Metabolism is an essential piece of the puzzle, a milestone on the way to building a weight loss/muscle mass gain plan to get the perfect body. With an understanding of the effect of the underlying biochemical processes, it is way easier to achieve your goals, regardless of body type. Let us consider what it is and try to describe it in simple terms, without too much scientific mumbo-jumbo.
What Is Metabolism Physiologically – Simply Put
Let us again turn to the topic of puzzles. If you imagine the body as a set of elements, then human metabolism is a mechanism that shapes that set of details into a large, meaningful picture. That is what metabolism is, a combination of all biochemical reactions.
Any organism grows and functions due to the entry, transformation, and removal of certain substances.
Metabolism regulates the processes of conversion of components coming from outside. Thanks to the built-in «adjuster,» the adaptation to external factors is possible. Without this fundamental process, life would be impossible.
Metabolism And Body Weight
Bodyweight depends on several physiological parameters and the number of calories consumed. There is a basic energy requirement, individual for each person. This requirement is called basal metabolism – the minimum daily amount of energy (calories) necessary for the normal functioning of the body at rest. The metabolic rate can be calculated using the following formulas:
- for women: 655 + (9.6*P) + (1.8*L) – (4.7*T);
- for men: 66 + (13,7*P) + (5*L) – (6,8*T),
where, T – age (years), L – height (cm), P – body weight (kg).
Calories calculated by the formulas. Men need to use the following formula:
88.362 + (13.397 * weight / kg) + (4.799 * height / cm) – (5.677 * age)
Women should use this one:
447.593 + (9.247 * weight / kg) + (3.098 * height / cm) – (4.330 * age)
The result of the calculations is a medium value. To lose weight, one needs to consume less than the estimated number of calories. Bodybuilders, by contrast, need to multiply the result by a particular coefficient.
The Nature Of Metabolism
Metabolism is the process of transformation of chemicals necessary for the full activity of all systems of the human body. Body systems and tissues require components with a low-level structure. With food, we get high-level components that require breaking down into low-level ones.
Metabolism consists of two different processes connected:
- catabolism – the breakdown of complex elements into simpler ones; as a result of such breakdown, energy is produced;
- anabolism – the formation of components necessary for the body from other components obtained from the outside. This process results in the formation of new cells and tissues; these processes require a large amount of energy.
The peculiarities of the course and alternation of processes are very complex. However, the basic understanding of both is vital for both getting rid of excessive weight and muscle gain.
Protein metabolism is the breakdown of protein into amino acids and the subsequent cascade of biochemical reactions involving the breakdown of their products. Any strength athlete knows that protein is an essential component for building muscle tissue. However, besides this, the protein performs other, no less critical, functions:
- distribution of nutrients throughout the body;
- provision of the normal functioning of the endocrine system;
- promotion of the formation of sex hormones;
- acceleration of the rate of biochemical processes;
- blood transfer of oxygen, fats, some vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, hormones, and other components;
- partial provision of the proper functioning of the immune system.
Protein metabolism consists of the following stages:
- the intake of protein in the body;
- denaturation of elements to first-order proteins;
- the breakdown into individual amino acids;
- transportation of amino acids throughout the body;
- tissue construction (for athletes, this primarily means building muscle);
- a new cycle of protein metabolism – at this stage all unused proteins undergo further metabolism;
- elimination of used amino acids.
For the proper metabolism, the amino acid composition matters immensely. The amount of protein per se is not that important.
When solving training and nutritional problems, it is necessary to track the composition of the components.
It is especially true for vegetarians since plant products might lack certain necessary substances.
Fats are an important source of energy. With short-term physical activity, the glycogen energy located in the muscles is used first. With a prolonged load, the body receives energy from fats. From the understanding of fat metabolism’s characteristics, a conclusion comes out – a fairly long and powerful work is required to break down fat reserves.
The body tries to leave most of the fat preserved in the body. In the normal state, only about 5% of the fat is excreted. Fat metabolism has the following course:
- the breakdown of fats in the gastrointestinal tract, their digestion, and absorption;
- intestinal lipid transfer;
- intermediate metabolic reactions;
- processes of fat catabolism;
- fatty acids catabolism.
Partial transformation of fats occurs in the stomach. But there the process is rather slow. The main breakdown of lipids occurs in the upper region of the small intestine.
The liver takes a significant part in fat metabolism
Part of the components is oxidized, which results in energy production. The other part is broken down into transportable components and enters the bloodstream.
The central role of carbohydrates metabolism is determined by their energy value. The metabolic processes of these components make up about 60% of the total energy metabolism of the body.
Without carbohydrates, proper physical activity is impossible.
That is why for productive training, the diet’s basis should be predominantly carbs, it’s firewood for your furnace, so to speak. At a basic level, carbs are glucose. In the muscles and liver, it accumulates in the form of glycogen.
An important concept related to carbs metabolism is the glycemic index (GI). It reflects the rate of absorption of carbohydrates by the body and an increase in blood sugar. The GI scale is divided into 100 units, where 0 indicates carbohydrate-free products, and 100 indicates products consisting entirely of carbs (with, perhaps, a minimum of other components).
Based on this, the products are divided into simple and complex. The first ones have a high GI, while the second has a low. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial. Simple carbs break down to glucose very quickly. Thanks to that, in just a few minutes, the body receives a portion of energy. The downside is that this energy spike is going to be enough just for 30-50 minutes. Consuming large amounts of fast carbs leads to:
- weakness, lethargy;
- deposition of fat reserves;
- damage to the pancreas, which contributes to the formation of diabetes;
- the increased risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular system.
