What is Metabolism? and Metabolic Pathways

Metabolism refers to the process of converting food into the energy that allows your body to function. People who have a fast metabolism use up calories more quickly than those with slower metabolisms. One way you can increase your metabolism is by exercising.

The metabolic processes help in growth and reproduction and help in maintaining the structures of living organisms. The organisms respond to the surrounding environment due to metabolic activities. All the chemical reactions occurring in the living organisms from digestion to transportation of substances from cell to cell require energy.

Concept of Metabolism

The entire process of nutrition has two main parts- ingestion of food and utilization of food for energy. In every living organism, let it be a simple prokaryotic bacterial cell or a eukaryotic cell, the process of nutrition is the same. The concept of metabolic reactions concentrates on the utilization of food for energy. Ingested food needs to be utilized for the turnover. Nutrition is the key and energy extraction is the target of metabolism.

The food which we eat happens to be useless until and unless it undergoes metabolic changes. During metabolism, biomolecules present in the food get utilized to extract the energy from the cell. Besides, the conversion and formation of the biomolecules take place. In other words, the transformation of one compound results in the formation of another molecule.

All metabolic changes take place in multiple reactions and follow a particular pathway called the metabolic pathway. The metabolic pathway includes a series of reactions. The metabolite flow, the rate, and the direction at which metabolism takes place are called the dynamic state of body constituents. All metabolic reactions are catalyzed by a set of proteinaceous compounds called enzymes.


Metabolic Pathways

Different metabolic pathways function based on the position within a eukaryotic cell and the significance of the pathway in the given compartment of the cell. For instance, the electron transport chain, and oxidative phosphorylation all take place in the mitochondrial membrane. In contrast, glycolysis, pentose phosphate pathway, and fatty acid biosynthesis all occur in the cytosol of a cell.

There are two types of metabolic pathways that are characterized by their ability to either synthesize molecules with the utilization of energy (anabolic pathway) or break down complex molecules by releasing energy in the process (catabolic pathway). The two pathways complement each other in that the energy released from one is used up by the other. The degradative process of a catabolic pathway provides the energy required to conduct a biosynthesis of an anabolic pathway. In addition to the two distinct metabolic pathways is the amphibolic pathway, which can be either catabolic or anabolic based on the need for or the availability of energy.

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