The research conducted using mouse model showed that in less than 10 days of eating a high-fat diet, rats had a decreased ability to exercise and experienced significant short-term memory loss.
"Western diets are typically high in fat and are associated with long-term complications, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart failure, yet the short-term consequences of such diets have been given relatively little attention," said Andrew Murray, co-author of the study and currently at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
"We hope that the findings of our study will help people to think seriously about reducing the fat content of their daily food intake to the immediate benefit of their general health, well-being, and alertness," he added.
Study leader Murray fed rats with low-fat diet (7.5 percent of calories as fat) and high-fat diet (55 percent of calories as fat).
He discovered that the muscles of the rats eating the high-fat diet for four days were less able to use oxygen to make the energy needed to exercise, causing their hearts to worker harder-and increase in size.
After nine days on a high-fat diet, the rats took longer to complete a maze and made more mistakes in the process than their low-fat-diet counterparts.
The researchers also studied the cellular causes of these problems, particularly in the mitochondria of muscle cells.
They found increased levels of a protein called uncoupling protein 3, which made them less efficient at using oxygen needed to make the energy required for running.
The new research is published online in The FASEB Journal.