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Lose Body Fat: Hiking & Cutting Sugar for Lasting Weight Loss

Updated on June 13, 2012

Hike for Weight Loss

Hiking helps with weight loss and weight-maintenance. Improving your diet by cutting sugar and processed food in favor of healthy, whole foods fuels an active lifestyle. Reward yourself for weight loss with new gear for hiking and your active lifestyle. Weight-loss rewards reinforce maintaining a healthy weight for life. This is a method for saving money, cutting sugar addiction and creating a new life by becoming physically fit as you lose weight.

By eating less sugar and fewer processed foods, your blood sugar levels stabilize, freeing you of food cravings. Food cravings triggered by high-glycemic foods such as sweets and white bread can lead to overeating and weight gain. Hiking regularly reduces stress and helps your body burn calories more efficiently to help you lose weight. Spending time in nature can change your body and the way you eat as you become healthier and fit.

Hiking Improves Your Fitness

Hikers at Mt. Tamalpais, California  by besighyawn
Hikers at Mt. Tamalpais, California by besighyawn | Source

Hiking and Natural, Sugar-free Foods Promote Lasting Weight Loss

Record Your Intake of Sweets in a Food Journal: As a one-two punch of looking at how sugar addiction affects your personal finances, try writing down every "treat" you buy, and what you spend on it, including tips.

Bear in mind that if you made a special trip to satisfy a craving (to the store, bakery, cafe, etc) you're also spending gas money. A twenty minute drive to your favorite bakery for a brownie, for example. I know, I've been there.

For the purposes of this exercise, simply record all those sweets. You can round off quantities: if you ate most of a box of cookies this week -- or two or three -- write down the total number of boxes. Every soda, every candy bar, every pastry, every ice cream, every sweetened coffee drink, iced tea, etc.

Yes, this included all those "natural" sodas and teas, most of which are loaded with high fructose corn syrup or wow, pure cane sugar. Guess what, nearly all those "healthy" sounding sweeteners: honey, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, turbinado sugar, beet sugar -- it's all metabolized by your body as, you guessed it, sugar.

Write it all down for a week and you may be shocked. And this is just obvious sugar - it doesn't begin to look at hidden sugar, loaded into everything from corn flakes and ketchup to salad dressing and canned beans, and just about every processed food you can think of. Fruit juice-sweetened items also impact blood sugar and are best used in moderation. I usually limit fruits to 2-3 servings a day, counting a tennis ball size portion as a serving.

Weight-loss Rewards for Hiking and Cutting Sugar

Now for the rewards. First, you're rewarded with improved health, lower disease risk and more stable moods.

Cut out sugar, with its expense and damage to your blood sugar, moods, undermining of your weight loss goals. A diet high in sugar and processed food contributes to a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. For more details, see William Duffy's amazing book, Sugar Blues.

  • Use the money you saved from cutting out sugar and spend it on active gear.
  • Invest in some good hiking boots.
  • Get yourself a waist pack so you can carry:
  • an eco-friendly stainless steel water bottle,
  • a camera,
  • field glasses,
  • first aid kit,
  • windbreaker,
  • a quality moisturizing sunscreen and
  • UV protection sunglasses.

Being equipped can increase your motivation to take more adventurous hikes. If you'd prefer a better bike, or want running shoes, or gym wear -- whatever is going to inspire you to move more -- invest in yourself!

So, you come out with a healthier diet which helps to support your fitness activities, and, item by item, fitness gear for enjoying your physically active lifestyle. I get a bigger kick out of all my great fitness gear than I ever got out of a brownie or ice cream sundae.

Use Fitness Gear for More Hiking

Your gear starts calling to you. I keep a pair of hiking boots in the car. I get a good feeling every time I catch sight of them. I use them nearly every day. I also keep extra socks in the car. I like the antimicrobial ones with padded soles. My feet are much happier in dry socks, and since I often hike at the end of the day, a fresh pair feels really good. This is also a great back-up for when a wave dumps into your boots at the beach, or you step in a creek. A couple weeks ago at Goat Rock Beach I hunkered down puzzling over a big washed up piece of mystery fish, and splash. I had my Tevas sandals and a towel in the car, so no biggie. If I need to put shoes back on, though, I'm always glad for those extra socks.

