Fatty food weighs down muscles and memory
By Daniel Pendick
Eating a high-fat diet can gradually balloon your waistline,
but it may also take a faster toll on your physical endurance
and memory, according to British researchers.
A team led by Andrew Murray, a lecturer in physiology at Cambridge
University in Britain, tested endurance and memory in 32 rats
fed either a low-fat diet (7.5 percent of calories from fat)
or high-fat rat chow (55 percent calories from fat).
A treadmill test gauged how long the rats could run before
reaching fatigue. The rats were also trained to run an 8-armed
maze to locate a tasty treat of sweetened condensed milk.
To acquire the treats quickly, rats needed to remember which
maze arms they had already visited.
The fatty rat chow appeared to act quickly. Within 5 days
of being on the diet, rats could run 50 percent less before
tiring. It also took them 25 percent longer to complete the
maze because they made more mistakes in the process.
The rat study appeared online August 10, 2009, in The
FASEB Journal, the journal of the Federation of American
Societies for Experimental Biology. Preliminary results of
studies on healthy young men also show reduced performance
on high-fat diets.
The study may have implications for training of high-performing
athletes. Murray and his colleagues have identified a biochemical
mechanism that might explain the study findings on exercise
A high-fat diet triggers release of proteins that make the
conversion of food into energy less efficient. Athletes needing
to go the distance might benefit more from fuel in the form
of carbs, not fat. Studies like this one could help nutritionists
to design higher-performing diets.
“Deterioration of physical performance and cognitive
function in rats with short-term high-fat feeding,”
by Andrew J. Murray and others. (The FASEB Journal, published
online August 10, 2009.)
Abstract available via PubMed.
-- Copyright © 2010 Memory Loss and the Brain