By: JoAnn Cranson
I’m always trying to learn more about my body and how to manage staying healthy, burning fat and keeping my weight in check. I’m not a pro racer but I do like to exercise and compete. My latest bucket list item is to run my first Marathon.
Well, the first thing I’m discovering as I increase my miles is that I am not fueling enough during my run. The best way to figure out fueling is to do Metabolic Efficiency Testing.
Metabolism is how your body converts food into fuel to power your body. When you breathe, oxygen is carried to your muscles where carbohydrates and fats are used as fuel to create energy to keep the muscles working. Your body’s preferred fuel source is fats. It relies on oxygen (aerobic) and produces more energy. Alternatively, carbohydrates don’t rely on oxygen and provide quick bursts of energy.
However, your body only has a small storage of carbohydrates, so this is why we need to fuel adequately and frequently with carbohydrates during endurance exercise (Over 2 hours). Ideally we don’t want to have to rely on carbohydrates for all our fueling if we can train our body to use our fat stores for longer periods of times and increasingly higher intensities.
Your metabolism is unique to you! It not only refers to the way our body regulates our weight but also includes all of the chemical processes within our bodies that help to maintain normal function.
What I wanted to know – what is my Metabolic Efficiency? In other words, how much fat am I burning and how many carbohydrates do I need to take in during my Marathon to run my best? Plus, I want to teach my body to burn more fat so I preserve the carbohydrate stores. This test will tell me at what heart rate, pace or power my body burns fat the best, and how I can improve that over time. The less I need to eat while I’m running the better it is for me and my digestion, yet not enough could potentially allow me to bonk!
I went to Athletic Mentors gym in Richland, Michigan to get this testing done. They had some questions that I answered ahead of time and I had the option to run on a treadmill or cycle on a trainer for this test.
I fasted for 12 hours and arrived for my test in comfortable running clothes. Jess was so friendly and helped me feel at ease by explaining everything as we got started. She checked my blood pressure, pricked my finger to measure my glucose, I put on a heart rate strap and she fitted me with a mask until I was comfortable in it. The mask and tubing were attached to a KORR machine and her computer setup.
Each test is tailored to your specific goals of what you want to learn about yourself. Some people want to know exactly how metabolically efficient they are while others are specifically looking for a fueling strategy at a certain target race pace. We started with a slow walk and very gradually eased into a run. Each phase was clearly communicated and she was always making sure I was comfortable and communicating my energy output before going to the next step.
After the test is complete, you will have a personal consultation about your results. My results showed I do burn a decent amount of fat vs carbohydrate at my 9:22/mile run pace. The information also shows me how many grams of carbs I should consume every hour for my long runs.
My long-term goal is to improve my body to preferentially use fats as the main fuel source for as long as possible. From the test, I know my target zone (heart rate and pace) to gradually get my body to use more fats as a fuel source for as long as possible. As my body adapts to using fats more, I’ll see an improvement in this speed and heart rate. Along with this, I need to be aware that I’m eating a balanced diet of healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates.
Check out Athletic Mentors and set up your Metabolic Efficiency Test. (Click the link and it will explain everything along with the reasonable cost to have it done.) Whether you want to learn more about your personal health or you have an upcoming goal race, it’s so worth it to learn more about how your body operates.
This average “Jo”Ann is enjoying learning more about staying healthy and being more prepared to check off another item (Running a Marathon) on my bucket list!