Why Exercise Testing Can Improve Weight Loss Efforts


If you are reading this blog, you likely have a goal of weight loss or optimizing your body composition. Exercise and metabolic testing can be an invaluable tool when it comes to achieving sustainable weight loss. Long story short, testing that utilizes a high-end metabolic cart provides reliable information on energy expenditure and metabolic efficiency. This data allows professionals to give individualized weight loss recommendations to help clients reach their goals faster and more effectively.

 What is Exercise/Metabolic Testing?

Though exercise testing (in general) refers to a broad range of tests, I will, specifically, be referring to testing that utilizes a metabolic cart. A metabolic cart is a sophisticated piece of machinery that measures the oxygen consumption (VO2) and carbon dioxide production (VCO2) through indirect calorimetry. Achieve Health & Performance has the only metabolic cart in the Roaring Fork Valley that can evaluate both energy expenditure and exercise metrics. These specific measurements can determine the following (each piece of information has unique advantages that will be discussed in greater length below):

  • Caloric expenditure at various intensities and at rest
  • Fuels an individual is burning at different intensities (carbohydrate vs. fat)
  • Metabolic efficiency (i.e. are you an effective fat burner?)
  • Accurate training zones (at which heart rate are you most effectively burning both calories and fat to achieve weight loss)

What Tests Offer Which Information and Why Is Each Test Beneficial?

Our metabolic cart can be used to measure caloric expenditure at rest and can also attach to a treadmill or bike to perform exercise testing. The basic tests we offer are listed below to give you a better idea why these evaluations are useful in supporting body composition goals.

Resting Energy Expenditure (REE)

Garnering an accurate picture of how many calories you are burning at rest informs your true caloric needs for weight loss, rather than relying on prediction equations. This will also confirm or dispel any hypothesis that you have a slower than normal metabolism. Often clients will come to us suspecting that their metabolism has slowed down or is working at a lower than normal level. We can accurately determine if this is true with a REE test. 

A resting test will also provide a picture of how efficiently your body is using fat. At rest, the body should be burning mostly fat rather than carbohydrate. If this is not the case (or if your percentage of fat utilization is less than ideal), dietary modifications can help train your body to become more efficient. This information can also be cross-referenced with data from a sub-max test to determine metabolic efficiency throughout the intensity spectrum.

Anaerobic Threshold Analysis (AT) or Sub-Max Test

During a sub-max test, you will exercise on either a bike or a treadmill at increasing intensity while the metabolic cart takes measurements (heart rate and speed or cycling power are concurrently measured). This metabolic assessment will first and foremost give you accurate training zones rather than relying on estimates. Having solid zones will help to identify the intensity of exercise that burns the most amount of calories while also burning the greatest percentage of fat. Basically, you will get a recommendation for the heart rate zone that will maximize your weight loss efforts. In addition, you will know how many calories you are burning in each zone, which can be useful in calculating caloric needs for weight loss (plus it’s fun to see how accurate your Fitbit or Garmin really are). You will also know what fuels you are burning during exercise. This will give you a picture of your metabolic efficiency (particularly when cross-referenced with a resting test), which can be improved through diet.  

In Conclusion

Both of these tests can be done individually or as part of a more comprehensive package. In addition to exercise and metabolic testing, we also offer body composition analysis (which will provide information on percentage of body fat) and individualized nutrition consults. Our overall goal is to provide you with a plan for sustainable weight loss, while also helping you to improve your health. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Katie ElliottComment