Your body as a living process didn’t start with you. It’s been continuing on for generations and generations and generations. Is it an individual process? Yes. Is it also part of a bigger one? Absolutely.
It may seem daunting, but understanding this process can put control over health back into the hands of the individual. Being aware of physiological biomarkers is essential. Biomarkers come in a variety of forms. Some are easy to pinpoint: fitness parameters, benchmarks, how you feel physically. Others you can’t see, like homocysteine levels, inflammation, and cholesterol.
During a recent WellnessFX visit to Krav Maga Worldwide Training Center: West LA, Dr. Justin Mager gave a presentation on Perspective, Process, and Performance. In this first part he discusses what happens with food when put into the body and sets the stage for a fruitful discussion about training the fuel system for optimal performance.
A lot of what Dr. Mager discussed was pretty heavy, so let’s attempt to break it down.
Three macronutrients in food supply the body’s energy: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. No matter which is consumed, they all eventually become acetyl CoA. This essential molecule in metabolism is then transported to the mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells, to produce ATP. ATP is the energy currency of the body, so it’s extremely important. Excess ATP is stored in the body as protein, glycogen, and triglycerides (fat).
During the process of turning macronutrients into energy the body can use, a fundamental step occurs: methylation. Methylation basically changes one molecule to another by donating a carbon unit from a specific protein (methionine). The important part is this happens billions of times per minute. Increasing the body’s metabolic rate means even faster processing.
The process of transforming fats, carbs, and proteins by methylation causes methionine to change into homocysteine, a toxic and harmful amino acid. This is normal, however, and homocysteine is recycled back into methionine to be used again in a process requiring b vitamins. As the body ages it becomes less efficient at methylation, and thus less efficient at getting energy from food. To make matters worse, our modern-day food supply is overly processed and deficient of the nutrients we need to fuel these processes, such as b vitamins. High homocysteine levels (also correlated with heart disease) can be an indicator of poor methylation. Keeping track of such metrics gives insight into whether or not the body is being supplied with all the nutrients it requires.
So if fats, carbohydrates, and proteins all end up making the same molecule, what’s the big deal with the high-carb/low-carb debate? The answer comes down to the different paths each of these macronutrients take to get there. Fats are a less efficient fuel source, but what that really means is they have a more convoluted journey which isn’t as fast as carbohydrates. This can actually be good for training the body to be more efficient at utilizing the fuel it consumes.
Of course, this all begs the question: how do I train my fuel system? To find out, stay tuned for Part 2!
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.