Image by Jeffery Erhunse

Metabolic Efficiency Testing

Founded by Bob Seebohar, a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics and former sports RD for University of Florida and US Olympic Committee, Metabolic Efficiency testing is a comprehensive nutritional intervention and exercise prescription approach that can accurately determine if an athlete's daily nutrition regimen supports the body's ability to burn fat while preserving carbohydrate (glycogen) stores - having a significant impact on health and athletic performance.

The average person stores about 1,400 - 2,000 calories worth of carbohydrates in their body and 50,000 - 80,000 calories of fat (1)! Burning more carbohydrates allows the body to store fat. However, the body can be taught to burn more carbohydrate or fat in a surprisingly short period of time. Thereby, burning more fat allows the body to preserve the small amount of carbohydrates it has. 

During exercise, the body can only rely on carbohydrate stores for up to 2 hours of exercise at moderate intensity. Unlike carbohydrates, fat stores can support many hours of physical demands placed on an athlete. By teaching the body how to tap into it's fat stores more efficiently at higher exercise intensity - preserving carbohydrate stores - optimizes the body's ability to further maximize athletic performance at a higher exercise capacity and for a longer duration. Through Metabolic Efficiency Testing, an athlete can identify if and where their Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP) is and at which exercise intensity it exists (1). Understanding one's metabolic efficiency, the body can be trained to use carbohydrate stores and fat more efficiently.

Unlike other physical performance tests, Metabolic Efficiency Testing hones in on determining individually specific nutritional needs based upon MEP analysis. The performance test lasts about 30-45minutes in which an individual works at a moderate-to-high intensity while the respiratory quotient achieved through gas exchange of oxygen and CO2. Gas exchange is analyzed in determining an athlete's MEP - the intensity at which the body utilizes energy from 50% fat and 50% carbohydrate stores (1).   

Why Care?

Health & Well-Being

Uncontrolled blood sugar can have a significant negative impact on your health. In regards to health parameters, Metabolic Syndrome, a disease made up of a series of 5 risk factors, can predispose an individual to chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke. The five factors include 1. a large waistline, 2. high triglycerides, 3. low HDL cholesterol, 4. high blood pressure, and 5. high fasting blood glucose. Having three of the five risk factors classifies one with Metabolic Syndrome and significantly increases risk for heart disease and stroke (1). Those diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome are two times more likely to develop heart disease and five times more likely to develop diabetes than someone without Metabolic Syndrome. 

The good news!? A good portion of disease risk can be controlled by simply following a metabolic efficient nutrition plan to control and optimize blood sugar.  

Fitness/Athletic Performance

To be fit is a very subjective term as there are many definitions of fitness. In general, being fit means to be able to successfully carry out activities of daily living and being able to participate in various exercises to improve aerobic capacity and strengthen the muscles capacity to perform work. Whether you participate in athletic competitions or not, the adoption of metabolic efficiency training will improve your body from the inside out and allow you to move better. 

Athletes embody Metabolic Efficiency Testing because performance improvements can be fairly significant. No matter the type of athlete (strength, power, aesthetic, endurance), there are countless benefits when periodized and implemented appropriately. The benefits will differentiate based upon the athlete but in general, athletes typically experience one or more of the following when they become metabolically efficient: 

  • Decreased body weight

  • Decreased body fat

  • Improved and sustained energy levels and mental alertness throughout the day

  • Improved recovery

  • Improved cognitive function

  • Improved Power to weight ratio

  • Improved running velocity

  • Better sleep  

It is important to note that each athlete will experience different interactions and improvements based upon their starting point and level of progression. Remember, nutrition periodization is the cornerstone of any nutrition program. The nutrition and exercise strategies with Metabolic Efficiency Training are tools that are continually used throughout the year to help individuals improve health and athletic performance (1). 

Metabolic Efficiency Interpretation.

screen-shot-2018-05-01-at-5-36-17-pm_orig.png

Understanding your Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP) is essential in creating a daily and training nutrition plan that is RIGHT for you. There are no generic recommendations. Findings from the test, your MEP, will help personalize all of your nutrition based on current physiology that can be molded into your lifestyle to make it simple and sustainable. No guessing. No wondering. No mistakes (1). 

​Metabolic Efficiency interpretation includes the following: 

  • Resting metabolic data to identify health parameters of an athlete's daily nutrition. 

  • Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP) - measured point at which the body begins to utilize more carbohydrates than fat. Some individual's have it while others do not. 

  • Identify the amount of calories and grams of carbohydrate and fat burned at each level of intensity. Intensity is determined by speed, heart rate, pace/power. 

  • Identify the total calories the body burns at each level of intensity. 

  • Calorie Efficiency Ratio - provides a valid range of calories during exercise based upon an athlete's physiology. 

  • Complete and customized daily nutrition plan to improve an athlete's MEP, health and performance.   

Shared by eNRG Performance, Bob Seebahar's official Metabolic Efficiency Training website,  the slide below shows the Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP) - the point at which the body begins to burn more carbohydrates for energy than fat (some individuals have it, some don't). In this particular example, the individual appears to have a well defined MEP (2). 

1. Metabolic Efficiency Training. What is it?. ​http://www.metabolicefficiency.org/what-is-it/
2. eNRG Performance. About Metabolic Efficiency Testing. https://www.enrgperformance.com/metabolic-efficiency-testing/​