As individuals, we are so unique that even our metabolism is vastly different than anyone else. Metabolism, or the way we use the calories we consume to sustain life, is central to our overall health. Understanding how our body works in terms of metabolism and weight loss will prevent needless frustration and keep your goals realistic and attainable. So what exactly is metabolism? What factors can affect it? And how can we determine what our metabolism is?
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, metabolism is “the sum of chemical reactions that take place within each cell of a living organism and that provide energy for vital processes and for synthesizing new organic material.” Essentially, metabolism is the process by which the food we eat is converted to fuel. This fuel, or energy, gives us the ability to perform each and every function, from the ones we perform intentionally to those our body simply does for us like breathing, circulating blood, and tissue repair.
There are three factors that can affect our metabolism:
- The number of calories we need to maintain life.
- The number of calories we use during physical activity.
- The number of calories we consume each day.
A key component of metabolism is how your body uses proteins to build muscle and how it uses nutrients for fuel. The first is called anabolism, the second catabolism. If you eat far more than you burn each day, your body will be forced to store the excess energy which, in time, will increase your weight. You will also begin to accelerate your aging. The extra weight puts a tremendous burden on each system of your body simply because it needs to work harder to do even the most basic things like breathing. This, in addition to your age, height, gender, and body composition, also affects the rate of your metabolism.
You can determine your metabolism through both a resting and active assessment that includes a respiration test. This can be a useful tool in determining your baseline and help create your personalized plan to improved health. It can also tell you which you burn more of, fat or carbohydrates, for fuel, plus your ideal heart rate zone that promotes weight loss.
Understanding the unique needs of your body will prevent you from compare yourself and your progress to others. This journey towards wellness is for you alone. Honor who and what you are, and give your body the tools it needs for success.