Research: Walking Helps Weight Loss When You Are Dieting

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Walking Enhances a Reduced Calorie Diet to improve Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults


As if you have not figured from the title of my blog.  Honestly, it is just common sense that walking or other forms of moderate exercise will help with weight loss.  As an advocate for walking for fitness, I am always looking for pieces of research to back up my theory.  Today, I found one such publication.   

It has long been believed that increased physical activity helps with weight loss, but it is also acknowledged that exercise only accounts for 80 percent or less of weight loss.  That being said, it can still have a significant effect on overall weight loss and maintenance, so ignoring it can have an equal but adverse effect.  In other words, exercise is still important.  

The study of the question was published in the August 2017 copy of the Journal of Nutrition[1].  The study was a simple 12-week study that investigated the effects of an energy-restricted diet with and without moderate walking on body weight, body composition, resting energy expenditure, and endocrine and cardiometabolic risk variables in overweight and obese participants.  It truly is an ambitious study.  

Participants were randomized and placed into two randomized arms.  They were put on an energy-restricted of 500-800 calories per day.  This dietary intervention study was conducted on 82 men and women. Participants were divided into two groups or arms. Both groups were placed on the same hypoenergetic or reduced-calorie diet, but the second group participated in a regular walking program of 2.5 h/wk which equates to 30 minutes of walking per day.


After the 12 week intervention, Both groups lost body fat, but the walking group lost 1.8 Kgs more than the diet-along group.  The decrease in body weight was accompanied by a significant reduction in total fat mass.  Diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, LDL cholesterol, and non-HDL cholesterol were similarly significantly improved by both interventions. In the walking group, insulin and the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance index were also significantly reduced. Serum-free triiodothyronine was significantly decreased, and serum cortisol was significantly increased in both groups.

Participation in a 12-week weight-loss study resulted in significant reductions in body weight and fat mass and was associated with significant improvements in biomarkers for cardiovascular disease risk.  Additional moderate walking enhanced the effects of a reduced-calorie diet on fat loss and serum insulin.  It makes sense that this same exercise would reduce insulin resistance and help increase the effects of a diet.  

Walking is such a simple and lower level of exertion that most people think that it could not make possible help with weight loss.  At a moderate pace, you can walk 2 miles in a half-hour.  That pace will burn 90 calories in 15 minutes or 180 in 30 minutes.  If you perform at that pace five days a week, you will burn 900 calories a week.  That minuscule change along with no dietary changes will add 1 pound of weight loss in 3.8 weeks or 13.4 pounds per year.  

The bottom line: Walking at a moderate pace can help lose and maintain fat loss.  As little as 30 minutes a day can help you lose or prevent the loss of up to 13.4 pounds a year.  Small changes can truly make a difference.  

[1]Kleist et al., “Moderate Walking Enhances the Effects of an Energy-Restricted Diet on Fat Mass Loss and Serum Insulin in Overweight and Obese Adults in a 12-Week Randomized Controlled Trial.”
  1. Kleist, Bernadette, Ursel Wahrburg, Peter Stehle, Ralph Schomaker, Andreas Greiwing, Birgit Stoffel-Wagner, and Sarah Egert. “Moderate Walking Enhances the Effects of an Energy-Restricted Diet on Fat Mass Loss and Serum Insulin in Overweight and Obese Adults in a 12-Week Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Journal of Nutrition, August 9, 2017, jn251744. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.251744
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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