Are predictive equations a valid method of assessing the resting metabolic rate of overweight or obese former athletes?

Eur J Sport Sci. 2020 Oct;20(9):1225-1234. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2019.1708974. Epub 2020 Jan 7.


Athletes retiring from their sports career, an understudied population, are susceptible to become overweight/obese because of decreased energy expenditure not followed by a reduction in energy intake. Therefore, their energy requirements, through resting metabolic rate (RMR), should be accurately addressed for weight management purposes. This study aimed to determine the validity of predictive equations (PEq) for RMR estimation using indirect calorimetry as the reference method in a sample of overweight/obese former athletes. The study uses cross-sectional data collected during baseline measurements of a lifestyle intervention (NCT03031951). The RMR of 56 overweight/obese (31.5 (4.0 kg/m2)) individuals (78.6% male, 37.5% obese, 95.8 (14.8 kg), 174.2 (8.7 cm)) was measured by indirect calorimetry and predicted using seven PEq: Harris-Benedict, Cunningham, Schofield, FAO/WHO/UNU, Owen, Mifflin-St. Jeor, and Katch-McArdle. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to assess body composition. The PEq overestimated the RMR measured by the indirect calorimetry, 70-300 kcal/day (4.3-14.9%). The linear regression between the reference and each of the PEq did not differ from the identity line with estimated values explaining around 50% of the variability of the measured values. The agreement between the methods was weak for all the PEq showing wide limits of agreement. The Harris-Benedict equation was the only one in which the difference between the methods was not related to the magnitude of the measured RMR. Given the weak performance of the various RMR models in overweight/obese former athletes, an effective weight management intervention based on estimated resting energy requirements may be compromised.

Keywords: Assessment; metabolism; nutrition; obesity; prediction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Athletes*
  • Basal Metabolism*
  • Body Composition
  • Calorimetry, Indirect / standards
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Overweight / metabolism*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retirement*
  • Young Adult