Metabolic Testing: What Is It and How It Can Help With Weight Loss

Nearly half of Americans are on a diet or trying to lose weight. And if you are one of them you know how challenging it can be to shed pounds.

But what if there was a more scientific way to help you lose weight tailored specifically for you?

It’s called metabolic testing and it’s a way to accurately measure your calorie output. Not everyone’s metabolism behaves the same way, so this type of test may be the solution you are looking for.

Read more to find out everything you need to know about metabolic testing and how it can help you in your weight loss journey.

What Is Metabolism?

You likely have heard the word metabolism used when talking about fitness, exercise, or weight loss. But what does metabolism really mean, anyway?

Metabolism is a formal way of saying all of the calories (energy) a person burns every day. This can be further categorized into three different types of calorie burn.

1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (number of calories) that your body burns while performing regular, everyday, bodily activities. For example, even while you are sitting at the computer, your body is burning calories keeping your organs functioning or turning food into energy for activity.

You are even burning calories when you sleep! These calories are also part of the BMR. And in total, your BMR is responsible for about 70% of total calories burned.

2. Non-Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Non-exercise adaptive thermogenesis makes up about 10-20% of the calories you burn each day. These are the calories your body burns outside of sleeping and during exercise activities, for example sitting and standing or shivering.

3. Exercise

Calories burned during exercise also contribute to your metabolism, but it is only responsible for about 10% of your total calorie burn.

The number of calories burned during exercise varies on length of time, intensity, age, and weight.

What Is Metabolic Testing?

Metabolic testing is a method of measuring your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is sometimes called resting metabolic rate (RMR). Remember, this is the part of your metabolism that burns calories to keep your body functioning and while you are asleep.

Because BMR is responsible for a large percentage of your overall calorie burn, an accurate measurement can help you set the right calorie budget for food each day.

How do they perform the test? Well, there are a few different options for metabolic testing.

1. Direct Calorimetry

This method of metabolic testing determines the number of calories you burn by measuring your body heat. To conduct the test you have to sit inside a chamber for about 60 minutes.

This form of testing is very accurate, but it is time-consuming and can be expensive. The test is usually performed in a laboratory or research facility.

Visit to learn more about the facilities that perform metabolic testing.

2. Indirect Calorimetry

Indirect calorimetry is a metabolic test that measures the amount of oxygen you breathe in and the amount of carbon dioxide you breathe out.

To conduct this test, you wear a mask or lie under a machine which then measures the oxygen you take in and the carbon dioxide you breathe out. Generally, this process takes about 15 minutes.

It is slightly less accurate than the direct calorimetry version but is less expensive and easier to gain access to. Many gyms and health facilities use this version of testing.

3. VO2 Max Test

The VO2 max test is generally reserved for athletes and other high performing fitness professionals. This test measures how well your body consumes oxygen.

To conduct this test, you wear a mask over your face while running on a treadmill at full speed. The mask measures how much oxygen you consume while you’re exerting yourself at a high level.

This test is often used as a measure of cardiovascular fitness and again, is usually reserved for athletes seeking peak performance.

Metabolic Testing and Weight Loss

So at this point, you might be asking, what the heck does this have to do with helping me lose weight?

Well, you’re about to find out!

The truth is that everyone’s metabolism works a little bit differently. Gender, age, height, weight, activity level and genetics can impact how efficiently your body burns.

So, if you and your best friend went on the same diet it is entirely possible that one of you would have tremendous results and the other one would see minimal change in weight.

However, by accurately testing your basal metabolic rate you can determine exactly the number of calories you should be consuming in relation to those that you are burning. Keep in mind that balancing calories in and calories out is the simplest way to measure weight loss progress but it is just one part of your overall health and wellness.

It is also possible for your metabolic rate to change over time, therefore you may want to get tested more regularly to have a consistent and accurate measurement.

Where Can I Get Tested?

Metabolic testing is usually performed at a medical or health facility. Some gyms or fitness centers have the technology for these tests but you may be required to pay for the testing.

If you are interested in metabolic testing you can consult your primary care doctor for more information about facilities in your area.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

We all know weight loss can be a difficult process, but using science and technology can increase the likelihood of your success.

Using metabolic testing along with measuring your calorie output from exercise, you can develop a plan for consistent calorie deficit and ultimately weight loss!

Remember that weight is just one measurement of overall wellness and it is important to check with a medical professional before starting a new diet or exercise routine.

If you are interested in more health and wellness information, check out our other blogs!