Food and drink sources of energy
How is energy produced? To put it simply, carbohydrates break down into sugars that form ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) – molecules paramount in metabolism. Simple sugars break down more quickly and easily. More complex carbs take longer to break down and therefore provide the body with an adequate supply of compounds required to produce ATP. That is why sugars are not too bad for your diet because they are essential for producing energy. However, when consumed in excess and in unhealthy forms, sugars can lead to adverse health effects such as diabetes.
The human body has 4 methods to create ATP – units of energy. They vary depending on speed and whether they burn oxygen or not.
- Aerobic Respiration (or cellular respiration). This is energy that your body requires just to live, for everyday activities and cardio exercises (like a long run). It is generated by a sugar burning process in the body’s cells known as aerobic respiration. In this process, cells uses oxygen to burn glucose and make ATP.
- Anaerobic Respiration. This process occurs in the cytoplasm. It is effective for vigorous exercise of between 1 – 3 minutes, such as short sprints. In this process the body will partially burn glucose without oxygen (anaerobic).
- Beta Oxidation/ Fat Burning (Aerobic Lipolysis). This is the slowest process. It is too slow to produce energy during exercise. The body uses this method when carbohydrates are not available.
- ATP Phosphocreatine. This is the fastest source of energy. In this process the body relies on each cell’s small amount of energy which soon runs out. To create more energy the cells use creatine phosphates. This type of energy is used during short, sharp, explosive bursts of exercise (10 – 30 seconds).
This is how the processes work on the inside, and eating and drinking provide resources necessary for them to happen. Food and drink will not only build energy reserves but will also increase the benefits of endurance and energy gain during exercise. Read on if you train regularly but you are not sure what to eat and drink to produce enough necessary energy.