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BODY COMPOSITION AND POWER PERFORMANCE

IMPROVED AFTER WEIGHT REDUCTION IN


MALE ATHLETES WITHOUT HAMPERING
HORMONAL BALANCE
HEIKKI T. HUOVINEN,1 JUHA J. HULMI,1 JUHA ISOLEHTO,1 HEIKKI KYROLAINEN,1 RISTO PUURTINEN,1
TUOMO KARILA,2 KRZYSZTOF MACKALA,3 AND ANTTI A. MERO1
1

Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland; 2Dextra Sports and Injury Clinic,
Helsinki, Finland; and 3Department of Track and Field, University School of Physical Education in Wrocaw (AWF),
Wrocaw, Poland
ABSTRACT

Huovinen, HT, Hulmi, JJ, Isolehto, J, Kyrolainen, H, Puurtinen, R,


Karila, T, Mackala, K, and Mero, AA. Body composition and
power performance improved after weight reduction in male
athletes without hampering hormonal balance. J Strength
Cond Res 29(1): 2936, 2015The aim of this study was to
investigate the effects of a 4-week weight reduction period
with high protein and reduced carbohydrate intake on body
composition, explosive power, speed, serum hormones, and
acid-base balance in male track and field jumpers and sprinters. Eight participants were assigned to a high weight reduction group (HWR; energy restriction 750 kcal$d21) and 7 to
a low weight reduction group (LWR; energy restriction 300
kcal$d21). Energy and carbohydrate intake decreased significantly (p # 0.05) only in HWR by 740 6 330 kcal$d21 and
130 6 29 g$d21, respectively. Furthermore, total body mass
and fat mass decreased (p # 0.05) only in HWR by 2.2 6
1.0 kg and 1.7 6 1.6 kg, respectively. Fat-free mass (FFM),
serum testosterone, cortisol, and sex hormonebinding globulin did not change significantly. Ca2+ ion and pH decreased
(p # 0.05) only in HWR (3.1 6 2.8% and 0.8 6 0.8%, respectively), whereas HCO2
3 declined (p # 0.05) in both groups by
19.3 6 6.2% in HWR and by 13.1 6 8.5% in LWR. The
countermovement jump and 20-m sprint time improved consistently (p # 0.05) only in HWR, by 2.6 6 2.5 cm and 0.04 6
0.04 seconds, respectively. Finally, athletes with a fat percentage of 10% or more at the baseline were able to preserve FFM.
In conclusion, altered acid-base balance but improved weightbearing power performance was observed without negative
consequences on serum hormones and FFM after a 4-week
Address correspondence to Antti A. Mero, antti.a.mero@jyu.fi.
29(1)/2936
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
2015 National Strength and Conditioning Association

weight reduction of 0.5 kg$wk21 achieved by reduced carbohydrate but maintained high protein intake.

KEY WORDS explosive power, testosterone, protein


INTRODUCTION

eight reduction is a common practice among


weight category athletes (e.g., weightlifters,
wrestlers, bodybuilders) ski jumpers, and
some track and field athletes. Arguments for
weight reduction in athletes include optimizing athletic performance, losing weight to compete in a certain weight category, and aesthetic reasons (7). Reduction of body weight,
particularly fat, improves power-to-weight ratio and may be
beneficial in weight-bearing efforts, such as jumping and running (for review see study by Fogelholm (7)).
In weight category sports, most of the athletes generally
compete in a weight class about 10% below their off-season
body mass (1,3). In many other sports, athletes reduce
weight either before the competition season or before major
competitions in the hope of improving performance (7).
Although weight reduction is widely used by many athletes,
it has been studied modestly in this population. The present
study focuses on a gradual weight reduction (GWR) procedure, which lasts 7 days or longer (7).
Two of the most powerful variables that influence the
outcomes of a GWR procedure seem to be the magnitude of
energy deficit and protein intake (11). A weight reduction
rate of 0.5 kg$wk21, corresponding to an energy deficit of
about 550 kcal$d21, may provide better results than either
a more modest or higher loss of body mass in terms of gains
in explosive power performance (10), improving body composition (10,11), and minimizing hormonal alterations (21).
In addition, high-protein diets (.2 g$kg21$d21) have been
noted to preserve lean mass during weight reduction in
resistance-trained individuals during a resistance training
period (22). However, an adverse effect of high-protein diet
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Weight Reduction in Male Power Athletes


