Question for fitness nuts about walking & loss of inches

Mods, do your thing if this is in the wrong forum.

I’ve lost 50 pounds (out of 200 I want to lose). I’ve been faithfully exercising since late April. Recently I abandoned everything I was doing to solely concentrate on the treadmill, as a friend told me that the treadmill was the only thing that made her stomach go down. I carry most of my weight on my tummy.

So I’ve been walking 2 miles on the treadmill three times weekly. I go 3 miles an hour.

My goal is to lose inches off of my stomach and hips. I figure the weight loss will come on its own. (Since I started walking, I have noticed my stomach starting to disappear.)

Which would make me lose inches quicker:

Walking only 1 mile, but doing it 5-6 times a week,
Continuing to do 2 miles three times a week,
Or what?

Would increasing the speed help me lose inches? (3 mph is about all I can handle right now, but I can always gradually increase it.) Does the elevation of the treadmill have anything to do with it?

There’s no such thing as spot reducing. You will lose weight if you expend more calories than you take in. So, in one week if you walk 6 miles you will expend the same number of calories if you broke it down into 1 mile a day for 6 days as walking 6 miles consecutively.

Basically, it makes no difference the speed at which you perform the work. 6 miles is 6 miles, and approximately 100 calories a mile. However, if you run or run faster you actually expend a little more calories since you are actually expending more energy, in the form of high leg lifts, increased arm motion, etc. 3500 calories = one pound.

If you’re not able to increase your speed, do increase your elevation to burn more calories. If you have time to exercise every day, then do that. Try for two miles 5-6 times a week, or at least try to increase your time/distance as you go. Also do some weight work if you have access to the weights or machines. Best results are going to come from a mix of cardio and weights. While it’s true there’s no such thing as spot reducing, if you strengthen your abdominal muscles it will have the effect of supporting your frame better which will make your stomach look smaller.

I’m no expert, but my understanding is that exercising for longer periods of time rather than shorter is in the long term going to acheive better results because the longer your heartrate/metabolism is elevated the more calories you’ll burn.

IANAFitnessGuru, but advice has been printed repeatedly to the effect that doing 20 minute or more at a stretch gets your metabolism revved up, and you spend the next 4-8 hours burning more calories. Whether this is because you are building muscle cells or what I’m not clear.

Less than 15 minutes may not have the effect.

In my own case, if I walk 20-25 brisk minutes before bedtime I wake up with a hunger headache early next morning (half a small glass of juice clears up the headache in a few minutes as it is due to low blood sugar).

Very clear cause-and-effect. I read it as: the body has been metabolizing blood sugar during the night and used most of it up.


So far this year I have lost 66 pounds out of 89 I had to lose, and reduced my waist by 8 inches out of 14 I had to lose, proceeding as follows:

  1. I wear a pedometer and make sure I walk 10,000 steps every day (an increase from an average of about 8,500 a day before I started on this program). That amounts to taking my dog for a thirty-minute walk twice per day in addition to ordinary walking about.

  2. I adopted a low-carbohydrate diet. (The particular diet plan I chose was the Protein Power diet described by Eades & Eades. But I think that what I eat would in practice also conform to a ‘cavemen diet’. Despite the name, this diet is not very high in protein.) This diet lowers blood pressure, LDL, and cholesterol, inhibits blood clotting and halts atherosclerosis, as well as reducing overweight.

The amount of energy you burn in exercise depends only on what/how much exercise you do. The advantage of doing your exercise in a few sessions of some length rather than a great many short sessions is not so much that it is better for losing weight. The advantage is that it trains up cardio-vascular fitness and can stimulate the release of pituitary growth hormone (PGH). Ideally, you ought to choose a form of exercise that causes you to break a sweat, and that elevates your heart rate to 50% above your resting heartrate, and maintain that rate of exercise for at least 15-20 minutes per session. Three sessions per week are widely recommended.

I don’t do much resistance training (i.e. exercise that involves exerting muscular effort against resistance) during the winter (when it is too cold for swimming). But I ought to. But I have heard from a lot of sources that resistance is much more effective than purely aerobic exercise at stimulating the release of PGH. It [also] causes you to put on muscle, and the more muscle you have the more energy you burn both during aerobic exercise and in basal metabolism. So there are reasons to believe that you would get more out of weight work, aqua-aeerobics, swimming, or rowing than out of walking on the treadmill. A good 20-minute workout should leave some major muscle groups feeling tired.


I would walk the three days a week and lift weights twice a week. I think if you walk every day you’re going to get bored, longer workouts burn more calories (at least that’s what they’re telling us this week) and building muscle will help you burn the fat even faster (not to mention leave you with some great-looking tone once you do get rid of the fat.) I know you didn’t ask about weights, but there’s my 2 cents.

The latter, especially if it’s working.
I’ve read – and I’ve found it to be true for myself – that you start to burn stored fat at around 45 minutes of an exercise like walking. So you want to do the exercise that keeps you in the +45-minute range the longest. If you walk shorter times, your spending more of your exercise time to get to the first 45 minutes, and less in that zone.
I hope I wrote that clearly.

A fast speed burns more calories in the same amount of time. Walking uphill is more difficult than walking level, so that takes more effort, too.

