Article

Lipids

, Volume 32, Issue 12, pp 1265-1270

First online:

Dietary fatty acid profile affects endurance in rats

  • Kerry J. AyreAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong Email author 
  • , A. J. HulbertAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong

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Abstract

Typically, athletes are advised to increase their consumption of carbohydrates for energy and, along with the general population, to reduce consumption of saturated fats. It is now recognized that fats are not identical in their influence on metabolism, and we argue that the composition of the polyunsaturated fat component should not be ignored. The aim of this study was to manipulate the dietary fatty acid profile in a high-carbohydrate diet in order to investigate the effect of dietary polyunsaturates on submaximal endurance performance in rats. Rats were fed one of three isoenergetic diets containing 22 energy percentage (E%) fat for 9 wk. The diets comprised an essential fatty acid-deficient diet (containing mainly saturated fatty acids); a diet high in n-6 fatty acids, High n-6; and a diet enriched with n-3 fatty acids, High n-3. Submaximal endurance in rats fed the High n-3 diet was 44% less than in rats fed the High n-6 diet (P<0.02). All rats were then fed a standard commercial laboratory diet for a 6-wk recovery period, and their performances were reevaluated. Although endurance in all groups was lower than at 9 wk, it was again significantly 50% lower in the High n-3 group than the High n-6 group (P<0.005). Although n-3 fats are considered beneficial for cardiovascular health, they appear to reduce endurance times, and their side effects need to be further investigated.