Yes and no, are possible answers to this question. This is because every person’s body is different and the rate of metabolism is different for everyone. It would look like there is no clear-cut answer to the question whether metabolism can be controlled. But the issue is more complex than this. In fact, it is possible to take some actions to change the way metabolism occurs in your body.
We will explore this can happen. But first, let us update our understanding of metabolism. This way, you will understand why metabolism happens the way it does. You will also understand how the food you eat and when you eat it can impact your metabolism.
What Is Metabolism
Metabolism is the chain of chemical processes through which the body cells break down food to provide the energy and nutrients that the body needs for all its functions, including maintaining good health. There are two types of metabolism: catabolism and anabolism. These processes occur inside body cells and ultimately impact the body.1)
Catabolism is the process of breaking down large molecules into their smaller components. Catabolic reactions produce energy. Catabolism is what most people understand metabolism to be because through it, the body breaks down the food you eat to provide the body with the energy it needs to keep warm, and carry out its many functions.
Anabolism is the opposite of catabolism. It is the process by which smaller components combine to form large or more complex compounds. One example is the combination of amino acid molecules to form a protein. Anabolic reactions use up energy.
We have also talked about metabolism in this article; now that we know what metabolism is, it’s probably time to ask why you would want to control it.
Why You May Want to Control Metabolism
As mentioned earlier, metabolism happens at different rates in people. This rate may not be exactly as you would want it. It may be slow such that you are low in energy. It may also be so slow that much of the food you eat is stored in your body as body fat. When the food you eat is converted to fat and stored in the body, you gain weight and may end up being overweight or obese.
On the flipside, metabolism can be so fast that, even though you would want to put on some weight, you cannot because most of the food you eat is burnt up and little is stored in the body.
These scenarios are all good reasons why you may want to have some control on your metabolism.
Factors That Affect Metabolic Rate
But why would your metabolic rate be too slow or too fast? The most important factor responsible for your rate of metabolism is your genetic makeup. You may have genes that cause your body to have a higher or slower rate of metabolism. Other factors that affect your rate of metabolism include;
Gender: Males generally have a faster rate of metabolism than females.
Age: Even where the genes cause a faster metabolic rate, the rate slows down with age. In other words, at the age of 60 years for instance, the metabolic rate is much slower than it was at 25.
Body mass composition: The composition of your body mass can determine the rate of metabolism. A person whose body has more muscle burns more calories than a person whose body has more fat.
Physical exercise: When you exert your body in physical activity, more energy is required. To meet this demand, the body increases its rate of metabolism thereby breaking down more calories to supply the energy to the muscles.2)
Nutrient deficiencies: Deficiencies in certain nutrients including iodine, selenium and zinc can slow down metabolism because the body cannot produce adequate amounts of hormones needed in the control of metabolism.
Reduced food intake: While eating less food may seem like a good idea to increase your metabolic rate, it can achieve the opposite results. Eating less food for a short time increases metabolic rate. However, when you drastically reduce your food intake for longer, your body takes it to mean that there is a scarcity of food. This causes it to slow down its rate of metabolism in order to preserve its energy resources.3)
Sedentary lifestyle: If you spend most of your time in a seat and don’t take time to exercise, your metabolic rate can slow down significantly because your body requires few calories to maintain this status.
Not sleeping enough: Inadequate sleep can lead to reduced metabolic rate besides several health problems.4)
Your diet: Including some items in your diet such as hot pepper, green tea, and coffee can increase the rate of metabolism.
How to Control Metabolism in Your Body
Having looked at some of the factors that can affect metabolic rate, you can probably already notice that there are ways by which metabolism can be controlled. And while it is not easy to do; yes, metabolism can be controlled in the following ways among others:
Exercising regularly can help maintain a healthy rate of metabolism. Strength training by working out with weights for instance, increases muscle mass and reduces body fat. This increases the number of calories burnt which improves overall health.5)
Eat a balanced diet
A diet that, besides containing carbohydrates, protein and fat, also contains minerals and vitamins, is necessary for healthy metabolism. The minerals iodine, iron, zinc, and selenium are required for the proper functioning of the thyroid glands. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control metabolism.
Eat regular meals
Eating at regular times helps your body to have metabolic balance so that it doesn’t slow down as would happen in case of irregular food intake. Start with a breakfast, and thereafter have a small meal every 3 or 4 hours. Also eat enough number of calories so that your body’s metabolism does not slow down.6)
Eat more protein
Protein is more filling than carbohydrates, its digestion also temporarily increases metabolic rate by up to 30 percent. This is higher than the increase during digestion of carbohydrates at up to 10 percent, and up to 3 percent for fat.7)
Get Adequate Sleep
According to various studies, adequate, restful sleep helps maintain healthy metabolism. In one study, 60,000 nurses were followed up for 16 years. It was found that those who regularly slept for five or fewer hours a night had a 15 percent higher risk of being obese compared to those who slept for 7 hours or longer a night.8)
Adding some spices such as ginger, grain of paradise, and cayenne pepper can increase the rate of metabolism. Other food items that can help increase metabolic rate include tea, coffee and MCT oils such as coconut oil can also increase the rate of metabolism.9)
Drink More Water
Water is necessary for metabolism. This is because the body requires adequate hydration for metabolism to take place among other functions. Additionally, water increases the rate of metabolism by up to 30 percent for 60 to 90 minutes after drinking. Some of this increase occurs because the body uses energy to heat the water to body temperature.10)