Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Resting Metabolic Rate Test

I went to Peak Fitness up at the U and did a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test. In a nutshell that is the energy expenditure produced by your body when at rest. If I laid in bed or just sat in a chair all day long, it would take me 1253 calories to exist.

How it works

3 hours before the test you have to stop eating and can't exercise until after the test. If your body is digesting it will change the results. Also if you have exercised recently it throws it off. I'm not sure if it's the increased breathing or what, but it will increase your metabolic rate short term. You're testing your resting metabolic rate so these are important. I took a snack in the car so I could as soon as it's over.

Once you check in and fill out some paperwork (general health questionnaire, consent form), you sit for 5 mins and let your body come back to a resting state. Then you put these nose clamps on the nose to plug that up and breath through this tube thing that is hooked up to a machine that tracks your oxygen levels. It's a little bit like scuba breathing. That lasts for 10 mins.

You will probably drool a bit, and it's a bit awkward breathing into the tube, but I read a magazine and got used to it pretty quick. You do need to make sure you have a good seal on the tube while you are doing the test for accurate results. The whole process including instruction and questions takes about 30 mins.

What I learned

So what does that tell me? Well for one thing it is a lower number than the calculation I had come up with when I was planning my calories in/out. I had come up with a figure of 1394. That means I was off by 141 calories a day, 987 calories a week. That adds up. I figured since I started trying to lose some weight that is a difference of about 4 lbs. So when I felt like I was working my butt off and not seeing a lot of results, that would explain it. Would have been nice to know that 3 months ago.

If you have every found yourself in a similar situation, you have to take a really honest look at your eating habits. I feel like I was doing a really good job tracking even those sneaky calories. A couple of tortilla chips here, a handful of peanuts there. When I was tracking my calories I accounted for every little bite I was taking. So, before you run out and have your RMR checked, make sure you're both honest and aware of all the calories in.

I say that because the majority of people who think they have a slow metabolism actually don't. Based on periodicals I've read and feedback from trained professionals, most people are close to normal. Well, congratulations to me. I'm actually 12% below normal. Or in other words, 12 % more efficient. That is most likely attributable to my under active thyroid. Low thyroid levels lead to lower metabolic rates. For me, this makes sense.

What I need to do about it

Moving forward there are 2 things I need to do. First I need to recalculate my calories in/out. I like food. I like to eat food. So that means either increasing my activity level, or lowering my caloric intake by cutting some discretionary calories or just substituting some lower energy dense delicious foods for some of the higher dense items I've been eating.

Also, the way to increase the metabolism is to increase lean body weight. In other words, build muscle. I have increasing strength training as one of my tactics, but I have yet to implement. I'm feeling a little more motivated to get on that now.

If I can find a scanner, I'll post a pic of the report. While, most people are going to be normal or close to that, if you are interested in getting tested, it was $30 for non-U student/staff and $25 for U students/staff. It takes about 30 min. You can find Peak on FB or here:

They offer other services such as body fat testing, nutritional counseling, and fitness assessments.


Nora said...

What test did you do to measure RMR? It definitely makes a difference since everyone's metabolism is different - 141 calories will definitely add up over time!

Anonymous said...

Where you able to start losing weight afterwards?