Metabolic System

When you want to lose weight the topic of metabolism comes up. People talk about having a slow or a fast metabolism. What they mean is that they burn fat and calories easily or not so easily.

It is true that some people barely do any activity but eat lots of food and don’t gain weight while others exercise diligently and eat carefully but can’t lose it. Genetics are responsible for this to some extent but diet and lifestyle contribute as well. Learn more about the metabolic system: how it works and what factors get in the way of an efficient metabolism.

Several Players

Your metabolic system is actually a series of systems working as a team. They include your pancreas, liver, thyroid, and hypothalamus. Each part plays a very specific role such as turning food into energy, processing that energy, and digesting food. Treat your body well and this system will perform the job it was made for.

Thyroid

Your thyroid controls how fuel is used. If your thyroid is not working properly this is likely a result of disease caused by genetic predisposition. While many people would like to blame their thyroid when they can’t lose weight, thyroid conditions contribute to only a small number of cases of obesity.

If you suffer from a disorder known as hypothyroidism, however, you do not metabolize fat very easily. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, leads to overactive fat processing and prevents a person from gaining weight.

Diseases such as Hashimoto’s and Grave’s affect the thyroid. In cases where a tumor is found on the thyroid and it must be removed, the individual will almost certainly gain weight and have trouble getting rid of it.

Liver

This big organ processes sugar and produces bile which eats up fat. If you eat a fatty diet you might not have enough bile to break it all down, digest, and excrete it. This is also the case if your liver is not functioning properly owing to disease or if you drink too much alcohol.

Pancreas

When you eat, calories become fuel known as glucose: blood sugar. Glucose is converted into energy. The pancreas creates insulin which your body uses to regulate blood sugar, carrying it to parts of the body which need it most at the time.

If your body is short of glucose, you could experience a shaky feeling which means you need more fuel. If your system receives too much glucose, this energy is stored as fat. The pancreas also releases enzymes which help your GI tract process food.

Type 2 Diabetes is a condition usually associated with eating too much refined carbohydrates and can be prevented with careful diet choices. If you fail to supply your metabolic system with energy, fuel will be drawn from muscle as well as fat. Pancreatic cancer also interferes with insulin production.

GI Tract

A gastrointestinal tract in good condition will process food easily. Bacteria are in balance with good bacteria eating the bad ones and maintaining a comfortable working order. When this is out of whack a person suffers from constipation and/or diarrhea.

He can’t absorb nutrients properly including those which the body uses to produce energy or minerals/vitamins which support the organs fully. Diarrhea leads to dehydration which is bad for the liver and its ability to function. Digestive acids in the stomach prepare food for absorption as fuel and maintenance.

The best ways to promote healthy digestion are to:

• eat a well-balanced diet full of fiber
• drink enough water
• consume probiotics from supplements, kefir, yogurt, or fermented vegetables

Promoting Better Metabolism

How can you improve your metabolic rate if yours is naturally slower than most? The best ways are to change your diet and add more exercise. Concentrate on muscle-building rather than purely aerobic exercise.

Done right, weight lifting becomes aerobic because it causes a person’s heart rate to increase. Muscles burn fat without doing anything so lay down a substantial amount. Don’t forget about your heart and circulation: red blood cells move oxygen around the body and keep everything working, including thyroid, pancreas, and liver.

Reduce fat in your diet, especially greasy foods which require more bile production and take longer to break down. Good fats contribute to a healthy metabolism by promoting muscle development. Reduce refined carbohydrates which can lead to insulin resistance and the body’s inability to distribute energy or deal with glucose.

Don’t make excuses for obesity. Keep a diary of what you eat and portion sizes. Adapt with changes wrought by age, illness, or stress and seek guidance from a nutritionist if you need to.

Metabolic System
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Todd Stohrdahl

Todd Stohrdahl keeps a close eye on fitness topics and will never turn down an opportunity to play competitive sports. He’s a fierce competitor and brings his “hustle and muscle” mentality to our editorial team.