Energy, How Does My Body Get It and How Does It Use It?
Many times people will ask an energetic person they know, where do you get all that energy from?? We just assume they simply have an overactive and limitless supply of energy which we are just not capable of having ourselves. We may ask ourselves, why is it that when I exercise I seem to run out of gas and get tired after thirty minutes but that guy over there seems to be able to keep at it for well over an hour without tiring out? Is he just a more energetic person than me? Why can’t I have that kind of energy when I exercise? What is his secret? Well, suppose I said, “He has no secret” and “you too can get more energy” and without any magic potion or secret tricks known only to a select few people. Simply having a basic understanding of how your body works and what it needs to make it work at its best will help you to see what may be “the key” to obtaining better energy levels that will have people asking you what your secret is. In order to build biomolecules and sustain life, your body needs energy. The body gets its energy from the breakdown of nutrients like glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. To construct molecules there must be molecular destruction going on simultaneously to provide the energy required to drive these biochemical reactions. This is an ongoing process that occurs throughout the day. It must be understood that anabolism (building of tissue) and catabolism (breakdown of tissue) occur simultaneously all the time. However, they differ in magnitude depending on the level of activity or rest and on when the last meal was eaten. When anabolism exceeds catabolism, net growth occurs. When catabolism exceeds anabolism, the body has a net loss of substances and body tissues and may lose weight. With regard to how your body uses what you give it consider the following. The fate of an amino acid after it is transported to the liver is highly dependent on the body’s needs for that moment. Some amino acids enter the blood stream, where they join amino acids that have been liberated during the constant breakdown and synthesis of body tissue. Other amino acids are used by the liver to manufacture many of the specialized proteins such as liver enzymes, lipoproteins, and the blood protein (albumin). As these amino acids circulate throughout the body, each cell directed by its own DNA blue print, draws from the common pool of available amino acids to synthesize all the numerous proteins required for its functions. In order for protein synthesis to occur, an adequate supply of both essential (not produced by your body) and non-essential (produced by your body) amino acids is vital. If one of the essential amino acids is missing then synthesis is halted. These partially assembled proteins are disassembled and the amino acids returned to the blood. Any amino acids that are not used within a short time can not be stored for future use. They are delivered back to the liver and stripped of their nitrogen, then incorporated into urea and excreted by the kidneys. The remaining protein skeleton will be converted to glucose and burned as energy or converted to fat or glycogen for storage. Although protein synthesis is very important, the body’s number one priority is to obtain sufficient energy to carry on vital functions such as circulation, respiration and digestion. Therefore, in the absence of adequate dietary carbohydrates and fat calories, the body will break down not only dietary protein but protein in the blood, liver, pancreas, muscles, and other tissues in order to maintain vital organs and functions. With regard to carbohydrates after training consider the following. Our bodies can only absorb monosaccharides (glucose, galactose, or fructose), the single units of sugars and starches. Once absorbed through the small intestines into the portal vein, and then circulated into the bloodstream through the liver as blood glucose, our bodies can put glucose to work in three ways:
1. It can burn the glucose immediately for energy if blood glucose levels are not at a stable level of 20 grams blood borne glucose circulating per hour.
2. If it is not needed for energy immediately, then it is converted into glycogen in the liver or muscles. The liver has the capacity to store 100 grams of glycogen. The muscles have the capacity to store between 250-400 grams of glycogen, depending on muscle mass and physical condition. Liver glycogen supplies energy for the entire body. Muscle glycogen only supplies energy to muscles.
3. If the body has an excess of glucose, and all of the glycogen stores are full, the surplus glucose is converted to fat by the liver and stored as adipose tissue (body fat) around the body. If needed, fatty acids can be burned as fuel (BUT the fat cannot be converted back to glucose). Now that you have a better idea of what goes on in your body and how your body uses its resources for energy, you may now be able to understand how you can obtain more energy with the simple use of “food” and not some secret magical method. Just keep in mind that it takes all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) in the proper amounts to keep energy levels at there best. Always be sure to take in some carbohydrates and protein an hour before exercise and some more thirty minutes after, taking in your fats well before and well after exercise.
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