What Is Metabolism and Can We Really Change It?

What is fact and what is fiction about boosting your metabolism?

Metabolism is a complex process of converting calories from food into energy for our body’s needs. Many chemical reactions are involved in this process. They occur during digestion, physical activity, breathing and many other internal processes necessary to maintain our life.

The word “metabolism” is often used by dieters and fitness instructors in order to explain, why do we gain weight and how to avoid it. However, not everyone knows what metabolism actually is.

What is Metabolism

Metabolism is a process that takes place in any living being to sustain its life. Metabolism allows the cells to perform various functions, so our body can grow, heal itself and respond to the environment. We can divide all metabolic processes into two categories. Destructive processes are called catabolism, while constructive are called anabolism.

Nutrients that enter the body cannot be used immediately for its needs. For example, proteins from nuts and milk are completely different from proteins in our muscles and cannot replace each other. However, they consist of smaller building blocks, amino acids. Proteins of different kinds have a different sets of them.

Special enzymes in our body break down proteins contained in food into individual amino acids, so we can obtain blocks to build various cells. During this process energy is released, which can be measured in calories. Another example of catabolism is the breaking down of ordinary refined sugar into fructose and glucose.

However, it is not enough to break down proteins into amino acids. We need to create new proteins to build muscles and other cells. To construct new molecules from smaller components energy is required. This process of creating new molecules is called anabolism.

Where Does Fat Come From?

During nutrient breakdown, if more energy is produced than is required to create new cells in the body, an excess of energy occurs. When we are at rest, there is no need to break down and synthesize a lot of substances. But as soon as the body begins to move, all metabolic processes are accelerated and intensified. The need for energy and nutrients also increases.

But no matter how physically active a person is, an excess of calories can occur if we eat too much. A small part of it will be stored in muscles and liver as a spare energy source. The rest is accumulated in fat cells. Each 9 kcal of excess energy will be stored as 1 gram of fat in our body.

Here is a simple example: suppose you eat a sandwich and lie down on the couch. The body receives fats, proteins, carbohydrates and 140 kcal of energy. While lying down, the body uses about 50 kcal per hour to maintain its basic functions like breathing and blood circulation. The remaining 90 kcal will turn into10 gram of fat stored in your body. However, if you will go out on a walk instead of lying down, you will use all those calories in about an hour.

Metabolic Rate

We constantly need energy to breath, circulate blood and maintain chemical balance in the body. The number of calories we need to sustain those vital functions is called basal metabolic rate.

Our basal metabolic rate is fairly stable and can be calculated in several ways. The most reliable way is to get tested in a medical lab. You can calculate the value yourself using these formulas:

For man: (13.4 * weight/kg) + (4.8 * height/cm) – (5.7 * age) + 88.4

For women: (9.3 * weight/kg) + (3.1 * height/cm) – (4.3 * age) + 447.6

Total metabolic rate is a combination of fairly stable basal metabolic rate and other processes like physical activity that can change from day to day.

Why Is My Metabolism Slow?

Some people believe that they gain excess weight because their metabolism is slow. In fact, studies show that slow metabolism occurs only in a number of diseases, for example, a deficiency of the thyroid hormone. Most people with excess weight do not have such diseases, but an energy imbalance. That is, the body does not use all the energy produced from food, so it is stored in fat cells.

How Can I Change My Metabolism to Lose Weight?

It is obvious that physical movement of any kind, including daily activities like walking or cleaning, will increase your metabolic rate and help you burn calories. If you want to lose weight without significantly increasing physical activity, focus on a balanced diet.

There are lots of foods that will actually worsen your metabolism. First of all, you will have to give up white bread, fast-foods, sweet sodas and other products with a high glycemic index. Remember to drink enough water – it is necessary for digestion and other important metabolic processes.

Caffeine and various fat burners increase brain activity and accelerate metabolism indirectly. Note that taking such substances can cause negative side effects like increased blood pressure, excessive sweating and various sleep disorders.

Keep in mind these additional facts to understand metabolism:

  1. The higher the body weight, the more calories we need. However, muscles consume much more energy than fat cells. Therefore, a bodybuilder will spend more calories than his counterpart of the same weight with undeveloped muscles.
  2. Metabolism worsens with age because of hormonal imbalance and a sharp decrease in physical activity.
  3. In a men’s body, testosterone is actively involved in metabolism. This is a natural anabolic, which forces the body to spend energy on growing additional muscles. Since much energy is needed to support muscles, a men and a woman of the same height and weight spend an unequal amount of calories during same activities. Simply put, men spend more energy and can lose weight more quickly.

How to Avoid Fad Diets and Start Eating Healthy

Stop harming yourself with fad diets and find a natural way to live happy and healthy!

