Metabolism is a complex subject and without a scientific background, few people understand it fully.
But as an athlete or a strength trainer or even just someone keen on fitness, it is good to have some understanding of metabolism so that you can know the importance of good nutrition when it comes to fitness.
So What Is Metabolism?
It is the term used to describe the biochemical processes that occur within the body. To make it simple: these processes can be grouped under two main headings: anabolism and catabolism.
Anabolism is the formation of complex molecules from smaller units to create new materials such as proteins, enzymes, cells and tissues. In other words it provides the body’s growth, maintenance and repair functions.
Catabolism is the opposite – it breaks down complex molecules to release energy to fuel anabolism and to make smaller molecules.
Where Does The Energy Come From?
Energy is present in every cell of the body due to the catabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
When a chemical bond is broken within the substance adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy is released.
ATP is like a fully charged battery which provides instant energy. But only a tiny amount of ATP can be stored by the muscles for immediate use and when you start exercising the body has to begin to produce more ATP by mobilizing its reserves of glycogen.
Some glycogen is stored in the muscles and in the liver, and can provide sufficient energy for most activities. But when exercise is prolonged, glycogen can run out and additional fuel is needed.
Fat stores can provide this fuel, but only if there is enough oxygen present to metabolize it.
In addition, proteins can be used as energy for exercise but this involves the breakdown of the muscle tissue into amino acids. The body only resorts to this when supplies of glycogen are limited.
A diet that is low in carbohydrate means that the amount of stored glycogen is limited. This means that protein is more likely to be mobilized to create additional energy and this leads to the loss of muscle.
Basal Metabolic Rate and Resting Metabolic Rate
Basal Metabolic Rate (or BMR) is the term used for the amount of energy used by the body for its vital functions while at rest. It is usually expressed as the number of calories needed daily.
Resting Metabolic Rate (or RMR) is similar in many ways to BMR but is measured under less stringent conditions.
BMR and RMR are both influenced by sex, age, height and even climatic conditions.
Nutrition and Metabolism
Good nutrition is vital to maintain the metabolism at optimum levels. The body needs a wide range of nutrients to function well and even a small deficiency of a mineral or vitamin can cause chaos.
To reach peak fitness levels, a fully functioning metabolism is therefore critical for the athlete or strength trainer and this calls for a carefully constructed nutritional plan.
The principles of the food pyramid provide a great start in finding the correct balance.
However, achieving a perfectly balanced nutrition plan is a challenge and can be time consuming and difficult to do without expert assistance.
So, if you are serious about fitness, it is well worth considering retaining the services of a personal nutritionist or subscribing to a scientifically developed service such as plan:one to make certain that your nutrition is tailored to your personal requirements.