What is metabolism?

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Metabolism is the rate at which the body uses energy to support the basic functions essential to sustain life. This metabolism is comprised of three parts, which include physical activity (20%), Thermic Effect of Food, also called TEF (10%), and Resting Metabolism Rate or REM (70%). Physical activity is the amount of energy your body burns up during normal, daily activities to include housework, recreation, work, exercise, and so on. Obviously, someone that is physically active will burn more energy than a sedentary person will. TEF accounts for the energy used in digesting and absorbing nutrients, which would vary depending on the meal’s composition. When a person overeats, TEF is increased because more food must be digested. Here is where metabolism becomes very interesting and what causes so much confusion.

So what?

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One pound is equal to 3,500 calories, so let us say a person consumes 3,500 more calories than normal. That individual would not gain one pound because the TED is accounted for but if 3,500 calories were cut trying to lose weight, then TEF decreases since there would be fewer nutrients to process. The result is that with energy expenditure would decrease, meaning that the individual would lose less than one pound in weight. In other words, by cutting out too much food, TEF cannot work as it was designed to do. Now keep in mind that you cannot go around eating a bunch of junk food. After all, the calories you do consume need to be healthy foods but what this does mean is that when you do not eat, you are actually working against your body in fighting weight gain, not the other way around.

Finally, the RMR refers to the number of calories the body needs to run its essential functions, as well as chemical reactions while in a rested state. This aspect of metabolism accounts for the greatest number of calories burned every day. What happens is that if lean weight should be lost because of increased protein metabolism, then RMR decreases. Typically, you would see this happen when a person goes on a very strict diet. In this situation, the body is forced into a negative nitrogen balance, which means a greater amount of protein is lost than what is replaced because of less protein/energy intake. When this imbalance occurs, there is a gradual loss of lean weight, which then lowers RMR.

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What happens many times is that dieters will limit the amount of lean weight loss with intense exercise for the muscles to develop a need to maintain more protein. When this happens, the body is forced to use more energy from stored fats. If you want to put your metabolism to work for you, some simple steps can be taken:

* By adding a few extra pounds of lean muscle, the metabolic rate can be increased by up to 200% each day * Remember that lean weight can burn as much as 20 times more calories than fat weight * Regular exercise is one of the best ways to boost metabolism * By eating smaller meals and more often, you can boost your metabolism rate While you need to eat healthy foods, studies prove that what matters most is how much of a person’s body weight is attributed to fat. Remember, excess fat is what links to major health problems. Therefore, it is important that you maintain a healthy weight but more crucial that you monitor the fat-to-muscle ratio. For example, a woman standing 5’5″ might weigh only 125 pounds but have a 27% body fat ratio, which is not good. This individual worked hard to diet, while staying involved with aerobics. However, much of what she lost was not fat, but muscle. Even though this weight would be considered ideal for her height, her body fat to muscle ratio is too high.

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