Why wearing external load is your secret to successful body recomposition

The biggest challenge in a weight loss phase is hanging on to lean muscle tissue. Has science stumbled across a new way to lose weight, maintain muscle, and banish weight loss plateaus for good?


Does wearing a weighted vest or weight ruck sack help you lose more weight?

Studies show that adding a weighted vest or weighted ruckpack throughout the day can be key to losing weight and keeping it off. How can something so simple work this well?


Why is it so hard to lose fat at the end of a weight loss phase?

If you’ve ever been in a weight loss phase, you’ll know that it usually gets more difficult to shift weight as you get lighter. This is because your body loves homeostasis, so it employs various compensatory mechanisms to get you to eat more and move less. 

One of these mechanisms is leptin - a hormone produced by your fat cells. As you lose fat, your fat cells produce less leptin. This sends signals to your brain to decrease your energy output and increase your appetite.


Latest research on losing weight as you get lighter

Various studies have looked at how load-dependent mechanisms can help you keep losing weight even as leptin levels fall on a diet. These studies were originally done in rodents, but now the research has moved to humans. With some amazing results!

The rodent studies showed that when rats had 15% of their bodyweight added via an external load, they continued to lose weight – with no other change to their calorie intake or energy output.


What is the gravitostat theory?

Experts called this the gravitostat – adding external load to the body, to regulate bodyweight regardless of lower leptin levels.

In short, studies have found that you can keep losing bodyfat by wearing a weighted vest or weighted ruckpack, without cutting your calories any lower or doing any extra cardio.

Scientists now think the “gravitostat” (which is not hormonal, but is actually located in bone cells) is another mechanism that senses when you are losing weight, and tries to return you to homeostasis. 

By overriding the gravitostat by adding “fake weight” to your body, you can trick your body into thinking you are not actually losing weight, so it keeps making progress.


Can wearing a weighted vest help with body recomposition?

As you know, the optimal goal isn’t just “weight loss”. It’s actually “body recomposition” – ie losing body fat, and gaining or at least retaining muscle mass. The trouble is, when you go on a fat loss diet you typically end up losing some lean muscle as well.

It turns out that wearing external load via a weighted best or weighted ruckpack could solve that challenge, too. 

Studies in older human populations suggested that wearing a weighted vest throughout the day helped preserve leg power. And one famous study by James Krieger used the weighted vest theory on a prepping bodybuilder, with amazing results. The guy got leaner than ever, retained muscle mass, and won his Pro card.


5 reasons to use a weighted vest in a fat loss phase 

  1. Reduces your body’s adaptation to fat loss and weight loss
  2. Protects against large increases in appetite as you diet
  3. Might mean you can diet on higher calories
  4. Helps preserve muscle in the lower half of the body
  5. Prevents the need to add in tons of cardio during a diet


How does wearing a weighted vest help you lose fat 

Essentially, wearing a weighted vest during a fat loss phase replaces the weight you have lost, tricking your body into thinking it’s heavier than it is and bypassing its attempts to make you stop dieting. 

Using weighted apparel helps you burn more calories through NEAT, retain muscle (especially in the legs), and regulate appetite. What more could you want on a diet!


5 ways to use your weighted vest during the day

The best results have been seen when people wear their weighted vest or weighted ruckpack throughout the day, not just for workouts. This might not be practical for you, but if it is, why not try it.

  1. Start your diet without adding external load. Aim for weight loss of 0.5-0.7% per week to hang on to as much muscle as possible.
  2. After the first 4 weeks, start wearing a weighted vest or ruckpack that brings your total bodyweight back to your start point or higher.
  3. Start small and add more as you lose weight. The goal is always to make your actual bodyweight plus the vest equal your starting weight.
  4. Try to wear the vest for 90% of your waking hours.
  5. Choose a good-quality, comfortable weighted vest or pack and make sure it fits well.

We’d love to know if you use one of our weighted vests or weighted ruckpacks to try out the gravitostat theory. Let us know!

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