the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.
A more detailed definition could be: the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.
A tertiary definition could be: that thing everyone blames for their weight on.
Metabolism is the mysterious and autonomous process that converts food to energy and, dangit, is determined genetically and there’s nothing we can do. Or is it?
Today we will explore what metabolism is, exactly, what we can do to affect it, and if it’s really the culprit in our winter weight gain.
Starting with the basics:
Does our metabolic process ultimately affect our weight? Yes.
Let’s go into a little more detail.
The calories that we gain from food and drink are what is converted into energy. Calories are used alongside oxygen as fuel for all of the functions our body performs. Keep in mind, this also means involuntary processes, such as breathing, hormone homeostasis, cell maintenance, and even having an efficiently running circulatory system. One of these involuntary functions is called thermogenesis, which is the entirety of the process of digesting, absorbing, transporting, and storing the nutrients from food. Like the previously mentioned biological actions, this process requires energy, or calories, to work. Roughly ten percent of our caloric intake from carbohydrates and protein are used during food processing.
The last (and biggest) way we work off our obtained calories is through physical activity. This is the often underlooked factor when it comes to weight loss and fat reduction. Physical exercise is the ultimate defining factor in losing weight and keeping it off. Different levels of activity will result in different degrees of calories burned, so the consistency of loss will be reliant on the individual.
Before we go too much further, there exist a few factors that determine the metabolic process that are actually out of our control. For controversial starters, gender has an effect on our metabolism. Men are structured to be more muscular, and, as such, tend to put on muscle easier than women do. This essentially means that, on average, men tend to burn calories more than women of the same age and weight. Speaking of, age also has a factor. As we’ve mentioned before, the body tends to slow down significantly the older we get. This results in lower volumes of muscle and higher volumes of fat, which results in slower levels of calorie use. Finally, the size and composition of our bodies has an effect on our metabolism as well. Larger people, people with more muscle, or large people with large muscles all burn more calories than anyone comparatively, even while resting or stagnant.
Bringing it together:
Now that we have a base understanding of how our body uses calories, what can be said about metabolism as a factor in weight loss? While it certainly has an effect, it can hardly be blamed for the majority of body composition. There are many factors that contribute to our ability to gain or lose weight, both in muscle and fat. Some of those are simply genetics, but most have to do with our lifestyle. These can range from not only our physical activity but down to our sleep cycles and everyday exposure to stress. Hormones can also play a factor in this, as they become more medically relevant as we age.
Ultimately, the math is simple for weight loss: burn more calories than you put in and you WILL lose weight, regardless of metabolism. The hard part is learning how to do so and fitting it our lifestyles.
For more information, be sure to check out our website (link) or call to speak to our health care providers.
Baton Rouge, La Office: (225) 960-1580