Body mass, body composition and sleeping metabolic rate before, during and after endurance training

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Metabolic rate, more specifically resting metabolic rate (RMR) or sleeping metabolic rate (SMR), of an adult subject is usually expressed as a function of the fat-free mass (FFM). Chronic exercise is thought to increase FFM and thus to increase RMR and SMR. We determined body mass (BM), body composition, and SMR before, during, and after an endurance training programme without interfering with energy intake. The subjects were 11 women and 12 men, aged 37 (SD 3) years and body mass index 22.3 (SD 1.5) kg · m−2. The endurance training prepared subjects to run a half marathon competition after 44 weeks. The SMR was measured overnight in a respiration chamber. Body composition was measured by hydrostatic weighing. Measurements were performed at 0, 8, 20, 40, and 90 weeks after the start of the training. The BM had decreased from a mean value of 66.6 (SD 6.9) to 65.6 (SD 6.7) kg (P<0.01), fat mass (FM) had decreased from 17.1 (SD 3.9) to 13.5 (SD 3.6) kg (P<0.001), and FFM had increased from 49.5 (SD 7.3) to 52.2 (SD 7.6) kg (P<0.001) at 40 weeks. Mean SMR before and after 40 weeks training was 6.5 (SD 0.7) and 6.2 (SD 0.6) MJ · day−1 (P<0.05). The decrease in SMR was related to the decrease in BM (r=0.62,P=0.001). At 90 weeks, when most subjects had not trained for nearly a year, BM and SMR were not significantly different from the initial value while FM and FFM had not changed since week 40 of training. In conclusion, it was found that an exercise induced increase in FFM did not result in an increase in SMR. There was an indication of the opposite effect, a decrease in SMR in the long term during training, possibly as a defence mechanism of the body in the maintenance of BM.