Some people blame their weight on how their bodies break down food into energy, also known as metabolism. They believe their metabolism is too slow. But is this really the cause? In this article, we will explore what is metabolism, what affects it, how it works, how metabolism affects weight, how to have a healthy metabolism, etc.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is the total amount of biochemical reactions involved in maintaining the survival state of cells in an organism. All organisms require energy for different basic processes and for the production of new organic substances.
Metabolic processes contribute to growth and reproduction and to the maintenance of the structure of the organism. As a result of metabolic activity, organisms respond to their surroundings. All chemical reactions that take place in an organism, from digestion to the transport of substances from cell to cell, require energy.
How does Metabolism Work?
There are two types of metabolism: catabolic and anabolic. Catabolism is the breakdown of organic matter, while anabolism uses energy to build components of the cell, such as proteins and nucleic acids.
Chemical reactions during metabolism are organized into metabolic pathways in which one chemical is converted into another chemical through a series of steps. Enzymes help in this process by facilitating the reaction and acting as catalysts for the reaction to occur. Without enzymes, reactions would not occur, and enzymes respond to signals between cells and regulate metabolic pathways. The rate of metabolism is called the metabolic rate.
The metabolism of an organism allows it to determine which substances are nutritious and useful and which are toxic.
Some other chemicals and parts of the organism involved in the metabolic process are amino acids, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, nucleotides, coenzymes and minerals, and cofactors.
What Affects Metabolism?
The general factors that affect metabolism are:
- Genetics. A small number of genetic factors determine how much energy your body needs and your ability to build muscle.
- Body size and muscle mass. Larger bodies have more metabolic tissue and a higher basal metabolic rate, requiring more calories. Muscle burns calories faster than fat cells.
- Sex. In general, men have a faster metabolism because their bodies are larger and have more muscle mass than most women.
- Physical Activity. Exercise causes your body to burn more calories than when you are sedentary.
- Age. A common myth is that your metabolism slows down as you age, but age isn’t the problem. As you age, you may not be as physically active, or you may have less muscle mass, or your diet may not have changed to meet your body’s needs.
- Smoking. Smoking increases your heart rate, leading to a faster metabolism and more calorie burning. This is why people who quit smoking often gain weight. The health effects of smoking (cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease) far outweigh the health consequences of gaining a few extra pounds. Watching what you eat and exercising can help keep the weight off.
- Sleep. Sleep helps regulate your blood sugar. Lack of sleep can cause your body to have problems with blood sugar levels, which can lead to a lack of energy.
Certain endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism, can affect the metabolism and cause it to slow down. In addition, some metabolic disorders can also affect the body. These disorders may lead to the accumulation of fatty substances in the organs or an excess of minerals.
How Metabolism Affects Weight?
You may want to blame a medical condition for your slow metabolism and weight gain. But rarely does a medical condition slow metabolism enough to cause significant weight gain. Conditions that may cause weight gain include Cushing’s syndrome or underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. These conditions are not common.
On top of metabolism, many things affect weight gain. These may include genes, hormones, diet and lifestyle, including sleep, physical activity and stress. When you eat more calories than you burn – or burn fewer calories than you eat – you gain weight.
Some people seem to lose weight faster and more easily than others. But everyone loses weight by burning more calories than they eat. The bottom line is calorie counting. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories, or burn more calories through physical activity. Or you can do both.
How can I have a Healthy Metabolism?
These steps may benefit your metabolism:
- Don’t skip meals. Your metabolism will adapt quickly and begin to use fewer calories for body functions. If you restrict calories too much, your body will begin to break down muscle for energy. The loss of muscle mass will slow down your metabolism.
- Fuel your metabolism with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy carbohydrates and fats.
- Perform strength training or do other weight resistance type exercises to build muscle.
- Quit smoking. Your metabolism may slow down a bit, but you’ll lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and other problems.