Metabolism Basics

woman with spicy peppers and tape measure

Metabolism, according to the National Institutes of Health, is the process used by a body to take or make energy from the food consumed. The human digestive system converts the carbohydrates, fats and proteins in consumed food into sugars and acids to be used for fuel. This fuel can be used immediately or stored until it is needed.

Metabolism basics. The human body uses energy whether it is at rest or in motion. Even when you are not moving, the body is still running a series of complex functions including circulating blood, respiratory functions and more. Calories, or energy, are needed for these basic functions to keep working. The calorie amount a body uses for basic functionality is its basal metabolic rate, or metabolism. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60 to 75 percent of the calories you burn every day.” Physical activity also accounts for how many calories are burned daily, as well as how the food or drink you consume is processed within your body.

Metabolism and physical conditions. The size and composition of an individual’s body is a determining factor of metabolic rate. Generally, a larger sized body or someone with more muscle mass will use more calories than a smaller body or someone with less muscle mass. Since males typically have more muscle mass than females, males tend to have a faster metabolic rate than females of the same age and weight. In addition, because muscle mass usually decreases as a person ages, metabolic rate may slow as a person ages.

Metabolism boosts two easy tips. When searching for ways to lose a few pounds and become healthier, consider looking toward metabolism-boosting tricks. Sometimes the easiest tricks are not real “tricks” at all. Katherine Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic nutritionist, suggests two simple metabolism boosters. She recommends reducing the number of calories consumed daily and increasing your daily physical activity. Combining the two has the potential to boost metabolism, burning calories and leading to weight loss and better overall health.

More ways to boost metabolism. Avoid skipping meals when trying to boost your metabolism. Your body can begin to store fat and calories when meals are skipped, thinking that it will need it for later. It may be more beneficial to eat several small healthy meals throughout the day to keep your body busy processing the fuel. Avoid skipping breakfast, in particular. Your body has already been without food or fuel for several hours after you awake in the morning. Depriving it further will not help your metabolic rate. When increasing activity, consider muscle-building exercises. You don’t have to become a weightlifter or have bulging biceps. Walking, swimming and workouts with minimal weights can be beneficial.

Before making any dietary changes or beginning a new exercise routine, consult your doctor to discuss your metabolism and how you can make it work in your favor.

This article was originally published as Metabolism Basics on

Found in: Family
%d bloggers like this: