Metabolism includes all the things our bodies do to turn food into energy. It’s an essential process for all living organisms — not just humans.
Metabolism and Your Body
The complex biochemical process called metabolism is a reaction by which the human body converts food and beverages into energy. It’s an essential reaction needed to maintain life.
During this process, calories in beverages and food are combined with oxygen to release the energy our bodies need in order to function.
You may have heard people say they have difficulty in losing weight because they have a slow metabolism. Although there is some truth to this, other factors — like how much we exercise and eat — play a much larger role in our weight gain or loss.
According to the Mayo Clinic, contrary to what some people think and believe, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. Although this biochemical process influences the basic energy needs of our bodies, how much we drink and eat — in addition to how much physical activity we get — are the things that ultimately determine our weight.
- Weight loss — particularly rapid weight loss — actually slows down the metabolic process. It actually takes less energy for our bodies to function at a lower weight. Therefore, when we lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories — or exercise more to burn more calories to keep losing pounds.
- Eating breakfast every day can boost our metabolism.
- Age can slow down our metabolism process. In most cases, as we get older, we tend to become less active, lose muscle, and gain fat. However, becoming more physically active can stimulate the biochemical process.
- Some medications can affect our metabolism. They can either dangerously speed it up or slow it down.
Weight and Metabolic Process
It’s tempting to blame our weight gain on a slow-metabolism. However, this biochemical process is a natural reaction — our bodies have many mechanisms that regulate it to meet our individual needs. Only in rare cases do people get excessive weight gain from a medical problem that slows down the metabolic process, like having an under-active thyroid gland known as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome.
Weight gain is a complicated process — likely a combination of diet composition, hormonal controls, genetic makeup, and the impact of environment on an individual’s lifestyle, including stress, physical activity, and sleep.
All of these factors result in an energy imbalance. We gain weight when we eat more calories than we burn — or burn fewer calories than we eat.
There are ways to help your metabolism — and the likelihood of successfully losing weight. Change your energy balance, or the balance between what you consume and what you burn off. You can achieve this through a healthy diet and regular physical activity.