The human body is a well mechanized machine, and like all machines, it needs fuel to function. To breathe, walk, talk, sleep, exercise efficiently, your body takes up energy from its fuel sources. Even when one is asleep, the body works to repair itself, the lungs still process air, the heart still supplies blood – the human body is indeed a miraculous machine that literally never rests until it rests six feet under the ground.
We all know that the food one eats is a potential energy source. Once consumed, the body works on breaking down this food (carbohydrates, fat and protein) and leads it through several different metabolic pathways. The by-products of these processes are: Water, Carbon dioxide, adenosine triphosphate aka ATP.
If you think of your body as a reserve bank, then ATP is its operational currency. All the energy we need to function throughout the twenty-four hours in a day, be it simple tasks like breathing, driving or lying down, is supplied by ATP molecules. ATP is also the only molecule that fuels muscle fibers with enough energy to be able to put up with muscle contractions.
Carbohydrates – 24-hour ATM
Carbohydrates are very friendly macronutrients. Simple sugars are broken down into glucose almost instantly into fuel, which is why a sports drink or chocolate bar can make you feel recharged almost immediately. This energy can also be used for safe keeping – glucose is the body’s main energy source, and it can also be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When you exercise, muscle glycogen gets converted back into a form of glucose that can only supply energy to the muscle fibers. The liver, too, converts glycogen back into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream to maintain blood sugar levels.
Fat stores – fixed deposit
Fat is the richest energy source in the body as it provides 9 calories per gram of energy, compared to 4 calories per gram provided by carbohydrates and protein. During workouts, stored fat in the body’s fat tissues (adipose tissue) is broken down into fatty acids which are released into the blood and taken up by the muscles for energy. This doesn’t happen as quickly as carbohydrate metabolism though.
Protein – Compound interest
The human body does not essentially store protein like it does for fat and carbohydrate. Protein is broken down into amino acids, that serve the purpose of building, maintaining, and repairing the body’s tissues, and also support some physiological processes.
Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein may be fundamentally different but they all contribute to optimum functioning of the human body and keep you satiated. The warm and fuzzy feeling you get after a hot meal can never be matched by eating simply a salad or having a cup of bulletproof coffee because when the three of them are combined – that’s when you feel like you’re having “food”. Life is short, indulge but wisely!
Author : Nida Aziz