Body Fat v Gear Weight Savings

Discussion in 'Hiking Chat' started by paul, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. paul

    paul Thru Hiker

    This topic enthralls me!!

    As a tub of lard ive often been asked "why dont you lose weight instead of buying lighter gear". Well the fact is true that i would move a lot better if i was a racing snake but im also not convinced that there is a straight line return on body weight dropped.

    I base this around 2 key facts

    1. The body stores fat in a very efficient way which means it is a lot closer to the skeletal system than any backpack can be.

    2. The body will add compensatory strength in the muscular system. My legs are incredibly powerful as they have to carry the lard around. This extra load has built up over time so the body has gently acclimatised to the extra burden. When you put on a backpack it is weight you are not used to carrying.

    My thoughts on this is that i will benefit more from losing 500g on stuff i strap to my back today rather than 500g from the spare tyre that im used to carrying. i.e added load is added load regardless of what you weigh and your body recognises only that you are carrying more on your back

    Of course i feel better when ive shifted a significant amount of weight and im not saying that lighter gear is better than losing excess body fat. Im coming at this from a bio mechanical angle rather than any health an fitness benefits.

    So to finish, do we think there is any way of arriving at a ratio which would reflect gear savings over fat savings. Id hazard a guess at 1kg lost in body fat would only be 70% as efficient as losing a full 1 kg from your loadout.

    As an example im sure everyone has packs that seem to carry lighter than other packs with the same load out and i guess that comes down to fit and how efficiently the weight is put onto the body.

    Discuss!!
  2. EM - Ross

    EM - Ross Thru Hiker

    Sure - my old Lowe weighs 3 times that of my OMM but for bigger loads it's a pleasure to carry in comparison.

    You theory may be true for some folk especially if they've been large for a long time but not for me IMO. I was 10st from the age of 16 to 30. 30" waist & 36" chest. I crept up another couple of stone & added inches to age 40 - waist 32" chest 40", mainly due to adding muscle bulk. I was at my fittest in my 30's. In my 40's went through a bad patch where I did little exercise or outdoor activity & was generally self-destructive diet & lifestyle wise. My weight increased to 16st, 36" waist & 44" chest. The fats mainly around my waist. I've had my shoe size increase by a size & had problems with my feet & back. My legs, always strong, can take it but my feet & back can't. If I don't get down to at least 14 stone, hopefully 13 stone within the next couple of years I can't see me backpacking into my 70's as I'd always hoped. Weight off the pack may be better than weight off the carcass to a certain degree, but past a certain tipping point which will vary from person to person I think weight off the carcass is better. I'm looking forward to the day I'm down to a better weight, got rid of the gut & find it less of a struggle to put my socks on in the confines of a small tent!
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  3. paul

    paul Thru Hiker

    Yea i fully agree that wear and tear will shorten your outdoor lifetime unless the fat is shifted. Its that tipping point and likely ratio of pack being a better saving that fascinates me. I know i will never be able to quantify it meaningfully but for me i think there is definitely a performance improvement (less awful than usual) associated with pack weight savings.
  4. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Dropped 4kg off my total rucksack weight last year, also managed to lose 4kg in body weight.
    I am able to notice both, i go up hills easier and feel a noggin fresher after a days with with both weigh loses.

    I'm still fat and still need to lose around 10kg, i've never dieted a day in my life, so i am just gradually upping my exercise durations and intensities and am still eating the same (i don't eat bad any ways).

    Way i see it is as long as i don't jump into too much too quickly and injure myself there is really no negative side to losing body fat.
    I'll be fitter from excessing and i'll feel faster and recover quicker as a result of losing excess body fat.

    Win, win really

    One other thing to consider, if people diet wrong they cold very well be losing body weight, but it's likely a lot of that will be muscle.
    Lose say 1kg of muscle and it's likely you'll not feel so good when out hiking, lose 1kg of fat and you'll feel better, lose 1kg out of the rucksack weight and again you'll feel better.


    One other thing i've noticed about getting a bit fitter which i find really odd.
    I sleep warmer now.
    I've been out with the same sleeping bag and mat at the same temps and when i was fatter and not as fit i had to wear my down pullover.
    The exact same temp now and i'm hot with just my baselayer on.
    Also noticed this on day to day stuff as well.

    I'd have thought that with losing some body fat my body wouldn't be as well insulated, but it seems something else is going on, probably to do with my metabolism.

    Still if i can get away with a lighter sleeping bag that's another win to getting fitter and losing weight :)
  5. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    I've gained about 12Kgs over the last year; slowly dropping it now as life changes.

