What is metabolism?

It is an accumulation of chemical reactions that occur in the body, whose purpose is: to transform food into energy necessary for cellular processes that allows the body to function.

It is a complex process that takes place in the muscles and organs, directly affects the action of the entire body, and its result lies in what is called “burning calories.”

What is very important is that you can control simple gestures and they can cause significant variations. The body of an adult is spent in maintaining vital functions between 60 and 85% of the calories it burns, in the course of a day.

Respiration, digestion and blood circulation, contraction of the heart muscle, kidney activity, intestines and liver function, but also brain activity is achieved with a certain consumption of energy. These values, summarized, represent resting metabolism .

If there is a balance between the number of calories ingested, in 24 hours, and those burned, the body weight will remain constant, but if the calorie intake is greater than necessary, special metabolic processes convert food into fat, which stores .

Some important examples in terms of metabolism:

  • Breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in food, to release energy.
  • Change or modification of nitrogen (which is in excess) in waste products.
  • Breakdown or modification of some chemicals into other substances and the fact that they enter the cells of the body.

Did you know that the metabolism consumes more energy to digest irregular foods than processed foods?

Did you know that metabolism has a genetic component that you inherit from your parents, as well as inherited eye color and a part of your personality?

What processes is metabolism composed of?

It is important to remember that metabolism consists of two processes: catabolism and anabolism .

The faster the metabolism, the more calories the human body needs, which is why some people can eat a lot of food without gaining weight, while others seem to need little food to accumulate fat.

Catabolism (disassimilation)

Catabolism, which can be called desassimilation, is the process responsible for the transformation of complex molecules of energetic substances into simple molecules, to obtain energy.

Anabolism (assimilation)

Anabolism, that is, assimilation, is the metabolic process that allows the use of nutrients obtained during catabolism, so that energy is consumed. Specifically, anabolism is the synthesis of all the compounds that cells need.

Classification of metabolism

Basal metabolism can be classified according to its role in the body: the production of substances essential or not for survival.

Primary metabolism

Primary metabolism is directly involved in the production of substances necessary for survival. The speed of our metabolism is known, in specialized terms, as the metabolic rate.

Secondary metabolism

Secondary metabolism is involved in the production of substances without which the body can survive.

How does the metabolism work?

Basal metabolism is like an engine of chemical reactions, which keep the human body alive, however it varies from person to person. Those with a slow metabolism tend to have excess calories, which are stored in the body as fat.

The basal metabolism is responsible for both the loss and the accumulation of extra kilos, being responsible for the transformation of the food consumed into energy. The bad news is that as we age, our basal metabolism slows down and there is nothing we can do to speed it up. But we can help you by making wise and healthy choices when it comes to diet .

How does age affect metabolism?

As you get older, do you notice that the accumulation of kilograms occurs at a much faster rate? Slow metabolism could be to blame for the way the body behaves.

Basal metabolism at 20-30 years

The body does not stop developing after age 18, but continues to develop after age 20, especially in the skeletal system and muscles.

In conclusion, at 20 it is much easier to maintain your figure, since metabolism is your price ally and burns calories by inertia.

Basal metabolism at 30-40 years

Aging slows down the metabolism. At the same time, the muscles that support the bones lose their volume, which means that the level of fat that the body stores increases. Muscle weakness begins with reaching the age of 30.

If your metabolism slows down, you need less energy, so you need to eat less, but it rarely happens that after 30 years, you reduce the amount of food eaten to 20 years. Therefore, fat appears, which most of the time is deposited in the abdomen and around the waist.

Around the age of 40, the level of estrogen and progesterone drops considerably, which means that the metabolism also slows down. To maintain your weight, it is absolutely necessary to reduce your caloric intake after reaching the age of 40.

If you have an active lifestyle and play sports, it is enough to give up 150 calories, but if you have a sedentary style, you have to give up more calories.

Basal metabolism at 50-60 years

Around this period, menopause begins, which means that the metabolism again undergoes changes and it is more difficult for the body to metabolize fat, so it stores it.

How can you support your metabolism as you age?

An active lifestyle, as well as a healthy diet, will help you maintain your figure despite the passage of time.

Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals , preferably from nature: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, honey. Avoid processed foods.

Play sports regularly and do daily movements. You can go to the gym once a day, and in the rest of the time, you can walk more often or you can forgo the elevator in favor of the stairs. The more movement you do, the more you help your basal metabolism .

Factors influencing basal metabolism

There are many factors that can influence basal metabolism, speed it up or, conversely, slow it down the speed with which it works. That is, the amount of calories you burn / consume in a certain time interval, to ensure your basic metabolism (also called energy expenditure):

Age: As we age, muscle mass decreases and fatty tissues increase the percentage. Therefore, the burning of calories is slowed down as muscle mass is known to increase the rate at which the body burns calories.

Sex: In general, men have more muscle mass and less adipose tissue, compared to women. Therefore, they have a faster metabolism most of the time.