Using fat as the substrate for energy requires a lot of oxygen, much more than carbohydrates. In fact, you can burn carbs without oxygen (anaerobic - which you do in sprints). So when you first start out walking or running, you will burn more carbs because you will, at first, not be getting enough oxygen to burn fat. Once your breathing gets deeper, and your body gets adjusted, and your metabolism then shifts over, you will begin to burn fat also. Hence, the slower you go the more fat you will burn, since faster paces will be getting you towards oxygen debt, necessitating more use of carbs. (Actually if you are doing sprint workouts, for the first few seconds you will be using creatine phosphate as the fuel, but that lasts no more than 10 seconds.) When you don’t get enough oxygen to convert the lactic acid back into glucose (oxygen debt), the lactic acid will build up and you will be forced to slow down.

Uh, should we really be taking fitness advice from someone named barbitu8?

Snoopy let me reiterate what others have said - you CANNOT spot-lose. If your “weight” is in your mid-section, then that’s where all your body fat is. If you lose body fat by adjusting your diet and keeping up the exercise, then you will lose the tummy. Any exercise will work for you as long as you keep your heart rate up as described above.

Congratulations on your success and incredible determination in exercise! Keep it up :smiley:

~ZJJ - down 60 lbs today!

I’m slightly biased, but cycling, cycling, cycling. Many reasons.
first is that its not as boring as walking, due to the higher speed you see more scenery. Intensity can alter day to day. I use a heart rate monitor which lets you monitor such. Third reason, Its just fun. I like mountain biking, but I’ve found I have lost a lot more flub, (about 40lbs this year) on my road bike (thank you E-bay). Give it a shot, I guarantee your treadmill will get dusty.

Hey Bubba, if the OP is trying to lose 200 pounds, they may be too large to be comfortable on a bicycle right now. But I will agree with you. I haven’t driven my car in 6 months. I bicycle everywhere, and can pretty much eat whatever I want.

I bicycled everywhere as a preteen. Loved it.

The bicycles at the gym hurt my butt, though, so it’s treadmill only for now. However I will keep your advice in mind after I’ve dumped another 30 pounds or so :smiley:

Now for another question:

My shortish-term fitness goal is to do 3 miles a day, 3 days a week. I’d like to be doing this by December or so.

I could technically do 3 miles right NOW, but not at the pace I’m going at.

So let’s say I do my 2 miles on the treadmill going 3 to 3.3 mph. After I hit the 2nd mile, I slow down to, say, 2.5mph to do the last mile.

Would this benefit me, fitness wise, at all? Will I get “credit” for that extra mile as far as weight loss goes, or would it be like I’m just moseying along and so it doesn’t even get registered and so I don’t lose any faster, get any fitter or lose any more inches?

The calories you burn depend mainly on the distance you go, but the effect that going a given distance has on your cardiovascular fitness depends on the intensity–how hard you’re working. You might want to check out HIIT, which is a favorite among bodybuilders and other people who like looking really lean.

Lifting weights to retain/improve muscle mass will allow your body to burn more calories at rest. All that exercise is great, be it walking, climbing, running, etc…

…but by building muscle mass, you will actually burn more calories just sitting around.

I would vote to add in weights/resistance training for long term success, not concern yourself with spot reduction, focus on increased heart rate and the personal challenge of whatever exercise you do and not fuss over how many inches come off when exercising. Heck, run darn marathon and you don’t even lose a pound of fat, so don’t think in such narrow terms.

It’s also worth mentioning that WHEN you exercise is a contributing factor. I’ve read in several places (although I can’t seem to find the cites atm) that you should always exercise after eating. As I recall, the body goes into a digestion mode where it slows down other body processes while it digests. If you exercise during this period, it will not only increase your metabolism (helping to digest that food faster) but it will also give you more calorie burn because your body is already expending energy towards digestion.

I would not recommend exercise after eating, except for something mild like a walk. After eating, your body wants to divert your blood to your digestive system, but if you exercise to any degree of effort, your blood has to be diverted to the working muscles, and this can cause abdominal cramping.


You’re the one thinking in narrow terms. One mile = roughly 100 calories. If you run two miles a day, in one week, you would have lost 1400 calories. In 2 1/2 weeks, you would have lost a pound. In one year, you would have lost about 20 pounds. So, if you run six miles a day, in one year you would have lost 60 pounds. That is all theoretical and all other things being equal. I’ve been averaging more than 6 miles a day for several months now and may have lost a pound or two (and I also do other exercise, such as tennis, weights, biking, and swimming). I really don’t think I’m eating more and I am really at a loss to explain why the body doesn’t lose more.

True, and I’m not knocking weight lifting, but aerobic exercises also builds muscle.

Here’s something else I’ve been wondering:

I burn 200 calories per mile, which means every time I go to the gym I’m burning 400 calories while on the treadmill.

How many extra calories altogether am I burning, though, because I walk?

I’m burning more than I normally would even after I walk, right?

Is there any way to know? Or does it depend on too many factors?

As I posted twice before, you burn 100 calories per mile, and this is roughly the same no matter the pace (although it is slightly more at a faster pace). Walking will not rev up your metabolism so that it burns more calories after you stop. Running will.