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Elite human and animal athletes must acquire the fuels necessary for extreme feats, but also contend with the oxidative damage associated with peak metabolic performance. Here, we show that a migratory bird with fuel stores composed of more omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) expended 11% less energy during long-duration (6 hr) flights with no change in oxidative costs; however, this short-term energy savings came at the long-term cost of higher oxidative damage in the omega-6 PUFA-fed birds. Given that fatty acids are primary fuels, key signaling molecules, the building blocks of cell membranes, and that oxidative damage has long-term consequences for health and ageing, the energy savings-oxidative cost trade-off demonstrated here may be fundamentally important for a wide diversity of organisms on earth.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.