Written by: Blanka Junová
Do you want to slim down, but can’t? None of the “guaranteed” diets work for you, so you just refrain from eating or come to terms with your fate? Perhaps you just need to understand your body’s mechanisms and listen to your own metabolism.
WE LIVE IN A TIME when obesity is a serious problem in the developed world, with many health ramifications. More than one half of the population of Europe and North America is overweight; about 40% of the affected persons are currently dieting, but only 5% of them will achieve the desired result. There is increasing awareness of the importance of preventing obesity. Losing weight is a long-term process, and it is important to understand the mechanisms of losing excess weight. One of these is metabolism.
Metabolism is a set of biochemical processes found in every living organism, which regulates the creation or elimination of bodily tissues. The speed of these processes is called the metabolic quotient. In simple terms, metabolic quotient is the rate at which the organism burns the calories it ingests. It is different with each individual, and explains why some people can eat as much as they want, while others must always carefully weigh the quality and quantity of the food they eat. And although the metabolic quota is in place from birth, it can be affected by choosing appropriate physical activity, eating habits.
· higher muscle-to-fat ratio
· physical activity
· regular meals
· well-balanced diet
· warm climate
· increased temperature (fever, sauna, etc.)
Influencing factors that slow the metabolism:
· higher fat-to-muscle ratio
· insufficient physical activity
· advancing age
· fasting and/or low-calory diets
· insufficiency of basic nutrients (mainly iodine)
· cold climate
It is generally known that during physical activity the body burns stored and recently created energy. However, there are many other important factors concerning metabolic activity itself.
One of these is the maintaining of a heightened metabolic quotient for several hours after the physical work of the muscles has been completed. This means that the body is able to burn off ingested calories not only during, but also after activity. So doing aerobic exercises is best in the morning hours as a start to the day, or shortly before a main meal.
Another favorable consequence of long-term physical activity is the change in the ratio of muscle to fat. Because muscles are far more metabolically active than fat, they also ensure a higher metabolic quotient at times when they are not physically active. Exercises intended to contribute to muscle growth and tone, are especially important after thirty, when the metabolic quotient begins to gradually decline.
A balanced, appropriate diet is another means for influencing metabolic speed. Ingesting sufficient nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc.) is important, as they are required for the proper course of metabolic processes. Obviously, the amount of food and the distribution of meals during the day is also important. It is recommended to eat smaller portions five or six times a day, with the biggest meal at breakfast or lunch.
|Weights and measures|
· 55% of the energy released from comestibles escapes as heat, and 45% is used by the body for the work of its organs and muscles.
· Men’s metabolisms are 10% higher as a rule than are women’s.
· The average overall fat content of a man is 15%, while for women it is roughly 25%.
· The metabolic quotient declines with advancing age: between 50 and 60 this decline reaches 15%, and at 70 it is 30%.
· The average individual approaching 50 has about 10% more body fat than he/she did at 25.
· When fasting or limiting caloric intake, the metabolic quotient decreases. This decrease can be permanent, depending on the length of deprivation.
The thyroid gland
It should be noted that the thyroid gland plays a role in our body weight, as it is the main metabolism-regulating organ. It must receive key elements such as iodine and the amino acid tyrosine in order to function properly and produce the necessary hormones. Also important are vitamins E, A, B2, B3, B6, and C, as well as zinc. When there is a question of imbalanced thyroid function, a specialist should be consulted.