Studies of body composition and feed efficiency were conducted on 80 male Sprague-Dawley rats to determine how exercise training alters growth and development in iron deficient animals. Animals were assigned to iron deficient (ID) or control (CN) diets (AIN-76, w/o cellulose), and sedentary (SD) or exercised groups [EX, treadmill running, 4 d. wk−1, 90 min. d−1, 65% maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), maintained for 6 or 12 wk. The ID diet caused a sustained moderate iron deficiency (Hb 7.2 ± 0.2 g. dl−1). Iron deficient animals failed to increase maximal oxygen consumption despite the rigorous training program, though training resulted in 25% or 35% higher VO2max in 6- or 12-wk CN rats. At 6 wk, IDEX animals had significantly (33%) lower growth rates than did IDSD animals, which in turn were 22% less than CNs. Overall, exercise did not alter relative amounts of protein in the carcass (% total mass); however, a significant interaction between diet and treatment duration was evident in IDEX animals at 12 wk, who had lower %protein than CNEX-12 or IDSD-6 rats. Training decreased fat 11% in CN at 6 wk but not 12 wk, and 20% in IDs at 12 wk but not 6 wk. Feed efficiency and energy intake were 28% and 12% lower in IDEX animals than CNEX at 6 wk. Training increased caloric intake in CNEX animals but not IDEX animals at 6 and 12 wk. Thus, exercise training exacerbates the poor growth associated with ID through alterations in both food intake and feed efficiency in early phases of training, but adaptation is apparent.
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