Walking is a simple, effective way to lose weight. Walking after a meal? Done strategically, that's a terrific weight loss habit too, said Erin Coates, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. It's pretty simple, she explained. "You are burning extra calories for every extra minute walked."
Why Walking After a Meal Helps You Lose Weight
The "after a meal" part is a big part of it, too. Erin pointed out that a small 2013 study showed that walking on a treadmill for just 15 minutes after a meal resulted in smaller blood sugar spikes in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes. Those blood sugar spikes can lead right to weight gain, so limiting them as much as possible is great news for anyone trying to shed pounds. And, as another study demonstrated, walking after eating can help food move through your system. "This might reduce symptoms of reflux and improve satiety," Erin told POPSUGAR. And if you feel full, you'll be less likely to overeat to the point of weight gain.
But it's important to remember that post-meal walking, though helpful, won't result in a ton of weight loss on its own. To see results, you should aim to walk three to five times a week for about 30 minutes at a time. Weightlifting two to three times a week will also help you build lean muscle, which boosts your metabolism and helps you burn calories (and lose weight) at rest. And beyond exercise, Erin said, you'll need to eat a healthy diet. Aim for a slight calorie deficit, avoid processed foods (which can lead to weight gain), and incorporate as many vegetables as you can.
Now, back to walking . . .
How Long Should I Walk After a Meal to Lose Weight?
"Strive for at least 15 minutes of post-meal walking to get the most benefit in digestion and blood sugar control," Erin said. And to maximize weight-loss potential, she added, try to walk within an hour of your meal.
One caveat to that, though: "It's important to keep activity moderate to light," Erin said. "Intense or more vigorous training can hinder digestion because more blood flow will go to your muscles versus digestion." Take stock of how your stomach feels after a meal and how it responds to walking. If you don't have digestive issues, you can head out right after you finish eating. Otherwise, give it 15 to 20 minutes or even a little longer, especially if you had a meal rich in protein or fat (which take longer to digest).
Walking after eating is a fantastic way to exercise, boost your mood (thank you, endorphins!) and manage your weight, Erin said. "This might not be the only thing that helps you lose weight," she told POPSUGAR, "but it is certainly a habit that might contribute to such a result."