What factors affect our energy systems? – Discovery Learning

The Energy Systems Overview

Our bodies require energy for every cell in our body to do their job. But the amount of energy that we require varies drastically. If we compare all the complex metabolic functions in our body, exercise demands the most amount of energy. But then again intensity, duration and fitness levels of the exercise have a significant effect on how much energy is needed and how quickly it is needed. Our body has 3 different energy producing systems.

The three main energy systems are used for different types of physical activity.  These three systems are called:

The Creatine Phosphate System
The Anaerobic or Lactic Acid System
The Aerobic System

The first two systems are anaerobic systems, meaning they do not require oxygen to produce ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate). The third system is the aerobic system, which does require oxygen.

Where does energy come from and how to we store it?

We are designed to get our energy from the natural environment via the food that we eat. Everything that you eat or drink has to be digested to extract the energy from it. Our body can extract energy from three main food components known as macronutrients. They are:


The process that our body uses to extract this energy from food (macronutrients) is digestion. The body has to break down the food we eat into chemicals that our bodies utilise to live. The calorific values of the 3 main macronutrients vary, with fat being the most calorie-dense at 9 kcals (calories) per gram, while protein and carbohydrate have 4 kcals per gram.

What factors affect our energy systems?

During aerobic exercise the use of carbohydrate relative to fat varies according to a number of factors.  The most important are:

The intensity of exercise
The duration of exercise
Your fitness level

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Clinical Nutrition – By Discovery UK

As more and more of the foods that we eat are modified, processed, reconstituted and changed beyond recognition, the public health consequences become frightening.  The prospects for us if this continues, threatens to turn back the millennia of hitherto nutritional improvements to the human diet and overwhelm the benefits provided by modern medicine.  Thus for the first time in known history, the longevity of mankind is likely to decrease.
Fewer people are eating a diet that is comprised primarily of natural sources, and this decline is happening on a global scale at an astonishing pace.  One such concern is the toxic effects of these highly adapted edible products that many people now consume as the mainstay of their diet.  Considering food therefore not simply as a source of energy, but rather as a fundamental contributor to either health or illness, is the concept at the heart of clinical nutrition.
Our health and what we eat are intrinsically linked; and this is incontrovertible.  When a nutrient imbalance occurs, there is a biochemical consequence normally resulting in what we term disease.  Too much or too little of the 13 vitamins, 14 minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, macro nutrients: protein, carbohydrate, fat and water, for too long, will lead to such an imbalance and this will have inevitable health consequence. If prolonged, this will ultimately lead to death.
The approach of clinical nutrition is to ensure this imbalance does not occur for any lengthy period of time.  It is primarily using nutrition effectively as a prophylactic against many of the modern nutritional ailments (CVD, Cancer, Stroke, Liver disease, bone disease etc) and to improve the condition of those people already affected; although this is far less effective.
Consider the approach to clinical nutrition rather like you would other assaults on the body.  Were you to bang your head hard on a wall each day, then over time you would damage the brain.  Stopping banging your head on the wall would cease the damage but would do little to repair the damage done.  Similarly, a long term biochemical imbalance in the body will cause damage to tissues.  Fortunately many other parts of the body are better at healing than the brain and when balance is restored, often healing can begin, albeit slowly.
In the case of vascular disease and in particular atherosclerosis (which is still the major killer in the UK) it may well take 30 years of poor diet to lead to a furring up of the arteries and a stiffening of the normally elastic arterial wall. As the endothelium weakens under this assault, ruptures are more likely and thus MI’s or stroke frequently accompany chronic CVD. Whilst atherosclerosis is reversible with the introduction of a healthy diet (in particular high antioxidant, high fibre, low fat low energy) the repair process will take years.
So how are we going to convince our clients that this lifelong approach to protecting our most precious infrastructure is worth the trouble? Well a good start is to educate them on the chronic toxic effect of many of the culprits. Whilst junk food is not acutely toxic it is chronically toxic, and I would like to wager that 20 Curlywurlys a day would kill you quicker than 20 Benson and Hedges a day (although I doubt that I would get my application through ethics to conduct this study!).  We can nonetheless set out the deleterious effects of these products and at the same time clearly show how the body is unable to effectively self heal in the absence of a balance of the right nutrients.

