Most people would like to increase their metabolism. How fast your metabolism is determines how much food you can eat without gaining weight. If you increase your metabolism, then you can eat extra foods without putting on pounds. For weight-loss purposes, a fast metabolism is definitely preferable to a slow metabolism, but there may also be benefits to a slow metabolism that results from a restriction of calories.
Metabolism is a process that occurs in your body during which food or stored energy sources are converted into energy. When food enters the body, it breaks down into fat, protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates convert into glucose, the body and brain's preferred energy source. Fat converts into fatty acids and glycerol, and protein breaks into amino acids. When you gain weight, there is an excess of these compounds in your blood. So, the body stores them as fat. When you lose weight, the food you eat provides less energy than the body needs. So, the body breaks down its own energy sources and you lose fat.
Fast vs. Slow Metabolism
How much energy the body needs can be measured during exercise or at rest. When you have a fast metabolism, your body needs a great deal of energy to maintain its usual functioning. In this case, you can eat a lot of food without gaining weight. When you have a slow metabolism, the opposite is the case. Your body needs less energy to perform its required functions. So, if you eat a great deal of food and have a slow metabolism, you will gain weight.
With respect to weight loss, a slow metabolism is never desirable. However, as reported by Science Daily, a slow metabolism as a result of calorie restriction can possibly protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes and increase longevity. A calorie-restriction diet reduces your intake of calories 20 to 40 percent. It cuts empty calorie foods, such sugar and processed carbohydrates, rather than foods containing essential nutrients and vitamins. Calorie restriction diets make you lose weight at first. But, over time, your body adjusts your metabolism to fit the lower calorie intake.
Mechanism of Action
Many animal studies show that calorie restriction can extend the lifespan of animals. It has not yet been shown that calorie restriction has the same effects in humans. However, more doctors consider it a promising approach, and, in recent years, more grant money has been devoted to studying it. How might calorie restriction prolong life? No one really knows. However, as Science Daily points out, there is evidence suggesting that calorie restriction does not extend lifespan simply by preventing obesity and its consequences. Preventing obesity in animals does prevent premature death. But it does not significantly extend the animals' lifespan if it is not the result of restricting calories. Rather, the positive effects of calorie restriction seem intimately tied to the metabolism slow-down that occurs over time when calories are restricted. Calorie restriction by itself seems linked to the process of autophagy, a process during which cells get rid of malfunctioning components that accumulate in significant amounts during the aging process.
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight loss: How You Burn Calories: Mayo Clinic Staff; Oct. 6, 2009
- Fight Aging: Calorie Restriction Explained; Dec. 7, 2010
- CR Society International: Welcome to the Calorie Restriction Society International
- Science Daily: Calorie Restriction Appears Better Than Exercise At Slowing Primary Aging; May 31, 2006