Individualized assessments take the guesswork out of weight loss

Dec. 21, 2011

Van Sickle performs test © UC Regents
UC Davis offers evaluations that can help with weight management. The energy expenditure test, for instance, measures oxygen consumption at different exercise intensities, providing caloric expenditures at given heart rates.

The UC Davis Sports Medicine program offers two caloric expenditure assessments for those interested in weight management.

“There are a lot of estimates of daily caloric intake and exercise activity that could support a weight management program, but they aren’t always accurate because they are based on statistical averages,” said Judd Van Sickle, the biomechanical engineer at UC Davis Health System who conducts the tests. “Our evaluations measure each individual’s caloric expenditures.”

One of the assessments measures resting metabolic rate (RMR) to accurately estimate daily caloric needs for maintaining vital body functions such as breathing, heart rate and brain activity. RMR is an indication of how many calories a person burns if he or she sits all day with no additional exercise or activity.

Click here for more information about the caloric expenditure tests, or call 916-734-6805 to make an appointment.

Determining the RMR takes about 15 minutes, and involves relaxing and breathing into a mouthpiece to measure oxygen consumption. The more oxygen a person uses, the more calories he or she burns. The test eliminates the need to guess how many calories should be eaten each day to maintain current weight.

About UC Davis Sports Medicine

Weekend cyclists © iStockphotoThe UC Davis Sports Medicine program is a one-stop center for athletes and physically active people of all ages, goals and abilities — from major-leaguers and aspiring pros to “weekend warriors” and fitness buffs. The program provides comprehensive care to those seeking to achieve specific health and performance goals. The team can help enhance athletic performance and physical fitness, prevent acute and chronic injuries and extend athletic careers. When injuries do occur, nationally renowned UC Davis physicians, orthopaedic surgeons and therapists offer expert management of joint, muscle, bone and other problems.

The program also offers a 20-30 minute energy expenditure test to measure caloric output during exercise. By measuring oxygen consumption at different exercise intensities, the test provides caloric expenditures at given heart rates. Those undergoing the test choose from a variety of common exercise options, including running, walking, cycling, rowing or working out on an elliptical machine.

The RMR and energy expenditure tests can be combined with nutritional counseling and diet and exercise guidelines for achieving an ideal body weight.

Van Sickle frequently uses the tests to help elite athletes attain maximum efficiency at competitive sports. He realized, however, that they were useful as well for non-athletes who might be confused about the caloric consumption or exercise necessary to lose or not gain weight.

“Making the commitment to lifestyle change for better health is the hardest part of the process,” said Van Sickle. “The tests make living up to that commitment much easier by putting specific numbers to specific goals.”

The tests take place at the UC Davis clinic at 2805 J Street in Sacramento. The costs are $50 for the RMR or $150 for the exercise energy expenditure and RMR tests combined. Nutritional counseling can be included for an additional $75.