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Hiking For Weight Loss

Hiking is a fantastic way to lose weight if that is your goal. The number of calories burned hiking is quite high especially when large elevation gains are involved. You can burn more calories on a hike compared to a regular walk. And, as a bonus, you get to enjoy nature and hiking views at the same time. Hiking is good for the body and mind. A win-win scenario! If you haven’t tried it, and you’re packing a few extra pounds that you don’t want, hiking for weight loss is something you might want to consider. I know hiking works to lose weight quickly because I have lost 3o+ pounds twice in a matter of months by hitting the trails. Once in my twenties, and again in my thirties. It’s unbelievable how effective hiking can be to get in pretty awesome shape and quickly.

It is super difficult to ingest the high number of calories that you burn during a full day of rigorous hiking. This has been proven by thru-hiking. Thru-hikers struggle to consume more calories than they burn each day on the trails. Eventually, they must scale up their daily caloric intake.

On average, to maintain body weight, women should consume about 2000 calories per day, while men should consume 2500 calories per day.

On a full-day hike, you can expect to burn between 2000-5000 calories. The final count will depend on the intensity of the hike. Easier, flatter hikes will land closer to 2000 calories. A more difficult hike with challenging terrain and big elevation gains will burn over 3500 calories.

If you do the math, you can see how effective hiking can be to lose weight. Especially if you get out on the trails regularly. To shed weight rapidly it is recommended to hike 3 days or more per week and for at least 2 hours per hike.

hiking for weight loss

Top 15 Hiking For Weight Loss Tips

Hiking will definitely help you lose weight if you are consistent. However, there are a few things that you can do while hiking that will accelerate weight loss. These are our top hiking for weight loss tips.

1) Count your calories

To start, make sure you are not consuming too many calories.

Only eat what you need based on your age and activity level.

Then, the calories burned hiking will have the most impact.

Check out these rough guidelines for a starting point.

2) Go easy on post-hike celebrations (food + drink)

After a big hike, it’s tempting to throw back some beers or eat some unhealthy food. Especially, if you hike with a group. Celebrating is fun to do on occasion. But, be careful. Avoid using food and alcohol as a reward for completing a big hike. You can quickly fall into a habit of simply burning and consuming more calories. If you want to lose weight by hiking the goal should be to have a slight caloric deficit after each hike. Then you will gradually lose weight in a safe way over time.

3) Power hike

Challenge yourself with difficult hikes. Of course, keep it within reason based on your current age and fitness level.

You will burn more calories and lose more weight if you do hikes that have rigorous terrain and elevation gains.

As you get stronger, try more difficult hikes. The more difficult the hikes, the more calories burned hiking.

4) Move fast uphill

Power up hills and elevation gains. Run or walk more quickly to burn more calories. The calories burned while hiking will increase quite a bit if you move fast.

5) Move slow downhill

On the downslope, slow your pace down. This will force you to work your muscles harder and increase the caloric burn. It will also be easier on your joints.

6) Use trekking poles (move your arms)

If you move your whole body while hiking you will burn more calories. Focus on using your legs and your arms as you go.

One way to accomplish this is to use trekking poles. If you hike with trekking poles you will be sure to move both your legs and arms and thus your whole body. Trekking poles can also help you to prevent injury.

7) Don’t starve yourself

Hiking is super hard work.

You need protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to keep you going.

Fuel your body with adequate food and water before, during and after your hikes.

Eat snacks and sip water frequently as you go. You need the energy provided by food and water to keep your body moving efficiently over a full day of hiking. Hiking hungry or thirsty is never fun.

There’s a saying in business, ” you need money to make money”. And, for hiking, “you need calories to burn calories”. Haha. Simple, right?

8) Take extra water (and gear)

If you take extra water you will be carrying extra weight. This will make you work harder and burn more calories over the day.

Also, you will probably need it. Many beginner hikers do not take enough water. I never return from a hike with leftover water even when I take a little extra in my hiking daypack.

The other thing you can do that will help you lose weight hiking is carry more gear. That sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it? Especially to ultralight gear fanatics, I am sure. Most hikers, primarily newcomers and beginners don’t bring the gear they really need to be safe and to be comfortable on hikes.