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Level 3 Nutrition for Physical Activity at Discovery Learning

This exceptional Nutrition and Weight Management Course will give you the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver a first class effective weight management service to adults, by promoting optimum wellness through nutrition and behavior modification. The Nutrition and Weight Management Course provided by Discovery (in conjunction with Weight Management Centre) is the most respected course in the UK. Weight Management Centre have been delivering obesity training to Health Authorities and Primary Care for almost 10 years and are on the Department of Health List of Obesity Trainers as complied by DOM (Dieticians in Obesity Management) and all of this experience is filtered into this course.  You will learn a lot from this course.

This course has recently been updated and is now officially called Central YMCA Level 3 Nutrition for Physical Activity Qualification.  As well as the general nutrition and weight management component of the course there is also a small section on sports nutrition which is a useful addition.  This course is the basis for all personal trainers and it will form a useful platform to progress onto one of the clincal level 4 courses such as the Obesity and Diabetes Management.

Nutrition Course Content:

The aim of this qualification is to recognise the skills, knowledge and competence required for an individual to apply the principles of nutrition and weight management to support client goals. This course is designed for those working with or planning to work with clients to help them realise a healthy weight through nutrition and physical activity. It is suitable for physical activity professionals, nurses and community health providers, healthy living practitioners or any person providing community health and wellness support.

Nutrition Learners will cover:
  • Collecting, analysing and utilising nutritional information
  • The principles of nutritional goal setting with clients
  • Providing nutritional advice in line with nationally recommended best practice
  • Applying the principles of nutrition to a physical activity programme
  • Exploring weight management advice/strategies for overweight and obese populations
Nutrition Entry Requirements:

There are no prior requirements for this course. Writing and numeracy skills are also reccomended for presentation of course work.

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Staying In Shape During Pregnancy – Personal Fitness Courses

Pregnancy is a time of great excitement, bringing with it physical and emotional changes that prepare every new mother’s body for the process of giving birth to a healthy infant.

While many women and their partners dream of the day when they will become proud parents, the physical changes that occur in the body of a pregnant woman mean that diet and exercise schedules have to be adjusted to ensure a pregnancy that is safe for both mother and child while preventing too much unnecessary weight gain or loss of fitness. The following tips should prepare you for continuing your fitness regime while pregnant:

Should pregnant women exercise at all?

Many women are concerned about the effects of strenuous exercise on their health and the health of their babies while they are pregnant. Most experts agree that women who exercise actively before falling pregnant should continue their fitness regime during pregnancy to ensure a healthy body and good fitness levels. However, the type of exercises that should be undertaken by a pregnant woman will change as her pregnancy progresses.

Considerations for exercise across each trimester:

1st Trimester (0-13 weeks)
Aerobic and resistance training may continue as long as the client feels comfortable and flexibility can remain normal. Care should be taken when getting up from the floor or bench as a lower blood pressure may cause light headedness.

2nd Trimester (14-27 weeks)
Aerobic activities should switch to lower impact such as the bike, walking, X-trainer, swimming or aqua classes. Due to the woman’s changing body shape some resistance machines may be inaccessible and can dictate what equipment can be used. Moderate weights should be used and a stable base of support should be maintained at all times. Supine work (lying down face up) should be avoided. Flexibility and stretching are encouraged but only gentle stretches due to the hormone Relaxin softening ligament joints.

3rd Trimester (28-40 weeks)
Continue with low impact and non-bouncing activities such as walking and swimming.
If using weights avoid isometric work, lifting weights above the head and holding breath during exertion. Supine work should still be avoided and a stable base should be held at all times including when stretching. Gentle stretches should be adopted.

What kinds of exercise are suitable?

Pregnant women should avoid strenuous impact exercises, particularly heavy weightlifting and extreme sports, not only could this cause long term problems for the mother’s body but because there is also a chance of falling and injuring themselves or their babies. Aerobic exercises, especially those which take place in the gym, are usually suitable for pregnant women providing care is taken not to over exert the expectant mother especially in trimester 2 and 3. Resistance bands are also a great way to keep fit and toned as they are so versatile and can be used in the gym or at home and can give you an all over body exercise workout.

Can a woman exercise after giving birth?

The first few weeks after giving birth can be physically exhausting for new mothers, as the physical strain of childbirth combined with unusual sleep patterns is usually caused by feeding and caring for the baby during the night. The American College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (ACOG) recommend women should avoid all physical stress for 2 weeks (i.e not carrying anything heavier than the baby) and not to resume full daily activities for a minimum of 6 weeks after delivery.  Women who have delivered by Caesarean section are advised not to exercise for 12 weeks after birth to allow for proper healing. There are many benefits of getting back into exercise after giving birth such as improving posture and energy and beginning the weight loss process. Care should be taken with any new exercise programme started after giving birth as there is still susceptibility to injury. Complications such as hormones still present in the woman’s body, weak abdominal muscles and probably breastfeeding will all need to be carefully considered.

