Health Terminology 101

Staying up to date with today’s health terminology can be quite the task. There are all sorts of new, confusing words and ideas that are constantly changing. But knowing is half the battle, and that is why it is important to know your basic health terms. Below I will go over the most common words you will run across when reading about health and fitness, and hopefully this will lead you to a better understanding of how to get in shape. So without further ado, here they are:

Metabolism: literally speaking, your metabolism is “the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.” However, that definition doesn’t really help you much. More practically speaking, your metabolism is your body’s basic process of organic functioning and operating. Kind of broad, right? Related to fitness, we speak of the metabolism in terms of speeding it up or keeping it active. The benefit of keeping your metabolism working fast is that it goes through the chemical reactions faster – i.e. burning more calories and providing you with more energy at a quicker rate.

Calorie: a calorie, in health terms, is a unit of food energy. Technically speaking, it is the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. A surplus between energy intake and energy use is what causes weight gain, which is why we monitor how many calories we eat. Also, this is why athletes and other highly-active people generally consume more calories per day than the average person – because they are also burning more per day, and they need to keep the balance between intake and use consistent.

Carbohydrate: commonly known as a “carb”, carbohydrates are “any of a group of organic compounds that includes sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums and serves as a major energy source in our diet.” They serve to store and transport energy in our bodies. Requiring less water to digest than proteins and fats, they are the most common source of energy. It is recommended that between 50{15aeb35eec840799df247626cfa6821cb9499241e90aba7a245c8546144fd8f4} and 60{15aeb35eec840799df247626cfa6821cb9499241e90aba7a245c8546144fd8f4} of your daily caloric intake is from carbs. As with anything, however, too much can be unhealthy.

Protein: proteins are large organic compounds made of amino acids, and are essential parts of organisms and participate in every process within cells. Like carbohydrates, proteins are a source of energy for your body, and are mainly found in meants, eggs, grains, legumes, and dairy products. Proteins contain 8 – 10 essential amino acids that cannot be created by the body and thus must be part of your diet. Generally speaking, in health terms, protein equals energy.

As I said above, knowing is half the battle. I hope that this brief review of common health terms will help you get a better understanding on how to keep your body healthy and fit. For more information on how to maximize your workouts and health, visit

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