Hiking Your Way to Fitness: Can Hiking Burn Fat?

Can Hiking Burn Fat - Hiking through Rugged Terrain

Hiking is a popular outdoor activity that offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. From reducing stress levels to improving cardiovascular fitness, hiking has proven to be an effective workout for people of all ages and fitness levels. But can it also aid in weight loss?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the relationship between hiking and weight loss, and whether hiking can be an effective exercise for those looking to shed some pounds. We’ll examine the science behind hiking as a form of exercise, share tips on how to maximize your calorie burn while hitting the trails, and discuss some common misconceptions about hiking and weight loss.

So grab your backpack, lace up your boots, and let’s hit the trail to discover if hiking is indeed a good exercise for weight loss!

Calorie Burning: A Look Into How It Works

Hiking as a workout

To achieve weight loss, the equation is simple – burn more calories than you consume. The concept behind this is that calories are a unit of energy used to measure the energy gained from food sources such as carbs, protein, and fat. Any excess of calories not used for bodily functions like breathing and digestion are stored in our body as protein, carbs, and fat.

When you consume protein, your body can convert it into muscle instead of burning it for energy. As a result, protein calories are less likely to be burned during exercise. Instead, your body typically relies on stored carbohydrates and fats to provide the energy needed for physical activity.

By creating a calorie deficit through exercise and diet, you can encourage your body to burn stored energy and promote weight loss. 

Low-intensity vs. high-intensity workouts

Climbing the mountain while hiking

Hiking is often considered a low-intensity workout, which means that the majority of calories burned during this activity come from fat. This makes hiking an excellent exercise choice for those looking to lose weight, as burning fat is typically a primary goal. While low-intensity workouts tend to burn a higher proportion of calories from fat compared to other sources, high-intensity exercises can result in greater overall calorie burn.

Related reading: Is Hiking Better Than Running? A Comprehensive Comparison

During high-intensity workouts, like uphill sprints, your body tends to rely on its most easily accessible energy sources for fuel. This means that not only fat but also carbohydrates and even muscle can be burned for energy. However, the unique benefit of high-intensity exercises is that your body will continue to burn calories long after you finish working out.

This is because a significant amount of energy is required to repair muscles and replenish carbohydrates, resulting in more calories burned from fat over time.

Factors That Affect Calorie Burning While Hiking

Enjoying scenic view while hiking

The number of calories you burn while hiking can vary based on several factors. Here are some things to keep in mind:


The type of terrain you’re hiking on can have a big impact on how many calories you burn. Hiking uphill or on rough terrain requires more effort and therefore burns more calories than walking on flat ground.


Your body weight also plays a role in how many calories you burn while hiking. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to move, which means you’ll burn more calories.

Pack Weight

If you’re carrying a backpack or other gear, that extra weight will also increase the number of calories you burn. However, be careful not to overload yourself – carrying too much weight can lead to injury.


Finally, the speed at which you hike will affect how many calories you burn. Generally speaking, the faster you hike, the more energy your body will use and the more calories you’ll burn.

By keeping these factors in mind and tailoring your hikes accordingly, you can maximize your calorie-burning potential and achieve your weight loss goals. So grab your hiking boots and hit the trails!


Your weight and the grade of the trail you choose dramatically affects how many calories you burn during a hike. To maximize your calorie burning potential, opt for trails with steep grades as they can help you torch even more calories per hour!

Strategies for Burning Body Fat and Losing Weight While Hiking

Hiking over flat terrain

If you’re looking to burn body fat and lose weight while hiking, there are a few strategies you can implement to help achieve your goals.

Calorie balance

One of the most important factors in weight loss is calorie balance. This means that you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight. Hiking is a great way to burn calories, as it is a form of cardiovascular exercise that can be quite intense depending on the terrain.

Choosing difficult hikes

One of the best ways to burn fat while hiking is to choose difficult trails. Steep inclines and uneven terrain require more energy and effort, which means more calories burned. So next time you hit the trails, opt for a challenging route instead of a leisurely stroll.

Using trekking poles

Using hiking poles while hiking

Trekking poles can help you burn up to 20% more calories while hiking. They engage your upper body muscles, increase your heart rate, and improve your balance, all of which contribute to a more intense workout.

Related reading: What Are The Benefits Of Using Walking Poles

Moving fast uphill and slow downhill

When hiking uphill, pick up the pace to get your heart rate up and maximize calorie burn. On the way down, slow down to reduce impact on your joints and prevent injury.

Packing plenty of water and gear

Staying hydrated is crucial for weight loss and overall health. Bring plenty of water with you on your hike to stay hydrated and energized.

Related reading: The Best Way To Carry Water While Hiking

Combine with Other Physical Activities

While hiking is an excellent way to burn fat on its own, combining it with other physical activities can accelerate weight loss even further. Consider adding strength training or cardio exercises into your routine for maximum results.

