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Improving your metabolic efficiency

May 3, 2008
All beings must have a constant supply of energy and matter. The conversion of this energy and matter within the body is called metabolism. Metabolism is a big word to clarify an easy idea. Plants, animals, or bacteria, we all need energy to stay alive. Energy doesn't drift around in a shape, we can use to survive. We need to eat and absorb food. That process of chemical absorption and its linked reactions is known as metabolism.

Metabolism is the total of all of the chemical reactions; a life form needs to stay alive. Metabolism is held responsible when people put on weight or have trouble losing weight, but one can study how to speed up their metabolism. Increasing metabolism can help one burn calories, replace fat with muscle and give you more energy. The key to increasing metabolism is to comprehend what it is.

Central to such studies is a clear understanding of the mechanics behind metabolism. A person's metabolism is actually a mixture of chemical and physiological processes called anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism is the positive phase of this cycle, in which living cells create protoplasm for their own development and repair. Catabolism, on the other hand, is a negative process during which complex substances are broken down into even simpler compounds; through this process, energy is released from the substances, which is necessary for the appropriate performance of one's body. Working together, these twin processes distribute nutrients contained in the bloodstream following digestion and allow the extraction of energy.

There is a basal metabolic rate, which can be thought of as a baseline operating level. This is the amount of energy you need for basic survival. If you laid in bed all day and did nothing, you would still need energy, and the amount you used would be your basal rate. Any additional activity--walking, talking, even digesting--adds to this.

To increase your overall metabolism, you need to increase both your basal rate and your additional energy needs. The best way to do this is through exercise. Of course, the exercise itself will increase your overall energy use, but it will also help you to build muscle. The process of growing muscle and repairing muscle after exercise raises the basal rate. Your minimum energy needs are raised, even when you are not exercising. Thus, you are burning more calories long after you exercise. Aerobic exercise is the best for raising the metabolic rate, keeping it high for 4 to 8 hours after the workout ends.
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