Metabolic Equivalent: METs

MET (Metabolic Equivalent) is a parameter that expresses the ratio of the working metabolic rate to the resting metabolic rate. The metabolic rate represents the amount of energy consumed in the unit of time and is used to describe the intensity of an exercise or physical activity.

Specifically, MET is a parameter that assesses the energy consumed by the human body during an activity relative to its resting state. It is measured in terms of oxygen consumption, alternately in ml of O2/kg/min or in kilocalories.

One MET corresponds to 3.5 ml of O2/kg/min or 1 Kcal/kg/h.

A MET also corresponds to the energy expended while sitting at rest, that is, the basal metabolic rate. Therefore, if an activity has a MET value of 4, it means that four times as much energy is being exerted as that expended during rest.

For example, brisk walking at a pace of 5 or 6 kilometers per hour corresponds to a MET value of 4. In contrast, jumping rope, which is a more intense activity, has a MET value of 12.3.

How is MET calculated?

This value can be used to calculate energy expenditure and the amount of calories burned during different physical activities. For example, if you know that an activity has a metabolic equivalent (MET) of 5, you can calculate that you burn about 17.5 ml of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute during that activity.

These calculations can be useful for coaches, personal trainers, and fitness enthusiasts to establish an effective workout program that suits their needs.

For example, if you want to lose weight, it is advisable to choose activities with higher METs that involve more energy expenditure.

METs refer to oxygen consumption and not directly to calories burned. You can use a rough formula to get an estimate of calories burned using METs. By multiplying METs by body weight in kilograms and time in hours spent doing an activity, you can get an approximation of calories burned.

So, for example, if you have a mass of 80 kg, you need approximately 280 milliliters of oxygen per minute when you are at rest (calculated by multiplying the weight, i.e., 80 kg, by the MET value of 3.5 ml).

What is the link between MET and calories?

Metabolic equivalent (MET) is a measure that indicates the amount of oxygen consumed during a physical activity and thus energy expenditure. This is directly correlated with and calories burned such that:

Greater METs -> Greater oxygen consumption -> More calories burned.

But how to know how many calories we are burning during a physical activity? If you know the MET value of that particular activity, you can get a rough estimate.

The formula to use is:

MET x 3.5 x body mass in kilograms / 200 = calories burned per minute.

For example, suppose you weigh 80 kilograms and engage in running (11Km/h), which has a MET value of 11.5.

The formula would work like this: 11.5 x 3.5 x 80 / 200 = 16.2 calories per minute.

So if you play tennis for an hour, you will burn about 966 calories. We can also describe running (11Km/h) as equivalent to 690 MET minutes (11.5 MET x 60).

Did you know that to lose one pound of body weight you need to burn about 3,500 calories?
This means that if you reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 calories or burn 500 more calories each day than you consume, you could lose one pound a week.

Learn more about this topic by checking out the latest scientific research on PubMed

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