When you hear the word ‘metabolism’ the thoughts that pop up are usually along the lines of the body burning calories when active.
Metabolism brings to mind sweat, weights and movement in the gym, however, the process is much more than simply the body burning calories.
Metabolism literally means ‘a state of change’ and whether you’re in the middle of a deep sleep, reading a book or playing with your pets, the body is always active.
There is never a time when you’re not using calories, because the body is always storing and consuming energy as well as building up and breaking down molecules necessary to maintain health.
That process is what metabolism is all about and why when it is working as it should, you don’t feel sluggish or fatigued; rather you’re full of energy throughout the day and have brighter moods.
This is also the reason why it’s easier to gain muscle mass and lose fat, because your body is sending the right hormone signals to your metabolic system.
Is it any surprise then that the body tries its best to tightly control this process?
Metabolism is a super important process in the body and so to keep control, the body sends out swarms of hormones to travel throughout the body.
The connection between your hormones and metabolism influences everything in your body, so checking your hormone levels can give you a great gauge of how healthy your metabolism and overall body really are.
“Metabolism isn’t just about how quickly you burn calories—it encompasses all the ways your body stores and uses energy from food,” says Rocio Salas-Whalen, M.D., an endocrinologist in New York City.
Metabolism turns the proteins, fats and carbs from your delicious meals into compounds like amino acids, fatty acids and simple glucose, before transporting them into your cells.
The process is necessary to grow and maintain muscles and to break down fat that is stored by your body.
All these metabolic functions are completely controlled by your hormones,” she adds.
To keep your body’s systems humming along smoothly, your hormones need to be in balance. If one shoots up too high or dips too low, your metabolism can get thrown out of whack, which can affect your workout, your mood, and your weight, says Liz Lyster, M.D., an ob-gyn in Foster City, California, who specializes in hormone imbalances.
As you can see, your metabolism is necessary for all processes of your body to be completed properly, but for women, one of the many factors which impacts our metabolic rate is your period, which can throw our hormones out of whack and affect our bodies, moods and how much energy we have.
When thinking about your metabolism, your menstrual cycle and your period are very important factors to consider.
“Throughout the menstrual cycle, the hormone levels in a person’s body change,” says Dr Virginia J. Vitzthum, director of scientific research at period tracking app, Clue,. “Oestrogen will rise during days 1-14 in an average 28-day cycle (known as the follicular phase), dip during ovulation (around day 14), briefly rise again afterwards (the part of the cycle after ovulation is called theluteal phase), falling back to baseline during the final days of the cycle as your period approaches again.
“Progesterone levels also fluctuate – these are very low until the point of ovulation, then rise during the early luteal phase until, like oestrogen, they fall in the final days of the cycle,” the doctor continues.
The expert explains that these hormonal fluctuations are thought to be responsible for a number of changes within the body as well as influencing female metabolism.
While it is thought that metabolism speeds up around the third quarter of your 28-day cycle, meaning your urge to eat is greater, the truth is that the process is different for everyone, as metabolism and your cycle are both affected by many factors, including age, diet and daily activities.
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