session with the exercises used in
the physical tests (most athletes
used them, however, also in their
normal training) and received
general instructions for the study.
The participants were then instructed to record diet, bodyweight, and training diaries for
the next 4 days. The diet diaries
were analyzed using the Micro
Nutrica nutrient analysis software (version 3.11; Social Insurance Institution of Finland,
Helsinki, Finland). Resting metabolic rate (RMR) was calculated
as follows: RMR (kcal$d21) =
2857 + 9.0 (weight in kg) +
Figure 1. Study design. HWR = high weight reduction; LWR = low weight reduction.
11.7 (height in cm) (5). This formula has been shown to give
a standard error estimation of
on acid-base balance has been proposed (6), but this has not
91 kcal$d21 in male athletes (5). Energy expenditure through
been investigated during weight loss together with perforphysical activity was estimated using the Internet application
mance markers.
EnergyNet (University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland). The diet of
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of
each athlete during WRP was then evaluated and formulated
a high energy deficit diet (;750 kcal$d21) and a moderate
according to the analysis of the diaries; the diet consisted of
one (;300 kcal$d21) in athletes just before their actual comfoods and drinks that the athlete was normally consuming.
petitive season. Furthermore, the functionality of an optimal
Energy restriction was achieved by decreasing CHO and fat
GWR diet with high protein and low carbohydrate (CHO)
intake while maintaining high protein ($2 g$kg21$d21) intake.
to optimize jumping and sprint running performance while
The participants recorded diet diaries for 2 days each week
maintaining fat-free mass (FFM), as well as hormonal paduring the WRP. Using these diaries and morning body scale
rameters and acid-base balance, was examined.
weight, researchers monitored the reduction in body weight
and its progression as planned. Micronutrient supplements
METHODS
(vitamins and minerals) were allowed and the participants
Experimental Approach to the Problem
were instructed to use them during the study period. The use
Study design is shown in Figure 1. The weight reduction period
of creatine supplementation was not allowed, and no partic(WRP) occurred at the end of the training season just before the
ipants followed vegetarian/vegan or any other special diets.
beginning of indoor competitions. One week before the beginAll participants were advised to keep their training program
ning of the 4-week diet, the participants had a familiarization
consistent during WRP, which was also controlled and
monitored for volume and
intensity each week by the
researchers and the athletes
coaches.
TABLE 1. Nutritional intake before and during weight reduction period.*
LWR
Before
EI (kcal$kg21$d21)
Protein (g$kg21$d21)
Fat (g$kg21$d21)
CHO (g$kg21$d21)

36.9
2.1
1.3
4.2

6
6
6
6

8.0
0.5
0.2
1.5

HWR
During

32.8
2.1
1.1
3.6

6
6
6
6

6.6
0.5
0.3
0.9

Before
35.7
2.1
0.9
4.6

6
6
6
6

5.6
0.7
0.3z
0.6

Subjects

During
27.1
2.1
0.7
3.0

6
6
6
6

3.4z
0.3
0.2z
0.3z

*LWR = low weight reduction; HWR = high weight reduction; EI = energy intake; CHO =
carbohydrates.
Significant difference vs. before, p # 0.01.
zSignificant difference vs. LWR, p # 0.05.

