What is metabolism? Human metabolism is a complex process that provides the body with energy essential for all bodily functions – physical, physiological, and psychological. Many discuss developing and maintaining a fast metabolism to achieve maximum health and wellness. This complex process combines calories and oxygen to create and release energy and fuels the body even when the body is resting. A few samples of how energy is used include breathing, circulating blood, digesting food, managing hormone levels, and every other cell pathway needed to survive. Metabolic processes rely on enzymes and hormones to cause reactions for food into energy conversions. When hormone levels are unbalanced, energy levels can dip, causing a person’s overall health to suffer.
What is metabolism?
Many people associate metabolism with weight loss/gain or proper weight management aimed to achieve overall health and wellness. To fully understand how metabolism affects weight management, one must first understand the metabolic processes and how hormones affect these functions. For fast metabolism, there are two main metabolic pathways. The pathway either synthesizes molecules with the utilization of energy (anabolic pathway) or breaks down complex molecules and releases energy (catabolic pathway). Both are important to achieve a fast metabolism.
One thing to remember is that metabolism isn’t the only factor controlling weight. Including hormones closely tied and tangentially related to metabolic function is crucial. The endocrine system regulates how much of each hormone is released throughout the body. This can depend mainly on levels of hormones already in the bloodstream or depend on levels of other substances in the blood. If the endocrine system is not functioning correctly, energy levels decrease, and the ability to get through daily tasks may deteriorate and become increasingly more difficult.
What hormone regulates metabolism? Several hormones affect metabolism, and each plays an essential role. The pancreas produces insulin. It also helps convert carbohydrates into blood glucose (blood sugar levels). Blood glucose, or sugar, is used for energy throughout the body. The right amount of insulin in the body is critical for everyone, especially diabetics, who must monitor blood sugar levels daily, if not hourly. Type 2 diabetics have difficulty using insulin, while type 1 diabetics don’t produce enough insulin.
The body’s thyroid gland produces triiodothyronine (T3). It plays several roles, including setting metabolic rate, digestive functions, and brain growth. Leptin is produced by fat cells and is responsible for helping the body know when you’re hungry and full. Cortisol is also the stress hormone that helps regulate metabolism and blood sugar levels. Spiked cortisol levels have been known to increase appetite and cause overeating in men and women, leading to weight issues and obesity.
In overweight people, the ghrelin and leptin systems aren’t working optimally. Ghrelin is produced by the stomach and sends signals to the brain telling it that you need food. High levels of ghrelin will send more signals (perhaps false), causing a person to feel hungry at a higher frequency.
Progesterone helps the storage of glycogen in the liver and is essential to balancing blood sugar. The extra glucose is converted to body fat if this step doesn’t occur. Testosterone and Estrogen are also important. Testosterone increases the production of proteins, helping to build muscle mass. Testosterone also regulates how the body utilizes fat for energy. Both men and women produce estrogen. However, women typically have higher levels than men. For women, estrogen promotes fat storage and is necessary for regulating the reproductive system. When estrogen levels are too high or too low, the body may store excess fat, leading to weight gain.