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J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Nov 29;15(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s12970-018-0263-6.

Metabolic impact of protein feeding prior to moderate-intensity treadmill exercise in a fasted state: a pilot study.

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Exercise and Performance Nutrition Laboratory, School of Health Sciences, Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO, 63301, USA.
Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA.
Department of Food and Nutrition Sciences, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX, USA.
Exercise and Performance Nutrition Laboratory, School of Health Sciences, Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO, 63301, USA.



Augmenting fat oxidation is a primary goal of fitness enthusiasts and individuals desiring to improve their body composition. Performing aerobic exercise while fasted continues to be a popular strategy to achieve this outcome, yet little research has examined how nutritional manipulations influence energy expenditure and/or fat oxidation during and after exercise. Initial research has indicated that pre-exercise protein feeding may facilitate fat oxidation while minimizing protein degradation during exercise, but more research is needed to determine if the source of protein further influences such outcomes.


Eleven healthy, college-aged males (23.5 ± 2.1 years, 86.0 ± 15.6 kg, 184 ± 10.3 cm, 19.7 ± 4.4%fat) completed four testing sessions in a randomized, counter-balanced, crossover fashion after observing an 8-10 h fast. During each visit, baseline substrate oxidation and resting energy expenditure (REE) were assessed via indirect calorimetry. Participants ingested isovolumetric, solutions containing 25 g of whey protein isolate (WPI), 25 g of casein protein (CAS), 25 g of maltodextrin (MAL), or non-caloric control (CON). After 30 min, participants performed 30 min of treadmill exercise at 55-60% heart rate reserve. Substrate oxidation and energy expenditure were re-assessed during exercise and 15 min after exercise.


Delta scores comparing the change in REE were normalized to body mass and a significant group x time interaction (p = 0.002) was found. Post-hoc comparisons indicated the within-group changes in REE following consumption of WPI (3.41 ± 1.63 kcal/kg) and CAS (3.39 ± 0.82 kcal/kg) were significantly greater (p < 0.05) than following consumption of MAL (1.57 ± 0.99 kcal/kg) and tended to be greater than the non-caloric control group (2.00 ± 1.91 kcal/kg, p = 0.055 vs. WPI and p = 0.061 vs. CAS). Respiratory exchange ratio following consumption of WPI and CAS significantly decreased during the post exercise period while no change was observed for the other groups. Fat oxidation during exercise was calculated and increased in all groups throughout exercise. CAS was found to oxidize significantly more fat (p < 0.05) than WPI during minutes 10-15 (CAS: 2.28 ± 0.38 g; WPI: 1.7 ± 0.60 g) and 25-30 (CAS: 3.03 ± 0.55 g; WPI: 2.24 ± 0.50 g) of the exercise bout.


Protein consumption before fasted moderate-intensity treadmill exercise significantly increased post-exercise energy expenditure compared to maltodextrin ingestion and tended to be greater than control. Post-exercise fat oxidation was improved following protein ingestion. Throughout exercise, fasting (control) did not yield more fat oxidation versus carbohydrate or protein, while casein protein allowed for more fat oxidation than whey. These results indicate rates of energy expenditure and fat oxidation can be modulated after CAS protein consumption prior to moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise and that fasting did not lead to more fat oxidation during or after exercise.


Diet; Fasted exercise; Nutrient timing; Protein; Weight loss

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