In simple terms, metabolism is a vital process in which the body converts the foods and beverages we consume from our diet into energy to fuel our bodies daily. This energy is needed to drive “basic” bodily functions (such as the digestion and absorption of nutrients in our intestines, breathing, heartbeat, circulation throughout the blood vessels, etc.), and the complex physiological pathways in our cells and tissues (for example, DNA transcription RNA leads to different proteins, DNA synthesis, neuron signaling in our brain, etc.), and bodily actions that require more energy (such as physical activity, immune responses, and healing).
Metabolism and metabolic rate are closely related. Metabolic rate can be broken down into three different components: resting metabolic rate (aka resting energy expenditure, or REE), thermogenesis, and energy burned during physical activity. REE refers to the amount of energy (i.e. calories) burned to keep all “essential” physiological functions running when the body is at rest. Rare earth elements happen to make up the bulk of our total daily energy expenditure or use.
Thermogenesis describes the process of thermogenesis (the primary product of metabolism) that occurs as a result of food intake and activation of brown adipose tissue (fat) and supports the entire body’s energy balance. The third and final way we expend energy (i.e. burn calories) is through physical activity – which includes any daily movement we engage in, no matter its intensity.
Daily metabolism and metabolic health is critical not only to promoting healthy weight and body composition, but also to promoting overall health and well-being. There are many variables that affect the health and efficiency of the body’s metabolism and metabolic rate – including age, body composition, muscle mass, biological sex, thyroid health, physical activity, dietary patterns, and even genetics and epigenetics.
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