Finding Your Metabolic Rate

Post by Abby Meyer. Abby graduated from Virginia Tech in the Spring of 2011 with a B.S. in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise with a concentration in dietetics. She is currently completing her dietetic internship through NCCU and is finishing up her community rotation with Rex Wellness Centers. Upon graduation from the dietetic internship in June, she will become eligible to sit for her Registered Dietitian exam, in hopes to start work as a dietitian by the fall.


I dreaded having my Metabolism tested. Like so many others out there I was worried that the numbers would reveal that I had a “slow” metabolism. One of our other wellness co-workers did the Metabolic testing (aka the “medgem”) with me and her number was 1700 calories/day to sustain basic body functions. As she is 4-5 inches taller than me and weighs a bit more than me I was sure my number would be lower. I was wrong. My number was 1978. Wow! How is that possible? It’s possible because metabolic rate is unique to the individual. This means that the so-called “slow” metabolism I was worried about is actually non-existent. There is no fast or slow metabolism, there’s only a person’s individual metabolic rate. While its mostly predetermined based on our genetics, other factors play into the determination of our metabolic rate; body size and composition, gender, and age. Those who weigh more or have more muscle typically burn more calories, even at rest. Men tend to have less body fat and more muscle than women increasing the number of calories they burn. Age is a factor as well considering that we tend to lose muscle and gain fat as we get older, decreasing the amount of calories our body burns per day.

As a 5’4 female, why is my metabolic rate 1978? Part of it can be contributed to my muscle mass. The other factors that play into my metabolic rate are my age, 23, and current status training for a half-marathon. I’m also a frequent eater; eating every 3 hours to sustain my glucose levels, optimizing the calorie burn. Yet, some of the reasoning behind metabolic rate can only be explained by genetic make-up. A study was done with two individuals with the same lean body mass, same weight yet one burned over 700 calories per day more than the other. We can’t compare ourselves to others when our metabolic rates are unique and based on so many different factors. So remember, your metabolism isn’t “slow” or “fast” it’s just YOUR metabolism; staying active, eating a balanced diet, and listening to hunger/fullness cues will help your metabolism regulate your energy consumption and body composition the way it naturally should.

*If you plan to get your medgem done, its important to follow the guidelines set-up by the dietitian. I re-did my medgem post-meal and the RMR sky-rocked to 2840. Eating before the test can result in an inaccurate readings.

  • How do you get tested for this and is it usually covered by insurance or do you just pay for it yourself. I would like to get this done!!

    • Ashley Honeycutt

      Call one of our Rex Wellness Center locations and schedule an appointment with one of our dietitians. If you carry BCBSNC insurance, it may be covered. Otherwise, it’s an out-of-pocket expense ($50). Visit rexhealth.com/wellness for contact information.

    • Ashley Honeycutt

      Call one of our Rex Wellness Center locations and schedule an
      appointment with one of our dietitians. If you carry BCBSNC insurance,
      it may be covered. Otherwise, it’s an out-of-pocket expense ($50). Visit
      http://www.rexhealth.com/wellness for contact information.