Metabolism involves chemical reactions in our bodies which are essential for its functioning. One of the main functions of metabolism is to produce energy from the nutrients consumed.
This process releases energy and is catabolism. Another function of metabolism is to create nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, etc. This process utilises the produced energy and is called anabolism. These two components of metabolism have to be in balance for healthy functioning.
The energy produced from the food’s nutrients acts as a fuel for the cells to function. Metabolism constantly occurs even when the body is resting.
Processes like breathing, blood circulation, respiration, digestion, and maintaining the body’s temperature happen even while resting. The minimum number of calories (a unit of energy) required for the body’s functioning at rest is called the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Metabolism is affected by age, gender, nutrition, glucose levels, physical activity, body size, genetic factors, and hormones. Nutrition influences glucose levels and physical activity influences body size and weight. These two can be monitored and controlled for improved metabolic health.
HealthifyPro’s state-of-the-art features like a calorie counter, Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), a metabolic panel that measures around 80 parameters and real-time feedback from their expert fitness coaches are beneficial to ensure a healthy metabolism. You can also use the built-in AI to achieve optimum metabolic health.
Metabolism plays a significant role in regulating body weight, be it losing or gaining it. Therefore, to maintain good metabolic health, it is also essential to maintain an average body weight. Unfortunately, numerous myths surround weight loss, exercise, and dieting. These have to be clarified to make healthier lifestyle choices.
Myth 1: A Slower metabolism leads to weight gain
Everyone has a different metabolism and unique factors which affect it. A person with a slow metabolism usually burns fewer calories. It leads to the storage of the extra calories as fat.
On the other hand, a person with a fast metabolism burns a lot more calories quickly. Because of this, even if they eat in large quantities, they might not gain weight. Genetics determines whether a person gets a slow or fast metabolism.
The fact is that the type of metabolism plays a minor role in weight gain. A study showed that as people age, their metabolism slows down. It might lead to weight gain during middle age. In children and adults aged 1 to 20, the metabolism was around 20% higher than expected. In those aged 60 and above, the metabolism was 20% lower than expected.
Lack of physical activity contributes more to weight gain than a slow metabolism. Certain foods like chillies, coffee, and protein-rich foods will increase metabolism. However, the effect of these foods is short-lived, and it is impossible to change the type of metabolism completely. Exercising, eating a healthier diet, and remaining active throughout the day will help to speed up metabolism.
Myth 2: Basal Metabolic Rate plays a very small role in weight gain/loss
The body spends energy in three ways. Energy is required to maintain BMR, digest food (called the thermic effect of food or thermogenesis), and do physical activity. The energy spent for these three purposes constitutes the Total Energy Expenditure (TEE) of the body. Unfortunately, most people undervalue the role of BMR in fitness plans, and the effect of exercise is focused more on.
The fact is that, according to research, BMR requires about 60-80% of the body’s energy. Thermogenesis takes up about 10%, and physical activity accounts for 15-30% of the body’s energy. Consuming the required amount of calories to maintain BMR is important, as not doing so can lead to metabolic problems. Several diets fail because of underestimating calorie requirements. Therefore, following a personalised exercise routine and a nutritious diet is essential for maintaining weight.
Myth 3: Metabolism remains the same for everyone
Factors influencing metabolism include age, gender, body weight, hormonal levels, glucose levels, physical activity, and diet. You may control some of these and may not control a few.
According to research, different organs like the brain (17%), heart (8%), liver (19%), and kidneys (7%) contribute to BMR, which influences metabolism. In addition, the digestive system contributes to around 10% of BMR.
If a person has a disease or hormonal imbalance that affects these organs, their metabolism will ultimately differ from others. Moreover, not everyone inherits the same type of metabolism.
Different diets and exercise routines are effective for different populations. The differences in metabolism highlight the need for creating personalised fitness routines based on an individual’s needs.
Myth 4: Lost weight cannot be regained
Crash diets and intensive weight loss programs promise to lose several pounds quickly. They may even produce the desired outcome. However, once these diets and programs are over, you may gain back the lost weight. Thus, even after losing weight, you must take steps to maintain it through exercise and diet.
Myth 5: It is healthy to lose several kg/pounds in a short time
Most weight loss programs aim to reduce calorie intake and increase physical activity. These methods might be intense and result in immediate weight loss. However, one should be aware that drastic weight loss is not only unhealthy but can cause severe chronic illnesses.
According to research, losing 0.5-1kg per week might be ideal for most people. You can achieve it by reducing 500-1000kcal/day from the regular diet.
If there is sudden weight loss of more than 1 or 2 kg per week, the body goes into the mode of ‘metabolic adaptation’. It’s an evolutionary measure by which the body protects itself in a famine or starvation situation.
In modern times, dieting closely resembles it. Here, the body begins to burn fewer calories with less calorie intake and loses weight for a long time. This way, it can save energy despite low food input.
It results in a slowed-down metabolism and decreased loss of weight. Having said that, you must note that although you may lose a lot of weight in the early stages of the diet or exercise routine, there is little to no weight loss after a while when the body feels it has ‘adapted’ to the new situation.
