Friday, January 07, 2011

Metabolic Efficiency - The Test!

Today I headed up to Littleton to meet Bob Seebohar for a metabolic efficiency test. I've been eating "metabolically efficient" since the start of my study on December 1st, why not get tested and see the real numbers? Here's how the day unfolded. In order to do the test, I needed to be in a 12 hour fasted state (only consume water). So after dinner last night (arond 7pm) I didn't eat anything until after this test. Of course I woke up hungry around 6:20 am. I got ready and left the house around 7:45, allowing myself plenty of time to find Club Form Fitness and deal with any traffic. Fortunately the traffic flowed at the speed limit, so I arrived plenty early. Dina and Bob were getting the metabolic cart set up.

The treadmill and the cart (and Dina)
Bob explained the protocol to me, I changed into running gear and then got hooked up to the cart.
Let's rock-n-roll!

getting the tube just right
So what's it like to be attached to a metabolic cart? First, you breathe only through your mouth. Your nose is clipped shut so that all the air you take in and breathe out is through the mouthpiece. Like snorkeling. But no pretty fishes. A little strange at first, and try swallowing with your nose plugged and a mouthpiece like this. Your ears feel it!
the "snorkel"
Once comfortable breathing, I started with a walk, then a jog. As soon as Bob was satisfied with my warm up, the test started. We increased the pace by 0.3mph every 5 minutes. I was a little surprised that my heart rate popped up quickly and stayed high at what I would consider slow paces. There could be several reasons for this, one being that from July 12 through the end of Septemeber, I didn't run at all, and I didn't run much in December as well. My heart rate at the beginning of the test, before I started walking, was in the low-mid 60s so it wasn't overall elevated. We'll see how it changes with my training.

In mid-test.
Bob and Dina collected the data, and Dina took a few pictures as well. Running on a treadmill can be boring, but with activity around and knowing you have to go faster in 5 minutes made the time go by fairly quickly. There was also TV on the treadmill, I think on TBS. Commercials around 9:30-10am revolve around food. Like all you can eat pancakes at IHOP. Not exactly what I want to see when 1) I'm hungry since I haven't eaten yet and have been on a treadmill for almost an hour and 2) I've cut grains out of my diet...

Overall the testing went pretty smoothly. As I went past the MEP, my perceived exertion went up, and although it is a little odd breathing through the mouthpiece at high intensities.  And the nose clips do get uncomfortable after about 30-40 minutes, exactly as I was told they would ahead of time.
Bob taking data...
One thing to note, and I was warned about this, is that with a mouthpiece in, you tend to drool. Fortunately a 'drool towel' was provided so I could wipe up as needed. When the test was over, after I reached my metabolic efficiency point, the contraption comes off.

Bucket to collect an hour's worth of drool...
all done!
And then I was done! And ready to eat! 
In that bag is the food I was waiting for all morning!
After the test we went over the preliminary results. Bob sent me the detailed report and I've summarized it on my coaching blog. But all the work I've been doing paying attention to my diet seems to be working! And so for dinner tonight, I "celebrated" with a metabolically efficient meal.

chicken seasoned with turmeric, with tomato, kidney beans, cauliflower, mushrooms in a yogurt sauce over a bed of spinach
There you have it! My metabolic efficiency journey is off to a very successful start!


megan26.2 said...

I think his shirt should read "Got drool?" =) Interesting!

Nicole said...

Megan - that's a great idea! :)

Christi said...

Great post!

Lisa gregory said...

This is really interesting!! Would love to do this but I live in Missoula, Montana - does anyone know of someone who does this test around here?
Lisa Gregory

Nicole said...

Hi Lisa,
Glad you found it interesting! I don't know about resources in MT, but I do know that there is a pro triathlete, Linsey Corbin, in Missoula.
She's really friendly, perhaps you could drop her a note and see if she gets any performance testing done there and where?