Making Sense of Metabolism
Our metabolism is vital for managing the distribution of energy in the body. But how well do you really understand how that works? We asked the Science Team at health start-up Lykon to clear up some misconceptions about metabolism.
What is metabolism and how does it work?
Metabolism is all about how our bodies respond to calories. This response can vary from person to person, and is dependent on one’s age, gender, genetics and the amount of muscle and fat tissue in the body.
Metabolism is the collection of chemical reactions that converts the energy we ingest from food and drink into fuel for every single cell in the body.
Most of that energy (65-80%) is used by the body’s organs and tissues to sustain itself, (such as pumping blood and controlling body temperature); this is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR), and encompasses all the things the body continues to do while at rest. Approximately 10% is the additional energy beyond the BMR that the body spends to break down the food you eat, known as the thermic effect of food. The remaining 10-30% is what you spend on all physical activity, from fidgeting to walking and exercise.
What is the connection between weight gain and metabolism?
It might come as a surprise to learn that an increase in weight gain is associated with an increased metabolism. Having a greater body weight, as observed in obese people, requires a higher metabolism; more total muscle and tissue mass requires a greater amount of energy to sustain itself and increases the BMR. However, lean muscle mass requires more energy at rest than fat tissue, and building strength is one way to achieve fat-loss goals.
Similarly, extreme weight loss (such as that seen on the television show The Biggest Loser) triggers a substantial and long-term decrease in metabolism as a survival mechanism to protect the body’s storage of energy, (which may make it much harder to keep the weight off in the long run). When you lose energy, the body will compensate by holding onto remaining energy stores or eating more calories, explaining the bigger appetites you might have after an intense workout. The human body is good at these adaptations, even though for some people that means more body fat where it’s not wanted.
So what does impact weight gain and weight loss?
In most people this doesn’t start with metabolism, but instead with calories in, appetite control and physical activity level.
What can I learn about my metabolism?
Our expertise at Lykon lies in telling you what your blood knows about your health, through at-home blood biomarker test kits. While a blood test alone can’t tell you how much energy your body needs, biomarkers in your blood can tell you about your hormones and metabolic health.
The thyroid plays a major role in controlling the metabolism through hormones, and irregular thyroid activity can be a cause of slow metabolism and weight gain. In fact, the prevalence of underactive thyroid is about 1-2 in every 100 people, and is more likely to affect women than men.
Other blood biomarkers are important measures of metabolic health, such as triglycerides and HDL cholesterol (a.k.a. “good” cholesterol), both commonly tested as part of a lipid profile. The body’s ability to metabolise sugars and fats can become impaired for a number of reasons, including poor diet and low physical activity levels. The lipid profile should be measured regularly past a certain age to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lykon has put together the myWeight Control test kit that measures these biomarkers and more. myWeight Control is designed to provide you with knowledge valuable for maintaining a healthy body weight, important for many aspects of your health.
Curious about your metabolic health?
Lykon is offering a special discount of 15% to all BECYCLE customers, plus a free class credit, with the code BECYCLE15. For German speakers, you can buy a test kit online at lykon.de, while English kits are available at the BECYCLE front desk!