30

the

The present
study
was
approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of
Jyvaskyla. The volunteers were
20- to 35-year-old national and
international level Finnish track
and field male athletes from
jumping and short distance running events (e.g., 100200 m).
The participants had at least 5year background in competitive

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TABLE 2. Body composition before and after weight reduction period.*


LWR

HWR

Before
TM (kg)
Fat%
FM (kg)
FFM (kg)
BM (g)

74.4
8.5
6.4
64.4
3,610

6
6
6
6
6

6.6
2.3
1.9
5.6
510

After
74.0
8.3
6.2
64.2
3,610

6
6
6
6
6

Before
7.2
2.3
1.9
5.9
530

80.3
10.6
8.6
67.9
3,860

6
6
6
6
6

5.3
4.5
3.9
4.2
250

After
78.1
8.8
6.9
67.4
3,820

6
6
6
6
6

5.2
3.8z
3.1z
4.0
260

*LWR = low weight reduction; HWR = high weight reduction; TM = total body mass; Fat% = fat percentage; FM = fat mass;
FFM = fat-free mass; BM = bone mass.
Significant difference vs. before, p # 0.01.
zSignificant difference vs. before, p # 0.05.

athletics. The risks and benefits of participating in the study


were explained to each participant and they signed a written
informed consent before participating in the study. The athletes were randomly divided into 2 groups: high weight reduction (HWR; energy deficit 750 kcal$d21; n = 8) and low
weight reduction (LWR; energy deficit 300 kcal$d21; n = 7).
Procedures

Body Composition Measurements. Body weight was determined in


the familiarization session, before and after measurements, and
in weekly control measurements with the same electric digital
scale (Seca; Dayton Ltd, Espoo, Finland). Total body composition was determined before and after WRP using a dualenergy x-ray absorptiometry device (Lunar Prodigy Densitometer; GE Lunar Corporation, Madison, WI, USA). This
method can differentiate total percentage fat, total body tissue
mass, fat mass, lean mass, bone mineral density, bone mineral
content, and total bone calcium with precision errors of 1.89,
0.63, 2.0, 1.11, 0.62, 1.10, and 1.09%, respectively (17).

Figure 2. Mean (6SD) changes after WRP in total mass. WRP =


weight reduction period; TM = total mass; FM = fat mass; FFM = fat-free
mass. *p # 0.05; **p # 0.01.

Blood Sampling and Biochemical Analysis. Two blood samples


were drawn from the antecubital vein in the morning at 8:00
of both measurement days after a 12-hour fast. The measurement days were separated by 4 weeks. Analysis of the blood
sample included hemoglobin (Hb), hematocrit (HCT), serum
total testosterone (T), sex hormonebinding globulin
(SHBG), cortisol, pH, calcium ion in pH 7.4 (Ca2+), and bicarbonate (HCO2
3 ). The fasting samples were taken in the sitting
position 2 times with 30-minute intervals. Serum samples
were kept frozen at 2808 C until analyzed. All results are
presented as the mean value of the 2 samples.
Two milliliters of blood was taken in K2 EDTA tubes
(Terumo Medical Co., Leuven, Belgium) for measurements
of Hb concentration with a Sysmex KX 21 N Analyzer
(Sysmex Co., Kobe, Japan).
For the determination of serum hormone concentrations, 5
ml of blood was taken into serum separator tubes and the
concentrations were analyzed by an immunometric chemiluminescence method with Immulite 1000 (DPC, Los Angeles,
CA, USA). The sensitivities of the assays were 0.5 nmol$L21
for serum testosterone, 0.2 nmol$L21 for SHBG, and
5.5 nmol$L21 for cortisol. Reliability (coefficient of variation,
CV) for between-day measurements was 8.3% for testosterone, 5.0% for SHBG, and 6.1% for cortisol. Intra-assay CV was
5.7% for testosterone, 2.4% for SHBG, and 4.6% for cortisol.
The serum hormones were analyzed from the before and after
measurements all in one run.
pH, calcium ion (7.40), and HCO2
3 were analyzed with IL
GEM Premier 3000 Blood Gas System (Instrumentation Laboratory, Lexington, MA, USA). The intra-assay CV was 0.1%
for pH and 1.7% for calcium ion. HCO2
3 was calculated by the
Henderson-Hasselbalch equation based on pH and CO2 values.
Explosive Power and Speed Performance. Jumping ability was
measured by using a countermovement jump (CMJ) performed on a contact mat. The vertical rise of center of gravity
was calculated from flight time (18). For the estimation of
maximal running speed, running time with photocells was
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Weight Reduction in Male Power Athletes

