• Alicia Filley

Hiking for Weight Loss? Try These 4 Easy Ways to Boost Your Burn on the Trail


As a hiking coach, I get asked frequently if hiking is a good way to lose weight. The answer is a bit more complex than a simple yes or no.


HIking îs a great activity to foster physical fitness. Hiking burns more calories than walking on a level surface, strengthens leg muscles, works the core, and challenges balance. To lose a pound a week, you'll need to have at least a 500 calorie deficit every day. That can come from decreasing your intake by 500 calories or increasing your activity to burn 500 calories. Hiking for one hour can but from 300-600 calories, depending on your weight, the difficulty and pitch of the trail, and the amount of weight you're carrying in your pack. You could, therefore, reach your calorie burn goal by doing one hour of hiking per day.


While most of us would love to hike for an hour every day, it's not often realistic. And, a three to four-hour hike on the weekend won't make up for no activity for the last several days. Therefore, the best activity for weight loss is the one you're able to do each day. Hiking can certainly be a part of this plan but know that you will probably need to supplement that with other activities which fit into your schedule.


When you do hit the trail, here are some ways to boost your calorie expenditure and make the most of your time trekking:

  1. Carry a heavy load - You can load up your backpack or day pack or use a rucksack with weighted plates to increase the load you have to move. A heavier load requires you to work harder and burns more calories.

  2. Use trekking poles - Using hiking or trekking poles can boost calorie expenditure up to 10% by getting the arms involved in the action.

  3. Increase your pace - Walking faster increases your heart rate and thus burns more calories. This method works especially well if you live in a flat area. A quicker cadence also means you can cover more distance in the same amount of time - a double win in the calorie burn game.

  4. Get in an uphill climb - Hiking uphill makes you work harder and burns more calories than walking on a level surface. Take advantage of any hills or stairs to use more calories.

Interested in an individualized plan to help you learn how to eat on and off the trail and meet your weight loss goals? Let's talk about how The Healthy Hiker Virtual Training Program can help you!

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