Why is Metabolic Health Important?
The integration of health interventions requires coaches to be well-informed about metabolic health. But the term metabolic health seems to be getting more interest and attention over time and we have wonder why. We’ve become conditioned to so many reality constructs in life, we tend to seek out order in health only when there is a crisis – or, an event. This is another way of saying that health, fitness and wellness is typically prescriptive in most developed countries. This means that it becomes too late to prevent a problem. In this case; medication or invention(s) may be necessary. As coaches, we are on the front lines of helping people sort out changes or problems. In an ideal scene, we would be proactive and help our client manage good, sound, holistic health and wellness. This simply is not our reality, though. We can also work with clients who need more of a prescriptive intervention, but only if and when we are properly trained for such work
Metabolic Testing: What You Get
Metabolic testing has evolved greatly in the past 20 years. Now, consumers can easily get a report on their metabolic function in a fairly quick and easy way. There are a few different ways that metabolism is currently tested. We have the CO2 method, whereby expelled respiratory gases are analyzed to determine how energy is being made and used; we also use the VO2 method but it can often be true that this measure is aimed at assessing athletic performance or responses to physical activity. Coaches can turn this information into a successful eating strategy and trainers can use the data to fuel their client’s metabolism for workouts or times of recovery.
Popular Metabolic Testing Techniques
The short explanation here is that most companies that provide metabolic testing use what is known as indirect calorimetry (ID).
ID is not something that happens without a lot of quality controls in place along the way.
Gas and flow rate measurements are essential components for accurate indirect calorimetry measurements. The most commonly used gas analyzers are paramagnetic O2 analyzers, galvanic O2 sensors, and infrared CO2 analyzers. While measurement of flow rate can be achieved either by the measurement of the volume of gas expired over a period of time or by the integration of a continuous measurement of the rate of flow in four different forms:
- pitot tubes
- hot-wire anemometers
As you can imagine, the accurate calibration of gas analyzers is one of the most essential requirements in calorimetry.
Indirect Calorimetry Assumptions and Calculations
Indirect calorimetry methods for energy expenditure measurements are based on some baseline assumptions, the first being that any fuel consumed has an intrinsic energy content that upon metabolic modifications in the living system will result in heat or energy production. Another factor is the combustion or synthesis of carbohydrates, fats, or proteins, resulting from all the biochemical reactions occurring in the body. This has a direct impact on metabolism. The oxidation of glucose, fat, or protein results in a substance-specific fixed ratio between the quantities of O2 consumed and CO2 produced – a lot of science in that statement but we are, after all, discussing metabolism. The last assumption considers the loss of substrates is negligible in waste.
Coaches are not necessarily doing the metabolic testing. If you do not have a device that does this testing for you, then it is still important to understand the information included in this type of report. This could be a challenge for a CIHC but is part of the process used when assessing clients and evaluating their health and wellness.
Most companies serving this industry offer quick, confident, and assessable testing protocols. There are about a dozen companies currently offering a portable, breath-analysis device to report metabolic metrics. What is typically measured?
Lumen uses the same respiratory exchange rate (RER) metric that many metabolic analysis devices rely on. Lumen uses a CO2 sensor, a flow sensor, and a specific breath maneuver to provide a reading. Its ability to accurately match traditional RER tests is alleged to be proven in multiple validation studies. This method and technique measures the CO2 in the breath through the sensor and flow meter, based on the RER metric. This allows for easy use of a RER as the data point to report
While not endorsing any single company, there is proprietary technology being used to deliver this information at home.
While not necessarily a “home test”, the Korr test has been popular, mostly dominating the market for measuring metabolism for qualified technicians because they were pioneers in making the testing portable. But technology has brought us to a point where we can use many different types of laboratory tests to measure metabolic flexibility. A specialist would need respiratory quotient devices and that usually requires a person to go into the hospital or clinic for an extended stay in a room having their body’s measurements taken. What others have done is taken this very complex technology and miniaturized it into a device that you can breathe into and get immediate feedback about what kind of fuel the body is metabolizing. A technician using these types of devices will measure many different types of labs in order to understand how the body metabolizes fats and carbs. Measurements may include blood tests, genetics, and measuring the microbiome. A qualified technician is also measuring glucose by taking ketone measurements.
How Does Metabolic Testing Benefit Your Coaching Clients?
The simplicity of some of these testing protocols and devices means that all it does is require you to breathe. Some of these devices (Lumen for example) give you day-to-day or even hour-to-hour feedback. In order to really start studying metabolism you have to realize that you can’t attach yourself to one idea.
As coaches, we can not fall prey to believing that one size fits all, or one way of thinking – or one type of metabolic theory – is right. Our service to the client is to encourage this type of testing for the client and to discuss results to help clients manage their metabolic flexibility. The only way to understand this is to test from different angles and from different nutrition patterns from different lifestyle changes from different interventions used. In this process, your client will see their body in a different light.
Many people aren’t metabolically flexible and they are restricting their eating and they’re not actually getting into fat-burning mode. For most clients, it can be hard to accept that they think they are doing what’s right for them but in fact, they are actually harming their metabolic rate and stressing the body.
It is really important to have a tool to actually provide feedback in real-time. Knowing that an eating plan is working for your client is a point we all strive for but it is hard to get this validation; this may be due to most people not having the right tools to inform them of what, precisely, is happening inside their bodies. A majority of these clients give up too soon. The great part of having a device like these portable testing units is that it allows coaches to personalize nutrition for clients. This is a milestone reached when clients learn about different types of nutrition, and they can learn about different macronutrient ratios that enable them to customize daily intake amounts. They can then achieve better metabolic flexibility. Integrate metabolic coaching into your delivery of services to really boost client results!
Where can You Learn More?
The health and wellness of our world are changing, there is no disputing this fact. Coaches, trainers and healthcare professionals working to enhance lives are on the front lines and right now, Certified Integrative Health Coaches are positioned to help shape a future of shifting healthcare responsibilities.
Check out what it takes to start a career in personal fitness training. This is your most affordable and fastest way to become a highly qualified personal trainer.
Is your recertification coming up? Learn more about earning your CEU credits. You can find the full list of CEU courses here.
There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.
NESTA and Spencer Institute coaching programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.
That’s it for now.