TABLE 3. Hormone concentrations at rest before and after weight


reduction period.*
LWR

HWR

Before
S-Testo (nmol$L21)
S-Cor (nmol$L21)
Testo/Cor ratio
S-SHBG (nmol$L21)

21.9
462
0.06
39.9

6
6
6
6

After

5.1
139
0.03
15.0

19.7
461
0.04
41.4

6
6
6
6

Before

4.5
103
0.01
14.4

19.9
580
0.03
33.6

6
6
6
6

After

3.7
71
0.01
9.0

18.4
527
0.04
38.3

6
6
6
6

5.5
133
0.01
6.5

*LWR = low weight reduction; HWR = high weight reduction; S-Testo = serum testosterone; S-Cor = serum cortisol; Testo/Cor = testosterone-to-cortisol ratio; S-SHBG = serum
sex hormonebinding globulin.
Significant difference vs. LWR, p # 0.05.

TABLE 4. Acid-base balance variables, hemoglobin, and hematocrit at rest before


and after weight reduction period.*
LWR
Before
Ca2+ (mmol$L21)
pH
21)
HCO2
3 (mmol$L
Hb (g$L21)
HCT

1.22
7.34
31.2
156
0.46

6
6
6
6
6

0.04
0.07
3.0
8
0.02

HWR
After

1.19
7.30
27.0
156
0.45

6
6
6
6
6

0.03
0.04
2.2
6
0.02

Before
1.23
7.33
31.2
154
0.45

6
6
6
6
6

After

0.05
0.04
2.1
9
0.02

1.19
7.27
25.1
153
0.44

6
6
6
6
6

0.03
0.08
1.4z
11
0.02

*LWR = low weight reduction; HWR = high weight reduction; Ca2+ = calcium ion in pH
7.4; HCO2
3 = bicarbonate ion; Hb = hemoglobin; HCT = hematocrit.
Significant difference vs. before, p # 0.05.
zSignificant difference vs. before, p # 0.01.

TABLE 5. Power performance results before and after weight reduction period.*
LWR
Before

After

HWR
n

Before

After

CMJ (cm)
53 6 4
55 6 5
7/7
51 6 7
54 6 6
6/8
20m (s)
2.13 6 0.06 2.10 6 0.08 5/7 2.14 6 0.12 2.10 6 0.13 7/8
*LWR = low weight reduction; HWR = high weight reduction; n = number of participants
who were able to complete the test out of all the participants in the group; CMJ = countermovement jump; 20m = 20 m sprinting time.
Significant difference vs. before, p # 0.05.

measured during a 20-m sprint test with a 20-m flying start


(20m). Repetition recovery was 35 minutes between each of
the 3 test trials and $5 minutes between different tests. The
best result out of the 3 trials was recorded. Continuous verbal

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the

encouragement was given during all tests. Warm-up was an


individual
routine
for
each athlete and was the same
for both tests. The correlation
coefficient between 2 maximal
CMJ trials has been shown to
be 0.95 and CV ranging
between 4 and 5% (29). Also,
the 20-m running test is well
reproducible in sprinters, as the
correlation coefficient between
2 successive maximal sprints
has been reported as 0.99 and
CV 1.2% (16). These tests are
routinely performed by the athletes throughout the year.
Because of injuries in LWR
group, 2 of the participants
could not perform the 20m
measurement but all 7 were able
to do the CMJ without problems. Similarly, in HWR, 2 of
the participants were not able
to complete CMJ and 1 was
not able to complete 20m.
Therefore, the sample size (n)
in CMJ is 6 in HWR, and in
the 20m measurement, the sample sizes in LWR and HWR are
5 and 7, respectively.
Statistical Analyses

Analysis of variance (2 3 2
ANOVA), independent t-tests,
Pearsons correlation coefficients, and regression analysis
were used for statistical analysis
and p # 0.05 was considered
statistically significant. Fishers
least significant difference test
was used for post hoc analysis.

