The Daily Gamecock

Metabolic testing helps students count calories

University now offers specialized nutrition resources at Strom

Every fall brings thousands of fresh faces to USC, and with each new group there’s talk of the same fear: gaining the “freshman 15.”

But according to Deborah Zippel, one of the university’s two full-time dieticians, this trend is more of a myth and there are plenty of ways to manage a healthy weight in college. One new resource on campus this year is MedGem Metabolic Testing, technology that helps identify the amount of calories an individual should consume per day.

“A lot of people think they have a slow metabolism, but in reality they just need to make some adjustments in their diet and exercise plan,” Zippel said.

MedGem measures one’s resting metabolic rate (RMR), or the amount of calories the body burns throughout the day in order to function properly.

Student Health Services began offering the technology this summer to help students, faculty and staff develop individualized nutrition plans.

“We want to get a complete resting rate, and then we ask other questions about exercise and their typical day,” Zippel said. “This gives us the most accurate information. There are a lot of factors that affect metabolism, but this is more helpful than just guessing.”

According to the Campus Wellness website, an individual’s RMR can account for up to 75 percent of the calories burned each day. The remaining 25 percent depends on daily activities and exercise. When combined with a nutrition consultation, the RMR test can help determine an appropriate number of calories an individual should consume each day.

First-year students Christian Ferrato and Olivia Mara believe that nutrition and weight gain are common concerns among college students, especially with the amount of fast food and fried options that are available on campus.

“I’m trying to eat healthy,” said Ferrato, an athletic training student. “I miss home-cooked food so much.”

Ferrato and Mara said they are working to balance their lifestyles with healthy meals and exercise. Mara, whose major is currently undeclared, cited Plan-It Healthy as a source of nutritious food that is “actually good.”

Zippel hopes that the metabolic testing can provide a healthy way for students to manage their lifestyles by creating individual plans for gaining or losing weight. She emphasized that though there is a lot of attention on weight loss in our society, this technology can also be helpful for those trying to gain weight or who struggle with eating disorders.

Metabolic testing can be scheduled through the Thomson Student Health Center and costs $25 for students and $75 for faculty and staff. The test involves breathing into a small hand-held device for 10 to 15 minutes, followed by a one-on-one consultation with a dietician.

Campus Wellness, located in the lower level of Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, also offers a variety of free nutrition resources including weight management programs, body composition tests, blood pressure tests and exercise consultations. Appointments can be made by calling 803-576-9393.

In addition to consulting these resources, Zippel encourages students to seek nutrition advice from the dieticians on campus and find ways to eat healthy.

“Fast food is easy and available on campus, but there are healthy choices available at all dining sites,” Zippel said. “Experiment with items you might not think you like.”


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