While it may be tempting to blame your metabolism for weight gain, because it is a natural process, your body has many mechanisms that regulate it to meet your body’s individual needs.
However, the only way to understand metabolism and its relationship with weight, is by understanding metabolism itself.
Health experts say metabolism is the chemical reaction that takes place in the body cells; it’s responsible for maintaining basic body functions such as breathing, cell building and digestion.
Eating protein has also been shown to help one feel fuller and prevent them from overeating ./Net
Gerald Ruzindana, a health and wellness specialist at Amazon Nutrition Cabinet, a clinic in Kigali that deals with diet, physical wellness and lifestyle, says these chemical reactions require energy, which comes from calories in food.
He says the metabolic rate is the number of calories one needs each day to maintain these basic body functions.
“Normally, since metabolism is a process under which what we eat is converted into use; basically it’s all about the relationship between food and its use in the body,” he says.
He says there are two forms of metabolism which include catabolism, a breakdown of molecules specifically to retain energy that one uses, and anabolism, the compound needed by the cells.
Ruzindana says for this reason, there is a close relationship between metabolism and weight.
Joseph Uwiragiye, head of nutrition department at University Teaching Hospital Kigali (CHUK), says metabolism is closely linked to nutrition and the availability of nutrients.
He says nutrition is the key in the metabolic process, he explains that this is so because the pass way of metabolism relies on nutrients that break down in order to produce energy.
“We have many nutrients that our body requires, but they have to undergo a certain process for our body to receive them. Essential nutrients supply energy and supply the necessary chemicals, which the body itself cannot synthesise,” he says.
He adds that when it comes to food, it provides a variety of substances that are essential for the building, upkeep, and repair of body tissues, as well as the efficient functioning of the body.
FACTORS INFLUENCING METABOLIC RATE
The difference between a slow and fast metabolism, Ruzindana says, is how many calories one burns to support these functions.
“A slow metabolism burns fewer calories than a fast one. Factors that determine one’s metabolic rate vary from one person to another, whereby the first factor is muscle mass,” he says.
He explains that if by any factor, one’s muscle mass reduces, their metabolic rates will be affected as well.
“This also helps one understand how weight gain comes about because the essence of gaining weight is based on how one is consuming food,” he says.
He, however, notes that whenever there is a reduction in body mass, there is an increase in nutrient intake, and excessive fats in the body.
Another factor, Celestine Karangwa, a physiotherapist at TCM Technology Clinic in Remera, Kigali, says, is age.
He says older people have a slower metabolism compared to young people and that if one is elderly, they are supposed to be cautious when it comes to intake of energy producing foods.
He says that this is so because the body might interpret them (energy producing foods) as excess fat, thus slowing the metabolism rate.
“It means that the energy such a person will have has to be measured such that the metabolism rate is supported,” he says.
Body size is another factor, says Karangwa. He says people with a bigger body size, and not necessarily muscles, also have a problem with general metabolic rate.
Gender is another factor that influences one’s metabolic rate. For instance, he says, men normally have a high metabolic rate compared to women, and that’s why it’s common for women to gain weight much easier than men.
Physical activity, Uwiragiye says, also affects the metabolic rate, and that it all works in the muscles, when the physical activities are relatively high, there is a high metabolic rate.
He says that nutrition and diet also have an impact on metabolic rate. He notes that if one’s diet is not in line with the calories the body needs, then it is possible to have a slower rate of metabolism; thus gaining weight at the same time.
He notes that for this reason, there is a very close relationship between metabolism and the nature of food one takes in.
HOW TO BOOST METABOLISM RATE
Are you the kind of a person who gains weight yet you’re eating the same kind of food you’ve been eating for years? Well, experts believe that this could be so because your metabolism may be slowing down.
Ruzindana says muscle burns more calories than fat tissue, but as one ages, they may be less active and their calorie-burning muscle turns into fat, leading to the metabolic slowdown.
This, and many other factors, can lead to low metabolic rate, therefore, he says there are some activities that help boost one’s metabolic rate.
Uwiragiye says consuming foods rich in protein is important because it increases one’s metabolic rate, compared to carbohydrates and fats.
He adds that eating protein has also been shown to help one feel fuller and prevent them from overeating.
Another strategy one should opt for to increase their metabolic rate, he says, is to drink as much water as possible.
He explains that people who drink water instead of sugary drinks are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off always.
“This is because sugary drinks contain calories, so replacing them with water automatically reduces one’s calorie intake,” he says.
He notes that studies have shown that drinking 0.5 litres of water increases resting metabolism by 10 to 30 per cent for about an hour.
In fact, Uwiragiye says, this calorie-burning effect may be even greater if one drinks cold water, as the body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.
Apart from that, Uwiragiye says water can also help one fill up easily. Drinking water half an hour before you eat can help you eat less.
Karangwa says not sleeping well can as also impact one’s metabolic rate.
He says lack of sleep is linked to a major increase in the risk of obesity. This may partly be caused by the negative effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism.
“Lack of sleep has also been linked to increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, which are both linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” he says.
He adds that it’s also been shown to boost the hunger hormone ghrelin and decrease the fullness hormone.
“This could explain why many people who are sleep-deprived feel hungry and struggle to lose weight,” he says.
Karangwa notes that muscle is more metabolically active than fat, therefore building muscle can help increase your metabolism. This means one will burn more calories each day, even when resting.