Science Word Wednesday: Metabolism

Sep 30, 2020
By Regina Fernandez


(Noun. /muh-TAB-uh-liz-uhm/)

What does it mean?

Metabolism refers to all the chemical reactions that produce or use energy and occur within living organisms. These processes include converting food into energy, using energy to build up substances, and removing waste products. For example, if you eat fruits, which contain carbohydrates, the cells in your body will break down the carbohydrates to smaller molecules and release energy. This energy is used for different purposes such as to produce heat to keep your body temperature normal, build up muscles, or…. can be used for dancing.  

Food is converted to energy which is used by your muscles to move your body and dance!
Image created by author with

How do I use it in a sentence?


Scientists are trying to figure out why the metabolism of cancer cells is different from healthy cells. If they discover why, then they can develop drugs that will kill cancer cells but not healthy cells.”


In humans, more than 16,000 molecules are estimated to be part of metabolic pathways.”

Diagram of human metabolic pathways
Image by Evans Love – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Edited by Anna Wheless and Emma Goldberg