Comparison of Ground-based and Space Flight Energy Expenditure and Water Turnover in Middle-aged Healthy Male US Astronauts

Document Type


Publication Date



American Society for Nutrition

Source Publication

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/65.1.4


Energy requirements during space flight are poorly defined because they depend on metabolic-balance studies, food disappearance, and dietary records. Water turnover has been estimated by balance methods only. The purpose of this study was to determine energy requirements and water turnover for short-term space flights (8–14 d). Subjects were 13 male astronauts aged 36–51 y with normal body mass indexes (BMIs). Total energy expenditure (TEE) was determined during both a ground-based period and space flight and compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) calculations of energy requirements and dietary intake. TEE was not different for the ground-based and the space-flight periods (12.40 +/- 2.83 and 11.70 +/- 1.89 MJ/d, respectively), and the WHO calculation using the moderate activity correction was a good predictor of TEE during space flight. During the ground-based period, energy intake and TEE did not differ, but during space flight energy intake was significantly lower than TEE; body weight was also less at landing than before flight. Water turnover was lower during space flight than during the ground-based period (2.7 +/- 0.6 compared with 3.8 +/- 0.5 L/d), probably because of lower fluid intakes and perspiration loss during flight. This study confirmed that the WHO calculation can be used for male crew members' energy requirements during short space flights.


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 65, No. 1 (January 1997): 4-12. DOI.