* TOPIC: “METABOLISM 101” – ME @ WEEK 20/52 of Women’s Health and Fitness Magazine Cover Model Comp!

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My Post this week is dedicated to how our metabolism works.  Every time we eat the nutrients we consume become the building blocks and fuel needed by our body to function. Your body gets the energy it needs from food through a process called “METABOLISM”

Metabolism is essentially a collection of chemical reactions that takes place in the body’s cells. Metabolism converts the fuel in the food we eat into energy needed to power everything we do, from moving (incidental and training) – to thinking – to growing. Specific proteins in the body control the chemical reactions of metabolism, and each chemical reaction is co-ordinated with other body functions.  So deep below the surface of the skin many metabolic reactions happen at the same time – all regulated by the body and keeping our cells healthy and working.

How DOES Metabolism Work?

To get the full picture I will explain this process in a more scientific way… When we consume food or drinks we take in this energy (in the form of sugar), along with other vital cell-building chemicals. The body’s next step is to break the sugar down so that the energy released can be distributed to, and used as fuel by the body’s cells.

So after the consumption,  molecules in the digestive system called enzymes break proteins down into amino acids, fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugars i.e. “GLUCOSE”. In addition to sugar, both AMINO ACIDS and FATTY ACIDS can be used as energy sources by the body when needed i.e. as described in previous Posts. 

These compounds are absorbed into the blood, which transports them to the cells. After they enter the cells, other enzymes act to speed up or regulate the chemical reactions involved with “metabolising” these compounds. During these processes, the energy from these compounds can either be released for use by the body or stored in body tissues, especially the liver, muscles, and (the dreaded) body fat.

Metabolism is a BALANCE that breaks down into two:

  • the building-up of body tissues and energy stores i.e. “ANABOLISM”; and 
  • the breaking-down. i.e. “CATABOLISM” of body tissues and energy stores to generate more fuel for body functions.

1. Anabolism or “constructive metabolism”, is all about building and storing.

It supports the growth of new cells, the maintenance of body tissues, and the storage of energy for use in the future. Anabolism is where small molecules are transformed into larger, more complex molecules of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

2. Catabolism the “destructive metabolism”, is the process that produces the energy required for all activity in the cells.

In this process cells break down large molecules, i.e. mostly carbohydrates and fats, to release energy. This energy release provides fuel for anabolism, heats the body, and enables the muscles to contract and the body to move. As complex chemical units are broken down into more simple substances, the waste products released in the process of catabolism are removed from the body through the skin, kidneys, lungs, and intestines.

For example, after eating a meal, usually more anabolic activity occurs because eating increases the level of glucose (the body’s most important fuel) in the blood. The pancreas senses this increased level of glucose and releases the hormone “INSULIN” which signals cells to increase their anabolic activities i.e. breaking down process now begins.

Metabolism is quite a complicated chemical process, but many people believe it to be a simple process of how easily our bodies gain or lose weight… LOL…  Now, this is where “CALORIES” come in. A calorie is a unit that measures how much energy a particular food provides to the body.

The number of calories a person burns in a day is affected by; how much that person exercises as well as intensity of exercise, the amount of fat and muscle in their body, and the person’s basal metabolic rate i.e. “BMR”.
The BMR is a measure of the rate at which a person’s body “BURNS” energy, in the form of calories, while at rest. The BMR can play a role in a person’s tendency to gain or store weight. 

For example, a person with a low BMR who burns fewer calories while at rest or sleeping will tend to gain more kilos of body fat over time, compared with a similar-sized person with an average BMR who eats the same amount of food and gets the same amount of exercise.

What factors influence a person’s BMR? To a certain extent, a person’s basal metabolic rate is inherited – meaning it is passed on through the genes the person receives from his or her parents. In some cases health problems can affect a person’s BMR .

But people can actually change their BMR in certain ways. For example, if you exercise more not only will you burn more calories directly from the extra activity itself, but becoming more physically fit will increase BMR as well. 

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Lightbulb moment… BMR is also influenced by “BODY COMPOSITION” – people with more muscle and less fat generally have higher BMR’s. Makes sense to add muscle to your frame and to lose body fat by eating real foods designed to boost your metabolic rate in combination with resistance training, high intensity cardio and low intensity cardio. Environment does also play a huge role on your metabolism, in the colder climate your body’s metabolism will increase to keep you warm, and in the hot climate it slows down.

Well there you have it – METABOLISM 101- as well as me at week 20/52 of my next body transformation. I know it was a long read, but it’s very important to understand how metabolism actually works to better understand the importance of body composition in relation to your fitness and health goals. 

Know that METABOLISM can be RESET, RESTARTED and REFINED with Nutrition and Training Plans designed for your metabolic body. It is process that needs fine tuning as well as dedication on your behalf to maintain a commitment to keep moving past the obstacles that your body will experience in this process.

Success in anything we choose to do is the ability to keep moving forwards to reach our goals. I love the flow-chat for “SUCCESS” which opens this Post. Like all in life it is a PRECISE choice to move forwards rather than dwell in “Stagnation City”! As I said to a friend of mine in a phone conversation just the other night: “There is no right or wrong or a benchmark of normal… when it’s not feeling “good” or serving a “purpose” then PAUSE, ASSESS and make the CHOICE to shift the energy, vibration, focus etc… then REPEAT” xx

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