What is Metabolism? Here's Everything You Need To Know
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What is Metabolism? Here's Everything You Need To Know

Nutrition
Vallari Sharma
3 min read

What is Metabolism? Here's Everything You Need To Know

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Metabolism is a term that is used to describe all chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and the organism.

Metabolism is usually divided into two categories namely, catabolism (destructive metabolism) and anabolism (constructive metabolism). Catabolism is also known as ‘destructive metabolism’ because it takes place when the molecules ‘breakdown’ to obtain energy. And since anabolism occurs when the simpler molecules are ‘built up’ into complex compounds like proteins and nucleic acids which ‘promote’ cell growth and repair, it is known as ‘constructive metabolism’.

In short, metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink, into energy. The amount of chemical energy a person frees from their body per unit time is known as ‘metabolic rate’. It is the energy used by the body in the performance of its normal functions. A person’s metabolic rate is affected by how much that person exercises, the amount of fat and muscle in his or her body, and the person's Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest.

Here is a simple formula to calculate metabolic rate:


Metabolic Rate = Basal Metabolic Rate + Rate of Energy Use for Activity + Rate of Heat Energy Produced by the body for processing food through the digestive system.

Higher the metabolic rate, the more calories a person burns. A person’s metabolic rate depends on various factors like age, lifestyle habits, environment and even genes! Metabolic rate decreases as you age but the good news is you can always regulate it. All you need to do is to follow these tips to increase metabolism:

1. Drink more

WATER! Yes, water is a magical potion that can solve half your health and beauty problems. According to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, increasing water intake by 1.5 litres a day can help burn an extra 17,400 calories. Wanna burn even more? Try drinking cold water. When you drink cold water, your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature and since we all know energy is produced by burning of calories, drinking water might be the easiest way to shed those extra kilos!

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2. Cut the booze

Drinking once in a while might not take a toll on your waistline but getting intoxicated regularly might slow down your metabolic rate as alcohol interferes with digestion of the food in your body. In fact, according to a few studies, drinking alcohol or alcoholic drinks regularly can decrease the body’s fat-burning ability by up to 73 per cent!

3. Don’t skip your breakfast

There is a reason why dietitians emphasise so much on having a hearty breakfast. Having a healthy breakfast loaded with lean proteins and carbohydrates not only keeps you fuller and energetic throughout the day, but it also wakes up your metabolic system. Many studies have shown that people who start their day with a healthy and solid breakfast are more successful in losing weight than those who eat nothing or just take liquids.

4. Drink full-fat milk

Surprised? How can full-fat milk help in burning fat when its name itself says ‘full-fat’? Well, our body is full of mysteries. According to a study, increased calcium intake from dairy products may help your body metabolise fat more efficiently. Interesting, right?

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5. Spice it up

Fire up your metabolism by adding hot peppers and chillies to your food. Chillies not only burn fat but they’re also rich in a substance called capsaicin, which is proven to boost metabolism.

6. HIIT

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. You must have noted that when you indulge in a high-intensity exercise, there is a sudden burst of energy. You might also have observed this sudden boost of energy stays on for quite long, even after you’ve stopped the high-intensity activity. Why is it so? Well, the amount of energy released during high-intensity work is so great that it keeps burning your calories even after you’ve stopped doing the activity. So, say bye-bye to slogging on a treadmill for hours and say hello to quick and fun activities like running and aerobics.

7. Stop stressing

Believe it or not, but stressing can actually slow your body’s ability to metabolise food. Moreover, when we’re stressed we crave for more fatty and high-salt and high-sugar foods, which further plays havoc with our metabolism and of course, waistline.

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8. Sleep

Have you recently been putting on weight in spite of exercising and without having a morsel extra? Well, chances are you might be sleep deprived. “Lack of sleep can cause several metabolic problems,” says nutritionist Seth Santoro. It’s also been observed sleeping less than 7 hours a day can change the way your body processes sugar and disrupt your appetite-regulating hormones. A good way to go to bed early is to stay away from electronics an hour before you plan to go to bed and yes, electronics includes your mobile phone. It might be hard initially, but once you see your body benefit from rising early, you’ll thank us.

Now that you know you’re not stuck with your slow metabolism forever, you should no longer use it as a justification for your extra weight. These tips are easy to follow. Just incorporate them into your lifestyle, you’ll see a mountain of difference in your health, appearance and energy levels!

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