RESULTS
Macronutrient Intake

Nutritional intake before and


during WRP is presented in
Table 1. Significant differences
between groups in nutritional
intake during WRP were
observed in fat (p # 0.05), total
energy intake (p # 0.05), and CHO (p # 0.05), which were
lower in HWR than in LWR without differences in protein
intake (;2.1 g$kg21$d21 in each situation) as planned. A
significant time effect for energy intake and CHO per body

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Hormone Concentrations

There were no differences between the groups in serum


hormone concentrations before and after WRP (Table 3)
except cortisol, which was greater (p # 0.05) in HWR than
in LWR before WRP. Hormone concentrations did not differ
significantly after the 4-week WRP.
Acid-Base Balance

Blood acid-base balance variables are presented in Table 4


along with Hb and HCT. Plasma Ca2+ (in pH 7.4; p #
0.05), pH (p # 0.05), and HCO2
3 (p # 0.01) decreased in
(P
#
0.05)
also
in LWR. There were no
HWR and HCO2
3
differences before or after measurements between LWR
and HWR.
Explosive Power and Speed Performance

There were no differences in CMJ or sprinting time (20m)


between the groups before or after WRP (Table 5). However,
CMJ and sprinting time improved significantly after the
WRP (p # 0.05) only in HWR.
Relationships Between Measured Variables

The performance in CMJ correlated negatively (r = 20.765; p


= 0.002; n = 13) with the fat percentage at baseline (Figure 3A).
In the HWR, the fat percentage at baseline correlated significantly with the change in FFM during WRP (r = 0.77; p #
0.05) (Figure 3B). Furthermore, the decrease in pH correlated
with the decrease in BM in HWR during WRP (r = 0.81; p #
0.05) (Figure 3C).

DISCUSSION

Figure 3. A) Relationship between fat percentage and CMJ in the


before measurement in HWR and LWR. B) Relationship between fat
percentage in before measurement and the change in fat-free mass
during WRP in HWR group. C) Relationship between the change in
blood pH (DpH) and change in bone mass (Dbone mass) during WRP in
HWR group. CMJ = countermovement jump; HWR = high weight
reduction; LWR = low weight reduction; WRP = weight reduction
period; fat% = fat percentage; r = correlation coefficient; p = statistical
significance. DFFM = change in FFM.

mass (2 3 2 ANOVA) was observed (p # 0.01), and


although the total energy and CHO intake decreased in both
groups during WRP, these changes were significant only in
HWR (p # 0.01).
Body Composition

There were no significant differences between the groups in


body composition values before or after WRP (Table 2).
Weight reduction period resulted in total body mass losses
of 20.4 6 1.2 kg in LWR (ns) and 22.2 6 1.0 kg in HWR
(p # 0.01), respectively (Figure 2). Also, fat mass was significantly reduced only in HWR (p # 0.05). Fat-free mass and
bone mass (BM) remained statistically unaltered in both
groups.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of


a 4-week WRP with high protein and reduced carbohydrate
intake on body composition, explosive power, speed, serum
hormones, and acid-base balance in male track and field
jumpers and sprinters. Weight reduction gradually by 2 kg in
4 weeks was accompanied by improved weight-bearing
vertical jumping and sprinting performance, without severe
negative consequences on serum anabolic and catabolic
hormones and FFM. However, some signs of slightly
hampered acid-base balance were observed. Furthermore,
another aim of the study was to examine the relationship of
initial body composition with the outcomes of the weight
reduction. It was observed that athletes with fat percentage
over 10% were more able to preserve FFM than more lean
individuals. The present study used elite athletes in studies,
which is very rare in research. One reason is that it is very
difficult to get enough of them and adapt their training and
nutrition to the study protocols. This was a challenge of the
present study as well. However, the participants did a good
job in complying with the study protocol.
In the present study, only athletes following HWR
successfully and systematically reduced their energy intake,
whereas the ones in LWR did not reach statistical significance. The mean daily energy restriction from baseline was
310 kcal in LWR, and 740 kcal in HWR, with subsequent
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Weight Reduction in Male Power Athletes