Weight Loss Tips for Cutting Sugar

HealthyTreats: These days I choose unsweetened treat-foods: high-cocoa dark chocolate made without sugar, mochas made with unsweetened almond milk, agave syrup -- a low-glycemic sweetener -- unsweetened cocoa, and fresh organic coffee.

I'm also fond of frozen cherries and mango, trail mix -- best to portion this out in individual servings -- and my homemade brown rice pudding. I make it with almond milk and agave syrup, real vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, and sometimes an egg, for a custard texture.

Creating a New Self Image: Using my hiking and camping gear has changed me. It's such a tangible sign of this is who I am now. I was so amazed on my last camping trip when I'd get up at dawn to watch the sunrise over the bay and take a run. I used to be the guy sleeping in. "Run" was not in my vocabulary. And now, albeit with still a few extra pounds, I have a body that likes to run . Ever since I read in Men's Health about the increased fat burning from interval training I've been adding these bursts of running to my hikes.

Fitness Benefits From Hiking Regularly: By increasing the duration of my hikes, choosing steeper hikes, and varying my intensity from a moderate, easy to converse speed, to brisk, to running, and back to moderate, I've noticed great results in increased muscularity in my legs, and feel firmer all over.

My clothes fit better, and my stamina for hills and stairs and yard work is much better than it used to be. After a two-hour hilly hike, other chores in my life fall into perspective as literally no sweat. Uphill hikes bust stress for me like nothing else. I'm 50 now, and my current lifestyle is far more active than in my 30s or even 20s.

Eliminate Trigger Foods to Lose Weight: It can take a while to get used to passing up sugar and alcohol and other trigger foods. Pay attention and notice what things you consume make you crave more -- those are your trigger foods.

Keeping a food journal helped me a lot. Years ago I ran across the concept of "stabilizing" and "destabilizing" substances. Things that whack your blood sugar, high-glycemic foods from sweets to potatoes -- and things that cause inebriation and raise blood glucose, such as coffee -- are destabilizers.

Those substances that nourish us are the stabilizers. From my experience, raw foods are particularly good sources of energy -- I usually eat two salads a day. Lean protein and vegetables are stabilizing and very few people get into trouble with these. I use whey isolate protein powder, cottage cheese, some eggs, fish -- and cheeses and lean meat in moderation. Be aware of sodium and fat levels in cheeses. Fresh mozzarella tends to be the lowest in sodium, and there are some good reduced fat cheeses available.

I like nuts and almond butter, and for my last camping trip found raw macadamias and goji berries especially satisfying and energizing. Healthy snacks can work as weight-loss rewards, too. They provide sustained energy for physical fitness -- and the more active you are, the less concerned you need to be about your weight. Exercise promotes fitness and relieves stress -- which can cut down on triggers to overeat.

Author's Note: Lose Weight Hiking and Cutting Sugar

This isn't intended to tell anyone how to live or to judge anyone else. I've had remarkable results from changing my diet and activity level, so if any of this is of benefit to someone else, that's great. I used to be so moody, and have problems with fatigue and body aches. I would sometimes pass out in the afternoon. I once ate a big cookie and started nodding off while driving. That was a wake-up call. Now I rarely get that irritable, edgy feeling and those sudden mood shifts and that 'so tired and achy I don't want to do anything' feeling. When I do, it was something I ate.

Maybe cutting out sugar for hiking isn't for everyone. It works for me.

Happy Trails! Trent

Obligatory disclaimer: Neither the author nor this fine host bears any responsibility nor liability for anything you choose to do or not do after reading this hub. The author does not directly or indirectly dispense medical advice. By all means get to your health provider for any needed medical evaluation and motivation to make dietary improvements and get a move on. Every choice we make, every day, creates the life we have, and the future we grow into.

Copyright 2011, 2012 Travis Arts, all rights reserved. Protected by Copyscape.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm sort of a novice. Was in military for 27 yrs humpimg around the world. Just recovering from injuries seen and unseen while in Iraq. It's high time I humped for my own pleasure.

      How do i get started with gear; correct fit of boots(both ankles have fractured, nerve damage in both as well. Electrical gear @t-11 thru t-8 and at S-3. Head injury as well.. Totally cleared by my white coats. would like to know about whitewater rafting here in the Peach state.

      Places to to go I am located 30 min south of Atlanta, I have some physical challenges and am ready to get started. Need Guidance. (love this font). I used to wear hiking boots during the brutal winters in the Midwest. I am also interested

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Sneha Sunny -- Thanks for commenting. I hope you get a chance to go hiking. Setting a time with a friend can be a great way to start. That way you have a plan, and company!

