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Bulletin #93 – The Effect of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) on Cellular Energy

Understanding something about cel-lular energy production will allow you to make intelligent decisions about how best to supply fuel for your body, depending on your goal. Is it weight gain, weight loss, or maximum performance in terms of strength or endurance?The immediate source of chemical energy which cells use is a chemical called “ATP,” which stands for adenosine triphosphate. The “triphosphate” part of the molecule is made of three phosphate groups, as the name implies . Each phosphate group is strongly negatively charged, causing them to repel one another.

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ATP is thus an inherently unstable molecule. When ATP breaks down it releases one of its phosphate groups, forming free phosphate plus ADP (adenosine diphosphate). This chemical process releases energy which is used to power cellular work, such as muscle contraction . So the energy contained in food must first be converted into ATP before cells can use it.Your cells are constantly us-ing ATP, so it must continually be replaced. There are three basic energy pathways which maintain ATP levels. These are the phosphagen system, the anaerobic pathway, and the aerobic pathway. The phosphagen system relies on a molecule called creatine phosphate to supply energy to the system. It is no wonder that creatine has become one of the most popular sports supplements on the market today .

Once creatine gets inside cells, it is combined with phosphate to form creatine phosphate. Creatine phosphate then is able to donate its phosphate group to ADP, thereby re-forming ATP. So as ATP is used, the phosphagen system acts to immediately restore it . Your body makes about a gram of cre-atine a day on its own, plus most people get about another gram from diet each day. Us-ing a creatine supplement can significantly increase creatine intake. Orally administered creatine is absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by muscles. Creatine phosphate it-self is NOT well absorbed. Some supplement manufacturers sell creatine in the form of cre-atine phosphate, but that’s a bad idea. It’s not absorbed nearly as well as regular creatine. By increasing the intracellular concentration of creatine, you provide the phosphagen system with a larger energy reserve. This means that you can perform maximal bouts of exercise longer than before. Creatine helps for very intense exercises of relatively short duration.

It helps in weight training and in other sports where quick bursts of energy are required, like football, wrestling, and sprinting. It improves peak power output, duration of peak power output, and recovery between bursts of near maximal activity. It is less helpful in endurance activities, since the phosphagen system is not the major energy producing pathway there.The phosphagen pathway by itself can supply energy only for a few seconds of maximal effort. Cells store enough ATP to last for two or three seconds, and the creatine phosphate reserve can last for maybe eight seconds or so. It is clear we need an energy pathway that can sustain longer durations of exercise. The primary energy produc-ing pathways in cells are the anaerobic and aerobic pathways. Ultimately, it is the aerobic pathway which meets the body’s energy needs, but the anaerobic pathway helps to sustain very intense activity for between one and two minutes. First, let’s define what these terms mean .“Aerobic” means “with oxy-gen,” and “anaerobic” means “without oxygen.” Food molecules are “burned” inside cells to produce energy . When a log burns on the fire, carbohydrate molecules in the wood combine with oxygen and become “oxidized.” This change in chemical state is the heat en-ergy you feel emitted from the flames. Inside the cells of your body, food molecules are combined with oxygen to release energy.

The difference is, when food is oxidized inside a living cell, instead of all the energy being lost as heat, some of it is used to form ATP. Before cells can use the energy that is released from the oxidation of food, it first must be converted into ATP. In the end, all the energy your body uses is derived from the oxidation of food. This is aerobic metabolism. And that’s why if you’re deprived of oxygn for more than a few minuets, you die your cells run out of energy.The only problem is, aerobic me-tabolism can only supply energy so fast, and sometimes you want to supply energy quicker. That’s where anaerobic metabolism comes into play. During times of intense exertion, when the energy demands of the body exceed the ability of the aerobic sys-tem to supply energy, food molecules are partially broken down but not oxidized. This initial metabolism can yield a relatively small amount of energy, but can do so very quickly. Let’s look at some examples. You can sustain low intensity exercise, like walking, all day long.

That’s because the aerobic energy path-way can supply enough energy to sustain that activity, and the aerobic pathway can yield vast amounts of energy . At the other end of the spectrum, con-sider intense weight lifting. You can lift a heavy weight for maybe eight to ten reps, which takes about 30-40 seconds to do, and then you reach fail-ure . There are many reasons for muscles to reach fatigue at the end of a set, but the primary one is depletion of ATP. The phosphagen system works well for the first few reps, and the anaerobic pathway can supply energy for about a min-ute, and then you just cannot replenish ATP fast enough to keep up with the demands of the exercise. During any form of activity, the aero-bic and anaerobic systems are both at work. During long duration, endurance exercise it’s mainly the aerobic system which supplies the energy . During short duration, intense exercise, like weight lifting, it’s mainly the anaerobic system. During your rest intervals between sets your body is completing the oxidation of the food molecules that were anaerobically metabolized during the set. That’s why you breathe hard for a minute or so after a set you’re using a lot of oxygen to replenish your ATP stores. If you’re involved in short duration, intense exercise, such as weight lifting or sprinting, you will derive some benefit from creatine supplementation. Parrillo Perfor-mance Creatine Monohydrate™ is the high-The Effect of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) on Cellular Energyest purity creatine supplement available.

Creatine can help improve strength, duration of maximal exercise output, and recovery between maximal exercise bouts. You should realize that carbohydrate can be metabolized anaerobically, but fat cannot. Therefore, carbohydrate is a better energy source for very intense exer-cise than fat is. Fat can only be me-tabolized aerobi-cally. That makes it a fine fuel for low intensity exercise like walking, but not good for weight lifting or most team sports . Most com-petitive athletes will do well to rely on carbohydrate as their primary fuel source rather than fat. Two scoops of Pro-Carb™ before your workout can markedly improve your work output and duration . Since fat can only be me-tabolized aerobi-cally, it is important that you include some aerobic exercise in your workout protocol. You will burn essentially no fat during a weight lifting session. If being lean is part of your goal, you will get the best results if you do some cardiovascular exercise in addition to your weight training.In summary, keep protein intake be-tween one and two grams per pound of body weight each day, minimize fat intake, and supply the remainder of your caloric needs with unrefined, complex carbohydrates. This will provide the optimum fuel mix to power intense exercise. And don’t forget to do some aerobic exercise activity, as this is required to burn fat.

2018-03-13T11:10:30-04:00 July 2nd, 2009|Technical Supplement Bulletins|

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