Posted by: Moira | 2004/10/05


At what speed must one walk on the treadmill to burn fat? Also for how long? I walk on the treadmill but do not know if I am waisting my time!

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Our expert says:
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Hi Moira

Unfortunately, there is no ideal speed to burn fat - the body does not work in this way. People often believe this and unfortunately there is a whole industry based on this concept of 'fat burning' at specific heart rates or walking/running speeds. The truth is that you always use fat and you always use carbs, just not always at the same rate. At higher walking speeds the rate of use of fat and carbs (in grams per minute) will be higher compared to low walking speeds. However, the problem is that at high walking speeds, you don't always walk for long enough to burn more fat. In otherwise, the rate of fat use is only beneficial if you also walk for longer. This way, if you have a high rate and long duration, you burn more in total. High rate and short duration, or low rate and long duration does not work quite as well, obviously and so there is this compromise that you have to make between the intensity and how long you exercise for. For this reason, the best idea is probably to exercise at a steady intensity that allows you to complete about 45 minutes feeling tired but relatively in control. Any faster becomes difficult and other factors like overtraining may come into play, and any slower means the effects might be smaller. having said that, you are never wasting your time. Any exercise is beneficial and so if you are walking for even 30 minutes a day, that's great, and you must keep it up for the effects.

Good luck

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