Firstly, what’s metabolism… Metabolism is the complex set of processes in the human body, ultimately responsible for sustaining life. This includes generating the energy our bodies need to function. We use four primary fuels (macronutrients) to make this energy - carbohydrates, fat, protein and alcohol. When we consume macronutrients, they’re digested to create, store and release energy when required. Everyone’s metabolism is different - it can be affected by age, body composition, gender, body surface area or hormones. …and how’s it measured? Energy is measured using the heat it releases in units called calories. To maintain a daily energy balance, the number of calories consumed should be equal to the total energy expended. This is why it’s important to work out:
How many calories an individual needs to consume each day to achieve energy balance;
The specific macronutrient energy source being used by the body (fat, carbohydrates etc); and
The efficiency with which cells use oxygen for energy production.
The gold standard for measurement is through indirectcalorimetry, usually too complex and expensive for most people to access (hence, it’s mainly used by elite athletes and health researchers). Until now…
Introducing ECAL This same technology is available through ECAL - the world’s first portable indirect calorimeter. ECAL is a registered medical device within Europe and Australia, (CE and TGA) and the WA developer (MHS) is a registered manufacturer (ISO 13485).
How ECAL works ECAL assesses a person’s breath products. This includes information on how much energy a person is using at rest (Resting Metabolic Rate - RMR), what percentage of energy comes from fat or carbohydrate (Respiratory Quotient - RQ) and how efficiently cells are producing energy (Mitochondrial Efficiency).
How can these metabolic insights help me? There are many health conditions associated with a poor metabolism. These include diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fatigue, increased abdominal/waist size and infertility. Doing an ECAL test enables us to understand how your metabolism is functioning. By measuring key metabolic parameters, we can tailor lifestyle interventions (including diet and exercise) to support improved health and wellbeing.
For example - while at rest, it’s ideal for the body to derive a high percentage of calories from fat rather than carbohydrate stores. Whenever a surplus of carbohydrate is present in the bloodstream, the hormone insulin ensures the body favours the use of glucose ahead of fat stores. Using your ECAL results, we can work with you to adjust your diet, to help your body become more efficient at burning its fat stores for fuel and energy.
Taking an ECAL test - what’s involved? You’ll be booked for a comprehensive one-hour dietetic assessment with an Accredited Practising Dietitian (you may be eligible for a Medicare or private health insurance rebate) – who’ll go through your history and health goals and take some measurements. The ECAL test will cost an extra $50 and will be done during this time. It involves a 5-10 minute breath analysis through a mouthpiece. Prior to the test you'll be provided with preparation instructions.
Your ECAL test results will show:
Resting Metabolic Rate (Calories) – are you eating the right amount?
Fuel Utilisation (Fat vs Glucose) - are you utilising your fat stores for use as energy?
Energy Efficiency (%) - How efficient are your cells at creating and using energy?
We'll then work with you to set dietary goals based on these results. It’s recommended to have another ECAL test approximately one month after making dietary changes to track your progress and make any necessary adjustments.