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Andreas M. Kasper, Ben Crighton, Carl Langan-Evans, Philip Riley, Asheesh Sharma, Graeme L. Close and James P. Morton

The aim of the present case study was to quantify the physiological and metabolic impact of extreme weight cutting by an elite male mixed martial arts athlete. Throughout an 8-week period, we obtained regular assessments of body composition, resting metabolic rate, peak oxygen uptake, and blood clinical chemistry to assess endocrine status, lipid profiles, hydration, and kidney function. The athlete adhered to a “phased” weight loss plan consisting of 7 weeks of reduced energy (ranging from 1,300 to 1,900 kcal/day) intake (Phase 1), 5 days of water loading with 8 L/day for 4 days followed by 250 ml on Day 5 (Phase 2), 20 hr of fasting and dehydration (Phase 3), and 32 hr of rehydration and refueling prior to competition (Phase 4). Body mass declined by 18.1% (80.2 to 65.7 kg) corresponding to changes of 4.4, 2.8, and 7.3 kg in Phases 1, 2, and 3, respectively. We observed clear indices of relative energy deficiency, as evidenced by reduced resting metabolic rate (−331 kcal), inability to complete performance tests, alterations to endocrine hormones (testosterone: <3 nmol/L), and hypercholesterolemia (>6 mmol/L). Moreover, severe dehydration (reducing body mass by 9.3%) in the final 24 hr prior to weigh-in-induced hypernatremia (plasma sodium: 148 mmol/L) and acute kidney injury (serum creatinine: 177 μmol/L). These data, therefore, support publicized reports of the harmful (and potentially fatal) effects of extreme weight cutting in mixed martial arts athletes and represent a call for action to governing bodies to safeguard the welfare of mixed martial arts athletes.

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Samuel G. Impey, Kelly M. Hammond, Robert Naughton, Carl Langan-Evans, Sam O. Shepherd, Adam P. Sharples, Jessica Cegielski, Kenneth Smith, Stewart Jeromson, David L. Hamilton, Graeme L. Close and James P. Morton

We examined the effects of whey versus collagen protein on skeletal muscle cell signaling responses associated with mitochondrial biogenesis and protein synthesis in recovery from an acute training session completed with low carbohydrate availability. In a repeated-measures design (after adhering to a 36-hr exercise–dietary intervention to standardize preexercise muscle glycogen), eight males completed a 75-min nonexhaustive cycling protocol and consumed 22 g of a hydrolyzed collagen blend (COLLAGEN) or whey (WHEY) protein 45 min prior to exercise, 22 g during exercise, and 22 g immediately postexercise. Exercise decreased (p < .05) muscle glycogen content by comparable levels from pre- to postexercise in both trials (≈300–150 mmol/kg·dry weight). WHEY protein induced greater increases in plasma branched chain amino acids (p = .03) and leucine (p = .02) than COLLAGEN. Exercise induced (p < .05) similar increases in PGC-1α (fivefold) mRNA at 1.5 hr postexercise between conditions, although no effect of exercise (p > .05) was observed for p53, Parkin, and Beclin1 mRNA. Exercise suppressed (p < .05) p70S6K1 activity in both conditions immediately postexercise (≈25 fmol·min−1·mg−1). Postexercise feeding increased p70S6K1 activity at 1.5 hr postexercise (p < .05), the magnitude of which was greater (p < .05) in WHEY (180 ± 105 fmol·min−1·mg−1) versus COLLAGEN (73 ± 42 fmol·min−1·mg−1). We conclude that protein composition does not modulate markers of mitochondrial biogenesis when in recovery from a training session deliberately completed with low carbohydrate availability. By contrast, whey protein augments postexercise p70S6K activity compared with hydrolyzed collagen, as likely mediated via increased leucine availability.