Objective: To investigate the effect of a multistage ultra-endurance triathlon on body composition in ultra-triathletes.
Design: Descriptive field study.
Setting: The “World Challenge Deca Iron Triathlon 2006” in Monterrey, Mexico, in which every day for 10 consecutive days athletes had to perform the distance of one Ironman triathlon.
Subjects: Eight male ultra-endurance athletes (mean (SD) age 40.6 (10.7) years, weight 76.4 (8.4) kg, height 175 (4) cm and body mass index (BMI) 24.7 (2.2) kg/m2).
Main outcome measurements: Determination of body mass, protein mass, body fat, per cent body fat, mineral mass, total body water, intracellular water, extracellular water and lean body mass with a direct segmental multifrequency bioelectrical impedance method before the race and after each stage in order to show changes in body composition.
Results: A statistically significant decrease of body mass (−2.4 kg, p = 0.014), body fat (−5 kg, p = 0.0078) and per cent body fat (−6.4%, p = 0.0078) occurred at the end of the first day compared to values taken in the pre-race period. In contrast, at the same time, a statistically significant increase of protein mass (+0.7 kg, p = 0.035), mineral mass (+0.2 kg, p = 0.04), total body water (+1.8 litres, p = 0.042), intracellular water (+1.6 litres, p = 0.034) and lean body mass (+2.6 kg, p = 0.023) was shown. After the first day until the end of the challenge, body fat (−3 kg, p>0.05) and per cent body fat (−3.9%, p>0.05) showed a statistically significant decrease, whereas the other parameters showed no changes.
Conclusions: Athletes taking part in a multistage ultra-endurance triathlon over 10 Ironman triathlon distances in 10 consecutive days lost 3 kg of body fat; skeletal muscle mass, mineral mass and body water were unchanged.
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Competing interests: None declared.