Metabolic Health Indicators and How to Interpret Them

Metabolic health, as determined by doctors and scientists, is measured by comparing blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride counts, and waist circumference to healthy ranges. You might notice, your BMI is not a part of this calculation.

BMI is based on statistical data for index comparisons, and its calculations can be inaccurate. Body mass indices were first implemented in the 1800’s as a way of helping determine the population’s ‘fatness’ for resource (food) allocation.

Since then, governments have adopted using national surveys and BMI calculations to monitor public health, and so the index calculations are based on contemporary statistical data with improved modeling.  BMI is still a decently reliable index to begin interpreting your weight, but it is not a very accurate index, especially when estimated only based on your weight and height.

Even if you calculate your BMI using calipers, the tool itself is not very sophisticated and requires a medical hand for accurate operation. So, although BMI can still be a decent index for starters, there are many more reliable and useful ways you can keep a tab on your health. Here are some more reliable statistics that you should keep track of:


Heart Rate/Beats Per Minute (BPM)

Your metabolic health depends on most of your major organs. Since you need to eat to live, it makes sense that most of your body is engaged in extracting nutrients, circulating it around your body, and so forth. What your body also needs for the chemistry in converting nutrition into building blocks and energy is oxygen and water.

So, cardiovascular health is a major part of your metabolic health, and why heart disease, stroke, and other non-digestion related conditions are a part of metabolic syndrome (MS). A key indicator for your cardiovascular health is your resting heart rate, or how many times your heart beats per minute (BPM).

On average, healthy adults have a resting heart rate of about 60-80 BPM. People that lead sedentary lifestyles, have high blood pressure, and/or other conditions tend to have a higher resting heart rate, around 90-120+ BPM. Keeping track of your resting heart rate can inform you quite a lot about your health during your day to day and exercise. The

Try checking your resting heart rate three times per day, once in the morning as you prepare for your day, once in the afternoon, and once before retiring for the night. To do so, use your index and middle finger to find your carotid artery on the right side of your neck, and count how often you feel your pulse over 30 seconds. Multiply that number by two. You can keep track of your resting heart rate in a journal. Take note of details such as how much coffee or tea you have had to drink or if you were feeling ill that day. You will get a sense of how your body is doing on any day, and you will also know what your target heart rate for exercise should be.


Visceral Fat Level

High visceral fat levels can kill. High bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol, high triglyceride count, and more health complications, all associated with having high visceral fat levels, leading to MS. Visceral fat accumulates mostly around the chest cavity and abdomen, and it lines your inner organs. Your body does need some visceral fat to protect your organs, but too much and it begins to affect your body for the worse.

Visceral fat can interfere with liver function and cause fatty buildups and blockages in your blood stream. High visceral fat levels cause the body to produce excessive immune system chemicals, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, as well as be directly responsible for MS symptoms. It is a good idea to check your visceral fat level, regularly.

High visceral fat levels are considered by doctors to be a strong statistical indicator for MS. Normally it required a visit to the doctor to get the tests you would need to measure your visceral fat. A blood test would give a triglyceride count, which is what one would normally hear about during an annual physical instead. The difficulty of accessibility in personal healthcare meant that it was more feasible to use statistics such as BMI to help people assess their health for themselves.


Body Fat Percentage (%)

Measuring your body fat percentage is much easier than measuring just your visceral fat, but it is certainly not convenient to do it at home. Since fat has high water content, it floats better than muscle and bone, which are denser. In the past, people used to stand on scales almost completely submerged in water, to effectively tare the weight of just the body fat.

Knowing your body fat percentage is more useful in understanding your metabolic health than your BMI. While your BMI is largely affected by your height and weight, your body fat percentage is simply what it is, a reflection of your diet and activity.

The more unhealthily you eat and the less you exercise, the more of your body weight is likely to compromise more of fat than less. More importantly, having a high body fat percentage has been shown in studies to affect the hormonal balance of the body, which directly affects how you feel, what you prefer to eat, when you sleep, and how your body recovers or grows. Tracking your body fat percentage, which can subtly change day by day, can help you take note of how your body responds to various foods or exercise routines.


To keep things simple and track of all three indicators, try using Bello 2! Our body fat scanner can measure your visceral fat level and body fat percentage with a quick, 5-spot scan. It can also pair with Apple Health or Google Fit for automated activity logging! Take control of your health today with our one-stop health solution, Bello 2.

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