Interest in fats goes in waves, the current wave being stimulated by the possible relation of fat to atherosclerosis—an area I shall leave to others to discuss. Instead, I shall call attention to certain other effects of dietary fat that are less in the public eye.
Fats as a Source of Energy
Although beyond the scope of this paper, it is worthwhile to recall that not all fats yield the traditional figure of 9 calories per gram; that is only an approximation for average edible fats. The energy obtainable from fat is a function of the length of the carbon chain. The short-chain fatty acids yield less energy; tributyrin, for example, yields only 6.7 calories per gram.
Fats and Physical Work
When caloric demands are high, it is well known that fat is a preferred food. The discomfort from the additional bulk of a less calorigenic food is thereby avoided.
Holt LE. DIETARY FAT-ITS ROLE IN NUTRITION AND HUMAN REQUIREMENT. JAMA. 1957;164(17):1890–1894. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.62980170002007a
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