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Metabolism is the process that takes place constantly in the body, to turn food into energy that can be used by the body. The speed at which metabolism takes place is referred to as the metabolic rate and it varies from person to person. Someone whose body doesn’t metabolize too well is said to have a slow metabolism.
Metabolism is important to us as it determines the rate at which calories are burned from the food we eat, and influences how quickly we can lose or gain weight. It changes the food we eat into valuable resources that the body needs to survive. All living matter needs energy to survive so that the body can heal injuries, repair and replace body tissue and fight infection. Metabolism keeps us alive.
The body metabolizes in two ways. Anabolic metabolism employs enzymes to build large molecules from smaller ones, and is the process that stores the energy created from food.
Catabolic metabolism breaks down the stored energy into smaller particles that can be used by the body on a daily basis. The released energy fuels anabolism so the body gets heated sufficiently so that body parts and muscles can move properly, and waste products released through catabolism are relinquished through the kidneys, skin, lungs and intestines.
Metabolic rate is influenced by a number of factors – age, sex, lean body mass, heredity and thyroid gland. As we get older our metabolism slows. Every ten years after the age of 40 it slows by about 5%. Sex affects our metabolism as men burn more calories at rest then women. The amount of lean body mass – the amount of muscle you have – is also a factor as having more muscle speeds up the metabolic rate. Hereditary factors may also play their part but these obviously vary between individuals. Problems with the thyroid gland can also slow our rate of metabolism.
The heavier you are, the higher your metabolism is likely to be as your extra weight tends to make your body work harder to keep up. Consequently, dieters often find they lose more weight at the beginning of their eating plan than later. Fad diets tend to lose muscle as well as fat, and this slows the metabolism making weight loss that more difficult. As you weigh less your metabolism slows because it has to work less.
How to Jump Start your Metabolism
Some of the factors that influence metabolism we can’t alter, but fortunately others we can exert some control over.
Your body needs good nutrition, hydration and physical activity in order to retain a good metabolism. That is to say, you need a healthy and balanced diet, sufficient quantities of water and a reasonable amount of exercise. Poor diet, inadequate water consumption and a couch potato existence lead to an unhealthy metabolism. So, if you want to know how to jump start your metabolism, take these three points to heart.
How to Increase Metabolism – Foods that Speed it up
Nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables and lean meat will help. Processed foods take longer to break down by the metabolic process and contain less goodness and more material that gets eliminated. And drink more water. Drink a minimum of eight 8oz glasses per day to ensure it works at a good rate.
Metabolism, as a chemical process, can be difficult for many to understand, but put simply – If it slows we put on weight, if it is healthy (fast) we maintain or lose weight.