Take a look at our hiking gear checklist and our hiking clothing checklist. Also, review our ten essentials of hiking article. Do you carry much (or any) of the recommended gear? Depending on your hiking style, there is a collection of gear to bring along. Dial into your ultimate list. Taking the gear you may need will add extra weight to your pack. If you are consistently carrying more weight you will get into shape much more quickly.

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It’s amazing how much difficult a hike can become by adding just 1 or 2 pounds to your pack. I can notice the difference between bringing my “real camera” vs. just my mobile phone to take pictures on my hike. If I take my camera and an extra lens, I slow down. However, I am working harder. So, think about taking a few extras next time you are out on the hiking trails.

9) Track your progress

Use apps (Hiking Project or AllTrails) to track your progress.

As you see your miles, elevation gains and the calories you burn add up over time you will feel compelled to do even more. As your speed or pace increases, you will feel driven to make improvements and work harder and faster. Go for it!

10) Hike more

Hike more, and get in better shape. I find that as my body gets into better shape I want to improve even more whether that is to get stronger, faster, or conquer more difficult hikes. Over time, I crave more physical fitness. Eventually, you have lost all the weight you wanted to and are now in great shape. Goal accomplished.

Hiking is good for your mental health too. The more you hike, the happier you will become over time. I always feel totally exhilarated after a big hike. Nothing but smiles.

If you hike more often, you will likely find that unhealthy habits (eating, drinking, general lack of exercise) decline or disappear from your life entirely.

11) Hike in the Winter

Winter hiking, is much more difficult. Plowing through the snow takes more effort. Thus, it is easier to lose weight while hiking in Winter. The deeper the snow the more calories burned while hiking. Plus, Winter hiking gives you the opportunity to experience your favorite trails in a completely different way. Snowy.

Get yourself some Winter hiking gear, Winter hiking boots or snowshoes and hike all year round!

12) Incorporate strength training with your hikes

If you want to step it up a notch, do other exercises during your hike.

This will help you isolate important muscles, burn more calories, and become a more powerful hiker.

You can easily switch gears by doing some:

13) Hike up greater elevation gains

Hiking uphill burns calories faster. The steeper the grade means that you don’t have to hike as far to see results. Or, just hike steep and far for maximum results. Hiking down from the high elevations also is more difficult than flat terrain, thus you will burn more calories on the downslope too. Bonus.

14) Travel…and hike

Beautiful places draw you in, and they give you extra energy.

Consider mixing up your vacations with places that you can also hike. You will burn way more calories hiking while you travel compared to relaxing on a beach.

15) Focus on the experience (and less on weight loss)

If you hike 3 times per week or more and eat (and drink) healthy you will definitely lose weight. If you are consistent, it can happen in a matter of months.

Keep your focus on the experience of being in the outdoors and appreciating nature and scenery. Do some research, and pick out the best scenic hikes. Once you get started you won’t stop.

That concludes our story on hiking for weight loss.

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Yes, Hiking Can Help You Lose Weight (Based on Science)

can hiking help you lose weight

We all want to lose weight, but going to the gym can easily become extremely repetitive. Sooner than later, the gym becomes more of a chore than a goal, and we quickly lose all motivation.

Overall, hiking is a great form of exercise that can help you lose weight. The inclined trails force your body to burn more calories than walking on flat ground and primarily target adipose tissue (fat). When combined with a proper diet, fat loss is accelerated.

Allow me to explain in further detail.

Can Hiking Help You Lose Weight?

When I was in college, I was a pre-med major. My goal was to be a general practitioner. However, for my undergrad I was studying Exercise Science in order to get my BS and then transfer to med school.

In the end I chose an alternative route, but many of the concepts I learned in those courses can be applied to this post. One specific topic I clearly recall was the effects of low intensity exercise, such as walking and hiking, on body fat.

As you can see in this study , individuals successfully reduced body fat levels by walking for 30 minutes on a daily basis for 12 weeks. If you can reduce body fat by simply walking, you can do it as well while hiking.

However, there’s a catch. You must combine hiking with an adequate amount of calories. Which I will explain in the next section.

How Does Hiking Help You Lose Weight

There’s a few terms you need to learn to understand how hiking can help you lose weight.

I will define the following terms according to Michael Matthews in his amazing book Bigger Leaner Stronger (which I personally use for strength training).

