The human understanding of how the body works has grown extensively in the last quarter of century. It now goes far beyond the high school concept of metabolic processes and sums and balances. Scientists do not always agree on the meanings of the results of metabolism research. However, there are some basics upon which they can agree.
The basal metabolism rate is the number of calories your body burns if you are at rest. This is the base number of calories you would need to consume if you were to lie in bed all day long without moving. Drop below this number of calories and you body begins to suffer some undesirable consequences.
Your body requires more calories if your are ill or injured than if you are healthy. Patients who have suffered severe burns require up to 8,000 calories daily for their body to heal, even though they may be in a hospital bed most of the time. Even if you are recovering from a common cold, your body needs more calories than it does when it is healthy.
As you grow older, your body requires fewer calories than it did when you were younger. Some research points to the loss of muscle mass and a decrease in metabolic rate. Regardless of the cause, if you continue eating the same amount of food once you reach your mid 30s, you will gain weight. You must either increase your exercise rate, decrease calories or both to maintain your earlier weight.
The more complex the foods you eat the more calories they require to break down. Part of the appeal of the raw diet is that these foods take more energy for the body to digest. These foods are also higher in fiber than cooked foods. Cooking breaks down the fiber and makes the calories more available to the body. The same is true for other pre-processed foods and highly refined carbohydrates.
Exercise burns calories. One example is found in the athletes who participate in the Tour de France. It is estimated that these athletes burn 9,000 calories or more daily during the competition. While you are not likely to reach this level when you head to the gym, you can have a positive effect on the number of calories your body burns by planning an exercise program.
Maintaining weight loss requires lifestyle changes. One of the problems with many fad diets it they teach that you can work to lose weight and then return to your old habits. However, as soon as you return to those habits, the weight begins to pile on once again. In many cases, the individual gains all the weight lost plus more.
While there have been advances understanding how the body works, there is more research to be completed. The results of these studies can help individuals wanting to lose weight. They may also be helpful for individuals who need to build muscle. In some cases, the research may help individuals who have suffered serious injuries know more about a diet to encourage natural healing.