Are you burning Cabs, Fat or Protein?

Do you sometimes wonder if you are burning Carbs, Fat or Proteins during a workout?

So let’s clear that out 🙂

We basically have 4 type of energy producers in our body:

  • Phosphagen System
  • Carbohydrate Fuel – Anaerobic System
  • Fats and Carbohydrates Fuel – Aerobic System
  • Protein Fuel – Prolonged cases

Those 4 energy producers are integrated to each other and the big deal is to understand when each one takes place according basically to 2 variables:

  • intensity
  • duration

There is a chemical compound which releases energy to our muscle causing it to contract and so to move. This compound is called ATP – Adenosine Triphosphate. And these 4 producers of energy are so producers of ATP.

The Phosphagen System is the fastest producer of ATP and will use the ATP already available in our body. Once it is broken down for the energy release, the CP – Creatine Phosphate will breakdown and reconstruct the ATP to a new one ready to be used. This is a non stop process but limited, for a short period of time.

When a person starts an exercise, a run for example, the 1st to 30th seconds of exercise will be using ATP from the Phosphagen System. After that if the exercise continues then the ATP needs to be provided by another producer: Anaerobic System (Carbohydrates Fuel). Although the Anaerobic System is raised for high-intensity exercises, it is also initiated in between the Phosphagen System and the Aerobic System, filling it up the gap between them since the Aerobic System is slow and so taking longer to start producing ATP.

This gap period takes about 3 minutes, after that, the Aerobic System starts to take over while the Anaerobic System decreases its production.

Examples of Carbs are: veggies, fruits, legume, potatoes, whole grains.

Once we eat Carbs our body will digest it to its simplest form called glucose, which will be sent to the blood and distributed to the body.

Glucose is stored into the muscle and liver.

The extra glucose is transformed into fat and stored on the adipose tissue for later use.

When the continuous exercise exceeds 50% of the maximal effort of the athlete, the Anaerobic System will take control and provide ATP on a faster way for the higher demand.

But when the exercise intensity switches to moderate or slow, the main ATP provider will be the Aerobic System, which together with oxygen will use Carbs and Fat.

Examples of Fats are: omega-3, omega-5, nuts, seeds, veggies oils (olive, avocado).

Once we eat fat our body will digest it to its simplest form called fatty acids, which will be sent to the blood and distributed to the body.

Fatty acids are stored into the muscle.

The extra fatty acid will be stored on the adipose tissue for later use.

After about 2h of continuous exercise, our body will have a lack of glucose and fatty acids available and so the ATP will be produced also through the proteins.

Examples of Proteins are: meat, fish, eggs, beans, soy.

Once we eat proteins our body will digest it to its simplest form called amino acids, which will be sent to the blood and distributed to the body.

Amino acids are stored into the muscle.

The extra amino acid will be extracted.

At this protein stage, the athlete feels an enormous exhaustion, the muscles hurt and all they want to do is to stop running. At this moment marathon and ultra-marathon runners usually say that they “hit the wall” . But they continue fighting with the pain until the end of the run. This usually happens on the 30km of the race or depending on the athlete speed, shape and others variables.

Some long distance athletes use the “cab loading” which is a strategy to consume a higher percentage of carbs and lower of fat on 1 to 3 days before the long run. This way there will be temporary extra storage of glucose on the muscle and liver so the protein production of ATP will be started later than usual while the athlete will be about finish the run.

As a conclusion, depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise, the body will provide ATP from the proper Fat, Carbs, Protein fuels and Phosphagen System as an integrated process.

Consuming the proper food and amount has a direct reflection to the athlete performance.

For more details on this topic, watch my presentation on the link below and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel 🙂

Click here to watch more about ATP production or watch the video below.

For a running and diet individual plans, look for professionals and kick it!

I will see you soon!

Flavia Grohmnann

Reference: ACE Fitness

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