Complex carbs break down for a long time. However, the effect of energy boost is felt for about four hours. The basis of the diet should be elements of this particular type.
Low GI Products:
|Fat-free cottage cheese||30|
Medium GI Products:
|Whole grain bread||65|
High GI Products:
|Rice milk porridge||75|
Water And Minerals Metabolism
Most of the body is water. The importance of metabolism in this context is hard to overestimate. The brain consists of water at 85%, blood – at 80%, muscles – at 75%, bones – at 25%, adipose tissue – at 20%.
Water is removed from the body:
- through the lungs – 300 ml per day (on average);
- through the skin – 500 ml;
- with urine – 1700 ml.
The ratio of fluid consumed to fluid removed is called water balance. If consumption is less than removal, the imbalance in various systems of the body appears. The rate of water consumption per day depends, in the first place, on the state of health.
In the absence of contraindications, for example, pathology of the kidneys, heart, blood vessels, etc. – the average rate is approximately 1.5-2.5 liters per day. This amount is enough to ensure good productivity and well-being.
But, with intense sweating, the proper level of consumed water can reach 6-7 liters daily. Dehydration is a dangerous condition for athletes, which can only be prevented by calculating the individual fluid requirements.
The optimal value of the required amount of fluid for a person per day must be calculated according to the following formulas:
- V = (M * 0.03) + (T * 0.4) – for women;
- V = (M * 0.04) + (T * 0.6) – for men,
where V is the volume of the required amount of water in liters per day, M is the bodyweight of a person, T is the time of intense training or other activities that require energy (in the absence of these, the value is 0). Such a calculation takes into account all the required parameters: gender, weight, and period of activity.
Since minerals are also washed out from the body with water, for this reason, it is advisable to supplement regular water with mineral kind. It is one of the easiest ways to fill the shortage of necessary elements. It is recommended that a nutritionist calculates the rate of salts and minerals and draws up a diet based on these calculations.
Causes And Effects Of Metabolic Failures
Metabolism is a complex and fragile process. If a failure occurs at one of the stages of anabolism or catabolism, the entire biochemical clockwork is damaged. Metabolic problems are provoked by:
- unhealthy way of life;
- various diseases;
- living in an area with a polluted ecosystem.
The main reason for failures is a disregard for one’s body. Tremendous amounts of junk food are a scourge of our time, and improper nutrition, together with inactivity, leads to a slowdown in metabolism. As a result, a lot of people are obese with all the consequences.
Among the symptoms suggesting that metabolic regulation should be addressed are:
- increased or decreased body weight;
- loss of appetite or, conversely, a constant desire to eat;
- chronic fatigue;
- visual skin problems;
- destruction of tooth enamel;
- the fragility of hair and nails;
- increased irritability;
- diarrhea, alternating with constipation;
- swelling of the upper and lower limbs.
It is possible and necessary to deal with the consequences of metabolic failures. But it’s no use counting on an instant effect. Therefore, it is better not to neglect your condition. If all this happened, you need to consult with specialists and be patient.
Metabolic Rate And Age, Gender And Nutrition
The metabolic rate depends not only on genetic factors and lifestyle but also on gender and age. Testosterone levels in men are much higher. Due to this, they are more prone to gaining muscle mass, and the muscles need energy. Therefore, the basal metabolism in men is higher – the body consumes more calories.
Women, on the contrary, are more prone to the deposition of fat. The reason lies in a large amount of female sex hormone – estrogen. Women are forced to monitor their physical condition more carefully, since going beyond a healthy lifestyle immediately leads to putting on weight.
But there are exceptions. Some men quickly gain weight, while some women are stable in this regard, even provided they overeat regularly. It is because all the factors affecting the level of metabolism are tightly intertwined. Nonetheless, gender plays a huge role.
In most people, basal metabolism changes with age. It’s easy to notice by observing changes in one’s physique or physiques of acquaintances. Without trying to oppose nature, after 30-40 years, or even earlier, many people begin to gain excess weight. Ectomorphs here are not an exception. In their youth, they can hardly gain even a single kilo. With age, they don’t have to do anything to put on weight whatsoever, even though not in such quantities as meso- and endomorphs.
In order to confidently resist age-related changes, it is necessary to become an adherent of a healthy lifestyle – to eat correctly and get involved in physical activity.
Count calories based on individual needs (formulas will help you in that), exercise, and your metabolism will be just fine. Unless, of course, there are problems of a different kind.
And how to eat healthily? Pay great attention to products due to which the metabolic functions in the body are performed correctly. The diet should be rich in:
- coarse vegetable fiber – carrots, cabbage, beets, etc.;
- low-fat meat;
When choosing any diet, even the healthiest one, it is recommended to consider the initial state of health.
For example, in obese people, especially after 40-45 years old, the risk of developing gout is increased or even it exists already.
In such cases, it is strictly forbidden to eat sorrel and spinach, raspberries, cranberries, grapes. With high LDL levels, some seafood, such as shrimp, is best avoided.
It is recommended to eat often but in small portions, do not neglect breakfast, take into account the compatibility of products. It is best to either study the matter in detail or seek help from a specialist. Since the body works with what was given to it, the metabolism can proceed adequately only in case when the diet is constructed with all individual needs and characteristics of the body taken into account.