The HealthifyMe Note
Metabolism is closely related to body weight. A large percentage of the body’s energy expenditure goes on maintaining Basal Metabolic Rate. Therefore, reducing calorie intake and burning calories through exercise will lead to weight loss. However, you must take steps to maintain this weight as it is possible to regain it.
Myth 6: Metabolic problems are not common
In a metabolic disorder, there is a disturbance in the chemical processes involved in metabolism. Some metabolic disorders are less prevalent because they are rare genetic disorders.
However, metabolic syndrome is widespread. It includes a set of conditions, hypertension/high blood pressure, increased glucose levels, fat deposition around the waist, high cholesterol, etc. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
The exact estimation of metabolic syndromes is unknown. However, according to research, its prevalence is estimated to be about three times that of diabetes. In other words, more than 1 billion people might be suffering from metabolic syndrome. This data also highlights the need to pay attention to one’s metabolic health.
Myth 7: Intermittent fasting is beneficial
Not consuming food or drinks for a specific period is intermittent fasting. This fasting has a number of options to choose from like fasting for a whole day in a week, specific days having restrictions, or time-limited fasting (eating only during a set time).
Research suggests that for weight loss, intermittent fasting is not better than a steady diet with calorific restrictions. The main disadvantage is that fasting successfully is difficult, primarily if a person is used to eating. If a person fasts for a long time it can also lead to metabolic problems. Since the benefits are marginal or very low, expert advice is required to follow this diet. Here’s an article on intermittent fasting methods, benefits and more.
Myth 8: Certain diets are better than others for weight loss
Being overweight or obese is linked to several metabolic problems. Diets will help to reduce weight. There are several diets like paleo, vegan, low carb, etc., from which one can choose a specific diet to lose weight. These diets have their advantages and disadvantages.
Everyone’s metabolism and body types are different. As a result, diets have to be personalised. Research says that no particular diet is better for weight loss than other diets. However, it might be effective if a nutrition expert recommends a special diet to reach specific goals.
Myth 9: Thin people have better metabolism
People who have a low body weight are considered healthy. They are perceived to eat less and have a fast metabolism. Obese or overweight individuals are automatically regarded as unhealthy and inactive.
However, thin people might have a slower metabolism because smaller bodies need to burn fewer calories for efficient functioning. Therefore, some people might be slim not because of their metabolism but because of their reduced calorie intake. Even if a person has a fast metabolism, if they consume more calories than necessary, they will gain weight.
Myth 10: Sleep is not that important for metabolic health
The repairing and re-energizing of the human body occur during sleep. Because of the fast-paced world, getting the required amount of sleep is becoming difficult. However, this is not paid attention to when it comes to metabolic health.
Research says those with an average sleep duration of 7 hours or less had a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Therefore, they were more likely to be obese. In another study, those who had less than 8 hours of sleep had increased leptin and decreased ghrelin levels. It results in increased appetite, which could lead to weight gain. These studies show that sleep is closely associated with metabolism.
Myth 11: Hydration levels don’t affect metabolism
When it comes to metabolism, diet and physical exercise receive the spotlight. Although the human body primarily contains water, we overlook the role of water in maintaining metabolism.
Drinking around 2 litres of water per day for women and 3 litres for men is essential for good metabolism. In one study, the overweight participants drank 500ml water half an hour before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After 8 weeks of observation, the researchers found that water-induced thermogenesis helped these individuals to lose weight.
Another study found that drinking water periodically increases the resting metabolism by about 25%. It suggests that it is essential to drink more water to lose weight and maintain a healthy metabolism.
After consumption, food breaks down and converts into glucose. With the help of insulin, the cells use this glucose to make energy. Therefore, the glucose levels will vary before and after eating. Elevated blood glucose levels are the leading cause of diabetes.
The fact is that glucose levels are closely associated with metabolism. In individuals with normal metabolism, glucose easily breaks down to release energy. However, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia have problems with the hormone insulin. That results in high or extremely low blood sugar levels that affect metabolism.
World Health Organization says that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, cardiovascular issues like heart attacks, and amputation of limbs.
According to research by the International Diabetes Federation, as of 2021, 537 million adults are living with diabetes worldwide. It shows the impact of high glucose levels and their subsequent effects on metabolism. From this information, you can conclude that maintaining normal blood glucose levels is necessary for metabolic health.
The HealthifyMe Note
Metabolic problems like metabolic syndrome are very prevalent around the globe. Maintaining adequate hydration (around 2 litres for women and 3 litres for men), normal glucose levels (between 70-100 mg/dL), having at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and following a well-balanced diet can help to improve metabolism.
There are several common myths about metabolic health, and some of them might lead to poor lifestyle choices. For example, regarding weight loss, the role of metabolism is often downplayed, although it has a significant impact. Metabolism is related closely to hydration, sleep, diet, and glucose levels. Awareness of these myths is the first step to improving one’s metabolic health.