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If we zoom out and see the human system, it is a chemical soup and is a house of millions of biochemical reactions. Our body is a walking talking factory. It is logically connected with each other and most reactions happen automatically like how any efficient system should be functioning. But that is not how we understand our body.

Our mental model is we eat, we taste, we excrete, we bloat, we are hungry, we add weight or we lose weight and that is about it. But we have no clue how the bananas and burgers are treated inside our body. It is a black box for us because it is not visible, even if it was visible it will be like that chemistry lab where things are boiling, breaking (lysis), making(genesis) and more.

Process

The body’s mental model is these are macro nutrients and these are micro nutrients which are needed for the body functions. The body sees the chemical structure as a linear structure or a ring structure. For the body it is all about this molecule combining with another to produce a whole new molecule.

It goes through processes like glycolysis (happens in cytoplasm), krebs cycle, oxidative phosphorylation to make those ATPs(energy). All of this happens inside your mitochondria. Average muscle cell produces 10m ATP per second 🤯

Carbohydrates

Just for your math from one glucose molecule that through aerobic respiration produces 36 ATPs. As long as glucose and oxygen are supplied this cycle continues and keeps giving you energy. If we don’t have enough oxygen we go through Lactic acid fermentation. This is what happens when you go for long runs and you have a burning sensation in your muscle. That clearly shows that oxygen is less.

Fats

Your body looks at fats as Triglycerides which is non-polar and not soluble in water. A total opposite of carbohydrates. This is what makes the hormone synthesis possible. All our hormones are fatty. We have heard about saturated (typically solid in room temp- butter) and unsaturated fats (typically liquid in room temp-oil). They are made in our liver at various density and that is what gives you LDL (low density lipid) and HDL (high density lipid). Lipids(aka fats) are amazing energy source.

Fats also go through breakdown (Lipolysis and Beta oxidation). Compared to carbs, when one (18C) fatty acid chain is broken we get 144 ATPs. Far higher than Carbs.

Then you may ask why the hell body uses glucose to make ATPs, why not Fats? It is the ease of the process that makes the body prefer breaking down glucose compared to breaking down lipids.

Proteins

Proteins are the most abundant organic compounds in our body. The building blocks of a protein are amino acids. They are water soluble as a whole.

Proteins perform many functions including support, movement, defense (antibodies), transport, enzymatic process, hormone synthesis etc. 20 different amino acids exists by nature and some you need from your diets.

Vitamins

You need these vital nutrients in limited amounts. They are fat soluble(A,D,E,K) and water soluble(B1,B2,B5,B6,B12, Niacin, Vit C, folate). They are super important to keep up the balance of the body.

I had a blood disorder which was caused by Vit K. If there is a cut, it will never coagulate to a point I will faint. Just one injection gets me back on feet. That was 💪

Minerals

Minerals are inorganic ions released from electrolytes. They are crucial to keep the osmotic balance (right amount of water in the body), tissue maintenance and use and enzyme cofactors. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, iron, zinc, copper etc

You need them to keep up the sanity of the body. your cramps could be due to lack of potassium and hence when you have a banana you feel better.

System Model

Hope the above gave you an idea on how the body understands nutrients. For the factory (body) to function seamlessly, we need necessary input and that input comes from our food.

The point I want to convey is, for all the above functions to happen in the chemical factory you need to supply the right input and these inputs are available in our foods. It is a fact that all foods given by nature seem to be compliant of how the body works. Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Beans, Meat and Dairy are great inputs. The more we process them we reduce the quality of the inputs and our body suffers with all the above functions. The food (external input) provides the necessary amino acids, minerals, proteins etc which the body cannot produce. What it can make it is making with what is available.

If you have empathised with the complex processes of our body, this post did its job.

TL/DR version: You input should be compatible with our body’s chemical processes. Don’t screw this part by providing bad fats, less minerals, less vitamins, more glucose, less proteins etc. If you give the right input your system will work like a charm. Now that we know the system behind the body, we will see how to work with body mass.

🥂to linkages and reactions!