Obesity isn’t just caused by your lifestyle. Your metabolism can also play a part. If you have a slow metabolism thanks to your genes or an inactive lifestyle, you may put on weight more easily than other people. Certain metabolic disorders can also make it much harder for you to maintain a healthy weight, and may need to be addressed before you can lose weight successfully.
The term metabolism refers to all of the different processes that go on in your body when food is turned into energy and used by your cells. It involves a wide range of different enzymes and proteins that are controlled by a variety of hormones and other signals. When you have a healthy metabolism, you will be able to get all the nutrition that you need from your food and to use it efficiently. However, certain metabolic disorders can interfere with the process.
Disorders of the Metabolism
Some genetic metabolic disorders make it impossible for you to process certain nutrients or to deal with the waste products of metabolic processes, but these conditions are more likely to result in weight loss than weight gain. Other metabolic disorders can affect your metabolic rate, the speed at which you process food and use up energy. Having a very high metabolism could make it difficult to get all the energy that you need, while having a low metabolism could mean that it is easier for you to put on weight.
Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland is a common cause of weight gain. Your thyroid produces hormones that boost your metabolic rate, helping you to use up the energy you have taken in from your food. If you aren’t making enough of these hormones, this energy can be stored as fat instead, so you put on weight.
Another metabolic cause of weight gain is the less common Cushing’s syndrome. It occurs when your adrenal gland produces too much of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps your body to turn your food into energy, so if you have too much of it you can end up with excess energy that will be converted to fat.
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes also affect your metabolism. When your body stops responding to insulin, the sugar in your blood won’t be processed normally. You can end up gaining weight because your body doesn’t know when you’ve absorbed enough energy. If insulin resistance is combined with high blood pressure and obesity, it can have a particularly severe impact on your health. This combination is known as metabolic syndrome. Some of us are more prone to metabolic syndrome because of our genes, but losing any excess weight and getting more active can still help us to combat it.
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