I was a gym fanatic. Lifting six to eight times per week (yes, sometimes double sessions). I virtually lived in the gym.
Yet no matter how many crunches I completed…
No matter how many heavy compounds I crushed…
I couldn’t shed that last layer of belly fat.
Then I stumbled across the solution.
Good news: bodybuilders have proven that a simple strategy can bring out abs from under a layer of belly fat.
It’s not planning your life around exercise. Or spending your day in the gym.
So what’s the secret?
Fasted morning walks.
Now don’t let the “f word” scare you. In this guide, I will show you how a few minutes spent strategically will make you feel great and help melt away body fat with minimal effort.
Summary of the quick weight loss protocol:
- Fast for 12+ hours. Delay breakfast until after this process.
- Drink at least 2 cups of water with a pinch of salt to hydrate yourself before the walk.
- Stimulate with a cup of coffee or tea for enhanced fat burning (optional).
- Walk for about 20 minutes or 1 mile. Whichever you prefer.
- Stack with reading, an audiobook, or catching up with a friend (optional)
How It Works
1. Insulin: The Fat Burning Fuel Switch
Insulin, the growth & storage hormone, dictates what fuel to use for energy.
High insulin blocks the fat burning process (lipolysis).
In addition, you burn food calories first. Only after depleting your liver glycogen stores (12 hours of fasting) does the body shift to using body fat for fuel.
Assuming you ate dinner at a reasonable hour, by the time you wake up you’re likely near that mark.
Plan to walk before breakfast.
2. Water: Hydration Is More Than It Seems
Water alone is not hydration. In fact, too much can waterlog you. Salt is one of many abundant electrolytes in your body. And electrolytes keep your body conductive to its intricate electric impulses.
Breathing expels water. By the time you wake up, you’re already dehydrated.
So why is water before the walk so important?
- Dehydration causes an overly aggressive stress hormone release (burn muscle instead of fat).
- Hydrated fat cells expose more receptors sites for hormones to break them down (greater fat loss).
- Your liver breaks down body fat, and dehydration causes worsens its ability (long-term fat loss).
- Water sends a powerful signal to the body that there is no threat of famine (safe to burn body fat).
So what can you do?
Either get a complete electrolyte supplement, or at least add a pinch of a clean sea salt to balance your electrolytes.
3. Coffee: Stimulate Fat Burning
A small dose of coffee or green tea can add an extra boost to your fat burning routine. If you’re hydrated, the caffeine will stimulate the breakdown of fat into fatty acids for use as fuel. More fatty acids available means more energy to burn.
Limit yourself to one or two cups before the walk. Too much caffeine adds additional strain to the liver and adrenals — two key fat loss organs.
4. Burn Fatty Acids
Contrary to popular belief, slogging away at a treadmill for hours is a terrible waste of time when it comes to fat loss. As I explained in the benefits of walking 10,000 steps per day, and in running is dangerous here’s why:
- Long intense cardio spikes the stress hormone cortisol
- Sends a genetic signal for your body to store fat (nine calories per gram of fat versus four for the rest).
- Breaks down muscle for fuel instead (muscle consumes more calories)
- Doesn’t trigger the powerful regenerative growth hormone response of strength training
Anti-Aging researcher Art De Vany gives a great explanation in this interview:
Reap the benefits and no downsides. All with less effort.
A 20-minute outdoor walk is in line with most recommendations and an easily achievable goal.
5. Make the Walk Productive (or Unproductive)
Depending on how you feel, you can vary what you do on the walk. Sometimes I read, listen to an audiobook, call a friend, catch up on a favorite podcast, or do nothing at all. Walking in the present moment with no distractions can be a soothing alternative to eyes-closed meditation.
Benefits of Walking 20-Minutes Daily
Blue Zones are places with the highest average life expectancy. They do not engage in long gym sessions nor do they run triple-digit miles every week. What they do it walk. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Delaying breakfast keeps you in a low-insulin state. The free fatty acids flowing through your blood are ideal for fat loss, and the production of brain-boosting ketones.
Exposing You to Sunlight
- UV rays from the sun hitting the skin cause the body to produce vitamin D and a variety of other wonderful biochemicals.
- Don’t mind weird looks? By walking shirtless you expose more skin and thus maximize your vitamin D levels.
Aligning the Circadian Rhythm
- The sleep hormone melatonin responds strongly to light. In the morning you want to shut it down quickly. 1,000 LUX, a measure of light intensity, accomplishes exactly that. No sun, no problem. Even a cloudy day will have in the ballpark of 20,000 LUX.
- Indoor lighting isn’t enough. It ranges between a measly 50-200 LUX — insufficient to shutdown melatonin.
Fluctuating Between Hot or Cold Temperatures
- Saunas and exposure to the cold get a lot of press these days. Albeit less extreme, passive temperature fluctuations cause the body to overreact in an adaptation process known as hormesis. By wearing fewer layers in the cold (or more in the hot) climates, your body works hard to maintain a constant temperature. As a bonus, it makes you more resilient to future unpleasant temperatures.
Keeping Stress Hormones Low
- Cortisol and norepinephrine (adrenaline) are released by stressful exercise. This process is necessary for the fight-or-flight response and to provide energy for intense workouts, but comes at a cost. These hormones are catabolic meaning that they destroy tissue. A process called gluconeogenesis breaks down muscle tissue into its constituent amino acids in order to maintain stable blood glucose levels. Since most of us experience enough stress already, why tax this system further?
- Walking keeps stress hormones low.
- Can’t help but crave unhealthy foods after your morning workout? Blame cortisol. When blood sugar drops from exercise, cortisol is released to breakdown tissues and restabilize blood sugar. Processed foods spike blood sugar fast. The result? Intense cravings when blood sugar drops. A morning walk is easy on cortisol levels and keeps your diet on track.
- A quick tip for fasting: an easy walk has powerful appetite-reducing effects. Numerous hormones are optimized by walking. Give it a try next time a hunger wave hits during a fast.
- The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system responsible for eliminating toxins, waste, and cellular debris. Unlike the cardiovascular system, lymph has no heart to pump the fluid throughout the body. The best ways to circulate lymph and remove debris? Exercise and walking!
Making Unhealthy Foods Healthier
- To power your walk, the muscles burn their stores of glucose. Recall from earlier that insulin is the hormone deciding whether those calories go toward rebuilding glycogen-depleted muscles or stored away as fat. In the depleted state, insulin spiking carbohydrates are more likely to go toward rebuilding tissue than stored as fat. This can help make your post-walk breakfast healthier, but avoid going wild with your food choices: a walk only partially depletes your muscle glycogen stores.
Improving Learning and Memory
- The icing on the (keto) cake is that walking improves your ability to learn by increasing a protein dubbed “miracle-grow” for the brain. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as it is called, helps protect, grow, and regenerate brain cells.
- And that’s only one of the well-known mechanisms by which learning promotes learning.
Biohacking Fat Loss With Fasted Morning Walks
There you have it.
A quick, simple routine that shreds fat, improves cognition, and starts the day right.
This can be customized to any schedule or lifestyle.
Have a daily meeting each morning? Take it outside while you walk. Already walk to work? Bring your breakfast with you and consume it from the office.
To recap the basics:
- Skip breakfast
- Hydrate with water and a pinch of salt
- Optional: have a cup of coffee or tea
- Walk for 20 minutes or 1 mile (give or take)
- Go about your day
What does your morning routine look like?