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Is Hiking Enfattening?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 06, 2011 at 8:08 PM

The snow has finally melted enough in the mountains for me to take some big all-day hikes... and I'm gaining weight like crazy. Five or more pounds a hike.

I used to have this problem pre-paleo, but always attributed it to the post-hike food binges. This summer I've not only stayed paleo, but kept a food journal, so I know it's not caused by an uptick in calories (or junk food).

It seems like the most logical explanation is water retention, but it takes WEEKS for my weight to come back down. Is the hiking also causing cortisol/metabolism issues?

As a baseline, I lift weights three days a week (skipping a workout if I'm hiking) and leisurely walk in the hills for an hour on non-lifting days. The hikes I'm talking about are around 5-7 hours with several thousand foot elevation changes and rough terrain/snow (i.e., no actual climbing, but the occasional use of an ice axe for safety).

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on August 08, 2011
at 09:19 AM

lol, or "fattening"!

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 07, 2011
at 08:21 PM

I think you're right that it's water retention. But I'm eating LC (little starch), and after losing 60 pounds on paleo, am no longer overweight (12% body fat with calipers). Also I eat 4000 to 5000 calories a day (and can normally lose fat doing this), trying to get around 180 grams of protein. So maybe the water retention is just genetic?

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 07, 2011
at 08:12 PM

Given that everyone seems to suspect it's water retention, perhaps I should have gone with "enbloatening?"

669790861549f3c6d54d88a65296ed19

(452)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:57 PM

Maybe that's the problem?....you're not eating enough Carbs or Fat/Protein for what you burn,causing the body to think food is scarce,so must hold onto fat more?

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on August 07, 2011
at 04:16 AM

"enfattening"?!

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:19 AM

Well, even though I'm not a calories in, calories out kinda guy, I think it's probably physically impossible for me to gain 5 to 7 pounds of fat in a day when I only eat 4000 calories (and burn so many hiking). But even if it's initially just water retention, I'm concerned my metabolism is crashing, because it seems to take forever to lose the weight again.

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 06, 2011
at 10:23 PM

I'll try that! Thanks.

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:37 PM

My clothes are feeling a tad tight. I hesitate to think that it's muscle gain, because I already squat and deadlift pretty heavy in the gym... well, not crazy "powerlifter" heavy, but heavy for me.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:26 PM

Yeah, Karen I agree. Except he is "gaining" weight and if much of its in the legs, hiking and all, then maybe sizes haven't shifted too much? With gained weight its possible he's the same %fat with more muscle.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:23 PM

Confirmation of this would be if you weigh more, but clothes aren't getting tight in places like waist that gain fat first. If your clothes still fit, aren't getting tight (maybe some tight sleeves), it's muscle mass.

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6 Answers

4
A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

(3501)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:05 PM

alrighty then...speaking strictly as a woman with water retention as a basic part of my life....i've learned that a cocktail of 1/2 lemon, (squeezed), 2 TB apple cider vinegar in a glass of water (and optional cayenne pepper sprinkle) does WONDERS for water retention. I drink about 2-3 of those babies a day when it's an issue. Perhaps that would help. You know it's not "real weight" as far as fat, and with all that muscle working out i'm sure it's just water weight. Hope that helps.

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 06, 2011
at 10:23 PM

I'll try that! Thanks.

2
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:10 PM

I know we usually only associate muscular gains with strength training, but looking at where your hiking and so forth I would venture to say you may have some increased muscle mass? I mean hell ICE AX FOR SAFETY! That sounds decently intense to produce some muscular gains to me!

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:26 PM

Yeah, Karen I agree. Except he is "gaining" weight and if much of its in the legs, hiking and all, then maybe sizes haven't shifted too much? With gained weight its possible he's the same %fat with more muscle.

