Metabolic profile testing is a process typically thought of as only for competitive athletes or marathon runners. But according to Seattle physical therapist Bethanie Bayha, such testing offers benefits for anyone looking to improve health and improve endurance.  

“The whole concept of metabolic testing is trying to stabilize energy over the course of the day,” said Bayha, a Level 1 Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist at Real Rehab Sports + Physical Therapy in Seattle. 

Bayha oversees the metabolic testing program at Real Rehab. She meets with clients who may have specific goals in mind – anything from improving health markers to increasing performance in hiking, climbing, skiing, running, or cycling – to discover how their bodies burn energy. 

Depending on a person’s goals, Bayha administers two different types of metabolic profile testing. 

A “resting test” requires about 20 minutes. The client lies down in a comfortable position wearing a heart monitor and a mask registering the oxygen and C02 exchange, or the amount of calories used and whether it is being burned from fat or carbohydrates.  

In an “active test,” participants spend about 45 minutes on a treadmill, bike or rowing machine (specified to an individual’s goals) with the mask and monitor measuring the body’s utilization over time and intensity. 

Recognizing how an individual body operates enables Bayha to develop a tailored plan to help a person reach her or his individual goals – a plan specifically based on the unique way the client burns energy – whether the goal be perform better or to simply lose weight. 

The information gleaned from a metabolic profile test can benefit a person in a number of ways: 

Health and Fitness. Developing exercise and diet plans which are customized based on the results of metabolic testing can yield several positive results. 

“It could potentially be weight loss, but what you see is a more stabilized blood sugar that can help decrease diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,” said Bayha, who added it could also produce better sleep, mood stabilization, and a consistent energy level.   

Energizing Diet. When considering metabolic efficiency in the body, 70 percent is dependent on nutrition and 30 percent is on exercise, Bayha said. Your body burns what you eat and will naturally turn to carbohydrates since these calories are easiest to burn. Diets of protein, fiber and fat, she said, often aid metabolic efficiency and maintain energy levels. 

“Metabolic tests, regardless of if you want to improve health markers or performance, is most effective when combined with a consultation with nutritionist,” said Bayha, adding that Real Rehab often connects clients with nutritionists to ensure metabolic testing results a properly applied nutritionally.   

Efficiency of Exercise. Metabolic testing supports customization of fitness goals to benefit every type of body. Testing results help to identify zones based on heart rate and perceived exertion, and how much time you would want to spend per week in these zones when exercising. 

Bayha said metabolic testing also analyzes efficiency and crossover points, or the point at which heart rate and activity level drops below burning 50 percent fat calories. This can help to determine how long, and at what level your body should be active to gain the most benefits.  

If health and fitness plans designed from metabolic testing are followed, Bayha said improvements can be felt within two weeks. If desired, re-testing can be conducted after three to four months, to compare how your body has changed, she added.