Body Composition And Plasma Lipoprotein Profile Of Male And Female Swimming And Track Athletes

Carole M. Schneider, William J. Klish, William Insull, Deborah A. Ferrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the differences and relationships between body fat and plasma lipoproteins using the noninvasive and validated measurements of fat-free mass by total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC). Total body water, lean body mass, and total body fat were measured by TOBEC along with determinations of plasma lipoproteins [total cholesterol (TC), low density lipoprotein, high density lipoprotein (HDL-C), and triglyceride] in 40 college-aged male and female swimming and track athletes. Body weight (mean ± SD, 69.9 ± 0.6 vs. 60.0 ± 3.8 kg), total body water (42.4 ± 0.5 vs. 32.4 ±0.5 liters), and fat-free mass (57.9 ± 0.7 vs. 44.3 ± 0.7 kg) were significantly higher in the males compared with the females. Total body fat (15.5 ±3.4 vs. 12.3 ± 0.4 kg) and percent fat (23.3 ±6.1 vs. 19.7 ± 2.9) were higher in the swimming athletes than in the track athletes. The female swimmers had significantly higher percent body fat (29.3 ± 2.4 vs. 22.5 ± 3.9) than the female track athletes. Plasma HDL-C was significantly higher in the female swimming athletes (61.5 ± 10.6 vs. 50.2 ± 9.3 mg/dl) and the female track athletes (56.0 ± 9.4 vs. 48.3 ± 7.9 mg/dl) compared with the male athletes. A significant negative relationship was observed between plasma HDL-C and total body fat (r = —0.66) in the female swimmers, the higher the plasma HDL-C level the lower the body fat. The relationship of total body fat to TC (r — - 0.70) in female swimmers was opposite to what is observed in inactive females. This relationship may be due to the high percentage of HDL-C in TC or perhaps the insulatory nature of the swimmers body fat for adaptation to cold water has a different effect on TC. According to the results of this study, plasma HDL-C is higher in athletic females compared with athletic males, as is seen in inactive individuals. However, when utilizing the HDL-C to TC ratio, the male track athletes become similar to the female track athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-18
Number of pages6
JournalSports Medicine, Training and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 1991


  • body composition
  • plasma lipoproteins
  • swimming
  • track


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