What Does Metabolism Really Mean?

June 22, 2010

There perhaps isn’t a more frequently used word in the weight loss world than metabolism. It’s not uncommon to hear discussions of dieting successes or struggles in regards to whether their metabolism was fast or slow.

Even doctors will refer to your metabolism when they try to explain to you why water loss or starvation diets are not scientifically valid.

Unfortunately, most people simply do not understand the whole concept of metabolism and metabolic change. This is in part due to the amount of misinformation floating around on the internet so it is no wonder that there seems to be a lot of confusion on the subject.

The first thing you need to understand about the metabolism is that it isn’t a body part or organ. Metabolism is a process in which the body converts food into energy (fuel). Your body then uses this energy to perform a vast array of functions and it is also the energy you use to move and function.

I should also note here that the metabolic process is not just one single function, but it’s actually a term describing countless functions that take place within the body. Every single second of your life there are numerous chemical reactions taking place through metabolic processes.

Your metabolism is often referred to as a harmonizing process that works to achieve two functions: Anabolism and Catabolism.

The first function, Anabolism, is the process of creating cells and tissue. Every moment, your body is busy creating new cells to replace the dead or damaged ones. On the other hand, Catabolism, is the exact opposite. Instead of building new cells or tissue, this process breaks down cells for energy.

So as you can see, your metabolism is a process that takes care of two opposite functions: Using energy to create cells or breaking down cells to create energy.

When it comes to weight loss, the link between your metabolism and the amount of calories you consume becomes clearer. When you eat an excessive amount of food (energy) and your body cannot use up this energy at that particular time, it will become forced into creating cells with all that extra energy. It has no other option.

All those extra cells are added weight (fat). The whole deal between calories, your metabolism and weight gain all come down to do an excess of energy. When you consume too many calories from food, the majority of the time the body has to transform those calories into fat cells.

Sometimes though, they can be transformed into muscle tissue, which is usually a good thing for people watching their weight but this will generally require some form of exercise.

This is why people with more muscle mass burn more calories without doing anything. Their muscles require extra calories to be maintained and so they have a stronger metabolism. It is for this reason that building more lean muscle mass should be part of any overall program to lose weight or increase your metabolic rate.

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