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Metabolism Definition: What Metabolism Means for Your Health

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We all want to understand our metabolism and how it affects our lives. Whether you are trying to lose weight, build muscle, gain energy, or just want an overall better health and wellness feeling, understanding the metabolism definition is a solid first step. 

Defining metabolism is a complex issue that many people have spent a year studying. Essentially, metabolism can be defined as the unity of life and can be examined from the cellular and molecular levels. It exists among all living things, from plants, fungi, and bacteria to animals and humans. All living matter is made up of large molecules called proteins, which provide support and coordinated movement – a process defined as metabolism.

Ancient Greeks called metabolism “metaballein,” meaning to change. Its origin supports the idea that the nutrients received and used in metabolism change and renew the cell’s contents.

For humans, a metabolism definition is focused on how our cells transform the food we eat into the energy we use each second of our lives. Thousands of metabolic reactions happen simultaneously to keep our cells healthy and working.

When thinking about the metabolism definition, you must focus on the balancing act metabolism goes through simultaneously: anabolism and catabolism.

Anabolism is a constructive metabolism process and is designed to build, store and support the growth of new cells for future use. In anabolism, small molecules transform into more complex molecules of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Alternatively, catabolism is destructive metabolism and is the process that produces the energy needed for all activity in the cells. To release energy, cells break down large molecules. This enables the muscles to contract and the body to move.

Many people study the metabolism definition for weight loss or gain. This is where calories come into view. Calories measures how much energy food provides to the body. For example, a candy or chocolate bar has more calories than an apple, giving the body more power. But that isn’t always good.  You must “count calories” depending on your personal health goals and understanding the metabolism definition is essential. In addition to counting calories, you must understand how to burn them and how many you need to burn to reach personal health goals. 

For humans, the best metabolism definition is the following: the sum of all biochemical reactions in the body, with a primary focus on the responses needed to convert food into energy. Examples of the metabolism definition are reactions that break substances down, reactions that produce more significant substances from smaller components, and reactions that chemically modify substances.

Now that you’ve learned about metabolism definition, you may want to try changing it. Can you change your metabolism? The answer is yes! Many people ignore the metabolism definition in weight loss. Weight control is much easier and more effective with a higher metabolism.  Here are three tips on how you can speed it up.

The first step is to get lots of exercise. Hitting the gym for a good workout builds muscle. Muscle speeds the metabolism causing the body to work more efficiently to process food faster and increase appetite. Secondly, don’t skip meals! Space meals 3-4 hours apart are the best way to consume foods needed for daily energy. By eating more efficiently, you can sustain energy throughout the day, and you’ll most likely be free of headaches, hunger pains, or mood swings (being hangry). Lastly, watch what you eat. The old saying of “you are what you eat” is true and what you eat influences your metabolism and mood. This will affect whether you feel energetic, sluggish, moody, etc. Foods that are high in sugar, saturated fats, artificial sweeteners, and low in water and fiber will slow digestion and cause weight gain.

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