average weight loss rates of 0.1 and 0.55 kg$wk21, respectively. Protein intake was high (;2 g$kg21$d21) in both
groups before and during WRP. As planned, however, the
percentage of total energy intake from protein increased and
absolute carbohydrate intake decreased in HWR.
The 4-week diet decreased total body mass (2.2 6 1.0 kg)
and fat mass (1.7 kg 6 1.6 kg) in HWR. Only a slight and
nonsignificant loss of FFM occurred in HWR (0.5 6 1.2 kg).
This is probably not because of dehydration, as indicated by
unchanged Hb and HCT. However, the glycogen content of
the body (with combined water) may have decreased
because of energy restriction, therefore leading to FFM
and total body mass loss (25). This could, at least partially,
explain the loss of FFM in some of the participants in HWR.
Forbes (9) stated that individuals with lower initial fat percentage would experience more lean mass loss during weight
reduction than individuals with higher fat percentage,
whereas Helms et al. (11) concluded that it might be unrealistic to expect a lack of FFM loss during weight reduction
in lean populations. Interestingly, supporting these claims,
the fat percentage at baseline in those who were in the
HWR group, correlated significantly with the change in
FFM during WRP (Figure 3B). From that figure it seems
that individuals with fat percentages greater than 10% were
less likely to lose FFM during GWR compared with leaner
athletes. This is a slightly higher value than speculated earlier
by Maestu et al. (20). Also the lower the fat percentage at
baseline, the better was the vertical jumping ability. This
suggests the particular importance of weight reduction for
the athletes with higher fat mass to improve power-toweight ratio for competition without the loss of muscle mass.
And, however, individuals with low initial fat mass probably
should be careful with dieting because it is a risk for losing
more substantial amount of muscle mass.
From a practical perspective, Helms et al. (11) argued that
the magnitude of caloric deficit is likely one of the most
powerful variables that impact FFM loss. In the present
study, that lasted only 4 weeks, neither low nor (moderately)
high energy restriction seemed to decrease FFM in most of
the subjects. Mettler et al. (22) showed that 2 weeks of
weight reduction with substantial energy deficit of 1,300
kcal$d21 (40% reduction in energy intake) did not result to
lean mass loss in high protein group (i.e., protein intake
;2.3 g$kg21$d21) unlike in low protein group (i.e.,
;1.0 g$kg21$d21) in previously resistance-trained men.
Thus, relatively high protein intake such as in the present
study (;2 g$kg21$d21 and .30E%) seems to spare FFM
even when energy deficit is extensive, at least during shortterm energy restriction, which is supported by several other
studies (20,21,31), at least in the less lean athletes.
Higher concentrations of testosterone have been linked to
body fat reduction and accumulation of lean tissue, as well as
to bone status improvements (13). Substantial weight reduction (.1 kg$wk21) has been reported to correlate strongly
with a decrease in testosterone concentrations (15,21,26).

