The outdoors draw you in like a magnet. Overwhelming scents of pine and oak put you at ease.
The grace of fresh air in your lungs puts you at peace.
What’s not to love?
Now if only you could get fit doing it, too. Oh, wait. Maybe you can! Let’s find out, once and for all, does hiking burn fat?
I think it’s safe to assume you discovered this article because you want to get in shape. It’s also safe to assume you enjoy hiking (who doesn’t?) and want to see if it’s a viable way to lose fat.
There’s something magical about going out on a trail and getting a killer hike in your day. Hiking to improve your fitness is a great way to get in shape, and it’s proven that hiking builds muscle. The fact that carrying around more muscle helps burn more calories should be enough to consider hiking for fitness. Knowing this, we can probably figure that hiking burns fat, too.
Hang on a second! You came here for answers, not a hypothesis. So let’s figure out if hiking burns fat.
Always remember that each person is a bit different; what works for “Joe” might not work for “Steve”. There are several things to keep stored in the back of your mind like proper nutrition, pace, elevation, etc. Lucky for you, though, we’ll cover those topics, too.
Will Hiking Burn Fat?
Yes, hiking will burn fat. However, it’s not that clear cut. There are some other things we have to look at, first.
You see, hiking engages several leg muscles, core muscles, and can even help improve your cardiovascular health. So, aside from fat burning, hiking will also help push you into great overall health.
Hiking to lose fat is one of the most satisfying workouts you can take up. You’ll feel the burn in your quads, glutes, abs, and you’ll feel great doing it, too.
But how is fat burned from hiking, exactly? Let’s take a deep dive and look at how fat is burned from hiking.
How Fat Is Burned From Hiking?
Fat loss is the result of a caloric deficit. Simply put, a caloric deficit happens when your physical activities use more calories than what you take in from eating.
Your body is pretty good at figuring this stuff out, too—it will metabolize fat into energy when you’re in a caloric deficit. So if you’re burning more calories than you’ve consumed, your body is going to look for fat as a fuel source.
Exercising is the best way to increase your caloric deficit without eating less. Adding exercise to your daily routine will burn more calories than you would normally without activity.
When you look at the activities involved in hiking, it definitely burns calories, thus creating a caloric deficit.
Unfortunately, most of us make a wrong turn and end up eating all those calories back.
How Many Calories Does Hiking Burn?
Alright, so you want to do the math yourself. No problem!
Hiking, on average, can burn up to 400 calories an hour. Of course, this all depends on several variables like pace, weight, and duration of the hike.
That’s pretty insane when you think about. It’s crazy to imagine because running, an exercise most people dislike doing, burns about 577 calories in an hour, depending on pace.
Yes, you read that right. You can get nearly the same calories burned from hiking that you would from an uncomfortable run. And, to be fair, I’m not knocking running, here. I fully encourage hill-running and even do it, myself.
Luckily, there’s a calculator to help you estimate how many calories you will burn during a hike: http://www.nwhiker.com/calorieburn.html
The key here is to burn additional calories from hiking than you consume in food. So if you normally eat 2000 calories a day, and you eat 2000 calories a day, hiking to burn 400 calories will put you in a caloric deficit of 400 calories. This is the first step to burning fat with hiking.
Keep in mind that hiking requires a lot of energy. And even though I’ll hike fasted at times, it’s not recommended to do so for longer hikes. Always make sure you’re staying fueled with the best snacks for a day hike to keep your energy levels high. Adjust your calories accordingly through your other meals.
Does Hiking Burn Belly Fat?
Since hiking burns calories and helps put you in a caloric deficit, yes, hiking burns belly fat.
That’s the short answer. The long answer is a bit more complicated, though.
Belly fat is like that guest who moved in only for a “little while” but, over time, you started noticing more and more of his belongings showing up at your house until, suddenly, he was living with you full-time.
When you lose fat, your body sheds the pounds from all over your body. Unfortunately, you don’t get to pick and choose where it comes from. Keep in mind, you can’t target, or “spot-reduce” belly fat. Plain and simple.
Even though hiking burns belly fat, all that work will go to waste if you’re not adopting a proper nutrition plan. Always remember the classic saying, “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”
Want To Shape Up? Consider Hiking
If you enjoy hiking and want to shed some fat without being cramped up in a stuffy gym, I fully encourage hiking to lose fat.
Because of its enjoyable nature and the environment, it takes place in, using hiking for fat loss feels like cheating. Don’t worry, it’s not! That’s just what it feels like when you consider how fun of an exercise it is compared to how many calories it burns.
Hiking is not only great for your physical health but your mental health, too. It’s the perfect way to not feel bored when you’re working out.
So what are you waiting for? Put on your hiking boots and hit the trails. With consistency and the right nutrition, you’ll see that fat melt off in no time!