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:37 PM

My clothes are feeling a tad tight. I hesitate to think that it's muscle gain, because I already squat and deadlift pretty heavy in the gym... well, not crazy "powerlifter" heavy, but heavy for me.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 06, 2011
at 09:23 PM

Confirmation of this would be if you weigh more, but clothes aren't getting tight in places like waist that gain fat first. If your clothes still fit, aren't getting tight (maybe some tight sleeves), it's muscle mass.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 07, 2011
at 05:14 PM

I've been a hiker for about 35 years and I realize now in hindsight that pre-paleo/Zone I was retaining water. I went on the Zone about 15 years ago and lost 32 pounds in several months. On hikes I always drank a certain amount of water and post weight-loss, I kept drinking that same certain amount of water because it was what I had done for years. But now I was peeing all over the mountain which meant that I was no longer retaining the water and didn't need as much. So I started cutting back on hydrating and even the amount of water that I needed to carry. Believe me, this has benefits.

Rather than searching a remedy, you might need to find out what's causing you to retain water in the first place and it could very well be diet. My problem was apparently bloaty, starchy carbs. With these gone, there was no longer any water retention and I could pack less weight (on me) and in my pack into the wilderness.

ADDED - This page may have a clue about the amount of protein you are getting.

http://www.water-retention.net/causes-of-water-retention/

Specifically -

"If you have water retention you are very likely to be overweight. But overweight people tend to go on a low-calorie diet. A low-calorie diet will unfortunately not get rid of water retention ??? it can actually make it worse, especially if you eat less than 1,200 Calories a day for months or years. This is because you may not have enough protein in your blood to draw excess water out of your tissues. This type of water retention can cause generalised puffiness but if severe can give you a swollen tummy."

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 07, 2011
at 08:21 PM

I think you're right that it's water retention. But I'm eating LC (little starch), and after losing 60 pounds on paleo, am no longer overweight (12% body fat with calipers). Also I eat 4000 to 5000 calories a day (and can normally lose fat doing this), trying to get around 180 grams of protein. So maybe the water retention is just genetic?

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 07, 2011
at 12:14 AM

wow freaky. aside from the snow, your fitness regimen is nearly identical to mine. i can't say i know what's causing the weight gain, but i don't really think it's hiking, which is one of the more natural, we-were-designed-for-this activities in the world.

is it just water retention, or do you feel like clothes fit differently? i mean, is it actually fat gain? also, could it be increased leg muscle? hmmmm....

2e060a5edde44c1fe77abcf8d3997e01

(865)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:19 AM

Well, even though I'm not a calories in, calories out kinda guy, I think it's probably physically impossible for me to gain 5 to 7 pounds of fat in a day when I only eat 4000 calories (and burn so many hiking). But even if it's initially just water retention, I'm concerned my metabolism is crashing, because it seems to take forever to lose the weight again.

669790861549f3c6d54d88a65296ed19

(452)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:57 PM

Maybe that's the problem?....you're not eating enough Carbs or Fat/Protein for what you burn,causing the body to think food is scarce,so must hold onto fat more?

1
560821f3e7352455c3ebc2283d424f2e

on August 06, 2011
at 10:04 PM

Interesting question, over my 6 week vacation and probably a few weeks before that I have been doing much more hiking 2-5 hrs and biking 2-3 hrs and because of this I have not been lifting at the gym much. I am sure I have gained weight as my clothes are tighter and my body feels chunky. I think the increased exercise may have driven my appetite up too and I have had to work hard to keep my hunger in check.

In short I am going back to short sharp intense exercise - hiit and gym. I may do some social mountain biking but that is it. I want to lean out and I just don't think the long hikes are helping and only hold me back from leaning out.

0
485bcefe7f1f7a6df1a293a826bf6137

on August 08, 2011
at 12:42 AM

You didn't specify, but if you're eating even fruit or nuts, these hikes could likely cause elevated cortisol, which would then inhibit fat burning and promote fat storage. Part of it could be explained by water retention, but that wouldn't account for the compounded weight gains. The weightlifting might contribute, too, depending on how you're doing that. And then evolutionarily, eating carbs in the summer would add to fat storage, anticipating the coming scarcity of the winter.

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