The effects of high altitude trekking on body composition and resting metabolic rate

Horm Metab Res. 1997 Sep;29(9):458-61. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-979077.


Resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition were evaluated in 12 healthy volunteers before and after 16 days of high altitude trekking and climbing. RMR was measured by indirect calorimetry and body composition by electrical impedance. A 29% reduction in energy intake during high altitude exposure was observed. Fat mass loss averaged about 2.2 kg (p < 0.05) and lean body mass about 1.1 kg, which was almost significant (p = 0.07). As expected, estimated RMR at the end of the expedition--calculated by predictive formulae including body fat and lean body mass as covariates--was significantly reduced by 119 kcal/day as a consequence of the reduction in body weight. Measured RMR values, on the contrary, did not show any significant decline. In conclusion our study showed that high altitude trekking induced a weight loss due approximately 2/3rds to fat mass and 1/3rd to lean body mass. Decreased energy efficiency, which was still present several days after returning to sea level, may have helped contribute to weight loss due to reduced energy intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altitude*
  • Basal Metabolism*
  • Body Composition*
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Walking
  • Weight Loss*