If you are planning a baby or have recently given birth, your doctor should give his or her final approval to any exercises you plan to do, working with you and your personal trainer to design a fitness regime that will suit you and your baby perfectly.

If you are interested in learning more about Pre & Post Natal exercise or you are a trainer and have pre or post natal clients, we run a 2 day course in London and Bournemouth explaining the key considerations for pre and post natal clients and designing individualised programmes.

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How Do We Store Energy? – Discovery UK

Edible energy comes in four forms: carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol.  The calorific values vary, and fat is the most calorie dense at 9 kcals per gram.  Protein and carbohydrate have 4 kcals (calories) per gram, and alcohol has 7.  Not only do these nutrients have different Kcal values, they have different digestion processes.

Carbohydrates     4 kcal / g    Are broken down into single sugar molecules known as monosaccharides. Glucose is the basic unit of carbohydrate, Fructose (fruit sugar) & Galactose (milk sugar) are also monosaccharides.

Fats         9 kcal / g    Are broken down into glycerol and fatty acids and then either transported to the cells for use as energy, or re-combined to form triglycerides and stored in the adipose tissue.

Protein       4 kcal / g    Digestion requires the breakdown of these vast and complex structures, into the single amino acids from which they were initially built.

Alcohol     7 kcal / g    Is absorbed and burned directly in the liver as energy, as it cannot be stored – it is also expelled as a toxin in breath and urine.

Carbohydrate storage
Carbohydrate fuel is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.  The total amount of glycogen stored in the body is up to 2 kg (approximately 80% in the muscles and 20% in the liver) and for every one part of carbohydrate, the body needs three parts water to store it as glycogen. In other words there are approximately 500g of carbohydrate held in the body of a normal person.  This energy store represents around 2000 kcals. Once the glycogen stores are full, excess carbohydrate will be converted to fat, which the body has infinitely more capacity for energy storage.

Endurance athletes have higher muscle concentrations of glycogen compared with sedentary people.  Increasing muscle mass will also increase storage capacity for glycogen.  The purpose of liver glycogen is to maintain blood glucose levels at rest.  During prolonged exercise the liver will provide residual back up, as skeletal muscle glycogen becomes exhausted.  Small amounts of glucose are present in the blood approximately 15g (60kcals) and in the brain 2g.  These concentrations are maintained in very narrow bands both at rest and during exercise.

Fat storage
Fat is stored as adipose tissue located in almost all parts of the body.  There are significant stores under the skin (subcutaneous) adipose tissues, and other storage sites are abdomen (central adiposity), buttocks, thighs and upper arms (peripheral adiposity).  The vital organs are also surrounded in fat to protect them from impact damage.  Fat storage location is determined by genetics and individual hormone balance.  The male sex hormone testosterone favours central adiposity, and the female equivalent oestrogen pushes fat stores peripherally.

Central adiposity is considered more of a risk factor for coronary heart disease than peripheral storage, and it is thought that this is because fat contained in the peritoneal cavity (central obesity) is significantly more likely to be linked to metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance and elevated plasma lipids. Higher intensity exercise appears to shunt fat out of the peritoneal cavity (organ cavity) and this is one of the health benefits of regular exercise.

Protein storage

Protein is not stored in the same way as carbohydrate and fat (in fact other than around 100g in the amino acid pool, protein strictly speaking cannot be stored).  It forms muscle and organ tissue, so it is mainly used as a building material rather than an energy store.  However, proteins can be broken down to release energy if need be (in emergencies) so muscles and organs do represent a large potential energy storage.  This process is called gluconeogenisis.

What are the important fuels for exercise?
Carbohydrates and fats are the two main fuels, though during prolonged intensive training bouts, proteins will play a more important role.  For instance, during the last stages of a marathon, when glycogen stores are exhausted, the proteins in muscles and organs may make up 10% of the body’s fuel mixture.

During a period of semi starvation or a low carbohydrate diet, glycogen would be in short supply so more proteins would be broken down to provide the body with fuel.  Up to half of the weight lost by someone following a very low calorie or low carbohydrate diet is likely to come from protein (mainly muscle loss).  Some people think that if they deplete their glycogen stores by following a low carbohydrate diet, they will force their body to break down more fat and lose weight.  This is not the case and this strategy will invariably lead to losing muscle and fat in equal amounts.

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