Are you struggling with burnout?

9 June 2024

Let’s discuss how the human energy systems are directly affecting how you feel.

The human body has several energy systems that work together to provide the energy needed for various activities, from everyday tasks to intense physical exercise. Understanding these energy systems a little better may make the world of difference to your everyday life and how you exercise. The body uses 3 different systems to supply cells with the necessary ATP to fuel energy needs. Let’s explore these energy systems:

  1. Phosphagen System (ATP-PCr System):

    • Duration: Provides immediate energy for short bursts of activity, lasting up to around 10 seconds. These short bursts of energy can be hugely beneficial to sports people.

    • Process: Creatine phosphate (CP) is used to rapidly replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of cells, allowing for quick bursts of energy.

    • Activities: Activities such as sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting heavily rely on this system. To an athlete, this system is crucial, to be able to ‘dig deep’ when they need to get an extra rep or increase speed. If you are attending gym class and you need the

    • Nutrition & ATP-PC:

  2. HighProtein Foods: Consuming a diet rich in high-quality protein sources can indirectly support the ATP-PCr system by providing the amino acids needed for the synthesis of creatine within the body. Foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and plant-based protein sources like tofu, tempeh, and legumes are excellent protein sources.
  3. CarbohydratesRich Foods:  While carbohydrates are not directly involved in the ATP-PCr system, they play a crucial role in overall energy metabolism. Consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrates can help replenish glycogen stores, which may indirectly support high-intensity exercise performance by providing additional energy substrates for glycolysis and oxidative metabolism.
    • Hydration: staying well-hydrated is essential for optimal performance during high-intensity exercise. Water plays a crucial role in various physiological processes, including ATP production and muscle function. Consuming electrolyte-rich fluids or foods can help maintain proper hydration and electrolyte balance.
  4. Glycolytic System (Anaerobic Glycolysis):

    • Duration: Provides energy for activities lasting from around 10 seconds to 2 minutes. After 2 minutes the body will slow down as we can’t remain in an anaerobic state for long periods of time.

    • Process: Glucose is broken down through glycolysis to produce ATP, without the need for oxygen. The glucose molecules in your bloodstream mainly come from foods that are rich in carbohydrates, including bread, potatoes, honey and fruit

    • Activities: Intense activities like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), fast-paced weightlifting, and sprinting rely on this system.

  5. Oxidative System (Aerobic Metabolism):

    • Duration: Provides energy for activities lasting longer than 2 minutes and during low-intensity activities.

    • Process: Aerobic metabolism involves the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and sometimes proteins in the presence of oxygen to produce ATP.

    • Activities: This system is primarily associated with more cardio based activities, endurance activities such as long-distance running, cycling, and swimming primarily rely on this system.

These energy systems do not work independently but rather interact depending on the intensity and duration of the activity being performed. For example:

  • During short bursts of intense activity, such as a sprint, the phosphagen system provides immediate energy. As this energy depletes ATP-PC kicks in.

  • As the duration of activity increases, the glycolytic system kicks in to provide additional energy.

  • During longer, less intense activities, the oxidative system becomes the primary energy source.

Additionally, the body can switch between energy systems based on factors such as intensity, duration, fitness level, and available fuel sources.

Understanding these energy systems is crucial for athletes and individuals involved in physical training, as it can help optimize performance and tailor training programs to target specific energy pathways.