Metabolism: The Engine of Life



All living things thrive through metabolism. Metabolism is the source through which living things including us as humans turn eaten food into simple absorvable forms. Metabolism is process through which molecules of food and oxygen is broken down for energy to be released.

Types  of Metabolism

Metabolism can be categorized into two types, Anabolism and Catabolism.


Anabolism is a set of pathways that involves the use of energy to form larger and more complex molecules from simple molecules. It is very necessary for growth and the repair of damaged cells hence why it is called a building up reaction.

The body  system of living things rely on Anabolism for the repair of damaged tissues. Anabolism synthesizes molecules of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and oyer organic molecules in the body to form complex molecules needed for the repair and replacement of damaged cells.


This type of metabolism is the opposite of Anabolism. Catabolism is a series of steps through which large molecules are broken down into simpler molecules for Energy to the released. When Energy is released in Catabolism, it is stored as ATP in the body.

The Energy which living things use to perform their daily function is gotten from catabolism. The ATP stored in the body of living things is used by their cells to carry out the necessary tasks like movement, temperature regulation, digestion and other activities. Glycolysis is a typical example of a catabolic process.

Terms used in Metabolism

Metabolic Rate

Metabolic rate is the rate at which the body exhausts calories to release energy required for the sustainability of life. Metabolic rate can be influenced by age, genetic make-up, gender and lifestyle.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR)

This is the minimum amount of  energy that is required for living things to perform basic functions such as breathing, circulation, and cell production when they are at rest.

Factors Affecting Metabolism

There are several factors that can affect metabolism in plants and animals, these factors influences the rate of metabolism includes the following;

Age: as we age, the rate of Metabolism in our decreases and  is commonly associated with weight gain especially in cases where we don't regulate the level of calories we consume.

Body Composition: the tissues in our muscles burn a lot more calories than other tissues in the body. Studies have shown that people that are muscular have a high rate of metabolism.  

Genetics: Genetic make-up also influences the level of metabolism in individuals. Some individuals are genetically programmed to have high metabolic rate while some have been structured by their genes to have low rate of metabolism.

Diet and Exercise: engaging in physical activities like workouts and athletics while maintaining a balanced diet helps to increase the level of metabolism In The body.

Metabolism and Nutrient Balance

From the previous sections, we have learnt that metabolism involves synthesis of organic molecules and nutrients in the body. In this section we would learn about the different compounds and nutrients that are essential for metabolism to occur.

The following are some compounds and systems that are important for Metabolism;


Carbohydrates are organic compounds that can be broken down and stored as glucose in the body. They are the biggest source of Energy provision in the body. Excessive carbohydrates can cause an increase in blood sugar levels.   


This is a very important organic compound needed for the growth and repair of cells in the body. It is advisable to consume adequate proteinous food in order to improve your general health.


Fats and lipids are a reliable source of energy to the body and are very crucial for most activities in the body. Fats can either be saturated or unsaturated, the latter is quite important and healthy for the body while the former is quite unhealthy as it can negatively affect the body.  

Vitamins and Minerals

These are as important as any other substance in our body. Vitamins are essential for regulating and controlling metabolism and other activities in the body   while minerals like iron and magnesium are also vital for most important metabolic activities in the body.

Health Deficiency that affects Metabolism

Some health Deficiencies are capable of altering the metabolic activities in the body and they include the following;


When there is excessive consumption of calories in the body that supersedes the rate at which calories are burned in metabolism, it can lead to obesity. It is advisable to go for workouts in order to keep your calories in check.

Thyroid Disorders 

The thyroid gland in the body helps to regulate the level of  metabolism in the body through the release of its hormones. An excessive or insufficient release of thyroid hormones affects the metabolic balance negatively.

Eating Disorders 

Health conditions like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa which are eating disorders negatively affect metabolism in the body as they lead to deficiency of nutrients and other associated ailments.


Metabolism is crucial to all living things. It is the powerhouse fueling every other activity that occurs in living cells. We have learnt so far the two classifications of metabolism which are Anabolism and Catabolism. Metabolism helps in the growth and repair of cells as well as providing the body with the required energy needed for other regular functions.

Metabolism helps to improve the general wellbeing and as such, it is crucial that we maintain a balanced diet in order to provide the body with the necessary nutrients and vitamins needed for effective metabolism to occur. This article has provided you with a lot of insights on metabolism and how it powers all living things. Stay tuned for more insights and don't forget to keep a balanced diet!.

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