What is the importance of food? Well, not only does it taste great but it’s the body’s source of fuel and recovery!
Food consists of macronutrients = carbohydrates, fat and protein which consist of calories (Approx per gram = Carbohydrates 4cals, Protein 4cals and Fat 9cals). This is why the body loves to store fat as it holds more than double the calories (energy) than carbohydrates and protein. For example our body weight would be drastically higher if we aimed to get the same bang for buck of energy from carbohydrates and/or protein compared to fats. From an evolution point of view, it would be difficult to run from a dinosaur if this were to be the case.
However, this is not to say that carbohydrates aren’t important – this depends on the context of your goal. Depending on the intensity of movement the body switches between primary sources. You can use these approximate intensities to determine which fuel source you are using >70% of max heart rate (220-age) will be fats and >70% of max heart rate will be carbohydrates. Last but not least is protein, this is the recovery fuel needed to initiate the rebuilding of muscle (tip = aim for a palm size of protein 3-5x p/day).
Watch this space on the next blog on how this energy is converted into movement.
How does the body convert food to energy and then to movement?
To convert food to energy is termed ‘Cellular Respiration’. A chemical reaction that involves glucose (from food) and oxygen releases energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and by products being carbon dioxide + water. ATP is a shuttle that delivers energy to the place of need (muscles). Muscles contract through what is termed ‘Sliding Filament Theory’, where actin and myosin (components in muscle) convert towards each other causing a contraction. This is where a stroke movement is initiated via the myosin head moves towards actin causing a contraction in which is where the muscle shortens e.g. completing a bicep curl. ATP is used in this sequence allowing actin and myosin to bind and detach for multiple contractions.
Carbohydrates are the body’s most efficient solution for glucose for this reaction to occur, the body however is smart and can also utilise protein broken down into amino acids and fats broken down into triglycerides however this can be a much more complex and lengthy process.