Why Does Hiking Suppress Your Appetite? (Explained)

Why Does Hiking Suppress Your Appetite

Hiking is a recreational exercise that involves walking on long trails and footpaths in the countryside.

Hiking has both physiological and psychological benefits to the human mind and body, and it is a great way to wind down and reflect in an almost spiritual nature.

Sadly one of the effects of hiking is a suppression of appetite during and after hiking, which can be troublesome in many ways.

Hiking reduces or suppresses your appetite because of exercise-induced anorexia, known as temporary anorexia-athletic. A temporary hormonal imbalance paired with dehydration can also cause a loss of appetite. These symptoms usually reduce over time if you eat healthily and your body gets used to the exercise regimen.

A lower or reduced appetite during or after hiking should not cause too much concern, but you should pay attention to it. 

In this article, I will explain why hiking suppresses appetite and the foods and methods that will allow you to eat normally. 

Does Hiking Suppress Appetite?

Why Does Hiking Suppress Your Appetite

Yes, hiking suppresses/reduces the appetite of hikers just like any other strenuous physical activity.

Hiking can burn about 400-800 calories after a few hours, and it is an excellent way to burn fat and exercise your muscles.

Hiking has a suppressing effect on your body’s appetite due to several factors. High body temperatures, dehydration, and psychological issues contribute to losing appetite.

Here are some of the effects of hiking that reduce your appetite.

#1. Reduces Feeling of Hunger

Strenuous physical activity like hiking puts a lot of strain on the body and can upset the stomach.

Such stress can reduce hunger pangs and even cause the body to ignore hunger signals from the brain.

Although you might not feel hungry while hiking, you should ensure you eat even if you have no appetite.

#2. The Body Breaks Down Fat Reserves

Hiking long distances burn enough calories to cause your body to break down fatty cells and use them to create energy.

The surge of fat burning will temporarily boost glucose in the bloodstream and temporarily satiate your hunger. You will only feel hungry when you are not hiking.

This reduction in body fat is one of the critical factors in weight loss during hiking.

#3. Dehydration 

Many might not know this, but the long term is a significant problem while hiking in hot weather and can suppress your appetite. 

Hiking when you are dehydrated reduces appetite and can create room for dangerous and fatal situations while hiking.

It helps you increase your liquid intake before and during hiking and maintain electrolyte levels.

#4. Psychological Issues

Hiking positively affects your mind and body’s physical and psychological state and might reduce your appetite.

Some people have psychological issues that cause stress/idle eating. For example, a long hike with moments of self-introspection might reduce your cravings and eating disorder symptoms.

Why Do You Not Feel Like Eating After Hiking?

Long-distance hiking reduces appetite and can lead to dangerously low sugar levels that can cause you to collapse mid-hike.

If you are not feeling hungry, it doesn’t mean you aren’t lacking food in your system.

It is best to periodically take breaks to drink water and take quick meals that boost your sugar levels.

Four significant reasons cause the suppression of appetite during hiking. They are;

#1. Exercise Induced Anorexia 

There is a temporary condition called exercise-induced anorexia triggered in athletics and people doing strenuous physical activity like long-distance hiking.

The condition causes a temporary period where food is undesirable, and the sight of food might make you nauseous. 

You don’t need to worry too much because this condition wears off after a few minutes of rest.

#2. Stomach Upset 

Hiking can slow digestion immediately after a meal and cause indigestion and stomach upset.

Stomach upsets like this contribute to losing appetite and can reduce your drive to eat any food.

It is best to wait at least 20 minutes after a meal before hiking to reduce your chances of getting indigestion and losing your appetite.

#3. Hormonal Imbalance

Whenever you perform a physical activity like hiking, different hormones get released into your bloodstream and can affect your appetite.

Hormones like cortisol and adrenaline can cause your body to ignore hunger messages from your stomach nerve linings.

Hormonal changes caused by hiking are usually temporary and should wear off after you get some rest.

#4. High Body Temperatures

Hiking elevates the temperature of the human body higher than it usually is. This temperature rise can reduce your drive to eat until your temperature is average.

Stay hydrated on hiking trails by drinking enough water and taking a bath immediately after hiking to clean yourself and lower your body temperature.

Should You Eat More Before a Hike?

Yes, it is best if you eat a good meal before going on a hike, irrespective of whether it is a short or long hike.

Before you go on a hike, there are nutrition requirements you should fulfill in the mornings, during the hike, and at night before you sleep.

These requirements are affected by various factors like the length of the hike, weather, and hiking difficulty.

Here are some foods you should eat in the mornings before a hike, mid-hike, and evenings after the hike.

#1. Eating Before Hiking

Be sure to eat breakfast. Many might not know this, but breakfast is one of the most important meals for hikers, whether it is a short walk or a long one.

Your hiking breakfast should be small and manageable, but you should load it with adequate carbohydrates and lean protein that you will need to start the journey.

Avoid fat and high protein-content foods that take time to digest because they can cause indigestion during your hike.

#2. Eating During Hiking

Mid-hike nutrition is also essential in determining how long you can hike.

Mid-hike foods should be light and easy to digest and contain a good quantity of carbohydrates and sugars that will boost your energy levels.

If you feel famished, you can also snack intermittently to keep your blood sugar levels high.

#3. Eating After Hiking 

After a long hike, the body needs rest to repair muscles and cells, and this requires foods that have lots of carbohydrates and proteins.

You can increase your protein intake and eat fatty foods with plenty of calories. Foods like mashed potatoes, pasta, macaroni, and beans are an excellent way to top up.

How Often Should You Eat Before a Hike?

It would be best if you ate breakfast, midday meals, and dinner whenever you are going on a hike.

You should meet many nutrition requirements before and after a hike, and You can only meet them with some particular foods.

Here is a table showing the foods you can eat before, during, and after a hike.

Breakfast Mid hike Dinner
Oatmeal Peanut sandwich Mashed potatoes 
Chicken sandwich Tuna egg salad Beef jerky 
Trail nuts Sausage Macaroni and meatballs 

From the table above, it is clear that hiking breakfasts should contain about 80 percent carbohydrates and a few percent lean protein and fats.

Mid-hike foods should be easily digested and have high sugar, while dinner can contain protein and fatty foods.

Josh Matthews

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