Metabolism and metabolic disorders: What is metabolism?

15. March 2021
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Let’s explain it right away – what exactly is metabolism? Simply put – metabolism is the process by which calories from food, that enters our body, are converted into energy, which further affects how it will be consumed. Metabolism consists of catabolism and anabolism. Anabolism is a process in which energy is used to build new cells and tissues, while catabolism is the storage of energy (in the form of fat) in our body for the normal functioning of the whole organism. Our body weight can be represented in the form of a formula: Catabolism – anabolism = Body weight.


There is a well-known medical myth around this topic that tells us that lean people have a “strong” or accelerated metabolism, and that overweight people have a “weak” or slowed metabolism, which is not entirely true. Research has shown that a “weaker” or slower metabolism in most cases is not the reason for someone’s obesity. Metabolism depends on various factors, and some of these factors we can influence, while others- not at all.

Metabolism Factors that we cannot influence are the following:

Age – the older we get, the more muscle mass we lose and increase the amount of fat. When muscles are lost, the metabolism slows down, as well as the fact that the rate of calorie burning slows down by about 5% every ten years. Ouch

Gender – men generally have a faster metabolism than women, because they are larger and naturally have less fat

Hypothyroidism – a less active thyroid gland that slows down the metabolism and inevitably leads to weight gain, and in some the gland is more active than in others;

Genetic factors – some people are simply lucky that their metabolism is faster, while others, unfortunately, not so much.


Sleep – When we don’t sleep enough, our metabolism slows down. Lack of sleep increases the secretion of the hormone ghrelin, which increases the feeling of hunger. Metabolism is the slowest during the night, while we sleep, so it is important that our evening meal is not abundant.

Several meals a day – Many of you have heard of this rule – have about five meals a day. More frequent but smaller meals. And between the three main meals (morning and evening), you should have a healthy snack to help appetite control. Also, care should be taken to rest the stomach for at least 3 hours between snacks and meals.

Training – The best time to exercise is the time of day when you will best endure that physical effort. For most people, it’s morning. Morning is the time when certain hormones reach the highest level, so that metabolism is best stimulated. That way, you’ll burn more calories in the morning than you would in the afternoon, when hormone levels drop significantly.

Water – Water plays a big role in every bodily process. If you do not take in enough water, your body will burn calories 2% slower, and when you drink half a liter of water, your metabolism speeds up, which is why it’s always recommended that the body stays hydrated as much as possible.

Adults are advised to drink 2 liters of water per day, while children need about 1 liter. Some experts recommend tea as a substitute for water. By consuming unsweetened green, or any other herbal tea, you help your body in the process of detoxification, and thus contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

But despite all these positive effects on our health, even tea cannot completely replace water. You should always be guided by the fact that our organism cannot do without water and that it is not only needed, but actually necessary.

Stress – Once upon a time, while our ancestors still lived in a cave, the shortage of food would mean- stress, but that stress had a useful purpose. Why? Because stress would trigger a survival mechanism that slowed their metabolism and thus stored energy in the form of fat.

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Nowadays, modern humans don’t have problems with food shortages, but the stress mechanism still exists, it’s just that now it is of no use to us. Because, that means that when we are under any stress, our metabolism slows down, so it is often recommended that we avoid stressful situations as much as possible, or to find a stress release in a form of something that could relax and unwind us.

Scientists have determined that ten minutes of laughter every day can help energy consumption, and thus calories. Same applies to sport, sex, or any other form of physical activity.


In addition to training and proper nutrition, here are few additional tricks that can help you speed up your metabolism:

Green tea – is one of the most famous teas that could stimulate fat burning because of its antioxidant content, 2-3 cups daily for best results.

Coffee – Caffeine is known to raise energy and stimulate the central nervous system, in addition to speeding up metabolism. The only drawback is that this effect is short-lived, so when it comes to coffee, moderation is the key.

Hot spices – contain chemicals that are great for speeding up metabolism, hot peppers, for example, contain capsaicin, which improves blood circulation and thus speeds up metabolism

Grapefruit – is also one of the foods that can help to speed up metabolism, because it contains vitamin C and fiber, thus it stimulates the breakdown of fat.

Almonds – Raw almonds are great for health and fit into everyone’s diet. Raw almonds can speed up metabolism, and research has shown that daily consumption of almonds could accelerate weight loss by up to 62%. They contain vitamin E and the highest amount of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3) in comparison to other types of nuts. They are also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a significant source of protein and fiber. The recommended amount per day is one handful.

Cinnamon – Cinnamon is a great source of vitamins and minerals. It contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin K, as well as dietary fiber. For cinnamon lovers, this is an easy one, because it can be added to coffee, juices, various dishes … and it tastes great!

Ginger – Recently, there is an increased number of studies whose subject of research is focused on the various benefits of ginger. It is also known that this modest plant was used for medicinal purposes in the times of ancient India, China and Rome. Ginger has a strong effect on the digestive system and speeds up metabolism to a good extent. One of the oldest spices, it is used as a raw material for many weight loss preparations due to its high content of antioxidants and its antibacterial properties.

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For a large number of people, constant sitting in front of computers creates a problem. Office workers can gain up to 6kg in the first 3 months of their new ‘sitting job’. Excessive sitting, up to 8 hours per day, for months and years, can contribute to diabetes, stroke, spine and posture problems, or a number of other complications known in medicine as “sitting disease”. But that doesn’t mean we should use our jobs as an excuse. We could always use our lunch break for a quick walk or light workout.


Metabolic syndrome has become one of the most common diseases of 21st century. It is considered to be mainly caused by lifestyle and improper or unhealthy diet.

It consists of three important symptoms:

  • high blood pressure
  • high blood lipid levels
  • increased blood sugar levels

All this is accompanied by a state of obesity with a visible excess of body fat around the waist. Metabolic syndrome most often affects people between the ages of 35 and 55, regardless of gender, and in most cases it is detected at systematic examinations or due to the patient’s desire to start the fight against obesity.

All scientific studies emphasize the very important role of physical activity and strengthening fitness in the fight against metabolic syndrome. Exercise therapy gives successful results in preventing and mitigating the effects of the metabolic syndrome, but it still remains underused.


When it comes to the problem of slow metabolism or metabolic syndrome, there are three simple steps to cure or prevent its occurrence:

1. Physical activity
2. Correction of diet and adequate hydration of the organism
3. Rest and avoid stress (as much as possible)

Metabolism and weight depend on many factors, both those we can influence and those we can’t. Nutrition, training, rest, etc.… all play roles in achieving good results. Even though we are often in a hurry and lacking time for ourselves, we should stop looking for excuses and start with small steps- our bodies will thank us!

“A man who moves mountains starts by moving pebbles.” – A Chinese proverb




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