Abstract and Keywords
In the past people led far more strenuous, active lives than industrialized, sedentary populations do today, and conditions could be far harsher, for instance during frigid glacial conditions. These factors carry significant implications for human energy requirements and metabolism. Endurance athletes undergoing strenuous physical regimes can serve as models for such demanding conditions. This chapter reviews the influences of strenuous activity and dietary restrictions on energy and protein metabolism. The thesis is illustrated by describing a semi-controlled experiment of an expedition across a hostile environment, monitored by means of nutritional and activity records, and stable nitrogen isotope ratios (15N/14N) in hair. The results demonstrate that under demanding conditions both energy balance and protein intake lead to 15N-enrichment; dietary and metabolic effects cannot be separated. They suggest that physically demanding lifestyles, especially under harsh conditions, must be considered in the interpretation of human 15N/14N values for dietary reconstructions.
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