I have been conducting and analyzing metabolic tests for over twenty two years now. Without a doubt, the most common question I get asked is, “How frequently should I get my metabolism checked, tested, or retested?” Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to checking the status of one’s metabolism. It’s the individual’s goals that completely dictate how often one needs to check their metabolism. Below are the four (4) main goal categories and the reasoning behind the associated testing frequency.
Maintenance Goal: For individuals that are not actively trying to lose weight or gain weight and are solely trying to maintain, the recommended frequency for checking their metabolic rate is every six (6) months after their initial baseline test. The purpose behind this semiannual metabolic rate check is mainly early detection of any changes either due to age and/or inadvertent dietary or energy expenditure changes that may have affected the metabolism. By detecting these early changes, these individuals can be proactive in making the necessary adjustments in diet and activity to remain in “maintenance”.
Weight Loss (Fat) Goal: For individuals that are trying to lose weight, the recommended frequency for metabolism checking is every three (3) months during active weight loss or immediately if they detect a plateau in their weight loss progress. During active weight loss there will always* be some slowing of the metabolic rate due to the loss of fat, muscle, or both. Periodically checking one’s metabolic rate to see how much it has changed allows for adjustments in caloric intake to avoid plateaus and ensure that weight loss continues until one’s goal weight is successfully reached. As the metabolism slows down, the initial caloric deficit becomes smaller and smaller (same caloric intake but less calories being burned) and weight loss progress will begin to slow and eventual come to a halt without caloric adjustment. In this case, an immediate metabolism test is recommended to identify the extent of the slowing and help set a new, lower caloric intake level to break the plateau.
Weight Gain (Muscle) Goal: For individuals that are trying to gain weight, the recommended frequency for metabolism checking is every three (3) months during active weight gain or immediately if they detect a plateau in their weight gain progress. During active weight gain there will always be some increase in the metabolic rate due to the gain of muscle, fat, or both. Periodically checking one’s metabolism to see how much has changed, allows for adjustments in caloric intake to avoid plateaus and ensure that weight gain continues until one’s goal weight is successfully reached. As the metabolism speeds up, the initial caloric surplus becomes smaller and smaller and weight gain progress will begin to slow and eventual come to a halt without caloric adjustment. In this case of a weight gain plateau, an immediate metabolism test is recommended to identify the extent of the metabolic increase and help set a new increased caloric intake level to break the plateau.
Metabolic Damage Repair: Serial yo-yo dieters and overzealous exercisers can sometimes unknowingly slow and damage their metabolisms. As they plunge into extreme calorie cutting, their metabolisms sound the alarm, slamming the brakes to brace for the famine. But it’s not just the dieters and gym junkies that risk falling into this trap — even unsuspecting athletes striving for peak performance could be sabotaging their success by not refueling the calories they burn.
In either case, once the suppressed metabolism has been identified and the appropriate new nutritional targets have been set, the recommended frequency for metabolism checking is every four (4) weeks to both confirm repair progress and set guidelines for additional nutritional adjustments during repair. Once the repair is complete and the metabolism has normalized, a goal based (maintenance, weight loss, weight gain) testing frequency can be resumed.
The Bottom Line:
- Establish a regular schedule for checking your metabolism to help you stay on track of your health and fitness goals.
- Adjust testing frequency depending on your current goals.
- Establishing an optimal metabolism check-in schedule will help ensure that any changes or fluctuations in metabolic rate become immediately apparent and can be addressed quickly.