    • Sneha Sunny profile image

      Sneha Sunny 

      7 years ago from India

      Useful advice. Counting your sugar is the best way to control more intake of sugar. I always wanted to go for hiking in nature. Till now I didn't got the chance to do but I still have the hope and I will go for hike in nature. :)

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Ubanichijioke -- Thank you! Yes, it's fun to do, so it becomes easy to do it often. I hope that sharing these ideas and experiences encourages people to move more. Many people become turned off to exercise. Getting out in nature reduces stress and enriches the experience. When I go to the forests and beaches to hike or walk, I'm enjoying it so much I don't think about how long I spend at it.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      7 years ago from Lagos

      I agree with all you said. Hiking, walking are all fun ways of exercising. A very useful hub. Voted useful, interesting and beautiful. Bravo

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Mega1 -- One thing that works for me is to provide myself with alternatives. I take a whey smoothie with me and a healthy snack such as pre-measured bags of unsalted nuts or some string cheese any time I'm going to be exposed to foods that aren't on my plan. Depending on your relationship, you might do your housemate a major favor by suggesting healthier snacks. Better nutrition results in more energy and better moods.

      Marching in place gives you an aerobic workout anywhere. You can meet your weight loss goals in your current situation. Bob Greene's books are excellent guides for getting past obstacles and making a commitment to lifestyle changes that promote healthy weight loss. Good luck!

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northern California Coast

      CMHypno --

      Glad to see you here, I enjoyed discovering your hubs. Appetite takes time to tame. Some studies show that regular aerobic exercise can help curb appetite -- but this doesn't work for everyone. Drinking plenty of water helps, and eating a low-calorie starter can also help. For example, have a salad or broth-based soup at the beginning of lunch and dinner to reduce calories. I have half a whey protein smoothie before exercise and drink the other half immediately afterward.

      About that chocolate cake -- I found myself getting back into sugar over the winter and had to cut it out all over again. For me it works best not to have it at all. I put organic cocoa powder in my espresso for a treat and have fruit for dessert.

    • mega1 profile image


      7 years ago

      IF I could only just not have those treats around, I'd be ok - but since I by them for my house-mate (I'm a caregiver) and they're free for me - it's so darn hard to pass them up! Also I'm stuck here everyday, can't just go for walks whenever. I've got a son's wedding to lose weight for - I have 5 months - but I don't know how I'm gonna do it! Thanks for all the encouragement and great ideas.

    • CMHypno profile image


      7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      So far the further I've walked the more I've eaten! I'll give some of your suggestions a try as its time to say goodbye to chocolate cake.

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Thanks for your comment. Great to see you here! Your hubs have been an inspiration. That is awesome about the 20# weight loss! Thanks for sharing your experience on writing down what you eat. I've read that in follow-up studies of people who maintain a significant weight loss one important factor is keeping a food journal. Sometimes I'll just do a list of the food groups and the portions of each, and if I feel as though I need to pay more attention, I'll detail every bite of everything. Keeps me aware and accountable, just as your experience shows. Great way to put the cookie conundrum -- most of us have foods we are better off not having around. Sometimes abstinence is the only way. I've experimented with having a "free day" once a week, and what always happens is I feel awful when I go back to eating the way I used to eat! The way you put this is great: <<I want ALL the cookies! LOL! But if I don't eat any, I don't crave them.>> I learned this secret on Atkins (which is too far from my personal priorities for long-term for me, yet by cutting way down on carbs, I learned how to cut the craving cycle) . I'm finding the last pounds the toughest, and have to really focus on this as a lifestyle, rather than getting intense with myself about my weight. I've also learned from experience to go a bit easier on my goals and expectations during times of stress. Gentleness is a good path. Thanks for your input, and all the best to you!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Trent! I've lost about 20 pounds since Mayby adhering to the Weight Watchers plan, avoiding sweets, and walking 30 to 45 minutes a day. I'd like to lose another 10 of 15 pounds, I'm proud of the 20, and it's true--when you know you will have to write down every sweet you think twice before eating one. I think sugar is definitely addictive for some folks--it is for me. I never want a coike--I want ALL the cookies! LOL! But if I don't eat any, I don't crave them. Thank you for an excellent hub and congratulations on the weight loss and the hiking!


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