Fad diets are no good for you. Surely, they can result in rapid loss of weight, given you follow them strictly. However, bear in mind that fad diets can harm your health and self-esteem; being designed mainly to lose weight fad diets usually are unhealthy and unbalanced. In a long term, they may result in energy loss and health problems because of malnutrition.

Fad diets require you to change your normal eating patterns. They are difficult to follow because of rules, which can be very different from your common habits. Because of that, most people give up not achieving the desired result, and the weight they lost comes back in no time. Being disappointed they find a new diet, lose and gain weight again, soon finding themselves running in circles. It is surely frustrating.

So why follow a diet that cannot give a sustained result, harming your body and self-esteem? Give it up. Instead of worrying about the dress size, think about healthy eating, which allows you to look and feel great, both physically and emotionally.

#1 Choose Healthy Foods

How do you know which foods are good for you? The principle is simple – the more natural your food is, the better it is for your body. Choose less processed products with no chemical additives and preservatives.

Fruits and berries can satisfy your craving for sugar in a healthy way. Combine your favorites to make salads with homemade dressings or buy a high-speed blender to make smoothies.

Do not forget about fresh vegetables, which contain many essential nutrients. To preserve the most nutritional qualities, eat them raw or steam cook them. Be aware that creamy and cheesy sauces are high in calories and make you gain weight easily.

Choose whole grain pastry over baked goods made from white floor. White floor has little nutritional value and contain high amounts of starch that affects blood sugar. Avoid products with refined sugar; choose a raw apple over an apple pie.

Be sure to add fish to your diet, since omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our body. Buy lean meats and avoid processed ones like sausages, hot dogs, and bacon. The way of cooking also matters: baked foods are always healthier than fried.

Water is the best drink choice; add some lemon to give it a touch of flavor. Herbal and green teas, as well as coffee can be good for you, but avoid sugary sodas and store-bought juices.

#2 Analyze Your Habits

Making your life more healthy and happy means analyzing your habits and deciding which ones should be left behind for your own good. Changing old habits is not easy, so do not try to achieve too much in a short time. These questions just might give you a hint where to start:

  • Do you eat because of boredom, stress, or sadness?
  • Do you often snack without even thinking about it?
  • Do you often skip breakfast and overeat in the evening?
  • How often do you visit fast food restaurants?
  • Do you enjoy cooking at home?
  • Are there kinds of food that would be very difficult to give up?

#3 Stop the Unhealthy Snacking

Some people tend to eat because of stress, sadness or even excitement, not noticing that they actually overdoing with unhealthy and high-calorie food. Since this habit is difficult to get rid of, a good advice is not to keep snacks like chips, cookies and sweets at home. Replace them with healthier alternatives like berries, fruits, and low-calorie granola bars. You can even buy a bar of dark chocolate to satisfy your special cravings. The same works for those who eat in front of the TV by force of habit.

#4 Tips for Dining Out

If you have most of your meals at a restaurant, it is not easy to keep eating healthy. Stick to soups and salads; avoid deserts and sweet after-dinner drinks. As an option, order a glass of wine and a scoop of ice cream after the main meal. Some restaurants offer large portions that do not match your needs; share them with a friend or choose smaller portions. Fast food dining is the greatest enemy for healthy living, so try to avoid it at all costs.

#5 Not Passionate about Cooking?

Although cooking at home is the best way to start eating healthy, you just might hate cooking. There is no need to spend hours cooking every day; you can try buying prepared food from the stores that offer healthy meals. If you are tight on budget, pick some time on weekends, cook and freeze food, so you can warm it up later in the week.

Do not shop for groceries when you are hungry. While shopping, stay away from shelves with junk food, artificial cheese products and processed meats.

#6 Don’t Skip Meals

Breakfast is an essential that provides you with energy for the day. Always eat at leas a small breakfast early in the morning, for example, an egg, some oats or some yoghurt. Later in the morning you may a healthy snack such as nuts or raisins, which provide you with more energy.

In fact, every meal is important. Skipping essential meals like lunch or dinner, you may easily overeat later because of feeling hungry.

#7 Control Portion Size

Surprisingly, our stomach can hold only two cups of food without stretching. But because of its ability to stretch, we can eat considerably more food then we need for one meal! To avoid overeating, serve your meal on an individual plate. Dining in restaurants, ask for takeaway containers to take half of your meal home.

If you have some favorites you just cannot give up, you actually don’t have to. Simply take smaller portions of the same treats, like a normal sized cup of latte instead of a giant one. Limit unhealthy foods you like little by little, or try to find healthy alternatives for them.

It is only natural that changing habits takes a lot of time and effort. Instead of creating high expectations and blaming yourself for not being able to meet them, make little but persistent steps to your new healthy lifestyle. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.