High-altitude weight loss may have an evolutionary advantage

June 16, 2014

Weight loss at high altitudes—something universally experienced by climbers and people who move to higher terrain—may not be a detrimental effect, but rather is likely an evolutionarily-programmed adaptation, according to a new article in BioEssays.

Researchers explain that low oxygen causes fat and protein to be broken down, leading to the release of ketones and amino acids, which act as metabolic fuels. Also, ketones enhance the efficiency of oxygen use by the body whilst both ketones and certain amino acids protect cellular components from the detrimental effects of a low oxygen environment.

"Weight loss at altitude, and with it, the release of ketones and , may reflect an evolutionary adaptation that protected our ancestors' bodies when tissue hypoxia arose during injury or illness. This may be relevant to today, who lose muscle mass rapidly and do not benefit from nutritional support that aims to maintain calorie intake," said co-author Dr. Andrew Murray.

"Perhaps, wasting is in fact saving."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Explore further: Mountain mice show adaptation to altitude

More information: Murray, A. J. and Montgomery, H. E. (2014), How wasting is saving: Weight loss at altitude might result from an evolutionary adaptation. BioEssays. DOI: 10.1002/bies.201400042

Related Stories

Do steaks make you big?

June 15, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Adjusting the intake of high protein foods like meat, eggs and milk products could determine whether you become a rugby player or marathon runner and may help you lose weight, according to new research published ...

Bacteria get new badge as planet's detoxifier

April 4, 2014

A study published recently in PLOS ONE authored by Dr. Henry Sun and his postdoctoral student Dr. Gaosen Zhang of Nevada based research institute DRI provides new evidence that Earth bacteria can do something that is quite ...

Recommended for you

A novel toxin for M. tuberculosis

August 4, 2015

Despite 132 years of study, no toxin had ever been found for the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which infects 9 million people a year and kills more than 1 million.

New biosensors for managing microbial 'workers'

August 4, 2015

Super productive factories of the future could employ fleets of genetically engineered bacterial cells, such as common E. coli, to produce valuable chemical commodities in an environmentally friendly way. By leveraging their ...

Fish that have their own fish finders

August 4, 2015

The more than 200 species in the family Mormyridae communicate with one another in a way completely alien to our species: by means of electric discharges generated by an organ in their tails.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.