Womens Health


What it is...

Medterms.com defines the word Metabolism as follows:

Metabolism: The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us (or any living organism). Metabolism consists both of anabolism and catabolism (the buildup and breakdown of substances, respectively). The term is commonly used to refer specifically to the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.

Metabolic rate is the amount of energy a body burns on a given day, measured in calories.  Our cells require energy to exist.  However, fat cells require smaller amounts of energy than muscle cells do.  The food we take into our bodies provide the fuel for our cells to burn energy, and if there is no food, then the cells use the energy that has been stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver, or they begin to process fat in the fat cells.

What it all means

So, what does all of this mean and how does it affect weight loss, or weight gain?  In order for our bodies to become efficient at burning calories, we must keep our metabolism running at an increased level.  While we can increase our metabolism through exercise, which is a great way to do it, we can also increase our body's ability to burn calories by recognizing that eating can increase our metabolism.

A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that metabolism increased when people ate more and decreased when people ate less, independent of changes in body mass.

Paradigm Change

Now what does that do to our psyche?  Many of us harbor the misconception that fewer calories will result in weight loss, and it does - however, eating the right balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates in several small meals a day will do the job even better.  Our bodies are so smart that they will increase the metabolic rate to prevent us from becoming obese if we eat wise choices of foods in smaller portions throughout the day.

It's a known fact that our very smart bodies react to dieting by becoming more fuel efficient, storing calories in the event of starvation - which, sadly, many diets tend to cause.  The longer we diet, and the more we diet, the more hormones we release telling our bodies to slow our metabolism so that we don't starve.  Eating stops the production of these hormones and balances out the metabolism.

You've heard it all before, but perhaps now you have a clearer idea of why it is so important to eat several small, well-balanced meals containg protein, fats and carbohydrates throughout the day.  Your metabolism is counting on you to be balanced for the burn.

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