Muscle mass: The more muscle mass a person has, the more calories his body burns.

Body Dimensions: The larger a person’s body, the more calories they burn / consume.

Body mass index: influences the metabolic rate. The higher it is, the greater the body’s energy needs, which means that more calories are burned.

Hormonal State: hormonal activity in the body changes the metabolic rate. For example, thyroxine, a hormone released by the thyroid gland, speeds up basal metabolism, which is why people with hyperthyroidism have it faster and adrenaline can temporarily increase their metabolic rate. This is why people often suffer from anxiety.

Physical activity: All body movements require calories. The more physically active you are, the more calories your body will burn.

Hormonal disorders: Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism can slow down the metabolic rate and increase the risk that the person suffering from this condition will gain weight.

How can you speed up your metabolism?

Basal metabolism can be accelerated through sports, the most effective exercises, diet , but also some dietary supplements.

Every movement you do burns calories. It is true that you cannot influence your basal metabolism too much, but you can burn more calories through exercises with more intensity so you have a faster metabolism after training.

Aerobic workouts are the most effective when it comes to burning calories. Cycling, swimming and walking are aerobic activities: it takes at least 30 minutes of this activity, daily, for the basal metabolism to be regulated.

Twice a week, specialists also recommend exercises with weights. These exercises maintain and even increase muscle mass, which means that you also speed up and activities like walking and climbing stairs can contribute to burning calories.

Acceleration of metabolism by diet

Some foods can speed up your basal metabolism. For example, very spicy foods have this effect, so you must introduce them into the diet if you want to lose weight. Caffeine has the same influence, whether it is coffee, or we are talking about black or green tea.

It is very important to mention that a low calorie diet (less than 1200 Kcal per day) slows down the basal metabolism, because the body reduces burns to preserve its energy reserves. Therefore, the ideal diet is balanced, by no means drastic.

Speed ​​up metabolism with dietary supplements

Dietary supplements can be used to speed up metabolism. The most effective supplements in this regard contain caffeine.

At the same time, some vitamins and minerals can help, making it work effectively. Here are some examples of supplements ( vitamins and minerals ) that are ideal for maintaining bodily functions:

* A B vitamin supplement : Experts say that the B complex vitamins serve many essential roles. A deficiency in a vitamin in the B complex can affect the other vitamins, which can alter a person’s basal metabolism.

Vitamin B12 is essential and you also need vitamin B6 and folic acid for it to function properly. At the same time, vitamin B6 helps metabolize proteins. Additionally, thiamine (vitamin B1) helps the body metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

* A vitamin D supplement suggests that vitamin D may help control blood sugar and improve insulin resistance in people with diabetes. Two studies looked at vitamin D in relation to weight, in older women and children. Both studies showed that those participants with more body fat had lower levels of vitamin D compared to those with less fat.

* Iron supplements : The human body needs iron for growth, development and basal metabolism. Iron is vital for the proper functioning of cells and the creation of certain hormones. If a person has low iron levels, it means that the muscles are not getting enough oxygen.

Muscle fibers that have very little oxygen cannot burn fat, as a “fuel”, as they should, therefore iron deficiency affects optimal basal metabolism.

* Magnesium Supplements: Experts say that without magnesium, energy-producing chemical reactions in the body cannot take place. This means that magnesium is essential for basal metabolism and energy production.

What is the metabolic rate?

Basal metabolism is often confused with metabolic rate, but metabolic rate more precisely means the rate at which the body burns calories.

The metabolic rate is influenced by the percentage of fat, people who have a higher percentage of body fat have a lower metabolic rate than those with a higher percentage of muscle.

The metabolic rate is the amount of chemical energy released by the body during an activity. This energy is measured in calories. Most of the time, however, kcal, that is, kilocalories, is used for energy measurement.

The metabolic rate can accelerate in the context of physical activity, anxiety, pregnancy, or fever. On the other hand, the metabolic rate can be slowed down by depression, apathy, or starvation.

The thermic effect of food: it is the number of calories burned while the body digests and processes food. This thermal effect represents approximately 10% of the total energy expenditure of the body.

Thermogenesis Activity or NEAT – refers to the number of calories required for certain activities, other than exercise. It includes changing posture, standing, and walking.

The metabolic rate is the amount of energy (calories) that the body needs to function in optimal conditions. The metabolic rate can be divided into several categories, and one of them is the basal metabolic rate.

The basal metabolic rate is a caloric factor that maintains the functions of the body such as to decrease, maintain or increase weight.

Energy (calories) is burned and used by the human body to breathe, pump blood, maintain body temperature, function internal organs such as liver, brain, heart, etc. the human body consumes about 60% -70% of our energy, either ingested through food or from the body’s reserves.

What are the factors that can increase the metabolic rate?

Studies have shown that the body consumes more energy when we have diets rich in protein.

Who has a higher metabolic rate, women or men?

Older people have a higher basal metabolic rate than women because they have a higher percentage of muscle mass.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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