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NMU 162 – Wearing a Weighted Vest Shows Impressive Weight-loss Results in Overweight Subjects

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 162 (May 7, 2020)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Wearing a Weighted Vest Shows Impressive Weight-loss Results in Overweight Subjects

Source: journal E-ClinicalMedicine (April 2020)


A fascinating research study on weight loss was published in the journal EClinicalMedicine in April 2020. In the study researchers recruited sixty-nine subjects who were overweight (body mass index {BMI} of 30-35). Each subject wore a weighted vest eight hours a day for three weeks and otherwise lived as they normally would. The subjects were assigned to one of two groups. One group wore a light vest weighing 1 kg (2.2 pounds), while the treatment group wore a heavier vest weighing 11 kg (24.2 pounds). After three weeks the subjects who wore the heavier vests lost 1.6 kg (3.5 pounds) of pure fat from their body, as their muscle tissue stayed essentially the same. Those wearing the light vests lost 0.3 kg (.66 pounds or much less than a pound).

So, here is the explanation. Animal studies, and now human studies, have shown that somewhere in our brain or nervous system resides an internal body scale, or what scientists call our gravitostat, or internal weighing machine. Through some internal mechanism, it appears that people get comfortable at a particular set point weight, even if they become overweight. Somehow the internal body scale or weighing machine tries to bring us back to this internal set point, which can make weight loss very difficult for some people. It appears that wearing a weighted vest (24 pounds) fools the body’s internal weighing machine or gravitostat into thinking there is too much weight on the body frame. In turn, it either adjusts our appetite and/or food consumption or helps us burn excess calories to move the weight we are carrying around on our frame down to the established set point weight. As the researchers explain, if people do a lot of sitting, what seems to happen is that the reading on our internal scale falls too low. (the internal scale senses less weight on our body when we are sitting vs standing). This may explain, in part, why sitting is so clearly associated with obesity and ill-health. As such, weighted vests can raise the reading on our internal scales, prompting our body to try to lose excess weight in order to get down to our set point weight.

Building on this idea of adding artificial weight to the body, in the New York Times Bestseller book the Sports Gene, David Epstein shines a light on the research showing that wearing 4-pound ankle weights wrapped around each ankle increases the calories burned during running by 24%. The same or similar outcome is probably true regarding walking. You burn more calories if your ankles weigh more. Using an 8-pound weighted vest around the waist only burned 4% more calories while running. So, when it comes to walking or running increasing weight at the ankles is how you burn more calories with each stride. So, here is a potential take away for individuals wanting to lose some body fat by incorporating weighted vests and ankle weights into their program.

1. During the day if you have a sedentary job, consider wearing a 24-lb weighted vest. It may impact your internal body scale or gravitostat in a way that decreases your caloric intake naturally and/or helps you burn more calories.

2. If you are on a walking program for exercise, then take the weighted vest off and wrap a 4-pound ankle weight around each ankle, which has the potential to burn up to 24% more calories during the same exercise period.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.


1. Claes Ohlsson, Edwin Gidestrand, Jacob Bellman, Christel Larsson, Vilborg Palsdottir, Daniel Hägg, Per-Anders Jansson, John-Olov Jansson. Increased weight loading reduces body weight and body fat in obese subjects – A proof of concept randomized clinical trial. EClinicalMedicine, 2020; 100338

2. The Sports Gene. Author David Epstein (pages 196-197 paperback) Portfolio/Penguin – 2014

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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