We’ve all heard that walking is a great low-impact way to exercise and stay healthy. It can clear your mind, improve your mood, and increase your fitness level. It’s even supposed to be able to help you lose weight. But does walking burn muscle at the same time?
It’s true that walking can burn muscle. However, there are ways to prevent this: by walking at a moderate pace, fueling your body correctly, and adding weight training to your walks, you can maintain or even build your muscle mass rather than decreasing it.
In the rest of this article, we’ll talk more about whether walking will affect your muscle gains and how you can make sure you don’t lose muscle mass while you’re walking.
Will Walking Affect My Muscle Gains?
Too much cardio without the correct diet and amount of weight training can burn muscle as well as fat. If you put your body under enough stress while doing cardio, it will switch from burning strictly fat to burning muscle as well.
When you walk at a quick pace and get your heart rate up, walking can be a source of cardio. Because of this, you can burn muscle instead of fat if you don’t structure your diet and walking workouts correctly.
This is especially true if you are in a large calorie deficit and aren’t eating enough protein. Protein helps to protect and build muscles; without it, your body will use muscle mass as fuel.
However, since walking is a lower-impact exercise than running or swimming, it’s harder to burn muscle instead of fat. You would need to walk at a very quick pace for a long time, maintain a large caloric deficit, and keep your protein intake low. You should still take the necessary precautions to protect your hard-earned muscle.
Does Walking Burn Fat Or Build Muscle?
Walking can be an efficient, low-impact way to burn fat. Even walking a small amount can help you burn fat. However, there are ways to increase the fat-burning potential of your walks: walk faster, longer, and add some hills into your walking route. Doing these things will elevate your heart rate, which burns more calories, resulting in more fat burned.
While you can build a small amount of muscle by walking, it’s not the most efficient muscle-building activity. While walking works your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads, it doesn’t put these muscles under enough stress to actively build muscle.
If you’re looking to build muscle while walking, you can wear a weighted vest to increase the amount of muscle you’ll build while walking. You can also add in some steep hills to challenge your leg muscles.
How Can I Walk Without Losing Muscle?
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent losing muscle mass when adding walking to your workout routine. By taking certain precautions, you can make sure you burn fat instead of muscle.
First, you should make sure you’re eating enough protein. According to this study, upping your protein intake can help maintain muscle mass, even during periods of weight loss.
Protein is an important part of muscle repair and growth. If you’re not eating enough, your body will break down muscle as well as fat when you’re exercising.
This study found that increasing your protein intake to 1.4-2 grams per kilogram of body weight can prevent muscle loss while working out regularly. This is a bit higher than the 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight recommendation for those who are not actively working to lose weight, so plan to add more sources of protein to your diet to make sure you don’t lose muscle mass.
According to the same study, eating enough protein can also help you burn more fat. Protein takes more effort for your body to process, meaning you’ll burn more calories, helping to increase the effectiveness of your walking workout.
You should also make sure you’re allowing yourself to rest after your workouts. If you push yourself too hard on your walks without taking rest days, your body won’t have enough time to recover, and you will lose muscle.
The final step to making sure you don’t burn fat by walking is making sure you add weight training workouts to your routine. Lifting weights two to three times a week can help to offset any loss in muscle mass you may experience while walking.