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Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete

Eric T Trexler1, Abbie E Smith-Ryan1* and Layne E Norton2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 209 Fetzer Hall, CB# 8700, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8700, USA

2 BioLayne LLC, Tampa, FL, USA

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Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014, 11:7  doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-7

Published: 27 February 2014


Optimized body composition provides a competitive advantage in a variety of sports. Weight reduction is common among athletes aiming to improve their strength-to-mass ratio, locomotive efficiency, or aesthetic appearance. Energy restriction is accompanied by changes in circulating hormones, mitochondrial efficiency, and energy expenditure that serve to minimize the energy deficit, attenuate weight loss, and promote weight regain. The current article reviews the metabolic adaptations observed with weight reduction and provides recommendations for successful weight reduction and long term reduced-weight maintenance in athletes.

Weight loss; Energy restriction; Body composition; Energy expenditure; Metabolic rate; Energy deficit; Weight maintenance; Uncoupling proteins; Mitochondrial efficiency