Tag Archives: digestion

What exactly is ‘metabolism’?

Author: Liam Taylormiley-cyrus-justin-gaston-running

Most people think they have a slow one.  We all wish ours was a lot faster.  The slimming industry has made a fortune selling pills that supposedly boost it… Even my local curry house is claiming that eating spicy food will make it sky rocket!

But what exactly is ‘ metabolism ‘?  Why is it important for weight loss? And how can it help us in our quest to fit back into our favourite jeans?

Your body is a made up of trillions of cells.  Within each of those cells are chemical reactions that burn up the calories in the food you eat.  The name given to all of these calorie burning reactions is ‘metabolism’, and the speed at which this process happens is called your ‘metabolic rate’.  The faster a person’s metabolic rate, the more calories they burn each day.

Try to think of your metabolism like an engine burning up the fuel you consume.  Put in more fuel than your metabolism can burn, and the excess gets stored as fat.  Put in less fuel than your metabolism burns and you will burn off your fat stores to make up for the shortage.  Long term fat loss only occurs when you eat less calories than your metabolism burns.

So if your metabolism is like an engine, how much fuel do you need each day to run it? The government recommends 2000 calories a day for women and 2500 for men, but this is guesswork.  To find the real figure we need to look at the three factors that make up your metabolism -   Resting metabolism, Movement and Digestion.

• Resting metabolism is the amount of calories your body burns at rest.  It is the energy required to sustain your organs and muscle tissue, even while you are sleeping.  The bigger you are, and the more active muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest.  Someone with lots of muscle will have a faster resting metabolism than a skinny person.

• Movement metabolism is the amount of calories your muscles burn when they are working, that is if they are working at all!  The more you move the more calories your body burns, so even chewing gum or fidgeting is proven to increase the amount of calories you burn each day, albeit not much!  Someone who exercises daily will have a faster movement metabolism than someone who is sedentary.

• Digestion metabolism is the amount of calories it takes for the food you eat to be broken down and pushed from your mouth to your backside.  High protein, unrefined foods require more energy to digest than high sugar, refined carbs.   Someone who eats healthy food little and often will have a faster digestion metabolism than someone who binges on junk food.

The internet is swamped with slimming and weight loss pills that claim to speed up metabolism.  I’ll make this simple.   There are only three ways to speed up your metabolism – increase your resting metabolism, increase your movement metabolism, or increase your digestion metabolism.  If you want a faster metabolic rate, you have to either 1) build more muscle to increase your resting metabolism, 2) exercise more to increase your movement metabolism, 3) eat better quality meals to increase your digestion metabolism.

No slimming or diet pills can do this for you, so it’s time to put an end to that little fantasy!  To boost your metabolism you have to start eating healthier and moving more, but you knew that already.