1901: Food and Muscular Energy

An earlier experiment. From The Chicago Tribune, 1899.
An earlier experiment. From The Chicago Tribune, 1899.

Middletown, Conn., Feb. 5.–“Prof. W. O. Atwater has just completed an important experiment in the respiration calorimeter at Wesleyan to determine the relation of food to muscular energy. The subject was one of the college athletes, who was in the experimental chamber for nine days and ten nights.

Prof. Atwater, who conducts experiments for the government in connection with work at Wesleyan, has not completed his analysis and calculations of his latest experiment and will not for several weeks. He authorized the following general statement of the result obtained, withholding the name of the student who submitted to the test:

“He was in the respiration chamber nine days and ten nights after a preliminary test. During eight days he was engaged in active exercises, riding a bicycle, which was attached to a dynamo for measuring the amount of muscular work performed. One object of the experiment was to find the relation between muscular activity and the consumption of food and body material and the transformation of energy in the body.

“It was the idea to compare the efficiency of fats and carbo-hydrates for supplying the needs of the body in time of hard muscular work. To this end the diet during four days contained large quantities of carbo-hydrates, sugar and starch, which in the last four days were replaced by fats in the form of fat meats, butter and the like. The experiment was very successful and promises results of decided interest. Several weeks will be required for completing the analysis and calculations.”

In addition to these experiments at Wesleyan similar ones are being carried out at other colleges. The results of studies of the diet of the Harvard crew at New London last summer are about ready for publication.

Prof. Atwater has long conducted scientific experiments on the relation of food to muscular energy. He aroused a storm of criticism about a year ago, when he announced that two and one-half ounces of alcohol could be consumed daily without injury to the human system, if taken in small doses.”– From the Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City, Utah), Feb. 5, 1901.


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