The process of metabolism establishes the rate at which energy is extracted from food. Just as we must breath to live, our body must also metabolize to live. Our metabolic rate determines how quickly our body breaks down nutrients and then decides how to use them. Our body works best when our metabolic rate is constant. Health problems and weight gain can occur when our metabolism slows down. A rate that fluctuates from fast to slow is not ideal either. An analogy I like to use is by picturing a camp fire. Throw on a lot of wood at once and the flames leap into the air and burn rampant. Once you stop adding wood the flames slow down to only a few glowing timbers. The best way to keep a steady rate is by adding a steady amount at regular intervals. Our metabolism works the same way, and functions at it’s best when it’s working at an unvarying rate. Not everyone burns calories at the same rate, but there are specific steps you can make to develop a constant metabolic rate. So just how does your metabolism work and how can we improve the rate at which calories burn?
THE BASICS ABOUT METABOLISM.
Our metabolism is a complex network of hormones and enzymes but it’s most basic function is to burn calories which allows our bodies to get energy from the food we eat. We don’t have to be doing anything to burn calories, even when sleeping we burn calories. A basal metabolic rate (BMR), also known as, resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the rate at which a body burns calories while at rest. The bodies vital functions – breathing, digestion, blood circulation all require energy from the calories we burn. Ironically enough we actually need calories to burn calories. It is a vital process of all life forms, not just humans. The process of metabolism is a constant balancing act involving two activities that occur simultaneously; building up of body tissues and storing energy, while at the same time the breaking down of body tissues, while storing energy to generate more fuel for body functions.
WHAT INFLUENCES YOUR METABOLISM?
There are influences on our metabolism that we have no control over, such as; age, gender, genetics, and a rare disease know as hypothyroidism. As we get older our metabolism naturally slows. Both men and women lose muscle mass as they age which will translate into a slower metabolism. However, increase your muscle mass and the more calories your body will burn regardless of your age. On average men burn more calories at rest then women. People often think that a slim person’s metabolism is high and an overweight person’s metabolism is low, but this is not always the case. Hypothyroidism is an under active thyroid that slows down your metabolism and leads to weight gain. The good news is that a simple blood test can determine whether you have this condition or not. If you do you can control it with proper medication. However, more importantly, the fact is, there are many things we can do to improve our metabolism. We can’t control getting older or the genes we are given, but that doesn’t mean we are helpless when is comes to improving ones metabolic rate.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR METABOLISM.
When it comes to losing weight the answer is get ride of more calories then you take in, or burn more calories then amount of calories we put in your body from the foods we eat. But another question to consider is how efficiently are you burning those calories? Someone with a good metabolism can eat the very same food as someone with a slow metabolism, and the one with the good metabolism will more efficiently use those calories. For those with a slow metabolism your body is not burning or converting the food into energy but instead storing it. If you’ve gotten in the habit of skipping meals your body now thinks it may be awhile before it get more food and so it stores it. You’ve no doubt heard some of the following reasons many times throughout your life. Perhaps though you were never told exactly why or how these step improve your metabolism.
1.Eat protein with every meal. It’s important, however, that the protein is lean. Throughout the first year primary source of nutrition is breast milk or formula, which is rich with protein. Our stomach actually specifically looks for protein and will expend more energy when it finds it than if it finds carbohydrates or fats. Protein helps you rebuild your declining muscle mass as you age. Eating enough protein will ensure you maintain and build muscle mass. Examples of healthy protein include: protein shakes, chicken breast, turkey breast, lean red meat, nonfat yogurt, nonfat cottage cheese, egg whites, soy milk, nuts, and beans.
2. Eat throughout the day. Keeping your body digesting and absorbing healthy foods keeps your body burning calories. Skipping meals is disastrous for your metabolism, our bodies thrive on food. In an attempt to conserve the food and conserve energy, our metabolism slows down. A slow metabolism will also cause you to feel fatigued and run down. The longest period without eating is often while we are sleeping and this is way it’s so important to eat breakfast. When the body doesn’t get food our metabolism will immediately adjust to survive and will begin breaking down muscle tissue. This is why skipping meals is a double whammy. Not only does it slow down metabolism but it leads to less muscle which then slows down your metabolism even more.
3. Drink green tea. Green tea is a proven, natural metabolism booster. Drinking green tea everyday will not only improve your metabolism but is also great for antioxidants.
4.Exercise regularly. Regular exercise will also speed up the rate at which you burn calories. Oxygen is a key component in cell metabolism and less oxygen means a slower metabolism. As you exercise the body, your heart and lungs will efficiently supplying oxygen to the cells.
5. Drink water daily. I’m sure you have heard this one your whole life. You probably heard this so many times you don’t even want an explanation, but I might have some new information for you. One of the many functions of the liver is that it converts stored fat to energy. Another function of the liver is to pick up the slack for the kidneys. If the kidneys are water-deprived, the liver has to do the kidney’s work along with its own. The result is we won’t metabolize fat as quickly or efficiently as we could when the kidneys are hydrated and able to function without the liver having to pick up any slack.
6.Increase your muscle mass. Don’t be fooled, you don’t have to be muscular to have muscle mass. I think the use of the two words muscle and mass together might cause some to envision some huge bodybuilder flexing in speedos. But the fact is everyone has muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be. The more muscle mass you have on your frame, the more food you will burn. So don’t overlook this one as something that doesn’t apply to you just because you don’t lift weights. Light exercise, protein with every meal, and keeping hydrated will improve in building and maintain the muscles you have.
7. Read more. Bet you didn’t expect that one. Has reading this article got your mind spinning? Does it motivate you to take the steps you need to improve your metabolism? If so, then use it as a resource to keep you motivated. You can bookmark this page and read it again later, or read other articles. Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazine are great ways to keep yourself informed and stay motivate, as well.
METABOLISM IN GREATER DETAIL.
The converted energy from metabolism is necessary to sustain vital functions – breathing, digestion, blood circulation, cell growth and cell repair, etc. Once food gets in our body, molecules in the digestive system – called enzymes – break proteins down into amino acids, fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugars. All of these can be used as an energy sources by the body whenever it’s needed. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories: catabolism and anabolism. Both of which depend on each other to function. Together they extract resources from food and then utilize them to help our body function.
Catabolism break down molecules into smaller units and releases energy. In catabolism, large molecules such as proteins are broken down into smaller units of amino acids. One of the purposes of the catabolic reactions is to provide the energy and components needed by anabolic reactions.
Anabolism relies on the energy released by catabolism to function. Anabolism takes the broken down molecules from catabolism and then builds them into to new forms the are useful for our body. The process constructs components of our cells, creates bigger things out of smaller things and in the process uses up energy as well.