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) simply means the number of calories your body burns when you’re completely idle. By idle I don’t mean lazy such as watching TV or playing video games. I mean literally as if your body was completely immobilized.
  • The second term is Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). TDEE is defined as the amount of calories you burn from physical activity PLUS your BMR. Your TDEE will change on a daily basis depending on how intense of an exercise or work you performed.
  • Caloric Deficit means your body is in a state in which you have consumed less calories than your TDEE. For example, if your TDEE is 3000 calories but you’ve only consumed 2800, your body is in a caloric deficit.
  • Caloric Surplus is the complete opposite. If you have consumed more calories than your TDEE, you’re officially in a caloric surplus. For example, you consumed 3300 calories, but your TDEE is 3000.

In order to burn fat you must maintain your body in a caloric deficit on a daily basis. If you do, your body will target and burn adipose tissue (body fat) to provide you with sufficient energy to survive.

The opposite is also true, if you remain in a caloric surplus for extended periods of time, you will store the extra calories as fat and therefore gain weight.

Hiking increases your TDEE and thus, makes it much easier for you to remain in a caloric deficit.

I know that was a lot to take in in one section, but I promise I will make it easier for you. If you want to calculate your TDEE all you have to do is click on this link right here and it will take you to a calculator which will do all the work for you.

Once you’ve calculated your TDEE all you have to do is eat less calories, and here’s the best part, you don’t have to adhere to any strict diets! You don’t have to use the keto diet, or the zero carb diet, none of those fads.

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You can eat WHATEVER you want and still lose weight as long as you remain in a caloric deficit everyday!

Michael suggest a calorie deficit of 25%. For example, if your TDEE is 3000 calories, your daily target would be 2250 calories. At 25% you can put a significant dent in your body fat levels without feeling like you’re starving.

Can You Lose Weight By Hiking Once a Week

I get this question quite frequently because most of us can only hike on the weekends. The short answer is yes, as long as you remain in a caloric deficit throughout the week.

Allow me to share a quick story about a friend whom I used to mountain bike with. This guy was roughly 30 years old at the time, and he used to ride circles around me.

In a day, I’d complete about 6 runs down the mountain at the Snow Summit bike park while he’d easily complete 10-12, but he was still overweight.

I wondered for so long why that was the case. Then it hit me. His stamina was amazing because he’d bike like a madman once a week, but he would eat excessively the rest of the week.

The same holds true for hiking only once a week. If you’re constantly in a caloric surplus, it doesn’t matter how intensely you exercise, especially if it’s only once a week.

Does Hiking Help You Lose Belly Fat

Yes, hiking will help you lose belly fat. Just keep in mind, hiking will not help you lose ONLY belly fat. That’s not how fat loss works.

When you begin to lose weight, your body will burn fat stored throughout your entire body. Unfortunately, you can’t burn only fat in your arms or legs and keep it in your butt (sorry ladies).

Depending on your genetic makeup, you will store body fat more easily in certain parts of your body. Some of us store more fat underneath our chin, others in their pecs, but generally speaking, belly fat, especially lower belly fat, is very stubborn and will require extra effort to burn.

But don’t give up. Maintain a caloric deficit and you will acquire the body you’ve always wanted.

How Much Weight Can I Lose While Hiking

This is such a difficult question to answer because everyone’s body is completely different, but I will do my very best to provide you with the most accurate response possible by once again referencing author and personal trainer Michael.

In his book he writes about a study at the University of Jyvaskyla. In this study two groups of sprinters were observed for 4 weeks. One group maintained a 12% calorie deficit while the second group maintained a 25% calorie deficit.

After 4 weeks, the first group lost very little fat and muscle. However, the second group lost on average 4 pounds.

If you maintain a 25% calorie deficit, add the calories you burn while hiking, and take into consideration the fact that you’ll easily burn more fat because you’re (probably) not a high level athlete, it’s safe to conclude that you can burn AT MINIMUM (not average) 4 pounds, but more like 4-6 pounds per month.

However, the more often you hike the more weight you’re likely to lose.

It may not seem like a lot. But multiply 5 x 12 months and you get a total weight loss of 60 pounds in one year. That’s a very radical transformation for any individual.

How Many Calories Are Burned While Hiking

Once again, this question does not have a universal answer, but we can get a pretty accurate understanding of how many calories a person burns based off of their total body weight.

