Weighted vests can be an alternative to performing cardio, but the vests must be worn all day long, not just during exercise. Several bodybuilders have successfully dieted for a show using weighted vests, did zero cardio, and maintained a higher calorie consumption while losing fat. More research needs to be conducted with weighted vests that can be validated.
THE SCIENCE OF WEIGHTED VEST WORKOUTS FOR FAT LOSS SUMMARY
- Weighted vests workouts can be an alternative to performing cardio, but the vests must be worn all day long, not just during exercise.
- Several bodybuilders have successfully dieted for a show using weighted vests, did zero cardio, and maintained a higher calorie consumption while losing fat.
- More research needs to be conducted with weighted vests that can be validated.
WEIGHTED VESTS WORKOUTS AND FAT LOSS
Nothing is worse than cardio while dieting to lose additional body fat. Some evidence suggests that cardio can make some people hungry and make dieting worse. Preserving lean body mass is essential for weight loss. Even when combined with exercise and higher protein intake, weight loss naturally results in a loss of some muscle mass and fat loss (Weinheimer et al., 2010) (Shapses & Sukumar, 2012)).
Losing muscle during weight loss is partially attributed to the decrease in mechanical stress as weight is reduced (Silver & Siperko, 2003). There is evidence of an easier way to lose fat without doing any cardio with a weighted vest. A weighted vest on the market is usually placed over the chest and back and used to add additional weight to burn more calories during exercise.
THE SCIENCE OF WEIGHT VEST WORKOUTS
Adjustable weighted vests add physiological strain (i.e., increased heart rate and exertion) to the body during exercise. Examples of training with weighted vest exercises are box jumps and bodyweight exercises. A study by the American Counsel of Exercise examined the influence of wearing a weight vest during low-intensity exercise.
Subjects were split into 3 groups:
a.) No vest
b.) Weighted vest 10% of body weight (BM)
c.) Weighted vest 15% of body weight. (BM)
The exercise study had subjects walking at a constant speed of 2.5 miles per hour (mph), with incremental gradient increases (0%, 5%, 10%, and 15%) for four minutes each (16 minutes of total walking time). The study found that wearing a weighted vest increased oxygen consumption (i.e., increased metabolic demand). Walking at 2.5 mph at a 0% incline with a weighted vest of about 15% BM elicits a 12% increase in the number of calories burned over not wearing a vest. (McCormick, 2014)
RATS WITH HAVE TO CARRY EXTRA WEIGHT LOSE FAT
Back in 2017, scientists did some research where they had implanted a weight corresponding to about 15% of body weight into rodents (i.e., similar to wearing a weighted vest), resulted in a rapid “spontaneous” loss of body weight and body fat compared to the control rat that had no weight.
How fast did this occur? Within two weeks of implanting the weights, the rats lost weight, largely due to reduced adipose tissue, accompanied by a corresponding decrease in serum leptin levels (i.e., leptin is a major hormone that regulates weight and appetite). Leptin is produced in fat cells; as body fat levels decrease, less leptin is produced, and this signals your brain to eat more.
The decrease in body weight was mainly because of a reduced caloric intake with no changes in fat oxidation (i.e., fat burning), energy expenditure (i.e., increased calories burned), or physical activity. The researchers suggested that a “gravitostat” sensor in the bones regulates weight via a negative feedback system involving bone cells called osteocytes.
The body has a sudden increase in weight, like if you gained excess body fat, and signal the brain to reduce appetite to get back to normal body weight. When they removed the extra weight, the rats regained body weight to their initial levels, showing that the “weight sensor” was active in both directions.(Jansson et al., 2018)
This suggests that a weighted vest for walking and doing other normal daily activities has the potential to reduce body fat. The researchers hypothesized that since most people sit down all day long, this could shift the gravitostat to sense that there is less weight and could contribute to obesity. Wearing a weighted vest and exercising with a weight vest signal to the gravitostats in the bone that there has been an increase in weight and the body needs to compensate to get back to normal body weight.
When rats are sent into space in a microgravity environment (i.e., less body weight exposure), they have an increased appetite. In contrast, exposure to hyper-gravity (i.e., increased body weight exposure) reduces appetite. (Warren et al., 1997)
Interestingly, this gravitostat mechanism seems to work independently of leptin. Well, that works in rats; what about human studies? If humans did their normal activities throughout the day with added weight, would they lose weight like the rats?
WEIGHTED VEST WORKOUTS STUDY RESULTS IN A 4% BODY FAT LOSS IN 3 WEEKS
In 2020, the first human study in which researchers had 69 obese subjects wear weighted vests while a control group wore a placebo vest. The weighted vests were 11% of the subject’s body weight, whereas the placebo was 1% of their body weight (1 pound).
They did not just wear it while exercising, as many people would. They wore the weighted vest for at least 8 hours a day for 3 weeks. The subjects were told not to change their diet, just eat as they normally would. The subjects were not involved in any exercise program either; they wore a weight vest all day and were told to do their normal activities.