What Is Metabolism?

Our coffee club has missed a couple of weeks getting together because of the cold weather and icy roads. Uncle Bud was wanting to get right on the discussion he had chosen for us today but the rest of us were busy catching up on what we had been up to during the time we had not be able to meet. After Uncle Bud has taken all the idle conversation he could, he announced he was giving us ten minutes to wrap it up and get down to a real discussion. He went so far as to set the alarm on his cell phone. He thinks we all went along with him but, the joke is on him. As you have read before we love the guy but know him so well. That is why we had decided to arrive half an hour early. He was surprised and so happy to see everyone was already at the shop when he came in this morning.


When the alarm rang we all turned our attention to him. He poses the question, “what is metabolism?” While we all sort of know, no one could really put it into words. Well, not the words he was looking for anyway. Of course that made him a happy fellow.

So he begins:”Metabolism is the name of the process your body uses to convert the food you eat and drink into energy. During this process the calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy the body needs to function. Metabolism gets a bum rap as we tend to blame a slow metabolism for our weight gain. Well, guess what. While it is true that your metabolism is linked to weight it is not always the cause of weight gain”. This got our attention as most of us are middle age or older and have often felt that our metabolism slowing down was the culprit of our having to fight weight gain. Mary Ann expressed disappointment in not having anything to blame for her added pounds. This got a chuckle from the group. Others admitted they shared her “pain”.


At this point Uncle Bud quickly takes control of the group by saying he can make us feel a little better. He starts, “Metabolism does influence your body’s basic energy needs but it is your food and beverage intake and your physical activity that determine how much you weigh. The body needs energy for all its functions, such as growing and repairing cells, adjusting hormone levels, and breathing”. He called these “hidden” functions and told us our bodies need energy even when we are at rest.


It was interesting to learn that the number of calories our bodies use to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate. Several factors determine your individual basal metabolic rate. At this point Uncle Bud had the entire coffee club where he wanted us. We were coming up with questions and wanting him to tell us more about the factors that determine our basal metabolic rate. He smiled and stopped talking. He knew he had achieved his goal of building our interest on the subject he had chosen for the morning. But we have to wait until next week for the rest of the story.

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