As the biochemical basis of life, metabolism’s primary role often gets overshadowed by more popular messages of caloric burn and weight loss. Here’s why it’s so much more than that.


What do you think of when you hear the word “metabolism”? Many people often associate it with burning calories and weight loss, but it is so much more.  Your metabolism is much bigger than just your propensity toward weight changes. It is, in fact, the totality of all your body’s processes, defined as:

“The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.”

Your body very much wants to maintain life, with survival as its primary goal.  And in order to support all these chemical process, we need to fuel our metabolism. A basic tenant of chemistry is “what you put in, is what you get out”.  This is, of course, referring to a chemical reaction – you can’t expect to get more product than if you put in less reactant. You can’t expect to have a higher metabolic output if you don’t fuel your body processes.  

We tend to want to measure metabolic output in fat measurements, weight loss, or how someone looks.  However, the best way to know if you’re adequately fueling your body processes is how you feel. Here are 3 ways to rethink the way metabolism supports your body.

1. Keeps you from feeling under the weather.

Physical symptoms such as digestive concerns, irregular sleep, fatigue, headaches, hormonal imbalances, and poor immunity can all be signs of metabolism functioning below it’s full potential.  However, it’s important to tread lightly here given that “metabolic issue” is a very loose diagnosis, and any of these concerns may need more thorough exploration and an accurate diagnosis. However, every body process will function better with consistent and adequate nutrition.  If your eating habits are irregular, haphazard and inconsistent, your body processes will be as well.

2. It’s not about weight or appearance.

We often approach our health, bodies, and weight as though we are broken and need to be fixed.  What if we switched our focus from how to lose weight or change our size and shape, to how we can best support our natural body processes, our metabolism.  In doing so, you will likely find that you feel better as your metabolic output increases. You won’t need to measure it to know it increased, you’ll be able to feel an increase in health and well-being, which is the best indicator of a metabolism that is functioning at its full potential.  Your metabolism is very much tied to your genetics and gene expression, and is therefore very unique to you. That’s really difficult to measure. The good news is, your body is always communicating its needs to you; trust that your body can respond effectively without any special equipment or fancy measurements.

3. Restriction goes against logic.

Adequate metabolic fuel through variety, balance, and moderation is important to support both mental and physical health.  Unfortunately, our society tends to create trendy diet fads that are restrictive in nature to get faster, more dramatic results.  Please understand that those methods counter against the logical rationale of metabolic function, which is about setting realistic, sustainable food patterns and establishing a healthy relationship with food.  It’s well-established that diets don’t lead to long-term success and will actually lead to weight gain. However, that’s hardly the worst casualty – we also lose trust in our own ability to listen and learn from the feedback our body provides, which is key to knowing how your metabolism is functioning.  

A body that feels well taken care of is more resilient and able to support all metabolic functions for living your healthiest, happiest life.

Slow and steady really does win the race.

Adapted from the original article.

Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Saint George, Utah. Instead of creating unnecessary restrictions, Emily focuses on helping individuals become confident and in charge of their own well-being through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Living. She is a strong believer and advocate for helping people become capable individuals who are confident in taking care of themselves.  Make a visit and read more from Emily.