Physiological Changes Following Competition in Male and Female Physique Athletes: A Pilot Study

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism

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Eric T. TrexlerUniversity of North Carolina

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Katie R. HirschUniversity of North Carolina

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Bill I. CampbellUniversity of South Florida

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Abbie E. Smith-RyanUniversity of North Carolina

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The purpose of the current study was to evaluate changes in body composition, metabolic rate, and hormones during postcompetition recovery. Data were collected from natural physique athletes (7 male/8 female) within one week before (T1) competition, within one week after (T2), and 4–6 weeks after (T3) competition. Measures included body composition (fat mass [FM] and lean mass [LM] from ultrasongraphy), resting metabolic rate (RMR; indirect calorimetry), and salivary leptin, testosterone, cortisol, ghrelin, and insulin. Total body water (TBW; bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy) was measured at T1 and T2 in a subsample (n = 8) of athletes. Significant (p < .05) changes were observed for weight (T1 = 65.4 ± 12.2 kg, T2 = 67.4 ± 12.6, T3 = 69.3 ± 13.4; T3 > T2 > T1), LM (T1 = 57.6 ± 13.9 kg, T2 = 59.4 ± 14.2, T3 = 59.3 ± 14.2; T2 and T3 > T1), and FM (T1 = 7.7 ± 4.4 kg, T2 = 8.0 ± 4.4, T3 = 10.0 ± 6.2; T3 > T1 and T2). TBW increased from T1 to T2 (Δ=1.9 ± 1.3 L, p < .01). RMR increased from baseline (1612 ± 266 kcal/day; 92.0% of predicted) to T2 (1881 ± 329, 105.3%; p < .01) and T3 (1778 ± 257, 99.6%; p < .001). Cortisol was higher (p < .05) at T2 (0.41 ± 0.31 μg/dL) than T1 (0.34 ± 0.31) and T3 (0.35 ± 0.27). Male testosterone at T3 (186.6 ± 41.3 pg/mL) was greater than T2 (148.0 ± 44.6, p = .04). RMR changes were associated (p ≤ .05) with change in body fat percent (ΔBF%; r = .59) and T3 protein intake (r= .60); male testosterone changes were inversely associated (p≤ .05) with ΔBF%, ΔFM, and Δweight (r=-0.81–-0.88). TBW increased within days of competition. Precompetition RMR suppression appeared to be variable and markedly reversed by overfeeding, and reverted toward normal levels following competition. RMR and male testosterone increased while FM was preferentially gained 4–6 weeks postcompetition.

Trexler, Hirsch, and Smith-Ryan are with the Human Movement Science Curriculum, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Campbell is with the Performance & Physique Enhancement Laboratory, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

Address author correspondence to Abbie E. Smith-Ryan at abbiesmith@unc.edu.
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