Human Biology IB (Bioenergetics) BSC201

Manage energy levels in sport, exercise, work or general day to day living.

Learn what energy is and how to manage people's energy levels 

Maintain energy levels in different situations
Know when to rest and how to perform exercises for better energy management.


  • Explain how energy is used in the human body to create work and power.
  • Explain energy pathways during resting, work and recovery.
  • Explain the significance of the acid-base balance in the body.
  • Explain movement of materials in and out of living cells.
  • Explain the affect of changing atmospheric pressure on the body.
  • Explain temperature regulation in the body.
  • Explain ergogenic aids to body performance during activity/exercise.

What you will do:

  • Explain biological energy cycles, using illustrations where appropriate.
  • Explain two examples of energy pathways in the body, including an anaerobic and an aerobic pathway.
  • Explain the function of ATP in body energy pathways.
  • Explain the significance of the following terms to understanding body energy pathways:
    efficiency during exercise
  • Explain the consumption of oxygen during different stages of activity, including:
    at rest
    warming up
    peak activity
    cooling down
  • Calculate the net cost of exercise in litres per minute, for a set situation.
  • Explain the measurement of efficiency during the exercise carried out in a set task.
  • Explain problems which may occur in physiological processes during running a marathon.
  • Explain in one paragraph for each, the following acid-base terms with relevance to
    Alkali reserve
  • Describe respiratory regulation of pH in the human body.
  • Describe how regulation of pH occurs in the kidneys.
  • Explain the affect of strenuous exercise on body pH.
  • Explain osmosis in a specific biological situation (of your choice).
  • Distinguish between diffusion and facilitated diffusion in the human body.
  • Explain how electrochemical forces maintain cellular equilibrium.
  • Explain how active transport mechanisms occur at a cellular level.
  • Describe three situations where pressure changes can affect body function, including:   scuba diving
    mountain climbing
  • Explain the effects of pressure changes on different parts of the body, including examples of changes due to altitude and scuba diving.
  • Explain the effect of a decompression treatment on a diver suffering from nitrogen narcosis.
  • List mechanisms of heat loss in the human body.
  • List mechanisms of heat gain in the human body.
  • Explain the operation of thermal receptors and effectors in the human body.
  • Describe the exercise session which you underwent in your set task, and explain the maintenance of body temperature during that exercise session.
  • Explain how temperature regulation may be different during peak exercise, to what it may be during exercise at 60-70% effort.
  • Explain the affects of steroids on the body, in relation to both performance, and other health factors, during two different types of activity.
  • Explain the affect of amphetamines, and other performance enhancing drugs on the body, during an activity of your choice.
  • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of amino acid use to enhance physical activity.
  • Explain the use of blood doping to enhance physical performance in a specific activity.
  • Explain ways oxygen can be used to enhance performance in a specific activity.
  • Explain the effect of different vitamins on three different types of performance.
  • Explain the affect of aspartic acid salts on a specific performance.


How Does the Body Get Energy to Move and Function in other Ways?

All living things rely on energy to live and grow. Important sources of external energy for living organisms are solar energy (from the sun) and chemical energy. 
Energy abides by the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Rather, energy is transformed.

Generally there are two types of energy – 

  • Potential energy: Energy that is stored or at rest
  • Kinetic energy: Energy involved in movement

Energy transforms from one form of energy to another. There are many different forms of energy, including:

  • Electrical energy
  • Chemical energy
  • Thermal energy
  • Nuclear energy
  • Solar energy
  • Mechanical energy

When energy is trapped within a system it gives rise to weight, which is equivalent to mass.
Energy is measured by the amount of work done, usually in joules or watts.


Sugars are a major source of energy in the human body, and more specifically glucose. Straight after eating, the glucose levels in the blood will increases. Responding to this glucose increase, the pancreas releases insulin, (a hormone that increases the absorption rate of glucose from blood and into cells.
Glucose is thus used for energy, or converted into glycogen to be stored in the liver and muscles.

Carbohydrate Oxidation

Glucose moves from blood into cells of the body. Glucose in body tissues undergoes cellular respiration in an intracellular organelle known as the mitochondrion. The plural for this term is mitochondria. This involves glucose being oxidised to form carbon dioxide, water and ATP.  This is an oxygen dependant reaction, where the cell takes in fresh oxygen, and at the end of the process delivers waste carbon dioxide back the circulation for expulsion via the lungs.

The energy produced by cellular respiration is stored in the body in the form of ATP.  When the cell is ready to use the energy, ATP is converted to ADP and this reaction provides the energy to drive an array of biochemical reactions in the cell. 

Oxidation of glucose is divided into two stages: glycolysis and the citric acid cycle.


This is a chemical process which occurs inside the cell, resulting in the production of ATP. Initially, stored glycogen splits, or glucose is added to ATP: producing molecules called "Glucose six Phosphorus". A series of reactions results in the formation of both ATP and other products.
These reactions are caused by enzymes acting as catalysts. These enzymes have an optimum pH range, and are less efficient if the pH drops. Because of this pH problem, the process is self limiting. It can proceed for about 40 seconds, and then production of lactic acid causes the pH to drop to a level where the functioning of the enzymes slows.

Glycolysis is the catabolic way whereas glucose is broken up into smaller 3 carbon units that will be used to build up carbohydrates needed to maintain eukaryotes’ body. Glycolysis has also the function to produce energy that will be used in other biochemical pathways.
The entire process is anaerobic, which means that it doesn’t require oxygen and is the process by which one molecule of glucose is converted into 2 molecules of pyruvate, with the energy released from the reaction captured in the form of 2 ATP molecules.

Glucose + 2 ADP + 2 Pi + 2 NAD+ → 2 Pyruvate + 2 ATP + 2 NADH + 2H2O

Pi is an ionic phosphate group. This reaction takes place in the cells cytoplasm after glucose molecules are transported into the cell.

Glycolysis is the first stage of cellular respiration, which is a catabolic process whereby complex molecules are broken down to release energy for other cellular processes and produce intermediates for biosynthesis. Occurring with or without oxygen, glucose (C6H12O6) is converted into two pyruvic acid molecules (C3H4O3).  The fate of pyruvic acid then depends on the availability of oxygen.  
Glycolysis is a two phased pathway. The first phase which makes up the first four reactions is preparatory and it involves the activation of glucose through a phosphorylation and its subsequent cleavage (separation) to triosephosphates. This phase utilises energy in form of 2 ATP molecules to kick-start the process. This is a common method in catabolic processes to make pathways more energy favourable, and it is observed in several biochemical pathways.

The second phase is the energy yielding phase which sees the triosephosphates converted to pyruvic acid with the release of energy as ATP molecules. The second phase includes 6 reactions. 
Each step in the glycolysis is catalyzed by a different enzyme. Therefore, glycolysis includes the action of 10 enzymes. 

Other sugars like fructose and mannose are also metabolized via the glycolytic sequence, but first they have to be converted to intermediates of glycolysis by auxiliary enzymes. Under anaerobic conditions, pyruvic acid is further reduced to form lactic acid. Under aerobic conditions, it is decarboxylated to form acetyl coenzyme A. 


  • CPD for fitness or health professionals
  • Sports coaches, medics, therapists
  • Anyone seeking to learn more about the human body and how it functions
  • Retailers and manufacturers who provide products for fitness, health or wellbeing



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