Glenbard District 87 High School Student Nicole Palmieri wrote for Healthy Lombard that Metabolism is the process the body uses to convert food into energy (i.e. breathing & digesting food). It is not the process of digestion, which is a common misconception. Rather, your metabolism is how your cells utilize energy from the food absorbed during digestion.
You can not significantly speed up your metabolism as easily as you can slow it down. There are minuscule beneficial tips and habits that will “speed up” your metabolism, like drinking lemon water. While this drink is known to “speed up” your metabolism, it is really the lemon’s acidic property that acts as an alkalizer, which helps aid in digesting proteins and fats, as well as fueling your muscles. The most efficient way to “speed up” your metabolism deals with an increase in muscle mass. Muscle burns calories, versus fats which just store them, therefore building more muscle mass is beneficial for increasing your metabolism.
Digestion-3 Stages of Your Food being Processed & Digested
- In the mouth: chewing your food is broken down by the enzyme, amylase, in saliva. This enzyme breaks down some food into simple carbohydrates.
- In the stomach: as the food moves down your esophagus, it eventually arrives in the stomach, where the enzyme pepsin breaks down proteins, and the stomach environment being acidic helps to kill off bacteria that might have been present in the food.
- In the intestines: the small intestine absorbs nutrients and water from the food and sends them through the bloodstream for the purpose of serving various tasks to different parts of the body. The large intestine holds the unabsorbed and undigested food until it moves to the rectum and eventually leaves the body.
Effects of Your Diet
- Certain foods take longer to process in your stomach, so they stay in your digestive tract for a longer duration. For example, meat could take between 3-4 hours to get through your stomach, and up to 2 days to fully digest (healthline.com) because they contain complex molecules, made up of proteins and fats. Along with these contents, a lot of fruit is heavy with Vitamin C, which ups your metabolism’s efficiency by improving fat oxidation.
- Other foods like fruit take a much shorter time to fully digest because they are made up of carbohydrates and high in fiber (which helps improve the efficiency of your digestion!). In fact, at its quickest, fruit can digest in 20-30 minutes!
- Comparatively, junk food like chips and cookies also metabolizes faster because they are completely made up of simple-carbs. Unlike fruit, there’s a lack of fiber and other nutrients, so these foods will leave you feeling hungry after 1 or 2 hours. Additionally, the body’s insulin levels spike up along with blood sugar levels.
- Increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits will provide you with the fiber and other nutrients necessary to keep your food moving along swiftly on the digestive tract. Ultimately, this benefits your metabolism by burning through healthy food at a proficient rate.
Effects of Your Lifestyle: the Good and the Bad
- A high-activity life, especially one that focuses on strength training and lifting weights or bodyweight exercises, will provide you with a metabolism that can burn energy(or calories) more effectively.
- Consequently, malnutrition and a sedentary lifestyle will leave you with a metabolism that takes a long time to decide how it will utilize the food you are digesting, and therefore slow it down.
- High amounts of stress release the stress hormone cortisol, which “triggers a flood of glucose that supplies an immediate energy source to your large muscles and inhibits insulin production” (premierhealth.com). Meaning, your blood sugar (glucose) levels increase so much that your body releases false hunger signals. Then, you eat and increase your glucose levels higher than they already are, so the unused glucose is stored as body fat. This is one way stress can slow your metabolism.
Do Genetics Play a Role on Your Metabolism?
- Yes, party. Depending on your heredity, you might be a fast oxidizer, so you can quickly convert your food into energy.
- A commonly asked question is if you can change this aspect of your health. Genes do influence parts of your health, like your metabolism. However, you can control other factors that affect your metabolism too.
As previously mentioned, your metabolism quickens the more muscle mass you possess, and has the opposite effect when there is fat stored in your body and no energy/calories are being burned. In turn, consider implementing more strength and bodyweight circuits into your workout regime.
I hope I have helped you learn more about your metabolism, and how your lifestyle and diet can affect it!
- https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/everything-you-need-know-about-your-metaboli sm-according-dietitian-ncna1000301
- https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=14&ved=2ahUKE wip8-3qm4HnAhXSBc0KHX_YCsQQFjANegQIBRAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.khan academy.org%2Fscience%2Fhigh-school-biology%2Fhs-energy-and-transport%2Fhs-int roduction-to-metabolism%2Fa%2Foverview-of-metabolism