Different Ways In Which Our Body Uses Energy

Those of us that are involved in sporting activities– professional athletes, trainers and those that work with athletes– recognize the importance of fueling the body to take full advantage of energy as well as performance. It likewise aids to recognize how the body transforms energy to make sure that healthy and balanced methods can be used to enhance athletic efficiency.

The law of energy

The initial law of thermodynamics states that energy can not be created, but needs to be transferred or converted from one type to another. Like an automobile only runs on fuel, the body runs on just one sort of energy: chemical energy. Specifically, the body can use just one certain form of chemical energy, or fuel, to do organic work.

adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our bodies primary fuel

So, just how does the body make ATP, the only fuel it can convert to power? Our bodies has 3 different chemical systems that transform energy. Many people recognize that we use proteins, carbs as well as fats for power. Calories are a measurement of a unit of warmth or food energy. For example, we can attain four calories per gram of healthy proteins as well as carbohydrates, and also nine calories per gram from fats. However how do we transform these possible energy materials right into ATP? This is where 3 power systems enter into play.

Energy System 1:  Fuel for immediate energy needs.


The Immediate Energy system, or ATP-PC, is the system the body utilizes to create immediate energy. The energy source, phosphocreatine (PC), is saved within the cells of the body. When exercise is done and also power is used up, PC is made use of to replenish ATP. Basically, the PC functions like a reserve to restore ATP in a nearly instantaneous fashion.

So, in the quadriceps and hamstring muscle group of a typical professional athlete, a particular amount of ATP and PC is saved within the muscle. These stored substrates prepare to be chemically changed to fuel the biological work process– such as contracting a particular muscle. This system provides athletes a readily available amount of energy which can be accessed right away

What’s the con?

The average professional athlete will have approximately 285 grams of stored ATP in his or her entire body. That amount of ATP will certainly be consumed in few secs of activity. At any time, athletes have only around 10 seconds worth of ATP-PC.

A supplement called creatine monohydrate can increase the quantity of PC stored in the muscle. It is just one of the most studied supplements available and it works. However, it can trigger muscle cramps and should not be used in hot temperatures.


Energy System 2: Burst energy, using glucose for energy


The glycolytic system, in some cases called anaerobic glycolysis, is a series of ten enzyme-controlled responses that make use of carbs to produce ATP and pyruvate as final products. Glycolysis is the breakdown of sugar. Technically, glycolysis can make use of sugar or glycogen in its chain reactions. The glucose must enter the cell membrane to start the procedure. Upon going into the cell, the glucose will then start a transformation that will produce a total of two ATP as well as two pyruvate particles. These ten responses take place really swiftly. Glycolysis is the favored energy system by the human body when any type of sort of workout work is required. The process is quick, there is usually a lot of glucose readily available and the reactions can happen anywhere within the cell’s sarcoplasm.

What’s the con?

Two issues exist with glycolysis. Only two ATP molecules are created for each molecule of sugar used. Sugar starts out with six carbons in its framework. In chemical power, carbons are potential power– to put it simply, potential ATP. In chemical terms, that is a waste of possible energy.

Second, the two pyruvate particles produced in the last reaction have 2 possible paths. They can be converted into lactate (lactic acid), or they can be carried right into the third power system and continue to generate ATP. Aerobic fitness decreases lactate manufacturing in glycolysis and increases what is known as the lactate threshold.

What actually occurs to the pyruvate relies on numerous factors– mostly how “aerobically” fit the athlete is, as well as the level of job strength. The reduced the relative work strength and also the higher the professional athlete’s aerobic fitness, the less lactate will be created.

Alternatively, the more the body utilizes glycolysis to create ATP, the more lactate will be generated with it. As a lot of professional athletes know, a high level of blood lactate does not help sports performance.

How to make use of glycolysis.

Typically, glycolysis takes a couple of seconds to start running and can be used for up to roughly 2 minutes. A good example is one lap around a 400-meter track. The typical professional athlete will start strong, coast through the middle 200, and then crawl across the finish line.

