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Int J Sports Med. 2017 Nov;38(13):975-982. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-117178. Epub 2017 Oct 19.

Maximal Fat Oxidation is Related to Performance in an Ironman Triathlon.

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Department Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Xlab, Center for Healthy Aging, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Biomedical Sciences, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between maximal fat oxidation rate (MFO) measured during a progressive exercise test on a cycle ergometer and ultra-endurance performance. 61 male ironman athletes (age: 35±1 yrs. [23-47 yrs.], with a BMI of 23.6±0.3 kg/m2 [20.0-30.1 kg/m2], a body fat percentage of 16.7±0.7% [8.4-30.7%] and a VO2peak of 58.7±0.7 ml/min/kg [43.9-72.5 ml/min/kg] SEM [Range]) were tested in the laboratory between 25 and 4 days prior to the ultra-endurance event, 2016 Ironman Copenhagen. Simple bivariate analyses revealed significant negative correlations between race time and MFO (r2=0.12, p<0.005) and VO2peak (r2=0.45, p<0.0001) and a positive correlation between race time and body fat percentage (r2=0.27, p<0.0001). MFO and VO2peak were not correlated. When the significant variables from the bivariate regression analyses were entered into the multiple regression models, VO2peak and MFO together explained 50% of the variation observed in race time among the 61 Ironman athletes (adj R2=0.50, p<0.001). These results suggests that maximal fat oxidation rate exert an independent influence on ultra-endurance performance (>9 h). Furthermore, we demonstrate that 50% of the variation in Ironman triathlon race time can be explained by peak oxygen uptake and maximal fat oxidation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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