The Energy/Metabolic System
The model of fuel-efficiency
Your body’s energy/metabolic system converts food and other nutrients into energy and creates the proteins and fats that act as the body’s source of fuel. When it runs efficiently, you feel energetic enough to meet the day’s challenges and your body is able to build the healthy tissues you need to perform at your very best.
Maintaining energy/metabolic balance
The energy/metabolic system is much like the fuel system in a car - if you put the right kind of fuel in, the car will run smoothly with fewer problems. But if you put in the wrong fuel, you can cause real problems.
Your energy/metabolic system needs the right blend of nutrients - such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats - to achieve peak performance levels. Your body processes each of these substances differently and all of them are essential for your good health. For instance:
Carbohydrates quickly supply the body with sugars, such as glucose, for fast conversion to energy.
Proteins are broken down into amino acids, and then combined again to new, different proteins that our bodies need.
Fats supply fatty acids, necessary for the construction of cell membranes and steroids - the important base of many hormones, including estrogen and testosterone.
When you’re taking in the right amount of nutrients for the energy and tissue building that your body is doing, your metabolism is in perfect balance. This balance is called homeostasis.
How metabolism fuels your system
Your metabolism involves a chain of reactions that occur along two types of pathways:
The catabolic pathways capture energy from the food - or“fuel”-you give your body - carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
The anabolic pathways, combine small molecules such as amino acids into complex proteins to build muscle and other body tissues.
How do these pathways stay on schedule, to keep everything running smoothly? Special proteins called “enzymes” combine with nutrients and other substances to keep energy flowing. Because every operation of your body - from a simple eye blink to an intense game of racquetball - requires energy, the goal is to make sure that the energy you take in - in the form of foods - equals the energy you use.
When your metabolic system is healthy and receives the proper nutrients, a sense of balance and stability is achieved. But when the balance between energy required and energy intake is upset, your “fuel efficiency” is at risk. The result may be a number of symptoms, from fatigue and weight gain to insomnia and nervousness.
Other factors can affect metabolic balance, as well. For instance, some people cannot properly get vitamin B-12 from their food because their digestive systems have lost the ability to capture it. Then, the metabolic pathways that require B-12 cannot run properly. A feeling of weakness and fatigue results.
How to maintain high energy and peak metabolism
Your energy/metabolic system converts nutrients into energy to keep you going and help your body stay healthy and strong. You can keep this system fit with these healthy hints:
1. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest. The number one reason people feel like they don’t have enough energy is because they are not getting enough sleep. Your body needs sleep and rest time to properly recover, replenish, and rejuvenate.
2. Rev your metabolism with exercise. For a strong, fast metabolism, you need to concentrate on two types of exercise: aerobic, such as walking, running, and swimming, and strength training, such as weight lifting. Strength training is particularly important because while you recover from it, your body builds lean tissue. Also, your metabolism stays high for up to 15 hours after strength training to help build this tissue. Lean tissue requires a faster metabolism than fatty tissue, so as you build lean tissue, your metabolism naturally speeds up.
3. Eat a high-energy diet. Concentrate on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains for a balanced diet that supplies plenty of energy. Avoid refined sugars and saturated fats which can weigh you down and cause you to feel sluggish.
4. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Water is critical for many metabolic processes. Staying well hydrated helps prevent feelings of fatigue, too. You may want to consider adding traditional herbal supplements to your lifestyle. For thousands of years, herbs - such as ginseng - have been used in traditional medicines to help promote the body’s energy levels.
5. Ensure you are getting proper vitamins, minerals, and herbs, particularly those your body uses in metabolism. These include:
A. Chromium, such as in chromium picolinate, to help your body promote proper carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism to enhance energy levels.
B. Vitamin B-12, to help your body properly metabolize fats into energy.
C. Iron, for healthy red blood cells, to enhance oxygen movement throughout the body.
D. Ginseng, a powerful adaptogen to enhance your natural energy levels.