A systematic review of the separate and combined effects of energy restriction and exercise on fat-free mass in middle-aged and older adults: implications for sarcopenic obesity

Nutr Rev. 2010 Jul;68(7):375-88. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00298.x.


The systematic review presented here assessed the effects of energy restriction (ER) and exercise (EX) on fat-free mass (FFM) in overweight and obese middle-aged and older adults. PubMed was searched using the key words "weight loss or energy restriction" AND "skeletal muscle or body composition," with limitations set for "human" and "middle-aged and aged." Results from 52 studies are reported as the percentages of EX (mainly aerobic training), ER, or ER+EX groups that had a specified change in body weight and FFM, since insufficient data were available for a meta-analysis. The EX groups had modest body weight and FFM changes. Eighty-one percent and 39% of the ER and ER+EX groups, respectively, lost > or = 15% of body weight as FFM. These findings suggest that exercise is an effective tool to help men and postmenopausal women aged > or = 50 years, with a BMI greater than 25 kg/m(2) preserve FFM after moderate ER-induced weight loss, which is important for combating sarcopenic obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / diet therapy
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Sarcopenia / complications
  • Sarcopenia / diet therapy*
  • Sarcopenia / therapy*
  • Weight Loss