Have you ever seen a metabolic roadmap of the human body plastered on a huge piece of paper?
Haha i highly doubt it as only crazy biochemistry geeks like me have it hanging like a Da Vinci poster on their bedroom walls.
But when you google it after you’ve read this blog, you will see your bodies metabolic abilities splayed out like a multi complex architectural scaffold starring you right in the face.
And when you see inside yourself like this, when the complexity of your bodies ability is mapped out on paper like this, you cant help but feel anything other than truly grateful for the miracle that you are. Without even understanding what the heck you are looking at, maybe, just maybe you will get a small grasp of how the failure of one of these pathways could make a huge difference to how we recover, how we transport oxygen around to our working muscles, how we digest food or how we create ATP for energy use.
In science the meaning of metabolism is;
‘The product of all energy interactions required to sustain life’
Wait. That description said sustain life, not push yourself to its physical limits to run, swim, jump, throw, dodge better than other human bodies. It said ‘sustain life’. So if your body is lacking a nutrient, enzyme or hormone, if it’s under stress from repetitive intense exercise, bad nutrition of lack of rest your metabolism isn’t going to focus on maximising the amount of energy that is diverted to your muscles to contract! NO it needs to sustain your life first, and if this means down regulating less essential pathways like repairing muscle tissue, maximising muscular performance or neural function to control muscle activation and perfect technique, then it is sure to do so. So if you’re not truly healthy than your body is focusing on healing you first before it focuses on athletic performance.
Let me explain this more. With oxygen (aerobic) 1 glucose molecule can produce up to 34.2 ATP. Without oxygen (anaerobic) 1 glucose molecule can only produce 2 ATP.
So let think about that for a second. With oxygen and a healthy body that is creating and providing all the nutrients and substrates needed to go through The Citric Acid Cycke (TCA cycle) we can produce 34.2 ATP. But if something isn’t working properly i.e. it has been stopped due to a deficiency in a nutrient, enzyme or hormone, we are restricted from going through the TCA cycle and can only produce 2ATP. Therefore a person working anaerobically will have to work 17 times harder to create the same amount of energy.
So working aerobically doesn’t just require the presence of oxygen, but also the availability of nutrients, enzymes, hormones and healthy tissues/organs.
With this knowledge now picture two triathletes running next to each other in the final leg of the triple decker race. They’ve been exercising to their limits for almost 2 hours. However one athlete has low iron levels and therefore their oxygen transportation is inefficient. Iron is also an intermediate for the TCA cycle. So this athlete has been working anaerobically working 17 times harder to produce the same amount of ATP as his competitor running along side him working efficiently turning over copious amounts of energy. When it comes to the crunch, who do you think will come out on top?
Will power can get you almost anywhere, but it would help if your body was on the same adventure.
So in the end its not about the calories or the training, its not about a magic pill or a ‘superfood’, it is and always will be about health. Find your own perfect health and you will thrive!