Physical performance and metabolic recovery among lean, healthy men following a prolonged energy deficit

Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jul;18(5):317-24. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-972640.


Previous studies have demonstrated that full recovery from weight loss may take months or years. The present investigation examined short-term recovery (5 wks "post") of physical performance (muscular strength, muscular power, vertical jump), body composition, metabolic hormones (testosterone, luteinizing hormone, sex hormone binding globulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, triiodothyronine, thyroxine, thyroid binding globulin, and thyroid-stimulating hormone) and metabolic markers (transferrin, ferritin, prealbumin, glycerol, nonesterified fatty acids, high-density lipoproteins, and lactate) in 10 healthy young men after an 8-week Army course with an energy deficit (1000 kcal/d) and loss of body mass (-12%). Subjects ate ad libitum after the course ended ("post"). Body composition was determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; strength from a simulated power clean, power from body mass and jump height, and metabolic hormones were measured in morning-fasted blood by radioimmunoassay. With the exception of transferrin and glycerol, all study parameters were significantly (p<.05) altered by the training course. At 5 weeks post fat-free mass along with all physical performance measures returned to initial levels; however, fat mass had significantly (p<.05) increased over initial levels. Also, with the exception of lactate, all measured hormones and markers were close to initial levels and within normal ranges. Reported complications during recovery included sleep irregularities, diarrhea, loss of motivation and feelings of fatigue. While the long range effect of this energy deprivation experience is uncertain, these data do suggest that severe weight loss does not result in lasting alterations of the contractile and metabolic properties of skeletal muscle in young, lean, healthy men.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • United States
  • Weight Loss / physiology*