Testing Coach Bob

By Dina Griffin, MS, RD
Sport Dietitian, Fuel4mance

I have been learning the concepts of metabolic efficiency and its relationship to nutrition for the past several months, but it was time to try my hand at conducting the actual metabolic efficiency test… and on what better athlete than the man himself, Bob Seebohar!

We conducted our first test in mid-December prior to the holidays. Unfortunately, Bob had been fighting a cold for a couple of weeks prior, but he was towards the tail end of the illness, so we decided to give it a go. He stated he had not done much exercise since he initially got sick, so we decided this test would serve as a new baseline. If you have read “Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat”, you know many of the details of how the test is conducted so I won’t go into all the details here.

Bob decided to do his tests on the treadmill. For his first test in December, he began his warm-up at a walking pace of 3.5 miles per hour (mph). Yes, I said walking – sometimes we must begin conservatively but also remember this is a submaximal test. Our protocol was to increase his pace by 0.3mph every 5 minutes. We were monitoring his carbohydrate and fat oxidation closely. Eventually, he began a light running pace about 25 minutes into the test. Interestingly, his fat oxidation hovered between 50-54% for the remaining 40 minutes, even with the increase in speed every 5 minutes. Bob was getting fatigued and we were essentially seeing a steady rate of fat burning throughout the test…and recall, he was sick and had now been on the treadmill for well over an hour! We concluded the test without having reached his metabolic efficiency point (MEP) at a 7.1mph pace. We were both wondering: did he have a MEP? Hmmm… note that Bob is also a lacto-ovo vegetarian so his nutrition is a bit higher in carbohydrates because many of his protein sources contain carbohydrates as well (namely, dairy, beans and nuts). He also reported eating 1-2 grains per day.

Now fast forward to mid-January and test number two. Bob hadn’t changed his nutrition significantly. He reported he was now averaging 1 grain per day (at most), but I know he makes a great effort of eating a good balance of carbohydrate and protein at each feeding. Exercise had increased since our initial test, but no official training had begun. We picked up where we left off with Bob doing his dynamic warm-ups prior to hopping on the treadmill for a 10-minute walk/run warm-up. His first stage began at 7.1mph and we progressed at the same rate of 0.3mph every 5 minutes. I’ll be honest – I was anxious to see where his MEP would be. Minute after minute passed and that familiar steady rate of fat oxidation was apparent again… 25 minutes into the test, he was still hovering between 51-54% fat oxidation rate. Finally, when Bob’s pace increased to 8.6mph, we started to see a shift in his fat utilization and his body crossed over to burning more carbohydrate than fat after that point. As Bob began to cool down at his original starting pace of 7.1mph, it only took his body about one minute to return to fat burning. Very efficient and quick recovery!

So, that’s a summary of what I witnessed during Bob’s recent metabolic efficiency tests. I’ll let him comment more on nutrition, training, and his forthcoming plan(s). For me, he was wonderful “test” material and showed a great example of an athlete whose body is efficient at burning fat by keeping his daily nutrition quite consistent and balanced.

From Coach Bob: I will be posting my full results soon so stay tuned!

Contact Dina at dina@fuel4mance.com or www.fuel4mance.com