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Effect of weight loss and refeeding diet composition on anaerobic performance in wrestlers


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 1996 - Volume 28 - Issue 10 - p 1292-1299
Applied Sciences: Physical Fitness and Performance

Collegiate wrestlers (N = 12) consumed a formula, hypoenergy diet(18 kcal·kg-1, 60% carbohydrate) without dehydration for 72 h. For the next 5 h, the athletes were fed either a 75% (HC) or a 47% (MC) carbohydrate formula diet of 21 kcal·kg-1. Each wrestler performed three anaerobic arm ergometer performance tests (TEST1, before weight loss; TEST2, after weight loss; TEST3, after refeeding). Blood withdrawn just before and after each test was analyzed for pH, bicarbonate, base excess, glucose, and lactate. Both groups had a similar significant reduction in total work done during TEST2 (92.4% of TEST1). Work done in TEST3 by HC was 99.1% of TEST1 while MC did 91.5% of their initial work (P= 0.1). Peak power was unaffected by the treatment. Plasma lactate significantly increased during the performance test from 1.72 to 21.91 mmol·l-1 as did plasma glucose from 4.88 to 5.25 mmol·l-1 when groups and trials were collapsed. Lactate accumulation was diminished during TEST2 compared with the other tests. Although the exercise bout reduced pH, bicarbonate, and base excess, there was no difference in the effect by group. In conclusion, weight loss by energy restriction significantly reduced anaerobic performance of wrestlers. Those on a high carbohydrate refeeding diet tended to recover their performance while those on a moderate carbohydrate diet did not. The changes in performance were not explained by the acid/base parameters measured.

Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0351

Submitted for publication September 1995.

Accepted for publication April 1996.

The authors would like to thank the College of Education at Virginia Tech for assistance in funding the project and Ross Laboratories for donating the formula diet. Janet Sims at Montgomery Regional Hospital assisted with blood gas analysis while Scott Van Geluwe assisted during data collection. Jay Williams and William Aschenbach helped to develop the performance test.

Address for correspondence: Janet Walberg Rankin, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0351. E-mail:

©1996The American College of Sports Medicine