Sunday, November 21, 2010

Can Geeking Out on Energy Pathways Improve Your Performance and Sex Life?

This post discusses how our body uses energy during exercise, the primary ways it replaces energy in order to keep moving, and some of the dietary-, health-, and body composition-related implications of exercise at various intensities.
Estimated read time: 9 minutes + videos

If you have a background in exercise physiology, have been to a level one certification, or remember the CFJ article What is Fitness, then this discussion of energy pathways will probably look familiar to you and hopefully provide some further insights and topics for reflection.

If you don’t have any interest in physiology, then this may bring back nightmares of your biology or biochemistry classes.

The graph below shows the three primary energy pathways and ~ how much they contribute during activities of various intensities and duration.

Graph courtesy of What is Fitness

Before we get our elbows dirty, let’s preface with the agreement that we are almost never using exclusively one energy pathway. Rather, at any given time, we are using multiple energy pathways/fuel sources in various amounts dictated by the type, duration, and intensity of activity.

We’ll start with short duration high intensity and work out way to long duration, lower intensity.

The phosphagen (a.k.a. ATP-CP) energy system can produce the greatest power outputs, but it is depleted rapidly.


ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) is the energy currency of life. It is a molecule containing 3 phosphates, and the bond to each of those phosphates releases energy when it broken (when ATP releases energy, a phosphate is released and it becomes Adenosine Di-Phosphate – now containing 2 phosphates).


CP (Creatine-Phosphate) a.k.a PCr (Phosphacreatine) is another high energy molecule that can rapidly replenish ATP by donating it’s phosphate to ADP.

CP + ADP = ATP + Creatine

There is only enough ATP in the body to fuel a few seconds of activity, or to sprint ~ 15-20 yards. There Is about 3-5 times as much PCr stored in the body, and as such, the ATP-CP system [if running exclusively] could fuel about 10 seconds of activity or sprint just under 100 yards.

Note: the primary logic behind creatine supplementation is in that if we are able to store a greater amount of PCr in the body, then we could maintain maximal efforts for an extra few seconds (or perhaps an extra few pounds or an extra couple reps). Hence, studies have found creatine monohydrate to be useful to performance in short duration activity, resistance training, and power sports, but relatively useless to aerobic/endurance exercise.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ruth The Farmer Hooks Me Up

I love Farmer's Markets.  Fruit and Vegetables taste so much fresher when they are picked the day (or occasionally a few days before) they are sold than if they are sitting on a supermarket counter for a week.  Local food doesn't have to travel as far and leaves less of a carbon footprint on the planet.  The prices are comparable and sometimes even better than at your local grocer.  And there's something really special about meeting and talking with the person who grows your food.  (Maybe not quite as special as growing your own ... still very cool)

Meet Ruth:

It's 12 o'clock, do you know where your food is growing?

Ruth has been a key part of the Eglin/Fort Walton Beach Farmer's Market since 1982.  She brings her fresh produce, honey, and canned goods to the Farmer's Market at the Fair Grounds off Beal pkwy from ~0630 to 1200 Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  She and her late husband began Farming when he retired from the Air Force.  After he passed away, she continued the tradition with her children and now grandson comes out to help.  Ruth doesn't like chemicals and uses very minimal amounts when she grows her crops.  Many small farmers don't see a financial benefit from going through the high expense and long process of being certified as "organic".  However, when nutrient content of fresh local fruits and vegetables are compared to "supermarket organic" the local foods will almost always win.

I found this Farmer's Market the first week I got to Florida with a simple google search for "Farmers Market near Eglin Air Force Base".  The first day I went out on my motorcycle because I was still waiting for my car to arrive from my last base.  I remember trying to stuff as many zucchinis, sweet potatoes, and peppers as I could fit in my backpack and riding back to billeting with a big smile, thinking "I wish I didn't have to cook these in the hotel microwave."

If you're in the Fort Walton Beach area, go meet Ruth on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday.  If you're outside of the area, do some sleuthing and find a market near you.  The food tastes better! and if we don't support our small farmers, I fear it won't be long until corn and soy are the only "vegetables" in our stores.

Today's bounty.  Which goes in the belly first: the turnips or their greens?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Debbie Does ... Nutrition?

Uhh Ohh ... the media is at it again ... 

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 Pounds 
-- Madison Park, CNN Health
"For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals ... On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months."
My take ...