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Often when we hear the word “metabolism” come up in conversation, it’s when someone is talking about weight. The topic could be sudden weight gain, prolific weight loss or even a story about someone who “is fit because they have a great metabolism.” In addition, we hear the stories of people using dietary supplements to help their metabolism and how others focus on lifestyle habits like eating healthier. There seems to be a belief that metabolism is the key player in dictating our weight in all of this. But what is metabolism really? Let’s explore.
1) What is metabolism?
Metabolism is a process during which your body takes food and makes it into energy. A high metabolism means that your body burns more calories. In contrast, a low metabolism means that your body burns fewer calories.
When it comes to burning calories, our bodies do it in three ways:
- Making the energy needed to keep our bodies going in a resting state. Here we include things like keeping hearts beating, lungs breathing and stomachs digesting. This is called basal metabolic rate (BMR).
- Producing the energy needed to perform everyday activities like walking, talking and even thinking.
- Coming up with the energy needed to exercise. This includes everything from going for a run to playing a game of tennis to resistance training.
Genetics, what you’ve inherited from your parents and their parents before them, plays a role in how fast or slow your metabolism is. But other things like age, muscle mass, diet and even stress levels can affect your metabolism.
2) How does your metabolism generally affect your weight?
Your metabolism affects your weight because it determines how many calories you burn. If you have a high metabolism, you’ll burn more calories while at rest or performing everyday tasks than someone with a slower metabolism. And if you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight.
This can be problematic for people who would like to put on weight, such as athletes in weight-class sports or people trying to build muscle. For these individuals, it’s essential to eat enough calories to fuel their activity level and support their weight goals.
Conversely, you’ll burn fewer calories at rest if you have a low metabolism. And if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight.
3) How does metabolism affect weight loss or weight gain?
Metabolism matters a lot when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. As we’ve already said, when someone with a high metabolism is at rest or performs everyday tasks like emptying the dishwasher, they’ll likely burn more calories than someone with a low metabolism.
A high metabolic rate can be a blessing if your goal is losing weight and keeping it off. If this is you, you’re fortunate because you can eat more calories without gaining weight. However, if you want to gain weight, you may have to eat more calories than someone with a lower metabolic rate to reach your desired goal.
Metabolism is not the only factor, though. Diet and exercise are also important and cannot be ignored. Think about it more like a triad of factors working together to help you lose or put on weight, depending on your goals.
4) How does diet impact metabolism?
One of the most important things about how to eat for a healthy metabolism is to avoid crash and fad diets. A research study of participants from the Biggest Loser reality show revealed that these types of temporary, highly restrictive diets may permanently slow metabolic rates in the long-term.
It should come as no surprise that eating a diet high in processed foods and sugary drinks can negatively affect your metabolism as well.
Instead, try to eat a healthy and balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, lean and whole grains. If what you eat will help your metabolism, this will be one of the most important steps you can take. And even if it’s not boosting your metabolism rate, it isn’t impeding it. Your body will also benefit from all the nutrient-rich foods you’re consuming.
6) How else can you maintain a healthy metabolism?
As we’ve just explained, you can maintain a healthy metabolism by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. But there are a few other considerations for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
The first is to ensure you’re taking proper care of your digestive health. Research has made connections between poor gut health and many issues, including physical ailments like gas, bloating, constipation and abdominal pain. Others include lack of energy, immune system problems, challenges losing weight, brain fog and hormonal irregularities. With this in mind, it is no surprise that altered gut microbiomes have been linked to metabolic diseases and disorders.
Next, you might consider using digestive enzymes to help your body better break down and absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat. This is especially important as we age since our bodies produce fewer enzymes naturally. You might also benefit from taking a colon health supplement which can help to cleanse the colon, reduce toxins and promote regularity.
Last, but not least, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Research has shown that sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain and increased insulin resistance and changes in hormones that control appetite. All of these can lead to difficulty losing weight and, over time, obesity.
You and Your Metabolism: New Best Friends
So there you have it. Now you know all about your new best friend, your metabolism, and how it can help you lose or gain weight. Remember that it’s only one part of the equation and that diet and exercise are essential factors. With a bit of effort, you can have the healthy body and metabolism you’ve always wanted.