From an energy system point of view, Energy System 1 fuels the athlete’s first 3 or 4 steps, and then glycolysis takes control to generate ATP. By the time the 400 meters is over, so is glycolysis.

Energy System 3: Long lasting aerobic power


The Aerobic System lives within a particular organelle of the body’s cells. This organelle is the mitochondria– the “power house of the cell.” Which is precisely true. The mass of ATP produced by the human body originates from the mitochondria. For that reason, the ATP created is using “cardiovascular” processes.

The first 2 energy systems are anaerobic, suggesting they do not need oxygen. The aerobic energy system needs to have oxygen or the whole process will eventually slow down and cease to function. The oxygen needed by this system is provided by the cardiovascular and respiratory systems via blood flow to the muscular tissues.

The aerobic energy system

The aerobic energy system is where we utilize all 3 of our fuel resources. It is within this system that carbohydrates, fats and proteins may be refined in order to create ATP. Carbohydrates come through the glycolytic system, creating pyruvate that continues right into the aerobic system.

The use of proteins as well as fats is a bit more complex. Proteins have to experience a process whereby the nitrogen elements are eliminated. Essentially, the protein is transformed into its own amino acids, and the “amino” part is removed or altered. What is left is just a carbon molecule that can be refined in either the glycolytic or respiratory systems.

Fats travel around the body in the form of a triglyceride in the blood. Before a fat can be used in the aerobic system, the triglyceride needs to be seperated into its respective pieces, glycerol and fatty acids. Both of these have carbon molecules that can be made use of to produce ATP. Glycerol enters within glycolysis pathways. Fatty acids enter the mitochondria and go through a process called Beta-oxidation. This process needs numerous chain reactions, time, and oxygen. Yes, oxygen is needed at two various phases of Beta-oxidation.

Optimal cardiovascular conditioning

So, an athlete requires an extremely well developed cardiovascular system to give the oxygen for all these processes to occur. The aerobic system takes anywhere from one to three minutes to get completely running when we begin to work out. The speed as well as effectiveness of the cardio system directly pertains to the professional athlete’s cardiovascular conditioning. This system can give ATP for extended amount of times. If the intensity is not too high, an athlete might use this system for hrs and hrs of strenuous activity, for example, a marathon.

Energy replenishment paired with recovery

The aerobic system aids to replenish and also recuperate the very first two energy systems. It is this system that helps to clean out the lactate generated from glycolysis as well as rebuild the stored ATP and PC required for the Immediate Energy system. A lot of group sports are anaerobic in nature. Nevertheless, all team sport athletes need a minimum of a modest amount of cardiovascular conditioning so their cardio system can offer recovery for the anaerobic systems. When watching a particular sporting event, it is easy to recognize which team is conditioned better.

Training the body’s energy systems for optimal performance

The three energy systems can be improved by training. What that suggests is different for each system, yet each system is just as trainable as if you were working a particular muscle group.

When athletes train, we do primarily 3 things:

  • Build muscle to supply even more force and/or be more efficient at creating that force
  • Train motor as well as muscle ability patterns to more effectively execute a sports technique
  • Train energy systems to be more effective and reliable at generating ATP

Each of our energy systems offers ATP at a very particular time and intensity. In order to train these systems, you need to function within these times and strength varieties.

Immediate energy

For instance, a training session with the objective of boosting the Immediate Energy System would utilize short explosive movements or exercises. A collection of repeated vertical jumps or short sprints would be a superb means to “stress” the first power system

Short-term energy

Furthermore, a training session with an objective to train the Glycolytic System would call for a longer session of work but still at an extremely high intensity level. The 400 meter sprint is a good example. Running laps on the track or football field is a excellent means to exhaust the Glycolytic System.

Long-term energy

To train the Aerobic System, an athlete requires steady-state work for a minimum of 20 to 30 mins. Generally, cardiovascular work happens in the range of 65– 85 percent of VO2max. Execute this aerobic work at least four days per week for optimal benefits.

This has been an explanation of the bodies energy systems and how they work, through the eyes of an exercise physiologist. I would argue that when sport performance is at stake, training your energy systems is equally as crucial as just how much weight you can bench press or how high you can jump.