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The Key to Weight Loss May be in Your Breath

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April 12, 2010

Chicago -

Breath tests provide patients with metabolism numbers to help manage weight and nutrition

About two-thirds of the U.S. adult population is overweight. If you are among that group, then you know how difficult it can be to shed those extra pounds. But what if your doctor told you that a basic math equation could be the key to your weight loss? For many people, a simple breathing test used to track resting metabolic rate (RMR), can provide the statistics necessary to manage caloric intake and tailor their weight loss plan.

“Trying to manage weight without an accurate metabolism measurement is like leaving for a vacation without knowing how to get there,” said Hannah El-Amin, RD, Northwestern Memorial’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness. “By determining an individual’s resting metabolic rate, we learn how many calories they should consume each day in order to support their weight loss goals. From there, we create a nutrition and fitness plan that is tailored to their unique needs.”

The metabolic test is a simple breath test used to determine a person’s unique resting metabolic rate—the number of calories an individual burns in a day at rest. The RMR varies widely from person to person, and accounts for as much as 75 percent of the total daily calories burned.

The test requires a person to breath into a mask hooked to the device for 10 minutes. The device then prints out a report with the individual’s caloric needs, after age, weight and activity level are factored in. Immediately after the test, the patient will know if their metabolism is low, normal or high. The test also determines exactly how many calories a person needs to maintain, lose, or even gain weight. From there, it’s a simple math equation of calories in-calories out.

Traditionally, estimation equations have been used to determine calorie requirements, but can be inaccurate for a significant portion of the population. Dietitians like El-Amin prefer the metabolic test because it is quick, accurate and not intrusive. It’s especially useful in patients who have made significant efforts to lose weight with little success. It takes the guesswork out of their efforts.

“Many times patients think eating fewer calories will help them lose weight, when in fact they may need to be eating more in order to speed up their metabolism. With this test patients are able to leave their appointments armed with the exact caloric number to successfully lose weight,” said El-Amin.

In order to increase your metabolism El-Amin offers these tips.

• Avoid skipping meals – eating your 3 meals a day helps keep your metabolism primed to work at peak efficiency. You should also include a snack if you have more than 4-5 hours between meals.

• Pump up the cardiovascular exercise – exercising at a high intensity has been shown to increase metabolism while you’re working out and for several hours after an intense exercise session. A good goal is to exercise four to six times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

• Weight train – strength training can increase metabolism for several hours after completion of an exercise session. Plus, training with weights increases muscle composition which allows fat to burn faster.

Northwestern Memorial’s Center for Integrative Medicine Wellness is pleased to offer RMR testing. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 312-926-3627 (DOCS).

Media Contact:

Angela Salerno
Senior Associate
Media Relations

Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011