Energy balance at high altitude of 6,542 m.

K.R. Westerterp*, B. Kayser, J.L.J. Wouters, J.L. le Trong, J.P. Richalet

*Corresponding author for this work

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Energy balance at high altitude of 6,542 m.

Westerterp KR, Kayser B, Wouters L, Le Trong JL, Richalet JP.

Department of Human Biology, University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Weight loss due to malnutrition and possibly intestinal malabsorption is a well-known phenomenon in high-altitude climbers. Up to approximately 5,000 m, energy balance may be attained and intestinal energy digestibility remains normal. To see whether 1) energy balance may also be attained at 6,542 m and, if not, 2) whether decreased energy digestibility would play a significant role in the energy deficit, energy intake (EI), energy expenditure, body composition, and energy digestibility of 10 subjects (4 women, 6 men; 27-44 yr) were assessed during a 21-day sojourn on the summit of Mt. Sajama, Bolivia (6,542 m). EI was measured during two 3-day intervals: EI1 (days 7-9) and EI2 (days 17-19). Total fecal energy loss during EI1 was calculated from fecal energy measured by bomb calorimetry. Average daily metabolic rate (ADMR) at altitude was measured in six subjects (2 women, 4 men) using doubly labeled water over a 10-day interval (days 9-19). Basal metabolic rate was measured before and after the expedition by respiratory gas analysis. Body composition was estimated from skinfolds and body mass before and during the altitude sojourn. Subjects were in negative energy balance throughout the observation period (EI1-ADMR = -2.9 +/- 1.8 MJ/day and EI2-ADMR = -2.3 +/- 1.8 MJ/day based on a gross energy digestibility of 95%). The activity level, expressed as ADMR to basal metabolic rate, was 1.56-2.39. The loss of fat mass (3.7 +/- 1.5 kg) represented 74 +/- 15% of the loss of body mass
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-866
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994

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