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How Accurate Is Dr. Oz’s Metabolism Calculator?

If there’s one universal truth with weight loss it’s that no one diet plan will work the same for everyone. There never has been such a routine and in my opinion never will be.

The reason is pretty simple, each individual is inherently unique and has different needs.

If you follow my writing you’ll know I’m frequently referring to something called “bioindividuality.” This is just a fancy word used to describe all the individual factors that make each person unique. Things like genetics, rate of metabolism, lean body mass, etc.

If I’ve learned anything over the 20 plus years I’ve been consulting individuals on fitness and weight loss, it’s that any so called “formula” based solely on a person’s height and weight is pretty much worthless from a program design standpoint.

These formulas simply don’t factor in the “bioindividuality” I just referred to. Basically, they assume that each person of the same height and weight will have the same needs. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

More after the jump…

Is Body Mass Index (BMI) really an accurate indicator for obesity?

A perfect example of this is “body mass index” otherwise known as BMI. It baffles me why health and medical professionals are still using this outdated formula for determining risk factors.

As you probably already know, BMI is determined from a formula using an individual’s height and weight. Depending on your height, if you weigh a certain amount you’re either in the acceptable or obese category.

The problem is it does NOT take into consideration an individual’s lean body mass, or amount of muscle tissue.

At 6’2″ and 240 lbs, I currently have a body fat percentage of 14.1% but a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. This means according to the BMI standards I’m obese! Obviously an individual with 14% body fat isn’t obese. But I digress…

A much better indicator, other than body fat percentage, would be to calculate waist and hip circumference. Since most of the risk factors for chronic disease and illness are associated with abdominal area body fat (fat which surrounds the major organs), this would give us a much better picture.

BMI is just one example of flawed formulas currently being used in the health and wellness industry. Another example would be basal metabolic rate calculators. Hence the subject matter of today’s discussion.

Assessing the on-line metabolism calculator used in Dr. Oz’s Metabolism Makeover

A personal training client recently informed me during a consultation that they’d been struggling with weight loss although they’d been consistently consuming the “correct” number of calories for their body type according to Dr. Oz’s metabolism calculator.

During our discussion I learned that determining your resting metabolic rate was step one in part of Dr. Oz’s “Metabolism Makeover.” The idea is that you should know how many calories your body needs and not guess with assumptions.

While I agree with that to a degree in principal, the way in which Dr. Oz recommended you obtain your target calories has some flaws that are worth discussing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in agreement with a lot of Dr. Oz’s recommendations and believe he has sound advice which is helping a lot of people. This is just one example where following his base line recommendation may not provide you with the most accurate information.

After watching his video series on the “Metabolism Makeover” I discovered the link to his on-line metabolism calculator. You can access the Dr. Oz metabolism calculator with this link.

As you can see it’s pretty straight forward, you simply enter in your height, weight, and age then hit calculate. See example below.

I decided to do a little test to determine the accuracy of this calculator. I used my Charleston personal training studio director, Andrew Duffy, as the test subject.

First we determined his resting metabolic rate using the on-line calculator then proceeded to complete a resting metabolic rate test using the Korr Metacheck analyzer.

The Korr Metacheck resting metabolic rate analyzer is a clinical device we use at Shaping Concepts to assess rate of metabolism for our clients. This is one of the most accurate means of assessing an individual’s rate of metabolism because it measures oxygen consumption.

The process is one referred to as “indirect calorimetry” and is based on the fact that burning 1 calorie requires 208.06 milliliters of oxygen. Because of this very direct relationship between caloric burn and oxygen consumption, measurements of oxygen uptake (VO2) and caloric burn rate are virtually interchangeable.

The metabolic profile test involves the individual sitting in a relaxed position (resting state) and having his/her oxygen consumption captured in a breathing tube which is feed into the analyzer.

In less than 20 minutes the calculations will be complete and we’ll have a truly personalized assessment of the individual’s rate of metabolism.

You can learn more about the metabolic profile test here.

Ok, back to our test comparing resting metabolic rate from the on-line calculator and the Korr Metacheck analyzer.

I’ll cut to the chase and show you screen captures from both calculations below. The first screen capture is from the print-out of Andrew’s resting metabolic rate test using the Korr Metacheck.

Next, is the screen capture from the on-line calculator.

As you can see there is almost a 300 calorie difference between the two assessments.

This may not seem like a lot, but when you’re fine tuning your diet for fat loss, a few hundred calories can make a big difference.

You can also see the disclaimer at the bottom which does in all fairness come out and tell you that this is not “detailed clinical information.”

This is by no means an indication that there’s no value with using Dr. Oz’s metabolism calculator. In principal it’s a good idea and can provide you with a ball park figure. For a lot of individuals this will be a good starting point.

The issue is merely that the information is incomplete from a truly personalized standpoint and doesn’t take into consideration the bioindividuality factors that I mentioned earlier.

Andrew’s case study is a perfect example of this. The amount of lean muscle that he carries along with his genetics weren’t factored into the formula from the on-line calculator. Therefore the results weren’t truly personalized.

Granted the on-line calculator took seconds to complete and there was no cost involved. We can’t ignore these facts. Once again, it’s going to get you fairly close to your number. How close is “close enough” sort of depends on how important it is to have the most accurate information.

The difference is when an individual is stuck in a plateau with their weight loss. Ball park numbers and guesses won’t cut it then. This is where a more accurate assessment of your metabolic rate can truly be a difference maker.

Having the most accurate information based on your unique needs can pay significant dividends when you’re stuck trying to lose that last 10 pounds for example.

This is where guidance from a professional and clinical testing like with the Korr Metacheck analyzer can be worth every penny of your investment.

Bottom line…

Using Dr. Oz’s metabolism calculator will certainly give you an educated guess on your rate of metabolism and can be seen as a good starting point. However, if you’re really stuck in a plateau or you want a more accurate indication of your metabolism, you’ll want to complete a resting metabolic test using indirect calorimetry.

A word of caution though, I recommend you seek out health and fitness professionals using a clinical device like the Korr Metacheck and not the cheaper hand-held versions. They’re no where near as accurate and once again you get what you pay for.

If you live in the Charleston, SC area and would like to learn more about the metabolic profile assessment we offer at Shaping Concepts view our services and rates page or you can call my studio direct at 843-971-8665.

We offer a free no-obligations consultation and would be happy to meet with you to discuss your personal goals.

And oh yeah, by the way…as a whole the recommendations Dr. Oz makes in his “Metabolism Makeover” are simple and practical ways you can begin implementing right away. Overall I give it two thumbs up.

While they might not all be “ideal” for your unique situation (remember there is no one size fits all), it’s worth checking out. Dr. Oz delivers sound advice for people to take and experiment with on their own.

At the end of the day it’s all about learning more and discovering what works for your unique body type and needs. Experimentation is the name of the game.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs.

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