In weight loss circles, metabolism is a popular topic of discussion. How do we increase it? Why is it important? What exactly is it? Although the human metabolic system is fairly complicated, understanding it is crucial to understanding how to lose weight and improve your health.
What Is Metabolism?
In the simplest terms, metabolism refers to the biological processes that convert food to energy. Our metabolic system controls the amount of energy, or calories, it takes to maintain your body.
The amount of energy your body uses is also significantly affected by body composition. The amount of fat versus the amount of muscle you have determines how many calories are used to make your heart pump, breathe, sleep, and perform physical activity. For example, two people who are the same height and weight can use energy in very different ways, metabolically speaking. The person who weight trains and does moderate aerobic exercise will have a higher percentage of muscle tissue than the person who never exercises. Since muscle requires more calories to maintain itself than fat, the person who exercises will be able to eat more without gaining weight. Fat tissue requires significantly less energy to sustain itself so the person with excess fat will have to watch their calorie intake to avoid putting on additional weight. Therefore, the more muscle you have and the lower your percentage of body fat, the higher your metabolic rate will be.
Factors such as age, activity level, and even genetic makeup all play a part in determining your metabolic rate. Metabolic slowing is a natural part of aging; therefore caloric needs automatically decrease as you grow older. In addition, muscle tissue begins to gradually atrophy with age. In spite of these natural age-related occurrences, one of the most important elements in determining and even increasing metabolism is exercise. By adopting an exercise regimen that includes resistance exercises and moderate aerobic activity, studies show that people can build muscle and increase metabolism at any age.
Nutrition is also a very important factor in raising your metabolic rate. Foods that are processed or high in simple carbohydrates like sugar are usually high in calories, low in nutrients, and don’t require much metabolic activity to digest. On the other hand, lean protein like chicken breast and complex carbohydrates like the kind contained in fruits and vegetables are lower in calories, have many nutrients, and the human body’s metabolic furnace is ignited through the simple act of digesting these types of foods.
Understanding your body’s metabolic system is important to people who are attempting to lose weight and improve health. Knowing what metabolism is and how you can increase it is critical to reaching your goals. Fortunately, the best prescription in most cases for making our metabolic system work more efficiently is proper diet and regular exercise.