Long Slow Distance Walk


Long slow distance (LSD) walk can play very important role in losing fat. When you walk at quick pace, body starts to spend energy directly from burning fat. You would be surprised to know that body breaks carbohydrate for its energy while you run, but it spends fat if you walk at a relatively good pace. Usually, people are with the idea that running helps lose fat fast. Actually the truth is that if you run, you will spend calorie fast, but not by burning fat. As you run, muscles burn carbohydrate mostly to produce instant energy. But while you are walking, muscles burn your stored fat. Therefore, if you walk you can burn fat directly.


Slow Twitching Muscles and Fast Twitching Muscles


We have two types of muscles all over our body. One type is slow twitching muscles and the other type is fast twitching muscles. When body walks, slow twitching muscles produce energy for body. When body works fast or when we run, fast twitching muscles produce energy. Slow twitching muscles are the lean muscles. You can see them when you look at a Marathon runner. When you see heavy muscles like those of a body builder, you know that those are fast twitching muscles. You can run fast involving fast twitching muscles but you will be exhausted very soon. Fast twitching muscles use carbohydrate for making energy. Those muscles know that you cannot run for too long, so they try to use the instant energy from carbohydrate.

Slow twitching muscles can contract for long time. As you walk for long time, these muscles function. As those muscles know that body can walk for long lime, after some time, the muscles begin using stored fat to generate energy. Otherwise, the instant energy from carbohydrate will be exhausted.  

So you know now why it is better to walk than run, if you are trying to burn fat. You have to walk at a higher pace for at least 30/35 minutes. Because when you start walking, body will use carbohydrate to produce energy during first 10/15 minutes, which is variable. After 10/15 minutes, the body will start to break fat to produce energy. One very important thing here is that to optimize burning fat, you need to walk carefully at such a pace that your heart beat remains in fat burning zone. Your body will not burn fat properly if you walk too slowly. Inversely, if you walk too fast or run, you will be in cardio zone. In cardio zone, you will certainly burn more calories, most of which will come from using carbohydrate rather than fat. Learning how to calculate fat burning zone can be useful. Let me elaborate more here, but before you read further, if you want to know how to calculate fat burning zone, read my page on calculation of fat burning zone.

Walking or running - understanding of calories burned


Walking is a better option than Running when it comes to burning fat. But running isn’t a bad option.  During running your muscles burn mostly carbohydrate. When you run very fast body uses 100% carbohydrate. If you run slower, body uses less carbohydrate and some fat. The slower you run, the higher the percentage of fat to be burnt. So running is always a good exercise for losing fat. Suppose you are walking for 30 minutes at a speed for 5 miles per hour, so you will spend around 325 calories. Most of these calories will be spent by using fat. 90% of 325 calories amounts to 317 calories.


Now, on another day you are running at a speed of 15 miles per hour for 30 minutes. So you will spend almost 1275 calories. But here majority of your calories will be burnt from carbohydrate and a very small percentage (15%) of your calories will be burnt from fat. 15% of 1275 is 191 calories which is much less than 317 calories burnt from fat by walking. If you reduce the speed to 10 miles per hour and run again for 30 minutes, you will burn around 675 calories, but percentage of fat will be higher now, at around 40%. Therefore, calories you are burning from fat in this case is 270 calories (40% of 675 calories). Let us summarize the data in a table below


Running or Walking


(miles per hour)

Total Time


Total Calories

Calories burnt from fat
















So you see, running means burning more calories, but it will not ensure more fat burning. Running is also harder than walking. However, running is still good exercise for many reasons.

Click here to read more on walking vs running.


Long slow distance walk and better health


Long distance walk has both physical and spiritual benefits. Long distance walk is not just good for physical shape. It can enhance fitness and stamina. Enhanced stamina can enable a person to burn calories efficiently. Many studies link long slow distance walk with many health benefits.


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