Metabolism, in its most basic sense, is the body’s conversion of the calories from the food you eat into energy. It is a series of chemical reactions that give your body the energy to do what it needs to do to keep functioning – and consequently, for you to keep living. Without metabolism, you would not be able to move or think. Metabolism provides energy for your body and your individual organs to work smoothly. To better understand the importance of metabolism, consider this: if your heart stops beating, you die. Likewise, if your metabolism stops, you die – because without metabolism, you will not have the energy even to breathe, or for your heart to beat!

How Metabolism Works

First, let us start with the act of eating. As you chew and swallow your food, it goes down to your digestive tract. Digestive enzymes then break down your food – carbohydrates to glucose, fats into fatty acids, and protein into amino acids. After the nutrients are effectively broken down, they are absorbed by the bloodstream and are carried over to the cells. Other enzymes plus hormones then work to either convert these nutrients into cells or building blocks for tissues or release them as an energy supply for the body’s immediate use.

Metabolism Types and Components

There are two basic metabolic processes – one is constructive and is responsible for building and storing energy for the body. The other is destructive, though in a positive sense, as it breaks down nutrient molecules to release energy. The constructive metabolic process is called anabolism, while the destructive process is called catabolism.

Anabolism promotes the growth of new cells, the maintenance and repair of tissues, and the storage of energy – usually through body fat – for future use. Small nutrient molecules are converted into larger molecules of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Catabolism, meanwhile, is responsible for immediately providing the body with energy to use. Instead of building up, it breaks down the nutrient molecules to release energy.

These two processes do not occur simultaneously but are balanced by the body.

Catabolism, in particular – though some attribute this to overall metabolism – has three components:

  1. Basal metabolism – Sometimes called resting metabolism, this is the metabolism component responsible for keeping you alive by ensuring normal body functions. Even if you were bedridden the whole day, basal metabolism is still at work. Basal metabolism is metabolism’s main component, as 60 to 70 percent of the calories from the food you eat are used for this. People who want to lose weight usually aim for a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR).
  2. Physical movement – This can range from a simple movement of your fingers to strenuous exercise. Usually, 25 percent of the calories you consume go here.
  3. Thermic effect of food – This indicates the digestion and processing of the food you take in. Normally, ten percent of the calories of the food you eat are burned through this.

Thus, taking all of this into account, here is our metabolism formula:  Calories From Food = Calories Expended From Basal Metabolism (60-70%) + Calories Expended By Physical Movement (25%) + Calories Expended Digesting Food (10%)

What Affects Metabolism?

Your metabolic rate, or how fast or slow your metabolism works, is influenced by several factors:

  1. Genetics – Yes, metabolic rate is also inherited. Sometimes this makes an entire world of difference between a person who can eat almost everything and not gain an ounce and a person who easily balloons after indulging just once.
  2. Age – The younger you are, the faster your metabolism is. Metabolism slows down as you age. Women’s metabolic rate starts falling at the age of 30; for men, decline starts later at the age of 40.
  3. Gender – Men have a faster metabolic rate – usually 10-15 percent faster – than women because their bodies have a larger muscle mass. Muscle plays a key role in fast metabolism, as will be discussed in the chapter on exercise.
  4. Amount of lean body mass – As already mentioned above, more muscle = faster metabolism.
  5. Diet – Some foods will help you, some will only harm you. While timing is not everything, when you eat also greatly affects your metabolism. The difference is discussed in the chapter on eating right.
  6. Stress level – Stress is inversely proportional to metabolism. The more stress you are subjected to, the lower your metabolism. You will better understand this when we move on to the chapter about stress.
  7. Hormones – Specific hormones metabolize specific nutrients. How well the hormones work, then, directly affects metabolism. To a certain extent, diet and stress levels affect the hormones involved in metabolism, as you will find out later. Hormonal disorders or imbalances can affect metabolism as well.

Looking at all these factors that influence metabolism, you now probably have a general idea of what you need to do to increase your metabolism – accept the things you cannot change, and work on those that you can!  In conclusion, boosting your metabolism while on AbsolutelyThin’s Online Medical Weight Loss Program is a multi-faceted approach that involves eating well, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. By incorporating these lifestyle changes into your daily routine, you can support a healthy metabolism and achieve your weight loss goals effectively. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss program to ensure it is safe and appropriate for your individual needs.

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