Compound Interest has just released a new infographic regarding The Science of Exercise. As always, they make my favorite infographics! Just enough information for your average person, with the avenue for you to do further research via links.
As Chemists, let’s talk about the chemicals involved:
Biomolecules consisting of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms, usually with a H:O ratio of 2:1 (as in water) and thus with the general formula Cm(H2O)n, where m may be different from n, and also with exceptions, such as deoxyribose*.
Carbohydrates serve numerous roles in living organisms. Polysaccharides (such as starch and glycogen) serve for storage of energy, as well as structural components (such as cellulose and chitin). Ribose is an important component of coenzymes and also the makes up the backbone of RNA while *Deoxyribose makes up the backbone of DNA. There are numerous other uses, as always, along with their derivatives.
For this case, they would mean the substances that are used to balance fluid levels in the body via the use of semi-permeable membranes & concentration gradients (cf. Osmosis)
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)
Most take the energy value of foods literally. Rather, they should think in terms of the “molecular unit of currency” of intracellular energy transfer that is ATP.
During many processes in living cells, e.g. muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, and chemical synthesis, ATP is converted to ADP or AMP. This process generates energy, as given by chemical energetics. (ATP is regenerated by other processes, most notably respiration, which us Biochemists have spent decades of our lives learning about)
Let’s say Person A wants to workout. First of all, 1 calorie is roughly 4.2 Joules of energy, so that would be about 4.2 kJ of energy. To cut the story very very short, for every 7300 calories (over 30kJ) stored, 1 mole of ATP is formed. That’s 6.0 x 1023 ATP molecules formed. Now 7300 calories is really high! Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2000 calories a day for women & 2500 for men. This is, of course, subject to your body type, amount of physical activity per day, existing medical conditions, etc.
Now, I am supposing that Person A wants to play basketball. DISCLAIMER: These are just general estimates!
During a basketball game, about 85% of the athlete’s energy comes from the phosphagen system and 15% from the glycolytic system (anaerobic), and a small % comes from the oxidative pathway (aerobic).
-Rebounding is pretty intense and would likely use the ATP-CP for a quick burst of immediate energy. (phosphagen system)
-Fast breaks can be moderately to very intense depending on sustainability -by the athlete and usually would require the glycolytic system to supply energy. Anaerobic glycolysis releases ATP and produces lactic acid (also explains why you will be sore). These moderate-intensity activities also include full-court defensive pressure or motion offensive plays.
-what about the oxidative energy system (aerobic)?
Although it is the least used system in basketball during a match, it is one of the most important for basketball success (and most skills!)
During the entire game, the oxidative system is essential for continuous play as they replenish the energy stores while the phosphagen & glycolytic systems are releasing ATP and producing lactic acid.
Note that all the above processes require the use of ATP, NOT our carbohydrates, i.e. what we eat. For that, please look up the process of Respiration.
I have always been highly skeptical of “Calories burnt” calculators and similar ‘measures’. Looked up for basketball values and it reads that the average person ‘burns’ 575-775 calories per hour in a game of basketball. If they are shooting baskets, they will ‘burn’ 325-450 calories per hour. Of course, this is subject to the intensity of the player. Now what about metabolic state of Person A? High metabolic rate vs low metabolic rate?
I used this “Calories Burned Calculator” and input my data in. It seems, for my weight… I will only burn 236-488 calories per hour. Interesting to note is that basketball officiating would burn 368 calories per hour, which would be more than shooters! Also, you burn more calories per hour during TRAINING than you do in GAME. (THIS I APPROVE).
Let’s now look at Person B during our Quarantinewhile… doing nothing at home. Will Person B burn any calories? YES! Depending on our body weight, a person burns calories to sustain the body, e.g. repair… respiration… etc.
Person B weighs 150 pounds, and so might burn 46 calories an hour doing nothing. While sleeping, 322-414 calories will be burnt. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn just by doing nothing. This is just relativity speaking (in a sense). Now the estimate figures for sleeping have immense significance! By having a full night of sleep, one can burn more calories than an hour of shooting basketball!
Finally, we come to Highs & Cramps. I love this section as it revealed to me a misconception that I’ve had my entire life! I even stated above that lactic acid may cause soreness but in the infographic above, it states that this is not proven and that there are other hypotheses. Very interesting, and will be digging further into anandamide as well as the other hypotheses for why we feel sore after workout.
I hope this article was enjoyable to read. I honestly enjoyed looking up the individual aspects, and doing the personal calculation for my own calorific study. Maybe it’s time to focus less on just what you eat, but also your workout lifestyle. Working out should NOT be an event… it should be a habit instead.
Stay safe & healthy always everyone!