Some health clubs offer to measure your metabolic rate for a fee, and some gym junkies are forking over their hard-earned money for this metabolic rate testing. Of course, it would be useful to know how fast your metabolism really is and exactly how many calories you burn a day, but is metabolic testing at a gym really accurate?
Why the Interest in Knowing Your Metabolic Rate?
Some people are convinced they can’t lose weight because they have a slow metabolism. As a result, they jump at the opportunity to find out just how fast their metabolism is – by measuring basal metabolic rate.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the minimum amount of energy your body needs to burn just to stay alive. This is the energy needed to keep internal organs functioning even when the body is at rest. BMR can account for three-quarters of the calories a person burns each day, although this varies based on age, genetics, gender, and how much lean body mass a person has.
Is Metabolic Rate Testing at Gyms Accurate?
If a fitness trainer offers to measure your metabolic rate, hang onto to your wallet. To get an accurate measurement of your basal metabolic rate requires twelve hours of fasting, and the measurements have to be done after sleeping for twelve hours – without exercising beforehand.
Simply walking into the gym to have your BMR measured alters the results. The guy or gal doing the measuring may give you a value, but that doesn’t mean it’s accurate. To do accurate metabolic rate testing requires the right equipment, a temperature-controlled environment, and the right preparation beforehand.
It’s possible to estimate basal metabolic rate, as well as the number of calories you need a day, using formulas that take into account body weight, height, and age, but these are an estimate. These formulas usually overestimate BMR in people who are heavier.
Factors That Affect Your Basal Metabolic Rate
BMR goes down with age, deceasing about 2.5% per decade after the age of twenty in both men and women. Men have a higher BMR than women at all ages because they have more muscle mass. Genetics also play a role in how fast or slow a person’s BMR is. BMR can decrease with starvation or malnutrition – and increase during periods of overeating. Exercise can also alter it – although it’s unclear to what extent.
Measuring Metabolic Rate: The Bottom Line?
Don’t waste your money on metabolic rate testing at the gym. Use one of the many equations and calculators online to estimate it instead. It may not be completely accurate, but it will be just as useful as what they charge you for at the gym.