compared to other regions.

However, this difference isn’t usually so stark that you would only be losing belly fat or not losing any belly fat at all because it’s all coming off another area of the body.

Therefore, as we continue our discussion about losing belly fat by walking, it’s important to remember that any weight loss from walking won’t come just from your stomach area.

So, how can walking help you lose weight, and ultimately, how can walking help you lose belly fat?

As a form of physical activity, walking burns calories, which can help you generate the caloric deficit you need to lose weight.

A person doing sit-ups.

Is It Important to Lose Belly Fat?

The desire to lose belly fat goes beyond aesthetics and wanting to have a shredded midsection with six-pack abs. 

Research has found that storing fat around your midsection, particularly visceral fat, which is the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs, is associated with an increased risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, when stratifying your disease risk for conditions such as obesity, metabolic disease, and heart disease, men who have a waist circumference greater than 40 inches (102 cm) and women who have a waist circumference greater than 35 inches (88 cm) are considered to have abdominal obesity. 

Abdominal obesity, in turn, is an independent risk factor for numerous adverse health conditions and chronic diseases.

A person walking on the sidewalk.

Does Walking Help Lose Belly Fat?

The good news is that there is evidence to suggest that consistent aerobic exercise, such as walking, is one of the most effective ways to reduce belly fat.

For example, one study investigated the effects of a 12-week walking intervention on women with obesity.

The women in the study in the intervention group walked 50 to 70 minutes three times a week, burning an average of 400 calories per workout for 12 weeks.

Results revealed that the walking intervention resulted in significant reductions in belly fat, both in terms of the fat directly under the skin, known as subcutaneous fat, as well as the fat deep within the abdomen, the dangerous visceral fat.

The control group did not experience these decreases in belly fat.

People laughing and walking together.

Does Walking Burn Fat?

When people discuss burning fat, there are two potential fat-burning factors that can come into play: burning stored body fat for fuel and losing overall body fat.

Regarding the first factor, when you exercise, the fuel or energy has to come from somewhere. The energy for exercise is primarily supplied by triglycerides (stored in body fat or adipose tissue) or glycogen (stored carbohydrates in muscles and liver).

The intensity of exercise largely determines the relative percentage of each fuel type used; the lower the intensity, the greater the reliance on fat for fuel, and the higher the intensity of exercise, the higher the relative percentage of glycogen (carbohydrates) that are oxidized for energy.

Walking is a low-intensity form of exercise, even when you walk at a fairly brisk pace. As such, the muscles mainly oxidize stored body fat to generate the energy (ATP) they need to contract.

In this way, walking can directly burn body fat.

Walking workouts can also help you lose total body fat and lose weight by burning calories. When you generate a caloric deficit—such that you are burning more calories per day than you are consuming—you will lose body fat. 

In this way, because walking burns calories, you can use walking to lose belly fat and lose weight.

People walking to lose belly fat.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking?

Ultimately, the more you weigh and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn walking. You’ll also burn more calories walking if you walk faster, walk up an incline, and increase your distance.

Wearing a heart rate monitor can give you a more accurate estimation of how many calories you burn in your walking workouts, but even if you don’t have one, you can estimate the calories burned walking using the metabolic equivalents (METs) for walking at different speeds.

The Compendium of Physical Activities reports that walking at a leisurely pace of 2.8-3.2 mph on a level surface is equivalent to 3.5 METs. Walking at a pace of 3.5 mph on a level surface is 4.3 METs, while walking at a brisk pace of 4.0 mph on a level surface is rated at 5 METs, and finally, walking at a very brisk pace of 4.5 mph is 7 METs.

Walking 2.9-3.5 mph uphill at a 1 to 5% grade is roughly 5.3 METs, and maintaining that pace while climbing a 6 to 15% grade bumps the metabolic demand up to 8 METs.

People walking on an incline on treadmills.

Using these METs values, you can calculate the number of calories you burn walking using the equation to determine energy expenditure:

Calories Burned Per Minute = METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 

Then, you multiply the number of calories you burn per minute walking by the number of minutes you walk.

For example, if you weigh 185 pounds and walk for 30 minutes at 4.0 mph on a flat surface: 

Calories Burned Per Minute = 4.0 x 3.5 x 84 kg / 200 = 5.88 calories x 30 minutes = 176 calories.

Although this may not seem like a massive calorie burn, if you walk longer, weigh more, pick up the pace, or walk up an incline, you’ll burn more calories. Plus, you can walk several times per day to really maximize your weight loss through walking. 

To get started today, take on our 30-Day Walking Challenge!

Two people walking and waving.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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