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Physiology of Weight Loss

By Chris Dinesen Rogers ; Updated July 18, 2017

Considering that two out of three Americans are overweight, using your body's physiology can be an effective form of weight loss. Physiology is the branch of biology which considers how the body functions. The physiology of the human body plays a key role in weight loss. Many diet plans use body function as a way to control weight. Knowing how your body works can help you make good choices which can help you lose weight.


Weight loss is a function of your caloric intake and your energy expenditure. Energy expenditure occurs through exercise and normal body function. When your caloric intake exceeds this total amount, you gain weight. Conversely, if you use more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. Your body will store any excess calories as sugar in your liver and muscles. Fat is stored in your adipose or fat tissue. You can use this simple concept of physiology to drive your weight loss efforts.

Metabolic Efficiency

The physiology of the human body is a reflection of thousands of years of adaptation and evolution. The body evolved favoring ways to increase its chances of survival. One factor concerns how effectively you burn calories or your metabolic efficiency. A 1998 study in the "Journal of Molecular Medicine" speculates that evolution favored individuals who used less energy for metabolism and other activities. This is why you must change your exercise routine regularly to curb your body's ability to adapt.

Nutritional Influences

Vitamins and minerals may stimulate chemical reactions that use energy or breakdown food. To lose weight, you need to ensure your body has the necessary nutrients in order to metabolize the food you consume. According to Elmhurst College, water and 17 different vitamins are involved in metabolism. Proper nutrition will ensure that your body has the substances it needs to burn calories and lose weight.

Role of Hormones

Certain hormones such as thyroid hormones influence metabolism and thus, weight loss. Excessive amounts of thyroid hormones can cause weight loss, explains Vertical Health. Medical conditions such as Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder, can lead to weight loss from an overproduction of hormones. According to Mayo Clinic, this is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Inflammation of the thyroid gland can also lead to weight loss. An underproduction of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, can likewise cause unexplained weight loss.


Weight loss involves a complex series of chemical reactions and metabolic pathways in the human body. A metabolic pathway is a connected series of chemicals reactions which occur in the body. Genetics can influence how easy weight loss may be for you due to its effects on your physiology. Your genetics can determine if you have sufficient amounts of chemicals in your body which stimulate your urge to eat or to make you feel sated after eating, explains a 2007 study published in "Diabetes Spectrum."

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