34

the

Furthermore, Roemmich and Sinning (26) have shown that


decreased testosterone is associated with reduced lean body
mass. However, such connections between testosterone and
body composition changes were not observed in the present
study with body mass reductions of ;2 kg over 4 weeks.
The energy restriction in the present study (740 kcal$d21
or ;24% total energy intake) seems not to have adversely
affected serum testosterone, cortisol, and SHBG concentrations, whereas these effects have been observed with restriction exceeding 1,000 kcal$d21 (15,21,22,24). However, it
should be acknowledged that 6 of 8 subjects in the HWR
group demonstrated slightly reduced testosterone and
increased SHBG concentration during the WRP. Nevertheless, even moderate energy restriction (;500 kcal$d21),
when continued for months and combined with high energy
expenditure (.4,000 kcal$d21), can lead to a significant reductions in testosterone (20,27). Thus, the magnitude of
energy restriction and duration of intervention seem to be
very powerful interactive variables in determining the effects of a GWR procedure on hormonal environment.
The skeleton represents a large alkaline reservoir, which
can be degraded by even mild forms of long-term metabolic
acidosis (30). Signs of mild metabolic acidosis were observed
in the present study. In HWR, Ca2+, pH, and HCO2
3 were
significantly reduced, whereas BM tended to decrease
slightly (40 g). We found low fasting blood pH values in
the measurements after the intervention in both groups
(mean 7.27 and 7.30) while normal values in adults vary
between 7.35 and 7.45. Furthermore, a significant relationship was observed between the change in pH and the
change in BM in HWR. This may verify the acidotic and
subsequent bone degrading effect of a high protein weight
reduction diet suggested by Eisenstein et al. (6). It is worth
mentioning that even with a slightly acidifying effect there is
no evidence that a high protein diet alone would be detrimental for BM or strength (2,14). Furthermore, protein
intake is beneficial to athletes engaging in resistance exercise
(4,12,22). In addition, the possible harmful effects of a high
protein diet on acidosis could be counterbalanced by consumption of alkaline-generating foods (23), such as fruits and
vegetables, or supplements high in either potassium (28) or
bicarbonate (19).
However, future studies need to assess whether consumption of alkaline foods in conjunction with a high protein diet
could protect acid-base balance and bone status during
energy restriction, for this was not examined in the present
study.
Explosive power and sprint running performance
improved in HWR group. Improvements in vertical jump
height after weight reduction have also been noted in some
previous studies (8,10,21,29). In the study by Garthe et al.
(10), vertical jump was improved significantly by 7% in
a group with an energy deficit of 470 kcal$d21 for 8.5 weeks,
whereas it was not changed in a group with an energy deficit
of 850 kcal$d21 for 5.3 weeks, although total weight

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reduction was 4.2 kg in both groups. Similarly, Mettler et al.
(22) observed no change in squat jump height when energy
restriction was large (i.e., 40%) for 2 weeks. The improvement in running speed because of weight reduction in the
present study has not been observed in previous studies.
Therefore, this finding needs to be verified by further studies.
Nevertheless, these findings suggest that extra body weight
in the form of fat, even in already lean individuals, may
interfere with running and jumping performance.
An observation worth discussing was a trend for greater
improvement in explosive power, measured by vertical jump,
in individuals who had initial fat percentage over 10%. The
improvement ranged from 6 to 14% in subjects with body fat
over 10%, whereas the improvement was #5% in the subjects that were leaner. Thus, it seems that less lean athletes
(body fat over 10%) will experience more improvement in
explosive power (and less lean mass loss as discussed above)
than more lean athletes because of GWR procedure and, as
mentioned earlier, also better preserve their FFM. This
notion needs further studies with a bigger sample size than
used in the present study to be confirmed.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
In conclusion, weight reduction of about 2 kg over 4 weeks
achieved by reduced carbohydrate but high protein intake
was accompanied by signs of altered acid-base balance but
improved weight-bearing power performance without negative consequences on serum hormones and FFM. According to previous studies, when energy deficit increases beyond
500 kcal$d21, the effects of weight reduction on FFM,
explosive power performance, and hormonal parameters
progressively gets worse. However, high protein intake
(;2 g$kg21$d21) during weight reduction seems to protect
FFM, especially when energy restriction is more than 500
kcal$d21. Nevertheless, a protein-rich diet has the potential
to at least transiently negatively influence the acid-base balance and bone status especially during weight reduction.
Also, the literature and the present study show that the
adverse effects of weight reduction on FFM, and thus probably on muscle size, may be more substantial if the initial fat
percentage of the participant is low. Thus, very lean athletes
(i.e., body fat ,810%) should be discouraged from undergoing periods of energy restriction because health and muscle mass may be compromised and the performance benefits
of weight reduction may not be noticeable as suggested also
by the present study. Further studies need to investigate the
individual effect of the magnitude and duration of energy
restriction and the amount of protein in the diet with a larger
sample size to clarify the causalities behind GWR outcomes
in terms of body composition, hormones, performance and
acid-base balance.

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the help of several people to make this study a successful one:


Aki Rahikainen, Riikka Lamminen, Pirjo Luoma, just to name
a few. Simon Walker is thanked for the critical reading of the
manuscript and in grammatical issues. The authors do not
have any financial or other affiliations with any organization
that might have had interest on the outcomes of the study.

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