, Volume 32, Issue 12, pp 1265–1270

Dietary fatty acid profile affects endurance in rats



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.



analysis of variance


extensor digitorum longus


essential fatty acid-deficient


energy percentage

High n-6

diet high in n-6 fatty acid

High n-3

diet high in n-3 fatty acids


polyunsaturated fatty acid


ratio of saturated to monounsaturated to n-6 PUFA to n-3 PUFA


maximal rate of oxygen consumption


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Copyright information

© AOCS Press 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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