Maastricht Instruments room calorimeter is used in the first study on the consequences for women undertaking expeditionary polar travel, leading to new insights about the female metabolism under extreme conditions.

Six courageous women made an unassisted traverse of 1700 kilometers across Antarctica in 61 days, hauling sledges weighing up to 80 kilograms. Undertaking this kind of extreme physical activity can demand for a higher energy requirement.

This study aimed to analyse the changes in metabolic energy expenditure and substrate utilisation using whole body calorimetry. Therefore, the highly precise room calorimeters of Maastricht Instruments were used to detect minimal changes in the metabolic energy cost of these women, two weeks prior to the expedition and two weeks after they had returned.

Different output parameters were obtained with the Omnical software. The diverse parameters used in this study were the total energy expenditure (TEE), sleeping metabolic rate (SMR), resting metabolic rate (RMR), the metabolic rate during three different exercise intensities (EMR) and the diet induced thermogenesis (DIT).

No significant differences were found in the expenditure between pre- and post- expedition in all the parameters, when the values were normalised to body weight. Despite the loss in physical weight, no variation was found in metabolic measures. Indicating that appropriately nourished and well prepared woman can undertake polar expeditions with a minimal metabolic energy consequence.

Reference: Hattersly et al. in  Journal of Applied Physiology