MDS now able to measure metabolism

  • Published
  • By William Carpenter
  • 66th Medical Squadron Health Promotions
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The struggle to lose weight can seem overwhelming at times. Exercise is important, but without proper nutrition, you may never see results.

Most people agree a balanced diet has lean protein sources, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates, but how much of each do we need? A person’s metabolism is also important information.

Metabolic rate is the rate and efficiency that your body converts food to energy. The number of calories a person requires varies depending on age, gender, total weight and muscle mass. There are several formulas and instruments, such as the Bod Pod, that can predict calorie needs based on these factors; however, predicted and true values often differ.

To measure the calories your body needs, a direct calorimetry is required. This process measures the amount of heat produced by a person enclosed within a small, insulated chamber over 24 hours.

Health Promotions can now measure your metabolism, the number of calories your body burns at rest, and provide a calorie range for safe weight loss through a process called indirect calorimetry. Indirect calorimetry measures the amount of heat produced, or energy burned, by determining the amount of oxygen consumed.

The ReeVee Metabolic Analyzer calculates resting energy expenditure and helps to determine the number of calories used for energy production.

So what makes this number so important? Determining the total calories your body requires will allow an individualized nutrition plan for the percentage of protein, carbohydrates and fats to consume for weight loss, weight maintenance, or even healthy weight gain.

The process is simple. Unlike the Bod Pod, there are no special clothing requirements. The assessment takes 10 to 15 minutes while sitting in a chair. The individual places a breathing tube inside their mouth and seals the breathing valve with their lips. A soft clip is placed on the patient’s nose to ensure the tube used to calculate the most accurate number of calories captures all air. The tube is disposable and each patient receives a new one. Once completed, the patient takes the tube out of their mouth and places in a trash can nearby. Each patient receives a printout for his or her record. A question and answer opportunity with Health Promotions staff follows.

For best results, participants should not exercise during the day prior to the assessment, or consume food within four hours of the assessment. Exercise causes an increase in breathing rate, which could lead to higher resting energy expenditure values calculated when compared to actual values. In addition, large meals cause the body to begin breaking down food thereby increasing your metabolism for a short period.

Participants should also avoid stimulants such as cold medications or drinks high in caffeine, such as coffee or soda prior to the assessment.

The ReeVee Metabolic Analyzer is available to all members of the Hanscom community, including dependents.

For further information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Health Promotions at 781-225-6400 or via email at