What should you track beyond body composition?
Clinical Nutrition • • 1 minute to read • By Dr Akshay Alawani, INFS Faculty
Author- Dr Akshay Alawani ANutr, Faculty Head, INFS
Fitness enthusiasts track their performance and set further goals once they achieve their previous targets. For example, Sprinter aims to reduce a few seconds, a weightlifter aims to go half a pound heavier, and a marathoner aims to run longer or finish sooner. Similarly, keeping a watch on metabolic markers can prove helpful in managing your health. There are many metabolic markers, but tracking the following markers can prove highly fruitful for your health, longevity and success of the lifestyle program -
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Blood glucose
- Lipid panel (also known as cholesterol levels)
Heart rate –
Heart rate is the number of times the heart beats in a minute. The normal resting rate is between 60-100 beats per minute, but the lower number is generally a sign of improved heart health. It indicates that the heart can give the same output in fewer beats. Note that some heart conditions and medications can also reduce heart rate.
One can measure his pulse/heart-rate by placing the index and middle fingertip on the wrist below the thumb.
As you exercise and get fitter, keep doing this every 15 days and witness your heart getting internally stronger.
Blood pressure –
It is a lateral pressure exerted by blood on artery walls during contraction (systolic blood pressure) and relaxation (diastolic blood pressure) of the heart. Higher blood pressure (hypertension) is a silent killer, and it is a significant factor contributing to heart attack and stroke. Moreover, it is often asymptomatic and can go unnoticed for a long time if you don’t do health check-ups regularly. Also, note that early detection of hypertension can help you control the same with some lifestyle measures like salt control, weight reduction and exercise.
Table by heart.org – Blood pressure category
Blood glucose –
Insulin resistance is symptomatically expressed as raised blood glucose, and it is the root of many chronic conditions. They include type two diabetes, PCOS, subclinical hypothyroidism and cardiovascular disease. On top, similar to blood pressure, high blood glucose can go undetected for a very long time. However, lifestyle measures like weight loss and exercise can help one control and often reverse their rising blood glucose quickly.
Image by diabetes.org – Blood glucose categories
People often do fasting or random blood glucose test, but these tests are like a snapshot of the situation. A test known as ‘average blood glucose or HbA1c’ shows average glucose levels for the last three months. In short, it is an excellent longitudinal summary of your blood glucose. Individuals with visceral obesity (deposition of fat around and inside vital organs), who may or may not be overweight, show higher than normal glucose levels. A monthly (fasting or random) check on blood glucose in such individuals can provide much-needed motivation during dietary and exercise intervention when weight occasionally gets stuck. After finishing the 12-16 weeks of modified lifestyle, it will also be rewarding to examine HbA1c.
Lipid panel (also known as cholesterol levels) –
Triglyceride is the most common lipid found in the body. It is a function of molecules like LDL and HDL to carry triglyceride and cholesterol around the body. However, high triglyceride and LDL levels are harmful to the health of your arteries. This situation is often coupled with lower good cholesterol (HDL), which keeps artery walls healthy. Together this leads to the narrowing of arteries due to plaque deposition. And narrower the arteries, the greater the chances of heart attack and stroke.
Table by cdc.gov– Desired cholesterol levels
There are no symptoms of raised cholesterol, and hence it is vital to keep it in check. In those who already have raised bad cholesterol and reduced good cholesterol, dietary and lifestyle modifications like weight loss, exercise, and good fats and fibre consumption can facilitate remission.
These are the four crucial metabolic health markers that you should track. Though many weight-watchers decide their growth based on their looks, the ultimate purpose of such efforts is to live longer. Measuring metabolic health provides a direct estimation of future disease-free years. Plus, for health coaches, promoting the measuring of such health markers can be another effective way to boost clients’ adherence and gain trust.
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