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Heavy Breathing Can Hurt You! | Creatine Blog

Heavy Breathing Can Hurt You!

CAUTION: Breathing Can Be TOXIC!!

Oxygen is potentially toxic, a seemingly counterintuitive statement, since common knowledge tells us that we need oxygen to live. Specifically, without oxygen we would not be able to produce energy from basic nutrients and would die….

So, how can oxygen be toxic?

Oxygen is an Electron Sponge

Nothing is perfect. The exact same property that makes oxygen a benefit to the cell, makes it a danger to the cell, its ability to absorb electrons.

Oxygen: The Benefit

The removal of electrons by oxygen is an essential step in the “oxidation/combustion” of foods. In biochemical terms a nutrient is nothing more than a collection of Carbon-Hydrogen bonds that can be broken to release electrons - electrons, in turn, are energy. During cellular respiration the cell uses these freed electrons to create its own energy molecule, a molecule called ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate).

Take a look at the molecular structure of ATP here:

Unaccompanied Electrons Are Also Dangerous…

Once the electrons have been used to create ATP they need to be discarded from the cell. Otherwise they would raise havoc by interacting with unsuspecting cellular components. This is where oxygen comes in; in the best of conditions, oxygen removes these electrons from the cell as soon as they are freed and in the process forms water.

Oxygen: The Danger

What transforms oxygen from a cellular benefit to a detriment is a reduction in the efficiency with which it absorbs electrons. Oxygen becomes “reactive” when it is unable to absorb its full capacity of electrons and is left half satisfied, figuratively speaking. Sloppy electron absorbance is most common when the rate of oxygen utilization increases dramatically.


Under what circumstances would we need to increase our rate of oxygen utilization?


During exercise…

Exercise increases the need to break down nutrients to produce enough energy to maintain strenuous physical activity. The greater the rate of nutrient combustion, the greater the use of oxygen, the sloppier the process of electron transfer becomes and unfortunately, the greater number of Reactive Oxygen Species, or ROS, that are produced. ROS are also a form of “free radical”.

The Remedy

Fortunately, the body has come up with ways to combat ROS production. The body’s ROS defense mechanisms include a battalion of molecules known as antioxidants, whose job is to molecularly stabilize ROS (by converting them back into oxygen and water) immediately upon their production.

The body produces it own antioxidants from proteins such as Superoxide dismutase, Catalase and Glutathione as well as obtains them from the diet in the form of vitamins A, C and E. When the rate of nutrient combustion (oxidation) increases dramatically, however, the body’s oxidative defense mechanisms cannot keep up and ROS damage occurs. This has led to many athletes taking antioxidant vitamins to defend against free radical damage and potentially, over training syndrome.

Do Antioxidant Vitamins Actually Reduce Free Radical Damage During Exercise?

Next time I’ll discuss a study that examined the ability of vitamin antioxidants (taken in capsular form) to combat oxidative stress (ROS neutralization) during exercise. The results of this study were rather surprising and relevant to anyone taking vitamins A, E, or C to combat oxidative stress during exercise.

In brief, the study suggests that antioxidant supplementation does not improve our ability to defend against free radical damage during exercise. Don’t despair, however, there is still room for an alternative interpretation of these results.

Until next time…

This entry was posted in Supplementing Strategies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Mark Su, MD
    Posted September 24, 2009 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Is there any room to discuss how to optimize anti-oxidant therapy, and even more so, how to quantifiably determine whether someone needs anti-oxidants, which ones, and how much? After being in medical practice as a family physician for years, I’ve only recently learned that there is a way of determining all of this, and I now use this tool in my vocational practice regularly. I’m open to being available to discuss this online if it is of interest to others (I’ll leave it to the website coordinators to contact me with an initiative to pursue this discussion as desired).

  2. Creatine Blog
    Posted October 18, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Yes, absolutely. I’ll get back to you on this.

    Thanks for you comment.

  3. Maqsood Baig
    Posted November 24, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I want a lean body mass and cut down my body fat wat should i eat berfore and after workout which carbs is good is Banana makes you fat

  4. Posted March 5, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Reading posts like these keeps reminding me how special and adaptive our bodies are. Most people don’t know how powerful and smart the human body is.

    Regarding Maqsood’s post, there’s so many answers to your question. One easy answer would be to start incorporating more low glycemic foods into your diet.

  5. Posted March 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Good info! Never thought about it before. Perhaps it’s all about our lifestyle that makes us healthy.

  6. Posted July 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    The “caution” title at the top really caught my eye, and thats pretty much the main reason i didnt skip the block of text, i really liked it though, glad you put that in there :D

  7. Posted July 31, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Very informative post, especially for newbies who are taking on a strenuous workout. The information here is a must know. Great post, thanks!

  8. Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Dear Alfredo,
    Thank you for writing about dangers of breathing pure oxygen and negative effects of heavy breathing. Russian Dr. K Buteyko was warning public many times (TV and radio) about negative effects of pure O2. It destroys alveoli of the lungs and causes damage due to free radicals. Animals develop emphysema in 2-3 weeks after breathing it 24/7. Heave breathing pattern also undermines our health, mostly through various CO2-related effects. We get less oxygen in cells, when we breathe more than the norm. Hundreds of medical quotes that explain these effects can be found on my site Breathing Problems and Diseases Solved

  9. Posted September 13, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Great post! Funny how it all works.

  10. Posted October 16, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Any activities before starting and ending exercises…

  11. Posted March 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I never thought that oxygen could harm me. Interesting article

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