If we want to burn body fat hiking efficiently, we have to learn something about what is going on with our bodies, so that we can flick the right switches and keep our bodies in the state we want it to be in for maximum fat burning.
The good news is, yes, we can burn body fat hiking, providing we do a few simple things on our hikes. Firstly we’ll look at how and why we burn body fat when we are on a hike.
How Do We Go From Burning Carbs To Burning Fat?
When we go on a hike, our bodies will initially start off by burning off the carbs stored in our Muscles and Liver for the additional energy demands it is encountering. However, those stored carbs, in the form of Glycogen will run out in a short period of time.
Once our stored Glycogen is depleted our body will flick a switch so to speak and turn to burning Fat as a fuel source. Fat is a more powerful source of energy then Glycogen, which is why our bodies store it as an emergency power source. Fat provides more than twice the power than Glycogen at around 9 kcal/gram compared to 4 kcal/gram for Glycogen, quite a significant difference.
Once our Glycogen stores are depleted, we will first start to burn off the easily accessible Fatty Acids that are floating around in our blood streams. These Fatty Acids will have been deposited there from recent meals that we have eaten, and they would not yet have been used to provide energy or stored as deposits.
The next stage is where the magic happens. Once the free flowing Fatty Acids in our blood stream begin to deplete, our bodies will flick the switch to go into survival mode, as it is clever enough not to leave us with no energy in a survival situation.
Once our bodies receive the command for more energy and it realises we have no Glycogen or free Fatty Acids on demand, it will release some of our stored Fat deposits to be broken down into Fatty Acids in our blood streams for use as energy. This is the state we need to maintain for as long as possible to carry on burning fat.
How Much Time Does It Take To Burn Body Fat Hiking?
So how long do we have to hike for to flick the switch from burning Glycogen to burning Fat? The answer is that is is different for everyone, but it will generally be in the region of 45 minutes. Many studies have shown that the period is 30-60 minutes in almost all cases, but these figures are depending on a multitude of factors, so we will pick the mid figure of 45 minutes for simplicity.
A word of caution though. Don’t think that you are going to burn off a lot of fat if you do regular 45 minute hikes. You will burn some, but 45 minutes is the point where the switch is flicked and where the good stuff begins. There is very little point in stopping right at the start point.
From 45 minutes and onwards is where the Fat Burning is going to be happening, so that is the ideal place to try to stay.
What Is The Best Way To Burn Body Fat Hiking?
Fat Burning is a process brought on by using up all of our calories for energy. A simple bit of maths would say that burning more calories will burn more fat, eventually.
So if we switch the question to “What is the best way to burn more calories hiking”? we get the answer.
How can we burn more calories hiking? Here are some of the best ways that I know, I’m sure there will be a few more if you use your imagination:
- Carry a Heavy Backpack
- Hike Steeper Inclines
- Hike Faster
- Hike Longer Distances
- Hike for more time
- HIIT (high intensity interval training, fast slow fast hiking)
Can You Efficiently Burn Body Fat Hiking?
Yes, Hiking is an incredibly efficient way to burn Fat. Hiking is a way that over time you can use past hikes to work out the intensity you need to stay at for maximum effect, then copy it next time to efficiently burn fat for the majority of your hike.
I find that if I keep the intensity and pace of my Hiking to one where I am working so hard that I can only just hold a conversation due to panting and shortness of breath, then I burn fat rapidly. It’s not very scientific, and no heart rate monitors are used, but it works.
Is There A Way To Hike That Burns More Fat?
From the list of ways to burn more calories mentioned above, I’d say that carrying a heavy backpack is how I burn the most fat when I hike.
It may be quite different for different people, but it works for me. A bigger machine will have bigger energy demands than a small one in simple terms. In simple terms, if you make your body weight a lot more than it usually is, let’s say by carrying something heavy, like a large backpack, you are going to need a lot more fuel, and therefore burn off more fat, trying to move it around the hills.
How Regularly Do I Have To Hike To Burn Fat?
This is a difficult question to answer as it will be different for every person. The problem is, that there are so many variables to take into consideration that giving a precise answer is impossible.
How regularly you have to hike to burn fat will depend on how much fat you are carrying, how long you hike for in a single hike, at what intensity you hike, the terrain you are hiking over and many many more.
In my opinion, if you hike 2-3 times a week for a couple of hours, on hilly terrain, with a bit of intensity, carrying some weight in a backpack or daysack, you will burn more than enough fat to keep you healthy.
Will hiking once a week or once a month be enough? It depends on so many things that it’s impossible to say. The best bet is to try a few different frequencies of hiking that fit into your lifestyle and schedule, and se what works best for you.
How Can The Terrain Affect My Rate Of Fat Burning?
The terrain that we hike over affects our rate of fat burning greatly, but only if we keep up the intensity. Hiking up and down steep hills burns a lot more calories, and therefore fat, than hiking on the flat. But that won’t happen if we hike up those hills at a snail’s pace without putting any effort in.
I find that hiking steep hills has the second best affect on my personal fat burning after carrying a heavy backpack.
Guess what? We can go hiking up the steep hills that we have just mentioned, at high intensity, while carrying our heavy backpacks. This will increase our fat burning efforts exponentially, believe me, I have done this a lot, and it works.
Will Fat Burning Reduce My Weight?
Strangely, the answer to this is yes, and no, and it depends. Fat Burning and Weight Loss may seem like they go hand in hand, but they don’t.
The weight of your body and the composition of your body are two different things. If your body is carrying a lot of fat, and you burn that fat off without adding significant body mass, then yes, you will lose weight.
If, on the other hand you are burning off fat and replacing it with lean muscle mass, then you are probably going to put on some weight. But don’t be discouraged here. Weight is a very blunt instrument is measuring our wellbeing.
There are so many more measurements that can be taken that will give you better indications of your health. Such as:
- Body Measurements (Biceps, Waist, Thighs)
- Body Fat Percentage
- Cholesterol Levels
- Hydration Levels
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Sugar Levels
I’m sure there are many more, but needless to say, weight isn’t a very god indicator of your health, so don’t get too hung up on your weight.
How Far Do I Have To Go To Burn Body Fat Hiking?
This is a question I have been asked a few times lately, and the answer is, as I’m sure you can guess by now, is that is depends.
You could put on a heavy backpack and go on a 2 mile hike up some seriously steep hills, and you will more than likely burn off a lot more fat than someone who does a ten mile hike on the flat.
The distance that we hike isn’t the main variable in fat burning, although it is one of them. Distance alone can’t be used to get the answer we are looking for.
I hope that’s clear. If we hike with reasonable intensity, on steep enough terrain, carrying a bit of weight and for a couple of hours, we are going to burn fat. If we want to burn body fat hiking, the distance we go is a small factor in the grand scheme of things.