Metabolism and Weight Loss: The Connection

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What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the string of chemical reactions in the body that create and break down the energy required for life. In other words, it is the rate at which your body utilises energy or burns calories.

Our bodies burn calories in multiple ways, including the energy required to keep the body functioning at rest, this is called as basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is partially determined by the genes you inherit and by exercise and everyday activities.

Metabolism is half genetic and mostly outside of one’s control. Altering it is a matter of considerable debate. Few people are just lucky. They inherit genes that encourage a faster metabolism and can consume more than others without gaining weight. 

One easy way to understand metabolism is to view your body as a car engine that is always running. When you are sleeping or sitting still, your engine is idling like a car at a stop light. 

A proportion of energy is being burned just to keep the engine running. The energies present in foods we eat and beverages we drink are energy that may be utilised right away or stored  (particularly in the form of fat) for future use.

How fast the body’s engine runs, on average, over time, calculates how many calories you burn.  If your metabolism is fast or high, you will burn more calories during activity and at rest. 

A high metabolism signifies you need to consume more calories to manage your weight. That is one main reason why some people can eat more than others without gaining much weight. 

A person with a low or slow metabolism will burn fewer calories at rest and during activity and henceforth has to eat less to avoid becoming overweight.

Conversion of Food into Energy

Metabolism is the process by which the body alters food and drink into energy.  In this process, calories in food and drink combine with oxygen to make the energy the body needs.

Even during rest, the body needs energy for all its activities. These include breathing, maintaining hormone levels, growing and repairing cells and sending blood through the body. The number of calories the body utilises at rest to do these things is called the basal metabolic rate.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Muscle mass is a crucial factor in basal metabolic rate. Basal metabolic rate also depends on

Age: with ageing, people may lose muscle. Majority of the body’s weight is from fat, which slows calorie burning.

Body size and composition: People who have more muscle burn calories even during rest.

Sex: Men normally have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight, which implies that men burn more calories. 

Other than basal metabolic rate, two other things determine how many calories how many calories a body burns each day.

How much a body moves: Any movement, like playing tennis or walking to a store, can make up the rest of the calories a body burns each day. This can be altered significantly, both by doing more exercise and moving more during the day.

Daily activities that are not exercise are called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This includes housework, gardening, and even fidgeting. NEAT accounts for 100 to 800 calories used daily.

How the body uses food: Absorbing, digesting, moving and storing food burn calories. About 10% of calories consumed are used for digesting food and taking in nutrients. This can be altered much.

Metabolism and Weight

A medical condition rarely slows metabolism enough to cause weight gain. Conditions that can create weight gain include Cushing syndrome or having an underactive thyroid gland, also called hypothyroidism. These conditions are not common.

Multiple things influence weight gain. These include genes, diet, lifestyle, hormones, sleep, physical activities, and stress. You can gain more weight when you consume more calories than you burn or when you burn fewer calories than you eat.

Few people seem to lose weight more quickly and easily than others. However, everyone loses weight by burning more calories than they consume. The bottom line is the calorie count. You need to burn more calories by physical activity or eat fewer calories to lose weight. Otherwise, you can do both.

Metabolic Disorders

Metabolic disorders are conditions that impact how the body processes particular nutrients or enzymes. You may inherit a metabolic disorder from a parent, and how much you eat or exercise may not count.

Types of inherited metabolic disorders include:

  • Gaucher disease
  • Mitochondrial diseases
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Maple syrup urine disease
  • Wilson disease

Steps For Healthy Metabolism

  • Quit smoking. Your metabolism may slow down, but you will reduce your heart disease, risk of cancer,  and other problems.
  • Don’t skip meals. Your metabolism quickly adapts and begins using fewer calories for body functions. If you restrict calories too much, your body begins to break down muscle for energy. A loss of muscle mass lowers the metabolism.
  • Fuel your metabolism with vegetables and fresh fruits, lean protein and healthy carbohydrates and fats.
  • Strength training or other weight-resistance type exercises to build muscles.


Metabolism plays a main role in keeping your body functioning. Specific factors such as muscle mass, age and physical activity can impact how your metabolism uses calories for energy. Slow or fast is not a factor in weight gain or loss. 


1. What are the signs of good metabolism?

Signs of a fast metabolism are difficulty gaining weight, increased calorie burning, increased breathing, insomnia and frequent sweating. The term fast or slow metabolism is frequently used based on the speed of a person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR).


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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