Week 10: Aerobic Metabolism Part 1

by | Lessons

Recap Week 10 and Overview Week 11, 2017

Recap Week 10

Clarified Butter = Ghee: Because it has been fermented there is negligible lactose (much less than a gram). Lactose intolerant people can ingest 8g and remain unaffected.

Lymph: What is it spatially/anatomically – around the cells, vessels, and nodes?

Match Stick: Look at Week 3 chart: Glycogen Depletion Rates

Billion Year Old Carbon:


Overview Week 11, 2017

O2 consumption is a simple concept. Carbon burns.

Graphing VO2 is even simpler. Move, mover faster – and the graph is essentially a straight line until ‘the fire’ reaches its maximum rate of burning. At this point – no additional power is produced by oxidizing carbon.


1. Butter, Butter, Butter: The Physiology of Adventure Diets

This section of the lecture is a slide show – featuring a seminar I present annually during the Outdoor Adventure Expo at Midwest Mountaineering – titled Butter, Butter, Butter.

The primary objective of this lecture is to visualize the essential anatomical parts of the body’s aerobic system from a macro view down to the microscopic level where the action of metabolism finally takes place.  The secondary objective is to see why butter and vinegar are essentially the two most simple aerobic fuels and know what really burns in cells.

The picture below is a simplified version of the whole.


Read the remaining sections before class so you are clear now on the visuals and basic knowledge you must know for the quiz or assignment.

The slide show graphics definitely require explanation to understand, especially regarding the relationship between butter/vinegar and aerobic metabolism. So you absolutely must attend this lecture.

Click here to view the slide show I present in class now if you wish.

Butter, Butter, Butter – Fats You Really Should be Eating

butter-butterCalories in are not equal to body heat out.  Ever get cranky on the trail and wonder how your diet affects your mood and performance?  Learn the biochemical differences between butter, lard, olive and fish oils and how weather and diet influence the thermodynamics of metabolism down to the cell level.

Learn how to optimize your adventure by feeding your body properly and learn how to pack the appropriate provisions for your next trek.

2. Visualize the Aerobic System

The aerobic system transports O2 from air and delivers it to cells.

  • We want to visualize the entire structural pathway oxygen takes to get to your cells.
  • Here are three different ways to visualize the aerobic system – aka cardiovascular system.

1. This graphic

2. The ‘straw prop‘ demo. Shown in class with assignment – Lessons 2B, 3.

3. The root system of the plant in this video.


The Visuals in Words:

  • The entire system is like a garden hose attached end to end to itself – but with a pump attaching each end.
  • Visualizing the whole path oxygen takes in and out of your body is imagining the movement over time – where oxygen moves from air into the lungs, to the blood, to and out of the heart, through progressively smaller vessels to a cell, back through progressively larger vessels to the heart, and then exhaled out of the lungs in CO2.
  • Once oxygen arrives into a single cell – we STOP to look at what really burns – in the next section: the Root Knowledge.

The body becomes a single cell, like when this artist trapped herself inside a sealed box.



The equivalent of the trapped artist is a fetus in a womb as drawn by Leonardo Davinci:


3. The Root Knowledge: What Really Burns in Cells

Vinegar is the actual final fuel substrate burned for aerobic metabolism.

  • Carbohydrates and fat break down to vinegar to fuel aerobic metabolism.
  • Acetic acid is the technical name of vinegar.

Only acetic acid burns.


Where does acetic acid come from, and more specifically, how is it supplied to cells for aerobic metabolism?

First, you can’t drink enough vinegar to supply the acetic acid your body needs. Although it is useful for other needs of the cells of your gut when ingested directly.

The majority of acetic acid burned at the cell level comes from fat in food, fat stored in your body, and fat circulating in your blood.

All fat is made out of acetic acid as the basic building block.

All fat is made by assembling acetic acid together into chains – animated below.

Chains of acetic acid are called fatty acids.

  • Dependent on the length of the carbon chain, fatty acids are classified as short, medium, or long – ranging generally from 4 to 28 total carbon atoms from all the acetic acids connected together.
  • Butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and all fats and oil (regardless if they are from plants or animals) are made essentially of various lengths of carbon chunks – or chains of acetic acid.

