Chronic supplementation with fish oil increases fat oxidation during exercise in young men

Derek M. Huffman, Jody L. Michaelson, Tom R. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Recent evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil (FO) stimulate fat oxidation in liver and perhaps skeletal muscle. Our purpose was to examine the effect of an acute high-dose and a chronic low-dose of FO on fat oxidation during exercise. Seven recreationally active males (age 21-27 yr) jogged for 60 min at 60 % VO 2max in three trials administered in random order: 1) no meal (NM), 2) 4 h following a high-fat meal (HFM), and 3) 4 h following an isocaloric HFM partly substituted with FO (HFM+FO). The FO supplement contained 60 % eicosapentaenoic acid, and 40 % docosahexaenoic acid. Subjects then supplemented 4 g/day of FO for 3 wk and while remaining on the supplementation regimen, repeated the same three trials in random order. Indirect calorimetry was used for the determination of oxygen consumption, respiratory exchange ratio, and energy expenditure from fat and carbohydrate. Heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion were also monitored for each test. The acute high-dose FO had no significant affect on fat use during exercise. In contrast, chronic supplementation significantly augmented total fat energy expenditure as compared to trials before supplementation in each of the three treatments versus trials prior to chronic supplementation (NM, 269.1 ± 49.8 v. 245.7 ± 36.2 Kcal, P = 0.009; HFM, 295.2 ± 40.2 v. 260.8 ± 36.4, P = 0.001; HFM+FO, 299.0 ± 38.7 v. 280.4 ± 35.9 Kcal, P = 0.002). These data suggest that chronic, but not acute FO supplementation enhanced the contribution of lipid during exercise in young active males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Exercise Physiology Online
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Fat metabolism
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Peroxisomal poliferator-activated receptor-alpha
  • Respiratory exchange ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)


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