What is metabolism?
Let’s start with the basics. To put it simply, metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that take place in your body to convert food into energy. To put it not so simply, it’s a complex process involving two kinds of activities: catabolism, the breakdown of molecules into energy, and anabolism, the synthesis of all compounds needed by the cells.
But let’s get back to simple. The energy created by your metabolism fuels everything you do, from breathing to sleeping to circulating blood, managing hormone levels, etc. And what’s more? Your metabolism never stops. Ever. So yeah, your metabolism and metabolic health is pretty important.
What is metabolic health?
The mistake that many people make is assuming that a certain weight determines health. However, metabolic health is actually a group of 5 risk factors and is referred to as metabolic syndrome. Those 5 risk factors are: high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess fat around the waist, and high triglyceride levels. If left untreated, these 5 risk factors can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Unfortunately, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome. Fortunately, metabolic syndrome is largely preventable.
What does it mean to have a fast metabolism or a slow metabolism?
You’ve heard it before—someone who eats tons of refined sugar and saturated fats might shrug it off and say, “oh, I just have a fast metabolism.” Or someone who has a harder time losing weight might say they have a slow metabolism. And both may be right because yes, metabolism varies greatly from person to person.
We all have what’s called a basal metabolic rate (BMR) which refers to the minimum number of calories your body needs to function at rest. BMR varies from person to person. So someone with a fast metabolism burns a lot of calories at rest, and someone with a slow or sluggish metabolism needs fewer calories to function.
The myth about metabolism
Most people assume that a fast metabolism equates to a thinner body type and vice versa, but this is not necessarily true. Studies show that people who are overweight or obese often have fast metabolisms–their bodies just need more energy to fuel basic body functions. In fact, your metabolism is rarely the cause of weight gain or weight loss because your metabolism naturally regulates itself to meet your body’s needs, and your metabolism is mostly determined by your genes.
So if it’s mostly determined by your genes, and it fuels everything your body does, does this mean you have no control over such an important aspect of your health? We’re happy to report that the answer is—no. There are other factors that impact your metabolic rate, and there are things you can do to help boost your metabolism.
The truth about metabolism
There are inescapable factors that affect how your metabolism functions. As previously mentioned, genetics is key. But also gender—men tend to have faster metabolisms than women as they usually have more muscle mass, larger bones, and less body fat. Your age also plays a role. As you lose muscle as you get older, your metabolism slows. But there are lifestyle habits that you can adopt to help your metabolism, too.
Tips for a healthy metabolism
Luckily there are lifestyle changes you can adopt for metabolic health, some obvious, some not so much.
- Eat enough calories and at regular intervals. When you restrict calories, your body breaks down muscle for energy, and a loss of muscle mass slows metabolism.
- Strength train. Speaking of muscle mass—it takes more energy to build muscle than fat, so your metabolism speeds up a bit to fuel the muscle.
- Exercise. It might be obvious, but any time your body burns more energy, your metabolism must speed up to fuel your body.
- Feed your metabolism with protein, healthy carbs and fats, and fresh fruits and veggies.
- Spice it up. Studies have shown that the capsaicin in chili can increase metabolic rate.
- Drink green tea. Research suggests it may help with fat metabolism.
- Drink plenty of water. A 2016 study found that drinking water may have an impact on metabolism. Plus your body needs water to function at its best.
- Get enough sleep. People who sleep less have a lower metabolic rate, so aim for at least 7 hours.
Can a probiotic help your metabolism?
Yes! Metabolic Daily is a live, multi-strain probiotic formulated by PhD doctors and scientists specifically to optimize your metabolism. It helps break down fiber and produces beneficial postbiotics and hormones such as butyrate and GLP-1, which help maintain blood sugar levels. Click here to learn more about Metabolic Daily.
So there it is. Everything you ever wanted to know about metabolism, from fast, slow, sluggish, silly myths, hard truths, stats, tips, tricks, and probiotics to boost it. Your metabolism is an important part of your overall health.