Aerobic metabolism essentially reverses the process of constructing fatty acids to make acetic acid for combustion within cells.

Beta Oxidation = Breaking down fatty acids to make acetic acid.

This larger, commonly eaten food is called oleic acid. It is the primary component of quality olive oil and lard. It is made out of 9 acetic acids attached together – making a total of 18 carbon atoms.


  • As shown by the red slashes, oleic acid breaks down directly the same way it was put together – namely, into individual acetic acid molecules. Oleic acid is a long chain fatty acid.
  • The main fuels for aerobic metabolism are especially the short and medium chained fatty acids in coconut oil and dairy fat, e.g. ghee, butter, cream, milk, cheese.


Respiration is a form of slow combustion in a cell – where vinegar burns to produce CO2, Water, and Heat.

At rest and low to moderate intensity levels – fatty acids are the primary source of calories burned – after reducing to acetic acid.

Vinegar burns in the mitochondria and a cell respires. Drawn below by a student, day 2 of class in 2013.


4. Carbon: The Ultimate Fuel - for Combustion in Machines and Respiration in Humans

Carbon (C) is the 13th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.

Oxygen is the top most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Oxygen is tied up with silicon to make sand and rocks. If you’re wearing glasses you’re looking through silicon dioxide – SiO2.

Carbon is the ultimate fuel that burns in machine engines and in animals.

When carbon combines with O2 in air during combustion, this happens:

C + O2 –> CO2

Thus, the carbon in each substance will combust to produce carbon dioxide, CO2:

Thus, the ‘machine’ formula of combusting pure carbon is:

C + O2 –> CO2 + Heat

Fuel + O2 –> CO2 + Heat  is a generic description for burning any carbon fuel.

DEMONSTRATION: Observe a candle burning: What burns?

  • Compare Cow Burps (Methane gas), Propane, Butane (lighter fluid) —> Link to RER
  • Compare Carbohydrates, Fat, and Vinegar

Unlike burning fuel in machines or wood in an open fire, the body must break food down into small chunks of carbon it burns.

Before food can burn in the body it must be reduced specifically to acetic acid.

Therefore, aerobic metabolism occurs only after fat or carbohydrates reduce to acetic acid.

We refer to all food as fuel, generically. Click graphic below.


The biological formula of combustion and its full description:

Fuel + O2 –> CO2 + H2O + Heat. Combustion = respiration = aerobic metabolism.

  • H2O is made from the Hydrogen in acetic acid and all the more complex ‘regular’ foods.


All foods are made of various combination of C, H, and O.

Natural gas is also hydrocarbon fuel, and produces the same products as food stuffs burned in the body.


  • Respiration is the endless process of carbon atoms in acetic acid combining with O2 in the mitochondria.
  • The rate of producing acetic acid is very very fast. The moment foods have finally reduced to acetic acid in a cell – the acetic acid goes ‘up in smoke’ as it combusts.
  • The CO2 produced streams out of a cell into blood. Eventually you exhale CO2 after the blood circulates back to the lungs.

On Board Illustration Before Audience Arrives






Why does the wick burn extremely slowly?

What is actually burning mostly?

What three states of matter – of the main substance burning – do we see simultaneously?

What is the equivalent reaction in your body?

Where does this reaction occur specifically?

What are the reactants and what are the products of the reaction?

What ‘runs out’ in cave or sealed space when we suffocate?

Why would a fast burning explosive kill you by not damaging you physically?



Plant Respiration & Synergy of Energy Transformation


Videos and/or Additional Reading

What burns when you light a candle?



Thermodynamics of Weight Loss:

Thermodynamics of Weight Loss Diets

Lulu Hunt Peters: Diet & Health

Death by instantaneous removal of oxygen from air:

Thermobaric Bombs

More on oxygen:

History of O2 Uptake

Molecules, magic, and forgetful fruitflies; the supernatural science of medical gas research

Beyond the Breathalyzer