What is Metabolism – How Your Body Burns Calories To Live


Metabolism is defined in many ways. Here are a few of those definitions:

  • Process in which some substances are broken down to yield energy for vital processes while other substances, necessary for life, are synthesized.
  • The set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms to maintain life.
  • Metabolism is the process your body uses to burn calories for energy.
  • Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories to sustain life.

These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. The term metabolism is derived from the Greek metabolismos for change or overthrow. The first controlled experiments in human metabolism were published in the 1600’s. The development of new techniques in research through the modern times have allowed the discovery and analysis of the many metabolic pathways in cells.

Now, what does that mean to people like you and me? Metabolism helps make the food you eat available for your body to use for energy or fuel. That is why it is so important to eat foods that your body gets the most nutrients from. Your body needs to receive the most vitamins and minerals it can to help it “run” better and to remain healthy.

I like to think of it as super versus regular unleaded gas. If you purchase a superior product (i.e. super unleaded gas) to fuel your car, it will perform better. So if you fuel your body with superior quality foods (i.e. processed versus fresh foods) your body will perform better.

Thinking of all the things we “ask” our body to do everyday – 30 more minutes of pilates, overtime hours at work, a pick up game of basketball, picking up the kids, house cleaning, cramming for exams – it is imperative that we feed it with fresh foods that it can use to provide energy via the process of metabolism.

I’ve found it enormously helpful to eat several small meals per day to fuel my body. I start out with a sensible breakfast, a mid morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and sensible dinner – sensible meaning, plenty of protein, a carbohydrate and lots of water. Snacks are usually nuts, a piece of fruit or a small portion of protein. The day also includes water in between meals and I often “check in” with my body to make sure it’s not water I need versus a snack.

I’m not a person who likes to starve, so if I’m hungry I eat. I just keep things around that are good energy sources for my body to use to fuel itself or metabolize. Fresh fruits, fresh cut vegetables, lean protein sources, nuts, beans and good fats are examples of foods that keep your body fueled in the best way. Best of luck to you! Remember, I’m pulling for you!

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About Author

Nell Ellis

I'm a ISCA certified personal trainer and I've had the pleasure of working with stay at home moms, former athletes, young professionals and ordinary people who simply want to get back in shape, but who often don't have time to get to a gym. Performing exercises in the comfort of your home can make a world of difference in how you look and feel. See my profile page for more information!

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