Introduction: Maximizing fat mass (FM) loss while preserving or increasing fat-free mass (FFM) is a central goal for athletic performance but the composition of body weight (BW) changes over time with training are largely unknown.
Purpose: We aimed to analyze FM and FFM contributions to BW changes and to test if these contributions follow established rules and predictions over one athletic season.
Methods: Seventy athletes (42 men; handball, volleyball, basketball, triathlon, and swimming) were evaluated from the beginning to the competitive stage of the season and were empirically divided into those who lost (n = 20) or gained >1.5% BW (n = 50). FM and FFM were evaluated with a four-compartment model. Energy densities (ED) of 1.0 kcal·g−1 for FFM and 9.5 kcal·g−1 for FM were used to calculate ED/per kilogram BW change.
Results: Athletes that lost >1.5% BW decreased FM by 1.7 ± 1.6 kg (P < 0.05), whereas FFM loss was nonsignificant (−0.7 ± 2.1 kg). Those who gained >1.5% BW increased FFM by 2.3 ± 2.1 kg (P < 0.05) with nonsignificant FM gains (0.4 ± 2.2 kg). The proportion of BW change as FM for those who lost or gained BW was 90% (ED: 8678 ± 2147 kcal·kg−1) and 5% (ED: 1449 ± 1525 kcal·kg−1), respectively (P < 0.001). FFM changes from Forbes Curve were inversely related to observed changes (r = −0.64; r = −0.81, respectively for those who lost or gained BW).
Conclusions: Athletes that lost BW used 90% of the energy from FM while in those gaining BW, 95% was directed to FFM. When BW is lost, dynamic changes in its composition do not follow established rules and predictions used for lean or overweight/obese nonathletic populations.
1Exercise and Health Laboratory, CIPER, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, Cruz-Quebrada, PORTUGAL; 2Department of Mathematical Sciences, United States Military Academy West Point, NY; and 3Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA
Address for correspondence: Analiza Mónica Silva, Ph.D., Exercise and Health Laboratory, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, 1499-002 Cruz-Quebrada, Portugal; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted for publication March 2017.
Accepted for publication May 2017.