What is Metabolism?

Metabolism unites all the substance responses in the body. They incorporate catabolism – the breakdown of proteins, fats, and sugars for energy and “building materials” – and anabolism, that is, the making of cells or the amalgamation of hormones and chemicals. Our skin, nails and hair, and all other tissues are regularly renewed: to build them and recover from injuries (for example, to heal wounds) we need “building blocks” – primarily proteins and fats – and “labor” – energy. All this is called metabolism.

Metabolism implies the turnover of energy needed for such processes. Its costs during the primary digestion are calories that are spent on keeping up the internal heat level, heart, kidney, lungs, and sensory system working. All living organisms, including plants, have a metabolism: it is believed that the fastest metabolism is in hummingbirds and the slowest in the sloth.

Is it possible to change the metabolic rate

It is worth influencing metabolism only if it is disturbed. For example, when the thyroid gland is dysfunctional, which produces thyroxine, the so-called metabolic hormone. With hypofunction of the thyroid gland – a condition when an insufficient amount of its hormones is produced – the metabolism slows down, and thyroxine in tablets is prescribed for treatment. Doctors-endocrinologists are engaged in this, who diagnose. Unfortunately, it is not always obvious, even with access to the best clinics: the famous TV presenter Oprah Winfrey was diagnosed with hypothyroidism only by the fifth doctor she turned to.


Healthy people often want to speed up their metabolism in order to calmly eat what they like, without thinking about excess weight and without spending days and nights in the gym: as we remember, with a fast metabolism, more calories are burned at rest. It can be accelerated, but the methods are not always safe or even legal. Preparations based on steroid hormones and some narcotic drugs have a quick effect, but their use is associated with high medical risks and violations of the law. How to speed up your metabolism without harming your health? First of all – to increase general daily activity and increase muscle mass. The more energy expended during the day, the more calories the body will burn during sleep in order to restore its reserves; the greater the muscle mass, the more energy is needed to maintain their vital functions.

How not to harm your metabolism

In order not to harm metabolism, only two things are required: a balanced diet and optimal physical activity. Extremes like grueling exercise, extreme dieting, or fasting can lead to the opposite of what you want. The body turns on the “survival reaction” and begins to slow down the rate of exchange because it lacks the incoming energy. After prolonged starvation, a person begins to overeat primarily for a psychological reason: the subconscious “demands” to return tenfold what has been in short supply for so long. If we add to this a slowdown in metabolism (and during fasting, almost all metabolic processes slow down), it becomes clear why, after radical diets, the weight returns so easily and even becomes more than before.

Throwing from one extreme to another – either malnutrition or overeating – is the worst option. It can disrupt the balance of the insulin-producing islets of the pancreas. Since the endocrine processes are complexly interconnected and an increase in the level of some hormones leads to an increase or decrease in others, the entire endocrine system is under attack. This finally disrupts the exchange rate, often in an unpredictable direction. The fact is that the metabolism is influenced by the hormones of almost all glands, including the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, and gonads; they also affect each other, so the self-administration of anabolic steroids or insulin can lead to unpredictable consequences.


So, you need to intervene in metabolism only if the endocrinologist diagnosed its disorders and prescribed a treatment regimen, which you will carefully follow. Even healthy people have different metabolism, and each of us can maintain an individual norm with the help of our favorite sport and a balanced diet. Walk more, eat vegetables and herbs, do not smoke, and do not abuse alcohol – these are standard recommendations for the prevention of a variety of disorders, including metabolic disorders. It is worth remembering that beauty and the conventional “ideal figure” are not synonyms, and the race for imposed standards can harm health.

Anastasia Fetter

Anastasia Fetter