Here is an overview of the metabolism definition. To learn about metabolic pathways or how to enhance your metabolic health, you can buy Metabolism & Medicine here. Read more about the intersection of metabolic performance and modern physics in volume one and volume two of Dr. Brian Fertig’s extensive work on the metabolic landscape of health and disease.

What is metabolism?

Metabolism is a sequence of chemical reactions in the body’s cells that convert nutrients into energy. The human body needs energy to perform tasks. In simplest terms, metabolic pathways are interconnected sequences of chemical responses that occur within cells.

The chemical reactions of metabolism are controlled by specific proteins in the body. It is estimated that thousands of metabolic reactions occur within our bodies at the same time – all regulated by the body – to maintain the health and performance of our cells.

Metabolic Process: What Is It?

Our digestive system uses enzymes after we eat food to initiate the metabolic process.

  • In order to digest proteins, amino acids must first be broken down into smaller pieces
  • Fatty acids are produced as a result of the breakdown of fats
  • Simple sugars are formed by the breakdown of carbohydrates.

When it comes to obtaining energy, the body is able to use sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids when they are required. There are a number of compounds that are absorbed by the body through the bloodstream and transferred into the cells.

Other enzymes act as catalysts to speed up or regulate the chemical reactions that are involved with “metabolizing” these compounds after they have entered the cells. During these processes, the body can release the energy from these compounds for use or store it in body tissues, such as the liver, muscles, and fat.

The metabolic response is an intricate process wherein two phenomena happen simultaneously in the body:

  • Anabolism: The process of building up body tissues and storing energy in the body.
  • Catabolism: This is the process of using body tissues and energy reserves in order to obtain more energy for the body’s functions.

Anabolism, more commonly known as constructive metabolism, is the process of building and storing energy. The process aids in the development of cells, maintaining bodily tissues, and reserving energy stores.

There is a process in the body known as catabolism, which is the mechanism by which the body produces the energy that it needs to perform all of its functions. It is through the breakdown of molecules (which are mainly carbohydrates and fats) that energy is released in the body. A lot of energy is generated by this process, which produces anabolic fuel, generates body heat, and facilitates muscular movement so that bodily motion can be achieved.

During the breakdown of complex chemical compounds, waste materials are released through the lungs, skin, intestines, and kidneys as the complex chemical components break down into simpler substances.

Metabolism and Weight Management

Metabolism is a highly complex chemical reaction, but we mainly view the process within the context of gaining and losing weight. Calories play a significant role in this process.

Calories are units that measure the amount of energy a certain food provides. Calorie expenditure is determined by whether or not the person exercises, how much muscle and fat the person has, as well as the individual’s basal metabolic rate (BMR). An individual’s BMR is defined as the rate at which the body burns energy, in the form of calories, without exerting any effort.

The BMR can affect a person’s propensity for weight gain. A person whose BMR is low while at rest is more likely to retain and gain fat than a person of comparable size with either an average or high BMR who consumes the same number of calories.

To learn more about metabolic function and its relationship to human health, please visit Dr. Brian Fertig’s Metabolism & Medicine page.

Dr. Brian Fertig is President and Founder of the Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center in Piscataway, New Jersey.

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