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Obes Rev. 2016 Aug;17(8):647-63. doi: 10.1111/obr.12422. Epub 2016 Apr 29.

Effect of diet-induced weight loss on muscle strength in adults with overweight or obesity - a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials.

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The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders, Sydney Medical School, Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to identify how diet-induced weight loss in adults with overweight or obesity impacts on muscle strength. Twenty-seven publications, including 33 interventions, most of which were 8-24 weeks in duration, were included. Meta-analysis of seven interventions measuring knee extensor strength by isokinetic dynamometry in 108 participants found a significant decrease following diet-induced weight loss (-9.0 [95% confidence interval: -13.8, -4.1] N/m, P < 0.001), representing a 7.5% decrease from baseline values. Meta-analysis of handgrip strength from 10 interventions in 231 participants showed a non-significant decrease (-1.7 [-3.6, 0.1] kg, P = 0.070), with significant heterogeneity (I(2)  = 83.9%, P < 0.001). This heterogeneity may have been due to diet type, because there was a significant decrease in handgrip strength in seven interventions in 169 participants involving moderate energy restriction (-2.4 [-4.8, -0.0] kg, P = 0.046), representing a 4.6% decrease from baseline values, but not in three interventions in 62 participants involving very-low-energy diet (-0.4 [-2.0, 1.2] kg, P = 0.610). Because of variability in methodology and muscles tested, no other data could be meta-analyzed, and qualitative assessment of the remaining interventions revealed mixed results. Despite varying methodologies, diets and small sample sizes, these findings suggest a potential adverse effect of diet-induced weight loss on muscle strength. While these findings should not act as a deterrent against weight loss, due to the known health benefits of losing excess weight, they call for strategies to combat strength loss - such as weight training and other exercises - during diet-induced weight loss.


diet (reducing); energy restriction; muscle dynamometry; obesity; very-low-energy diet; weight loss

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