A person’s metabolism is shrouded in myths: some accuse him of being overweight, and others are disappointed because of the inability to influence him. We asked 10 questions to endocrinologist about the effect of metabolism on weight and its relationship with age, nutrition, and sleep.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism or metabolism is a set of chemical processes in each cell of the body that supply the body with energy – fuel to maintain the normal functioning of the body.
To replenish the energy charge, a person needs to stock up on calories, which means food and drinks. It is thanks to metabolic processes that what we eat and drink turns into fuel for the body.
There are three types of metabolism:
- While you are lying on the couch, metabolic processes occur in your body that support breathing, blood circulation, hormone level regulation, cell growth, and repair.
- During the digestion of food. You have stocked up on your “delicious fuel”, and the body turns it into energy.
- When performing active physical actions. The metabolic processes do not stop, even when you get up from the couch and start moving, cleaning, or going for a run.
What affects the metabolic rate?
Metabolism is a multifactorial mechanism, depending on the individual characteristics of a person. That is, its speed is different for each person. There are two groups of factors influencing the metabolic rate:
- static: genetics, age, gender, physique. They are not subject to man. However, he must take them into account when building a lifestyle (nutrition, mobility, daily routine).
- dynamic: sleep, diet, physical activity. Thanks to them, a person can influence the speed of metabolic processes.
Also, do not neglect visits to an endocrinologist. It will help determine if there are hormonal disorders that also affect the metabolic rate. In case of detection, a specialist will select the right treatment.
How does metabolism change with age?
It is generally believed that after 30 years, every 10 years, the metabolic rate decreases by an average of 2%. That is, a burger that you ate at 20 could not harm your waistline or weight in any way. However, if you eat the same burger at the age of 35, then don’t be surprised if a large figure appears on the scales.
But a recent study published in the journal Science has led to a rethinking of the change in metabolism with age. According to the results of the study, scientists have determined that there are four stages of metabolism during life:
- An infant under 1 year burns calories 50% faster than an adult.
- In a person from 1 to about 20 years of age, the metabolism is uniformly slowed down by about 3% once a year.
- In 20-60 years, it remains persistent.
- After 60 years, it decreases by about 0.7% annually.
Scientists also suggest that the reason for weight gain with age is not a slowing down of metabolism, but the consumption of more calories and a decrease in physical activity.
In the long term, this study may change the way we look at metabolism and the focus of his further research.
What is the difference between the metabolism of women and men?
Women have a 3% slower metabolism than men of the same height and weight.
Physiologically, men have more muscle and less fat mass than women. This is due to a higher level of the male sex hormone – testosterone. Therefore, men need to consume more calories than women to maintain the functioning of the body.
However, women have two features:
- young women during ovulation (12-14 days of the cycle) have an accelerated metabolism of 5-10%. If a woman follows a balanced diet and moves during the day, she can lose weight during this period.
- women of perimenopausal and menopausal age usually gain weight on the contrary. The body stores fat to maintain the level of sex hormones (estrogens), which become less active during this period. Estrogen deficiency leads to obesity during menopause. After all, the lack of hormones causes a decrease in the intensity of lipolysis (splitting of fats). This leads to the accumulation of adipose tissue.
Is it true that overweight people have a slower metabolism than people with a healthy weight?
A common justification for weight gain: “I have a slow metabolism.” However, this is a misconception. People with extra pounds have a resting metabolism faster than people with a healthy weight. After all, the body of an obese person needs to spend more calories to maintain its functioning.
Weight gain is a complex process involving not only metabolism but also hormonal control, genetics, diet, sleep, physical activity, and stress levels.
The main reason for weight gain is a surplus of calories: a person consumes more than he burns. That is, to lose weight, it is necessary to create an energy deficit: reducing the number of calories consumed and increasing mobility.
Exception: slowing down of metabolism and weight gain due to thyroid disorders, insulin resistance, carbohydrate metabolism, adrenal glands, and some genetic disorders (for example, genetically determined obesity).
In this case, you should contact an endocrinologist, and subsequently a nutritionist. They will help to identify the problem and choose the treatment and the right diet to stabilize the weight.
How can I change my diet to speed up my metabolism?
