Increasing dietary palmitic acid decreases fat oxidation and daily energy expenditure

Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Aug;82(2):320-6. doi: 10.1093/ajcn.82.2.320.


Background: Oleic acid (OA) is oxidized more rapidly than is palmitic acid (PA).

Objective: We hypothesized that changing the dietary intakes of PA and OA would affect fatty acid oxidation and energy expenditure.

Design: A double-masked trial was conducted in 43 healthy young adults, who, after a 28-d, baseline, solid-food diet (41% of energy as fat, 8.4% as PA, and 13.1% as OA), were randomly assigned to one of two 28-d formula diets: high PA (40% of energy as fat, 16.8% as PA, and 16.4% as OA; n = 21) or high OA (40% of energy as fat, 1.7% as PA, and 31.4% as OA; n = 22). Differences in the change from baseline were evaluated by analysis of covariance.

Results: In the fed state, the respiratory quotient was lower (P = 0.01) with the high OA (0.86 +/- 0.01) than with the high-PA (0.89 +/- 0.01) diet, and the rate of fat oxidation was higher (P = 0.03) with the high-OA (0.0008 +/- 0.0001) than with the high-PA (0.0005 +/- 0.0001 mg . kg fat-free mass(-1) . min(-1)) diet. Resting energy expenditure in the fed and fasting states was not significantly different between groups. Change in daily energy expenditure in the high-OA group (9 +/- 60 kcal/d) was significantly different from that in the high-PA group (-214 +/- 69 kcal/d; P = 0.02 or 0.04 when expressed per fat-free mass).

Conclusions: Increases in dietary PA decrease fat oxidation and daily energy expenditure, whereas decreases in PA and increases in OA had the opposite effect. Increases in dietary PA may increase the risk of obesity and insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise
  • Fats / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oleic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Palmitic Acid / administration & dosage*


  • Fats
  • Oleic Acid
  • Palmitic Acid