Metabolism

img_4373Why is it necessary to understand the process of metabolism if you are getting into an exercise regimen with a goal to lose weight?

When you hear someone say, “I can’t lose weight because I have a real slow metabolic rate,” know they’ve not grasped the concept fully. Interestingly, heavier people have higher metabolism since they have to carry around that weight. Genetics determine your metabolic rate. Can one change his or her metabolic rate? Research is divided on this matter.

But what I’ve learned is that by balancing the calories you take in against the calories, you burn up through activity, you can change how much you weigh.

TO understand how this works, you must first know what and how the term metabolism works.

For life to sustain, our bodies need a series of chemical reactions to take place. These reactions help life-sustaining processes such as maintaining a constant internal temperature, growing, reproducing etc. All of this happens well when the body can break down and utilize four essential biomolecules: proteins, fats, carbs and nucleic acids. So metabolism is how we obtain biomolecules to sustain life.

So where do we get these life-sustaining biomolecules from?

The answer, of course, is from the various foods that we eat.

Now here is something interesting: our food comes either from plants or animals, and these plants and animals also contain an array of biomolecules. These biomolecules from plants and animals may not be in a form that is usable by our bodies. So our bodies will need to break them down further, and this process of breaking down happens through digestion. Through the process of digestion, these biomolecules are further reduced to their subunits called amino acids.

Think of a whole fruit and how you would have to chop it up into smaller pieces if you are to eat it. Something similar happens inside our bodies when we eat. A blender is set in motion, and this is how each biomolecule is broken down into its subunits:

You might ask what the big deal is in how the body breaks food down? Isn’t that what the body is supposed to do? Break down what it is fed?

Yes, that is true. Remember the adage, what you sow is what you reap.

Essentially, each time the body breaks biomolecules down, it also has to build it back up, and this together forms what we call metabolism. So each subunit that is

broken down has to be rebuilt in a manner that is the right configuration for the body.

Now all this is well and good—building and breaking, etc., but all of this requires energy. And where does this energy come from? It comes again from the food we eat.

The batteries that power these energy cells are called ATP—adenosine triphosphate. ATP is broken down further into ADP, and when this happens, it releases usable chemical energy that fuels the body for anabolism. The body needs a continuous supply of energy, and therefore, the process of converting ADP into ATP has to happen continuously. This is where food comes in. What goes in is what comes out ☺ Think of a campfire. If you would like to keep the fire going, you must feed the fire continuously. To extend this analogy a little further, the quality of your firewood or kindle will determine the longevity of the flames and sometimes the residual output of the fire as well.

The body requires usable energy to fuel itself. Breaking this down into those molecular parts is called cellular respiration—a process that involves breaking things down further. The process of metabolism—catabolism and anabolism together are tightly regulated cycles. What controls these cycles?

Interestingly your hormones. Hormones necessarily tell your body if it should be in an anabolic or catabolic state.

Next Post: Hormones and Cortisol

 

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