Can Hiking Make You Gain Weight? (Explained)

Can Hiking Make You Gain Weight

Hiking is a popular outdoor exercise that helps to maintain a healthy body. Many people go on hiking trips to burn some amount of calories.

However, some people might discover they gained weight after a hiking trip. This situation can leave you doubting since hiking should help you lose weight.

When this happens, you don’t need to worry too much. This article will help you know if hiking can make you gain weight.

Hiking can make you gain weight. You gain weight after hiking because your body converts fat to muscle. These muscles accumulate in your body, and muscle is much denser than body fat. In addition, hiking can make you gain weight because your body retains water as it stores glycogen, which causes weight gain.

In this article, I will explain if hiking can make you gain weight, why you gain weight from hiking, how to avoid gaining weight after hiking, and if hiking can tone your body.

By the end, you’ll also understand why you get bloated after hiking.

Can Hiking Make Me Gain Weight?

Can Hiking Make You Gain Weight

Hiking can make you gain weight due to certain factors. However, weight gain is a common occurrence among hikers.

Although the weight gain varies for each hiker, you will likely drop the weight again within a few days.

Weight gain among hikers is a side effect of strenuous exercises like hiking. However, it is a muscle weight gain and not a fat gain.

It is normal for most hikers to lose weight after a hiking trip, but there are explanations for why you are gaining weight.

Why Am I Gaining Weight From Hiking?

Weight gain from hiking is usually due to increased muscle mass and water weight, metabolism, and increased consumption of high-calorie foods.

Each of these factors impacts the weight of any hiker. However, the increase in muscle mass is something good.

Below are explanations of how each factor causes weight gain from hiking.

#1. Increased Muscle Mass

Strenuous activities like hiking help you work on your muscles, making them stronger.

When you perform such activities, the accumulated fat weight in your body converts to muscle weight. This muscle weight is denser than body fat weight.

So, the muscle weight will make you weigh more than you did with normal body fat. In addition, the muscles help boost your metabolism.

Therefore, you tend to burn more calories during hiking when you have more muscles in your body. 

However, this increase in burning calories will make you feel hungry frequently and cause you to eat more.

This muscle weight gain is beneficial because it gives you a well-shaped look and increases stamina and strength.

#2. Increased Water Weight

Hiking regularly can boost your body’s ability to accumulate and store muscle glycogen. This boost can temporarily cause you to gain weight, which is water weight.

You gain weight after hiking because water also accumulates glycogen stores in your body.

Each ounce of glycogen can make your body store about three ounces of water. Therefore, eating more carbohydrates would make you gain weight.

In addition, drinking lots of water during hiking would increase your weight gain. However, water weight is unstable and may fluctuate regularly.

Also, water weight is excess water accumulated in your body, not your actual body weight. So this water weight is very beneficial to you.

It gives you energy when you are hiking. But, too much of it can make your weight gain alarming, and you need to lose it soon.

#3. Increased Caloric Intake

Hiking can make you believe you need more calories because you are burning calories. However, the amount of calories burned differs for each person.

The amount of calories each person burns depends on various factors like the intensity and length of the hike, the amount of weight you carry, body weight, and individual metabolism.

For instance, an experienced hiker will exert less energy than a beginner hiker because the body has already built up the muscle weight needed for a hiking trip.

So, reduce the number of calories you consume during a hiking trip. You may gain more weight if you consume more calories than your body burns.

In addition, hiking foods are essential to help you in case your blood sugar level drops. These foods are high in calories because you need the energy boost instantaneously.

But, it will also cause fat to store in your body, resulting in weight gain. Therefore, it is best to reduce your consumption of high-calorie food.

#4. Undereating During Hiking

Hiking causes you to burn more calories than you do in regular activities. So, it is normal to feel hungry after hiking for hours.

Your body tends to crave high-calorie food when you do not eat for a long time because you expend energy during hiking.

Carbohydrates and fats are the body’s most prominent energy sources, so it is normal to crave them when you do not eat for a long time and exert so much energy.

These cravings can make you overeat, which is not ideal for your body weight. So, eating a fruit or granola bar during hiking is best to prevent hunger.