I borrowed the following table from Healthline, which takes into consideration how many calories a person burns an hour according to their respective weight and the steepness of a trail.

How To Accelerate Weight Loss While Hiking

If you want to increase the quantity of calories you burn when you go hiking, try the following tips.

  • Add more weight to your backpack so as long as you don’t feel discomfort or back pain. Carrying more weight on the trail will require your body to produce more energy, and as we already know, more energy means more calories burned. If you’re planning a short hike and don’t need a backpack I highly suggest investing in a weighted vest. A weighted vest will distribute the weight more comfortably throughout your upper body but still force you to burn more calories.
  • Choose steep trails to hike. I prefer hiking steep trails over adding more weight to my backpack for various reasons. First of all, steep trials get your heart pumping, which means you’re also improving your cardiovascular system. But if that’s not enough, adding more weight to your backpack can potentially cause unnecessary stress to your knees in the long run. If you can, choose steep trails over more weight.
  • Hike faster! One way to increase the intensity of any exercise is to perform it faster. If you hike just a tad bit faster than your normal average speed, you’ll notice yourself breaking a sweat. That’s because you’re using more calories to move more quickly.
  • The last tip I have for you if you want to burn more calories on your hikes is to simply choose longer hikes! The longer you’re out hiking, the more calories you’re going to burn.

I hope this post has helped you grasp a good understanding of the correlation between hiking and weight loss. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at . I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Also, feel free to check out this other post I wrote regarding hiking and muscle building.

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Hello, There!

I’m Phillip, and just like you, I feel very passionate about California and the outdoors. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, I thought I’d share them with you. Life goes by fast so get out there and enjoy it.

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Will Hiking Three Times a Week Help You Lose Weight?

Rear view of a Woman hiking to a waterfall in a red rock canyon

Hiking is one of the best ways to lose weight. Not only do you burn more calories than you do going on a simple walk, but you get to enjoy the beauty of the natural setting where you are hiking.

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Hiking can become much more than an exercise you do in order to lose weight — it can become an obsession, or at the very least, a treasured activity.

Hiking three times a week will help you lose weight depending on the length of your hikes, the terrain and your diet. All three are important parts of the likelihood of you losing weight.

Weight-Loss Variables

Many different variables affect how much weight you will lose by hiking on a regular basis. Your diet, your current weight and the terrain where you hike can all affect your results. One thing is for certain, however; if you eat the appropriate number of calories for your height, age and gender while hiking on a regular basis, you’ll start to see your extra pounds disappear.

Harvard Health advises that you calculate the number of calories you need per day to maintain your weight —multiply your current weight by 15 —and then subtract 500 to 1000 calories, depending on whether you’re looking to lose one to two pounds a week. It’s a juggling act though because you need calories to fuel a hiking habit.

Hiking vs. Walking

Hiking burns considerably more calories than walking, and if you previously stuck to walks around the neighborhood for exercise, you are likely to see a pronounced increase in weight loss. A 185-pound person who hikes for two hours can burn 1,064 calories according to Harvard Health, provided the terrain is hilly. If the same person spends two hours walking on flat terrain, she will burn approximately 712 calories. Over the course of a week, if you hike for a total of six hours, you will lose almost 1/2 pound more than the walker.

Terrain Affects Calories

Hiking is an efficient way to exercise. The steeper the grade that you hike, the fewer miles you will need to hike in order to see results. For example, if you walk at a 20 percent uphill grade for six miles, the resulting energy expenditure is the same as if you’d walked 18.9 flat miles. Terrain vastly affects the number of calories you will burn hiking, and thus, the amount of weight you will lose. Brian Mac Sports Coach advocates hill training as a means to condition athletes. The theory is that your own bodyweight is used as resistance and your legs have to work harder.

Overall Weight Loss

A 185-pound person who hikes three times a week for two hours each outing is likely to lose approximately 1 pound per week if the calories consumed are the number required to maintain weight. Keep in mind that you may lose less if you weigh less or more if your weight is higher. To increase weight loss, do a couple of long hikes every month. Consider backpacking, which burns even more calories due to the extra weight you are carrying. Remember, people who weigh more burn more calories says Mayo Clinic. You can have a lot of fun hiking to a remote camping spot and hiking out the next day — burning plenty of calories the entire time.




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