Sex Differences in Resting Metabolic Rate Among Athletes

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The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research


The purpose of this study was to compare differences in resting metabolic rate (RMR) between sexes in Division III National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) collegiate athletes and to identify predictors of RMR. Sixty-eight male (M) (age: 20.1 ± 1.5 years; height: 181.8 ± 5.9 cm; body mass (BM): 93.7 ± 16.3 kg; and body fat%: 16.3 ± 8.6%) and 48 female (F) athletes (age: 19.4 ± 1.3 years; height: 166.5 ± 6.0 cm; BM: 63.4 ± 12.7 kg; and body fat%: 21.5 ± 6.3%) participated in a single day of testing, which included determination of RMR using indirect calorimetry and air displacement plethysmography to measure fat mass and fat-free mass (FFM). An independent-samples t-test was used to compare differences in body composition and RMR between sexes, and regression analysis was used to identify predictors of RMR. Men had a significantly higher absolute RMR (M: 2,481 ± 209 vs. F: 1,553 ± 193 kcals·d−1; p < 0.001), but when adjusted for BM (M: 25.6 ± 8.3 vs. F: 25.9 ± 2.5 kcals·kg−1 BM per day; p = 0.82) and FFM (M: 31.1 ± 10.6 vs. F: 33.6 ± 3.8 kcals·kg−1 FFM per day; p = 0.12), these differences became nonsignificant. Regression analysis indicated that BM in both men (β = 0.73) and women (β = 0.88) was the strongest predictor of RMR. The results of the current study indicate minimal differences in RMR between sexes among athletic populations when adjusted for BM and FFM. In the current group of athletes, BM seems to account for the largest variability in RMR.


doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002813

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