Have you ever come across the abbreviation ‘ATP’ and wondered just what it was? Well in the fitness industry it is kind of a big deal. This is because ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the biochemical way in which your body stores and utilizes energy.
Every single cell in your body requires energy, including the cells of your muscles. ATP is the way in which your body generates and stores the energy needed to maintain your cells function and produce movement in your muscles.
The way in which it works is a little complicated, with lots of technical terms, but I will try to break it down into a simplified summary as to the role ATP plays in your muscles:
- In order for your muscle to contract, there needs to be a biochemical reaction within the cells. ATP is the energy that fuels this reaction.
- Looking at ATP on a chemical level, it is an adenine nucleotide bound to three phosphates. In between the second and the third phosphates is a store of energy that is used in creating chemical reactions.
- When cells need energy, they tap into and break this bond to form adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and a free phosphate molecule. This process is called hydrolysis. This is essential to the flow of energy in all living cells.
- When a cell has excess energy it stores it as ATP or ADP and this is used in all muscle contractions. The more the muscles contract, the more ATP gets consumed and replaced, so that you can keep on pumping that iron or running that marathon.
- Your muscle cells store a minute amount of ATP in them, but only enough to last for around 30 seconds or so. After that more ATP needs to be produced to continue the flow of energy.
- Your body takes energy from the food you consume and converts it into usable ATP. If you have restricted amounts of energy being provided by your diet, your body then turns to energy stores (fat deposits) and works to break these down and convert them into viable ATP or energy for your cells.
So basically ATP is the energy currency of life. It is what fuels and sustains all cell activity including muscle contractions, transporting substrates, protein construction, and the breakdown of damaged cells. Whether you understand it or not, ATP is fueling your body even as you read this blog!