#5. Metabolic Changes After Hiking

Metabolic rates differ; people with high metabolic rates burn calories more quickly than those with low metabolic rates.

Hiking and carrying a heavy backpack can spike your metabolism rate. This increased metabolism can make people lose weight after hiking.

However, you may gain weight if you have a problem with your metabolism, especially when you consume too many calories and food. 

Such metabolism will find it difficult to burn calories faster, and consuming them will cause you to gain weight.        

How Do I Not Gain Weight After Hiking?

The best way to avoid gaining weight after hiking is to control your eating habits.

There are several ways to eat healthily and avoid gaining weight after hiking. Here are the ways to avoid gaining weight after hiking.

#1. Eat Healthy Food

It is essential to eat low-glycemic food during a hike. Low-glycemic foods are high in fiber, protein, and fat.

Low-glycemic foods are more beneficial than high-glycemic foods during a hike. High-glycemic foods would increase your weight gain drastically.

The table below will help you understand the differences between the benefits of low-glycemic and high-glycemic foods.

Low-glycemic FoodsHigh-glycemic Foods
You get slow and steady energy.You get an instant burst of energy.
They help to regulate blood sugar levels.They increase blood sugar levels.
They build muscle better.They build body fat.

In addition, you need to eat more protein because it keeps you full for a long time. It also gives you the muscle fuel you need for hiking.

However, you need to watch the amount of protein you consume because some protein-packed food is high in sodium.

Highly processed foods like roasted nuts and canned beef contain high salt, which causes bloating, water retention, and swelling.

At the same time, hiking makes you sweat and causes you to lose body sodium, so you still need salt in your diet.

Hence, balancing your salt, magnesium, and potassium consumption is best. 

You can take some electrolyte packs to put in your water bottle. It will help to balance your body’s nutrients and prevent bloating.

#2. Drink Enough Water

You must drink enough water to stay hydrated during your hike. Your body needs water to store and deliver fuel to your muscles.

In addition, hydration helps in muscle repair, flushes out sodium, and reduces inflammation.

It also helps your body signal that there is water available. So your body won’t have to retain water and gain water weight.

#3. Get Enough Rest

Resting can reduce the amount of water your body retains. It also helps to increase blood circulation when you lie down and elevate your feet.

Resting reduces inflammation in your body and muscle stress. In addition, it relaxes your body and gives you extra energy for the hiking.

Can Hiking Tone Your Body?

Hiking can tone your body and improve your physical appearance. However, it only tones specific muscles in your body.

Hiking tends to tone your legs, calf, hamstrings, and glute muscles because of the amount of walking you do.

These muscles become stronger, and you get more stamina. Hiking also helps to define your muscles and prevent muscle loss.

In addition, hiking with a backpack will tone your upper body muscles. However, your body toning depends on how much you hike.

For example, a person who hikes more frequently will have a faster body tone than a person that hikes once in a while.

Why Do I Get Bloated After Hiking?

You get bloated after hiking because you have been breathing hard and gulping water. This method of water consumption will make you swallow air.

Gulping down water during a hike can lead to hyponatremia, a condition where sodium dilutes in the human body.

Therefore, hydrating too quickly with a combination of sweating can make the body cells retain water. But, at the same time, you can get bloated from not drinking enough water. 

Your body responds to dehydration by retaining water in your stomach, which causes swelling. Therefore, it is essential to hydrate properly before and throughout your hike.    

It also helps to avoid taking big gulps of water when hydrating. In addition, consuming highly processed foods during your hike can cause bloating.

These foods contain a large amount of salt, which causes bloating and swelling. 

Finally, your body tries to repair itself after hiking by sending extra fluid to help repair muscle tears. Unfortunately, this extra fluid makes you feel heavier than usual.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, hiking can make you gain weight due to the following:

  • Increase in muscle mass
  • Excess water weight in the body
  • High calories and food consumption.

It is essential to monitor your eating habits during a hike so it doesn’t increase your body weight. However, muscle mass is beneficial because it tones your body.

Josh Matthews

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