The term “metabolism” is derived from the Greek root word metaballein, which is defined as change. Meaning, we can change our metabolism. There are no guarantees in life or health, however the better we care for ourselves and the healthier our metabolism, the more reliable our body’s systems will be for detoxifying itself, eliminating what it doesn’t need, burning fat, and preventing disease. Metabolism describes all the chemical processes that go on continuously inside the body to keep us alive and our organs functioning normally, such as breathing, repairing cells and digesting food. Simply put, our metabolism is all of the chemical processes that convert carbohydrates, proteins, and fats from our food into the energy that our cells need to function. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy our body needs to function. Even at rest, our body needs energy for all its involuntary functions, such as brain activity, breathing, and blood circulation, adjusting hormone levels, plus growing and repairing cells. All of these chemical processes require energy. The minimum amount of energy our body requires to carry out these processes is called the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or what we refer to as our metabolism.
Our BMR is the amount of energy, or calories, our body needs to maintain basic functions when we’re resting. Our metabolic rate is the amount of time it takes our body to process and burn energy, or calories, from the food we eat. Our BMR accounts for anywhere between 40% and 70% of our body’s daily energy necessities depending on age, lifestyle, body size, gender and genes. Heredity is a major contributor to our metabolism. We’re born with an internal gauge that regulates our BMR. Genes play a role in muscle size and our ability to grow muscles, both of which affect our metabolism. Muscle cells require more energy to maintain than fat cells, so those among us with a higher muscle to fat ratio tend to have a higher BMR. In general, men tend to have a faster metabolism as they have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less body fat than women, which is why their daily calorie allowance is higher. As we get older, we also tend to gain fat and lose muscle. This explains why the BMR tends to decrease with age.
It’s not uncommon to hear several of us blame our weight gain on a slow metabolism. We cut down on our calories and exercise regular yet we’re still not losing weight. The only other possible verdict, we expertly conclude, is we must have a slow metabolism. It may be tempting to blame our metabolism for weight gain. Except because metabolism is a natural process, our body has various devices that regulate it to meet our singular needs. Unfortunately, weight gain is complicated. It’s likely a combination of genetic makeup, hormonal controls, diet structure, and the impact of environment on our lifestyle, including sleep, physical activity and stress. All of these factors result in an imbalance in our energy equation. We gain weight when we eat more calories than we burn, or burn fewer calories than we eat. While it is true that some of us seem to be able to lose weight more quickly and more easily than others, all of us will lose weight when we burn up more calories than we eat. Therefore, to lose weight, we need to create an energy shortage by eating fewer calories or increasing the number of calories we burn through physical activity or both. Every cell in our body requires energy to function, whether it’s delivering nutrients to our brain, pumping oxygen from our lungs to our muscles during a brisk walk, or creating infection-fighting white blood cells deep in our bone marrow.
Our size, gender, and age all factor into our metabolic rate, but there are also ways to independently control its speed. And the faster our metabolism, the more calories we burn off. Sleeps is crucial, research has found a link between metabolism and sleep, and how not getting enough of it may seriously slow our metabolism and negatively affect our BMR. High-intensity training such as interval runs, aerobic-cardio movement, weight lifting and quick bouts of intense exercise can push-start our metabolism and keep us burning calories long after our workout is over. Drinking water or green tea is another simple way to speed up digestion and burn calories. Packing on protein along with certain foods like tuna and grapefruit have also been shown to speed up our body’s metabolic rate. Last however certainly not least a little laughter may go a long way. Scientists have found that as little as 10 minutes of laughter a day can also burn energy, which is just another one of the many reasons why at Gourmet Services Inc. we want you to keep each other amused and smiling.