The main rule is to give up rigid diets, where the number of calories consumed is minimized. It only slows down the metabolism. When you are constantly malnourished or starving, the body begins to panic and goes into “economy mode”. Metabolism is reduced to a minimum so that precious energy is not lost. Everything you eat on a strict diet will turn into fat. After all, the body will create an untouched supply of energy in case of further cuts in the diet. As a result, the body will not lose weight but will enter a “plateau” state: the weight will persistently stand still.
Another disadvantage of such diets is that you are unlikely to observe them for a long time. As soon as you start eating, the lost kilograms will return along with the excess. Therefore, instead of setting limits, offer your body a healthy variety of macro – and micronutrients. Add sources to the diet:
- complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole grains, legumes);
- healthy fats (seeds, nuts, oils, fatty fish);
- proteins (meat, eggs, dairy products).
In addition, these products contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are useful for the vital functions of the body.
Does it affect the metabolism when a person eats?
Several nuances should be taken into account when building your diet.
For example, you should not skip breakfast. After all, high-quality saturation in the morning reduces cases of overeating during the day, and, accordingly, weight gain. I advise you to replace a cup of coffee with a piece of cheese with a dish rich in fiber, proteins, and healthy fats. The rule “eat before 18:00 and lose weight” also does not make sense if you do not go to bed at 21:00. Don’t get attached to a certain hour. The last meal should be three hours before bedtime. This is quite enough for digestion.
As for night snacks, it is harmful not only to the figure but also to the digestive system and sleep. If you eat at night because you can’t sleep or are bored or sad, then you need to get rid of this habit immediately. This reduces the metabolic rate and leads to endocrine disorders and problems with eating behavior.
However, there are two other reasons for night snacking related to health:
- violation of carbohydrate metabolism. Consult a doctor to diagnose and treat this problem.
- deterioration of the psychoemotional state: stress, depression, and anxiety disorders can be the cause of unconscious overeating. In this case, pay attention to your habits, and mental hygiene and, if necessary, seek help from a psychotherapist.
People who have night shifts forcibly change circadian rhythms (internal clock), and accordingly, they must work on sleep and nutrition. This is a kind of prevention of metabolic disorders and sudden weight changes.
Is it true that certain foods (green tea, chili pepper, and caffeine) can speed up metabolism?
Several studies are proving the positive effect of green tea extract on metabolism. The same goes for chili peppers, caffeine, and even pineapple. However, this effect is either temporary or does not manifest in all people.
Metabolism is accelerated not by a specific product, but by a full-fledged balanced diet. Eating one thing to speed up your metabolism and lose weight is a bad idea. That is, mono-diets should also be abandoned.
How does physical activity affect metabolism?
The more you move, the more calories you burn. Accordingly, active people have a faster metabolism than supporters of a sedentary lifestyle. To improve the effect, add not only cardio exercises to the schedule but also strength exercises to build muscles. After all, muscle tissue burns more calories than fat.
For a long-term effect, regularity is important. Therefore, choose the activity that you like. If you’re tired, change it, but don’t stop moving. Obese people who want to get rid of extra pounds and improve their health should responsibly approach the choice of activity. For example, excessive cardio overloads the joints and the cardiovascular system. Increase your mobility gradually. Start with regular walks. You can set yourself a goal of a specific number of steps and overcome this mark every day. Also, try Nordic walking. During training, 80-90% of the body’s muscles are involved.
Regarding strength training, I advise you to consult with a trainer who will select an individual program, taking into account the peculiarities of health.
What is the relationship between sleep and metabolism?
Numerous studies confirm the hypothesis that poor-quality sleep leads to metabolic disorders, respectively, weight gain, and the risk of obesity. For example, you are preparing an important project both day and night. Lack of sleep provokes increased synthesis of ghrelin (hunger hormone) and a decrease in the level of leptin (satiety hormone). This can lead to a decrease in the feeling of fullness, but an exacerbation of hunger. That is, while a person is stuck with a lack of rest, his body is gaining weight.
In addition, poor quality sleep is associated with increased oxidative stress and insulin resistance. Therefore, follow the hygiene of sleep: go to bed at the same time every day, sleep in a quiet and dark room, and do not eat at night.
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