Eighteen grams of whey before training increases your fat burning

You eat the same amount, and don’t change your fat, protein or carbohydrate intake. But still you burn more fat and build up more muscle tissue. Yes, say researchers at Michigan State University, it’s possible. All you have to do is time your protein intake a little better. Drink your shake before your training session, and watch what happens.

This study is also about EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC stands for the extra energy that a body uses after an intensive training session.

The EPOC right after the training session is determined by “elevated body temperature, resynthesis of glycogen from lactate, ion redistribution, replenishment of oxygen stores in blood and muscle, resynthesis of adenosine triphosphate and creatine phosphate, increased circulation and ventilation, and residual hormone effects”, the researchers write. But in the longer term it’s the recovery and manufacture of muscle tissue that increases energy use. Twenty percent of the energy that an athlete expends while resting goes towards making and repairing muscle tissue – and manufacture of muscle tissue is higher after protein intake.

That’s why the researchers wanted to know whether it makes a difference if you consume extra proteins just before training. They already knew that your EPOC is lower if you are on a diet. So the researchers measured the energy expenditure of 8 test subjects [5 men, 3 women] who did regular strength training. The measurements were taken over a period of 4 days. The test subjects trained on day 2.

The researchers measured the subjects’ energy expenditure over two 4-day periods. On one occasion the subjects drank a shake containing 18 g whey 20 minutes before they did a full body training using 9 basic exercises. On the other occasion they drank a shake containing 19 g sugars.

The graph below shows that just one shake raised the energy expenditure on the day after the training. The sugar shake caused an increase of 3.5 percent, and the protein shake caused an increase of 8.5 percent.


“Ingesting protein prior to heavy resistance training may be a simple yet effective strategy in order to increase energy expenditure”, the researchers conclude. “Over time consistent increases in post-exercise resting energy expenditure could facilitate reductions in body fat mass and improve body composition if energy intake is controlled.”

The protein shake the researchers used contained whey. Whey is a fast protein. You see an amino peak in the blood within ninety minutes after consumption. Perhaps you need to consume slower proteins, such as casein, longer than 20 minutes before you start to train if you want to achieve an effect like the ones the Americans report.

Source: The rise in energy expenditure, the Americans discovered, was accompanied by a rise in fat burning. It seems that the simple whey shake before training raises not only the production of muscle tissue, but also fat burning.

The table below shows how much energy, fat, protein and carbohydrates the test subjects ate in total. The protein shake group did not eat more proteins over the course of the day than the carb shake group. The athletes’ protein intake was on the modest side anyway.


Timing protein intake increases energy expenditure 24 h after resistance training.



To determine whether protein supplementation (PRO) before an acute bout of heavy resistance training (HRT) would influence postexercise resting energy expenditure (REE) and the nonprotein respiratory exchange ratio (RER).


REE would be increased and RER would be decreased up to 48 h after timed PRO and HRT compared with CHO supplementation and HRT.


Eight resistance-trained subjects (five men and three women) participated in a double-blind two-trial crossover design, where REE and RER were measured (7:00 a.m.) on four consecutive days. On the second day of trial 1, subjects consumed 376 kJ of either PRO (18 g of whey protein, 2 g of carbohydrate, 1.5 g of fat) or CHO (1 g of whey protein, 19 g of carbohydrate, 1 g of fat) 20 min before a single bout of HRT (nine exercises, 4 sets, 70%-75% 1-repetition maximum). REE and RER were measured 24 and 48 h after HRT. During trial 2, the same protocol was followed except subjects consumed the second supplement before HRT.


Compared with baseline, REE was elevated significantly in both CHO and PRO at 24 and 48 h after HRT (P < 0.05). At 24 h after HRT, REE in response to PRO was significantly greater compared with CHO (P < 0.05). RER decreased significantly in both CHO and PRO at 24 h after HRT compared with baseline (P < 0.05). No differences were observed in total energy intake, macronutrient intake, or HRT volume (P > 0.05).


Timing PRO before HRT may be a simple and effective strategy to increase energy expenditure by elevating REE the day after HRT. Increasing REE could facilitate reductions in body fat mass and improve body composition if nutritional intake is stable.

PMID: 19997003 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]