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The Connection Between Metabolism and Weight Gain

Many people blame their slow metabolism for their weight problems. But are they right? To understand the connection between metabolism and body weight, as well as whether it's possible to affect weight by changing metabolism, first we should talk about the very notion - metabolism.

It's chemical transformations that happen from the moment when nutrients enter the body and up till the moment when the end products of these transformations are excreted from the body. Metabolism involves all reactions that result in the building of structural cellular and tissue elements, as well as processes during which the cellular substances are converted into energy.

Your weight (including your fat depot) is actually the balance between your energy intake and expenditure. You consume energy when eat or drink products that contain calories (which are units of energy). Energy expenditure is the amount of calories your body spends on its vital functions and activity.

All energy you spend is divided into:
* Basal metabolic rate (BMR) - the calories that your body uses to maintain its vital functions (growing cells, adjusting hormone levels, etc). BMR depends on your sex, age, body composition and size. It is fairly steady and doesn't change in general. It accounts for about 60% of all calories you burn every day.
* Energy spent on food processing - it includes digestion, absorption, transportation and storage of the food you eat. This energy accounts for about 10% of all calories burnt during the day and it's not easily changed.
* Energy spent on your motor activity (exercising, walking, etc.) accounts for the rest 30% of the calories the body burns during the day. It's the most vulnerable part in terms of changing.

It's a great temptation to blame metabolism for weight gain, but since metabolism is a natural process, your body knows how to regulate it to meet your needs. Excessive weight gain can rarely be caused by certain health issues that change metabolism - hyperthyroidism or Cushing's syndrome.

However, generally, if energy intake and expenditure are well-balanced, then body weight stays unchanged. If we consume more energy than our body burns during the day, this "unspent" energy is stored as fat deposits. If we spend more energy than we consume, then our body burns these fat deposits transforming them back into energy - we start losing fat; hence, we lose weight. So, to lose weight, one should create a deficit of energy by increasing the amount of calories burnt during physical activity or consuming fewer calories or both. In fact, those people said to have fast metabolism are perhaps just more active than others are.
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