Hiking is an enjoyable way to lose weight that doesn’t feel like exercise at all. By choosing challenging trails, using trekking poles, varying your speed based on terrain, staying hydrated, and combining with other physical activities you can maximize the benefits of this fun outdoor activity!

Training between hikes

Enjoying the scenery while Hiking

Hiking is a fantastic way to burn body fat and lose weight, but did you know that training between hikes can help you maximize your results? Here are some strategies for incorporating training into your routine to help you burn more calories and achieve your weight loss goals:

Strength Training

Strength training is an excellent way to build muscle, which increases your metabolism and helps you burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. Incorporate strength exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks into your routine on days when you’re not hiking.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise like running, cycling, or swimming can help improve your endurance and cardiovascular health while burning calories. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise on most days of the week.

HIIT Workouts

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts are a great way to maximize calorie burn in a short amount of time. These workouts involve alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. Consider incorporating HIIT workouts into your routine on days when you’re not hiking.


Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, balance, and core strength while reducing stress. It’s also an effective way to burn calories – in fact, some types of yoga can burn up to 500 calories per hour! Consider adding yoga classes or online videos to your routine on days when you’re not hiking.

By incorporating these types of training into your routine between hikes, you can increase your overall calorie burn and accelerate weight loss. Remember to also maintain a healthy diet and stay hydrated throughout the day for optimal results!

Hiking vs. Other Workouts for Weight Loss

Hiking versus Running

If you’re looking for a workout that can help you lose weight hiking, running and cycling are great options. Here’s how they compare:

Benefits of Hiking for Weight Loss

  • Low-impact: Hiking is easier on your joints than running, making it a great option for those with joint pain or injuries.
  • Scenic: Hiking allows you to enjoy nature and beautiful scenery while getting exercise.
  • Builds endurance: Hiking uphill or on uneven terrain can help build endurance and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Burns calories: Depending on the intensity and duration of your hike, you can burn a significant amount of calories.

Benefits Of Running For Weight Loss

  • High-intensity: Running is a high-intensity workout that can help you burn more calories in less time.
  • Builds strength: Running can help build leg muscles and improve overall strength.
  • Improves cardiovascular health: Running can improve heart health and lung capacity.
  • Convenient: You can run almost anywhere, making it easy to fit into your schedule.

Benefits of Cycling for Weight Loss

  • High-intensity: Cycling can be a high-intensity workout that burns calories quickly.
  • Builds leg muscles: Cycling can help build leg muscles and improve overall strength.
  • Low-impact: Like hiking, cycling is a low-impact exercise that is easy on your joints.
  • Convenient: Cycling can be done indoors or outdoors, making it easy to fit into your schedule.

Ultimately, the best option for weight loss depends on your personal preferences and fitness level. If you enjoy being outdoors and want a low-impact workout with scenic views, hiking may be the way to go. If you prefer a high-intensity workout that builds leg muscles and strength, cycling or running may be the better option.

Can Hiking Burn Belly Fat?

Hiking through rugged terrain

Hiking can help with overall weight loss and can contribute to reducing belly fat, but it won’t specifically target belly fat. When you exercise, your body burns calories from all over, including your belly fat. However, spot reduction of fat in specific areas is not possible. To lose belly fat, it’s important to combine exercise with a healthy diet that is low in processed foods and high in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

In addition to hiking or other forms of cardio exercise, incorporating strength training into your routine can also help reduce belly fat by increasing muscle mass and boosting metabolism.

Tracking progress with an app

To accurately track the calories you burn while hiking, consider using a hiking watch with a built-in heart rate monitor. These watches can provide real-time updates on the number of calories burned during your hike. However, if you don’t have access to this technology, there are other methods you can use. For example, you can use the Mayo Clinic’s calorie calculator to determine your daily caloric needs based on your age, height, and current weight. This will give you a baseline for the number of calories you typically burn in a day. From there, you can estimate how many additional calories you’re burning during your hike based on factors such as duration and intensity.

Another online tool that can help you calculate the calories burned during your hike is Calories Burned HQ. This calculator takes into account the weight of your backpack, the distance and duration of your hike, and the type of terrain you encountered. In addition, this specific calculator also asks for the average incline of your hike as steeper hills tend to burn more calories. It also considers the general terrain you covered to provide a more accurate estimate of your calorie expenditure.

Can Hiking Burn Calories? Final words

In conclusion, hiking can be a great exercise for weight loss, provided that it is done consistently and with the right approach. By incorporating steep inclines, varying terrain, and heavier backpacks, hikers can maximize their calorie burn while enjoying the great outdoors. However, it’s important to keep in mind that hiking alone may not be enough to achieve significant weight loss results.

A balanced diet and other forms of exercise should also be incorporated into one’s lifestyle for optimal health benefits. Overall, hiking is a fun and rewarding way to stay active and healthy while exploring nature. So get out there and start hiking your way to a healthier you!