    I'm much faster and feel much better in the hills when more slender - it makes sense. A few years ago post-cancer treatment I could float over the hills - I was something like 35% lighter than I had been - not perhaps the ideal way to slim down though :rolleyes:

    A lot of hill ability is rooted in psychology for me; I know I can walk X miles ergo I can still walk X miles. Last year I hit the Colorado Trail with very few hill days in my legs after a 19 month lay-off - averaged 17 miles a day and was regularly doing 20+ days a couple of weeks later.
    gixer likes this.
  6. Social Climber

    Social Climber Trail Blazer

    I am chubby no doubt and carry a pack with a base weight of less than 5kg which I think is pretty light for uk standards. For me while weight loss could be a critical factor the biggest improvement to going out in the hills is fitness. I have been out a hellova lot this year and every trip gets easier and more fun , I might have lost a couple of pounds ( remember all these things are relative) but rather than make an effort on dieting do something you love, get out more. It's a win win situation and so piggin' obvious.

    Maybe next year I will make a conscious effort to loose a kg but fear I might become even more attractive to the opposite sex and end up having to carrying a big ****ty stick.

    And just to echo previous posts, don't get sucked into consumerism, your never going to notice a 16 oz difference pack weight, get fitter or loose weight.

    Sorry if I haven't answered your question.
  7. Gazelle

    Gazelle Ultralighter

    I agree with SC.

    Hill fitness doesn't necessarily mean weight loss.
  8. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Todays harsh news!

    " The worldwide cost of obesity is about the same as smoking or armed conflict and greater than both alcoholism and climate change, research suggests."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30122015
  9. Social Climber

    Social Climber Trail Blazer

    With all due respect I appreciate both tobacco and obesity are a burden on health services all over the world but please it comes nowhere even close to spending on weapons and the military.
  10. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Let's see some peer reviewed papers then :D ?
  11. Social Climber

    Social Climber Trail Blazer

    Trust me, I am an economist by profession and can prove any point I want with a graph so complicated no one will ever understand.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
  12. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Trust an 'economist'....like Gideon? OK (sacrificial lamb emoticon)
  13. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Reading it, I don't think that's quite what it is saying?

    Indeed. Seems unlikely. Many 'studies' the media use to justify a headline seem to beg very obvious questions about their validity.

    I've not read said report (or even the article thoroughly:rolleyes:) - Just saw the item this morning minutes before seeing this thread and thought it might be of irreverence... ;)
  14. el manana

    el manana Thru Hiker

    Spend time and money getting all excited ogling ti and cuben to save 200 grams or abstain from beer and pizza to lose a couple of kilos....its a tricky one isn't it? :)

    I read recently when you lose weight 20-30% will be from muscle? (Unless you weight train to compensate) Ive had to lose weight this year, gained a stone over 4 years, I felt walking this year a real effort, more than just the lack of fitness.

    Dietings a nightmare, if you have to lose 2 stones, realistic 1lb a week, that's going to take over half a year, thats not just eating normally or avoiding over eating, that's consistently under eating for 6+ months...its not easy.

    Exercise more?...that's increases appetite and hunger...making it even harder...unless you do an Ed and do a 6 week long distance path...:)

    Lost 9lb now, projected plan.... 01st March weight and BMI will be normal..roll on...:(
  15. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    'Roll' being the operative word :p

    Time to venture out and compare avoirdupois I reckon !
  16. el manana

    el manana Thru Hiker

    When your not baby sitting...:rolleyes:;)
  17. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    I'm free till Christ mass :rolleyes:
  18. Hedley Heap

    Hedley Heap Section Hiker

  19. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

  20. Social Climber

    Social Climber Trail Blazer

    Your right Mole, having read then retread the bbc article it's says a lot but means nothing.
    The only thing I can gleem from it is fat people "cost".

    I wonder how they define cost!
  21. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Not sure it's that simple an equation. E.g. FB (Of windy) ballooned over a several years to 18+stone. He managed to lose 8.5 stone over less than 2 years. He claimed he ate like a horse throughout - carbs, veg n protein- just cut back massively on fat n sugar n stopped alcohol 99% and went running a lot.
  22. 7wave

    7wave Trail Blazer

    Since scientists say that muscle is heavier than fat, it's important to keep in mind that it's about getting fit, not just losing weight.
  23. EM - Ross

    EM - Ross Thru Hiker

    Very true. Little of my planned weight loss will be through dieting.
  24. 7wave

    7wave Trail Blazer

    Also, to a certain extent, it's a matter of will. Twice in my life i have lost over 20 pounds in a month period.

    P.s. Through exercise always, never miss those endorphines ;)
  25. Social Climber

    Social Climber Trail Blazer

    Did you cut off a limb?

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