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Calorie counting

By Mandy Cook

Your body is a calorie-burning machine. And there is a team of exercise science specialists on campus that can assess your body’s caloric needs.

Allied Health Services (AHS), a network of athletic performance and health services within the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation (HKR), will soon offer specialized physiological testing to determine how many calories your body requires to maintain basic organ function.

Dr. Amy Butt, co-ordinator of AHS, said the newly offered service, basal metabolic rate (BMR) determination, is for anyone who would like to tune into their body’s unique caloric needs.

“Through a technique called indirect calorimetry, test administrators can determine how much energy your vital organs need in the run of a day just to keep you alive,” said Dr. Butt. “From there, a person can look at their overall daily energy expenditure and energy intake to see if they are balancing the equation.”

The test, which AHS aims to have on stream by mid-October, will require clients to follow strict pre-test instructions, such as fasting for 12 hours and being driven early in the morning to the School of HKR.

BMR testing is done with individuals lying on a bed, while a large plastic bubble with tubing is placed over the head in order to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Anyone – from weekend warriors to serious athletes to wellness-seekers – can sign up for a BMR assessment, which will cost approximately $195. Clients will undergo a minimum of two testing sessions to ensure accuracy of results and will need to book off about an hour and a half of their day. The data produced will then permit AHS exercise science professionals to advise the client in dietary and exercise planning.

The BMR testing became of interest to AHS for a few reasons. First of all, the service can benefit the health of the community. In addition, this state of the art technology can help advance research and education within the School of HKR.

Dr. Butt said restrictive diets may negatively affect a person’s metabolism. She explained that through the determination of BMR, individuals can gain a better understanding of how much fuel they need in order to balance their energy needs.

“This service can benefit lots of people, such as those who are frustrated with yo-yo dieting and can’t understand why once they go off their diet they gain the weight back, to a high performance athlete who has to target a particular weight goal for a weight class,” said Dr. Butt. “This can benefit anyone in the community.”