Understanding My Metabolism

Sunday, I had metabolic testing done. This whole thing came about when Michelle sent me a link to this blog post. I read it and thought, “this girl sounds just like me.” So I thought, why not get mine done? I did a little searching online but mostly found metabolic testing through blood panels, which wasn’t what I was looking for. I found the right one through St. Cloud Boot Camp, so I emailed them and scheduled an appointment. The test was $65, a small price in my eyes, if it helps me reach my goal.

I spoke with Chad, who I think is the owner of the boot camp. I emailed him a lot before the appointment and he was always fast to respond and super knowledgeable. Really great customer service, which for some reason, I didn’t expect.

So in case you didn’t click on that blog post I linked above, the metabolic test basically has you breath into a tube for approximately 8 – 12 minutes while a machine calculates how much oxygen you consume.

From the bootcamp website:

Your body consumes a fixed amount of oxygen per calorie burned. We measure the precise amount of oxygen in the air you exhale to calculate how much oxygen your body is consuming. Based on your oxygen consumption, we then determine the exact amount of calories you are burning.

Alright, so I was sick when I had the test done but Chad assured me beforehand that unless I was running a fever, the difference in test results are barely measurable. I was instructed not to exercise or eat or drink anything (except water) beforehand.

When I first arrived, Chad had me sit down for a little bit before starting since just walking from the car can boost metabolism. Once he set up the machine with my personal statistics (height, weight, sex), I breathed into a tube for about 10 minutes.

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My nose was so stuffed that I probably didn’t need the nose plug, but I used it anyway just in case. I also realize that it looks like I could be smoking something, so don’t even think about it Photoshoppers!

Breathing through the tube makes your throat feel a little dry but other than that, it’s no different than breathing through a snorkel. Really no big deal unless your uncomfortable breathing through a snorkel.

Once the machine had enough time to calculate all my numbers, he printed up a paper with my results.

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Chad talked to me for a good hour about my results and what changes I can make to reach my goal (to lose 10 lbs without starving myself). The major consensus between my friends and family is that I eat too little, so this is what I wanted to verify.

Here were my results:

1.  My metabolism is slightly on the “fast” side. (Well, that’s depressing right there.)

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Chad said he’s done well over 100 of these tests and that almost everyone’s metabolism is in the “normal” range. People think they have a slow metabolism, when in fact they just have terrible habits.

2. I burn approximately 1,584 calories doing absolutely nothing all day (i.e., if I layed in bed and did nothing but breathe).

3. I burn approximately 474 calories during my daily activities (i.e., running errands, chores, moving around, etc.).

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4. To lose weight, I should eat between 1268 – 1584 calories a day.

5. To maintain my weight, I should eat between 1584 – 2058 calories a day.

Chad told me I was already ahead of the game (and most people he tests) for several reasons: I already keep a food diary everyday, I read food labels and am aware of what foods are nutritious, I’m active, and I underestimate my calorie burn for workouts. All that is great, but obviously I’m still doing something wrong.

On the daily, I average about 1300-1500 calories and if I work out, I’ll eat a little more. (Usually, I try to keep my calories around 1300-1400 including exercise. Fridays and Saturdays are usually higher.) He said the main goal to achieve is eating the most food possible without adding body fat and because I’m so active, he recommended that I eat in the Maintenance Zone.

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He also mentioned that when you’re in decent shape (which I think I am), it’s harder to lose weight so you need to look at the details – not just calorie count but the quality of what you’re eating. So here are the changes I’m going to make for the next two weeks based on his recommendations:

  • Eat 1700 calories a day.
  • Do not count exercise calories.
  • Eat more quality calories (i.e., lay off the damn Peeps, Paula).

Eating 1700 calories a day keeps my body’s fuel consistent and since I exercise most days, the calorie burn will drop me somewhere into the Weight Loss Zone hopefully resulting in a little less Paula.

I started this plan on Sunday and so far, it’s already a little weird. It’s a big change for me mentally to eat more and not count my exercise. Doesn’t seem big, but it is. But, I really like that I only need to pay attention to one thing now (nutrition) instead of two (nutrition and exercise). I guess it just seems a little less exhausting.

In two weeks, if my weight goes up, I will drop the 1700 calories to 1600. But, if my weight goes down, Chad suggested that I add 50-100 calories a day to see if I can still lose weight but get away with eating more. So basically, I’m experimenting for a bit to see exactly what works for me.

Have you ever had your metabolism checked through a breathing test or blood test? How’d that go?

27 Comments

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27 responses to “Understanding My Metabolism

  1. “I also realize that it looks like I could be smoking something, so don’t even think about it Photoshoppers!”

    CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

  2. This is super interesting! I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes, especially eating more “quality” calories. I would love to see a WIAW of Paula’s 1700 😉

    • Paula

      Hmm. It makes me slightly sad that I know what WIAW means. Buuuut, I’ll think about it. We all know my food photography skillz needs some serious improvement. 🙂

  3. That is really interesting! I love geeking out over stuff like that which is why I want a Fitbit too. 😀

    • Paula

      Me too! I’m a total geek for this stuff. Yesterday, I decided I was going to keep using my BodyBugg instead of getting a Fitbit and then found out I need a subscription online to keep seeing my statistics. I was not amused. So the Fitbit is closer to becoming mine.

  4. I love reading about this stuff – I’m such a nerd! I can’t wait to hear how this approach goes.

    I have never even thought about counting exercise calories and actually had no idea you were doing this. I mean – I see a number on machines (and I’d love to get a heart rate monitor that reports calories), but it just never crosses my mind to calculate. Guess I shouldn’t start now?

    • Paula

      Then you are a step ahead of me! I usually take the number on the machine and drop it by 100-200 calories and that’s what I’d use. Or if I go on a 90 minute run, I’d only count 60 minutes. Chad told me he likes to think of exercise as burning zero calories so he only focuses on the nutrition. And really, that’s 80% of it, so it makes sense.

  5. Annnnd how will this new diet plan affect you next week while I am in Florida? I think that is the big question here. Booze is still okay, right?!

  6. SOOOO interesting. That’s all I really have to say. I have nothing wise to contribute but I’ll be watching as you go through this experiment to see what happens. You’re already a much better person than me. I just want to lose 10 pounds without counting calories or tracking what I eat. Why can’t I do that??? I’m too lazy for all this, which probably explains those 10-15 pounds. Sigh.

  7. so crazy cuz after i read her post about that a week or 2 ago (the same one you linked to!) i was like damn maybe i need to get that done cuz i am stuck. but like my weight has been the same for years so not even like a temporary plateau or anything. and i lose inches and feel good and clothes fit better but it seems like my weight should drop some, especially since i am actually considered overweight for my height. (dammit).
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Paula

      The guy actually suggested I do my measurements since it’s not all scale related. If you are losing inches, then that’s good! Muscle weighs more than fat. If I lose inches and not weight during this, I would be happy with that as well. Also, if I gain one pound, I will be considered overweight for my height. I’m right on the edge there! So I hear ya.

  8. I haven’t, but now I want to. I love numbers and statistics!

  9. KNed

    This is neat. It would be interesting to see how widely people vary. Like those with the same height/weight/build? I also really like what he said about the quality of calories.

  10. Cathy J

    I’ve never had a test like that but found your results very interesting. Good luck on the experimenting and I agree thinking only about one thing (nutrition) will make it easier. I can’t wait to read about your results. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Amber K

    I have never had my metabolism tested, but I have had my body fat tested in one of those bodpod machines. It was interesting, but didn’t really help tell me much about how many calories I should be eating. I’ve gained some weight with the various medications my doctors have been trying out for my pain issues (and being put on the Pill for a separate problem), and while that’s frustrating, I also like food. Lots of food. 😉

  12. I often use exercise to justify eating whatever I want, so I could see how it would be hard to separate the two. In fact, I think I’m going to try to make a more conscious effort to watch my eating even when working out. The hard part will be to keep the motivation to work out even if I’m eating better. Good luck! I’m excited to hear about the progress.

    • Paula

      I hear that. If I have a long run one day, I’m definitely eating the burger without thinking twice! But I think working out and eating well usually go together for me only because I don’t want to mess up the work I did. But if I don’t work out, it’s a free for all sometimes!

  13. I Have had one done. But it has been so long I should probably get another one done. It had a lot of useful information

    • Paula

      The Website recommended getting it done every month or two because your metabolism changes so often. That seems a little often but I can see every 4-6 months being reasonable!

  14. Wow this is so interesting! I can’t wait to hear the results of your experiment to see if you lose or gain.

  15. Gosh this looks so cool & what valuable info to have! I really want to get this done & thought it as much more expensive, might need to look into it soon. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us!

  16. I’m going to get my lactate threshold tested sometime soon. I, too, like these types of tests to determine what the crap is wrong with me. At least I can always lean back on the fact I have a messed up thyroid and blame any weight gain on that. Nope, totally not the milkshakes and burgers, all thyroid baby.

  17. I’m so jealous! I’d love to do this someday when I’m not poor. I hope it helps!

  18. Ali

    This was pretty fascinating…thanks for sharing! I’m definitely intrigued!

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