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Clockwork Precision in Athletics Fuel-Burning Fingerprint Part 3

  May 02, 2016

By Alexander Germanis

There are some things in nature that, while similar in initial appearance, are utterly unique upon closer inspection, Snowflakes are an oft-cited example of this variety in nature. Fingerprints are another. Even identical twins do not share the same complex pattern of swirls and whorls on their fingertips. It’s certainly logical that every individual human differs slightly in other ways as well.

The methods by which humans burn fuels in order to function and even to simply survive are essentially the same, but, like the snowflakes and fingerprints, they appear similar on the surface only. Further inspection reveals every individual has a metabolic fingerprint—perhaps as unique as the literal one.

Since founding Method Sports Performance, Dr. Joseph Norris of McLean County Orthopedics has been developing a way to determine each person’s metabolic fingerprint. As the doctor mentioned in last month’s article, while one exercises, the cells of the body process different fuels. “As you’re processing those fuels, you have different efficiencies with how the muscle is working,” he says. “We have the ability to detect when you’re maximally efficient with a test. That is done through a process of collecting lactate at different levels of exertion.”

The two numbers—the lactate range and the heart rate range—are correlated, and an individual is given their prime heart rate. This prime heart rate is the number a person needs to recover down to every time they exercise. This means there is such a thing as too much exercise, or rather too much continuous exertion. When one exceeds the prime heart rate, one enters the anaerobic metabolism—when the cells no longer have oxygen left to use. When an individual continues to drive past their anaerobic zone, they are in what we refer to as “peak,” which represents a catabolic state.

“If you stay in peak consistently, you are burning your own protein to live,” Dr. Norris explains. “And you have dramatically increased injury rates and varied decreased success with your workout because you don’t have the right fuels supplying the workout.”

Knowing where one is metabolically throughout an entire exercise routine is, therefore, extremely valuable, specifically for athletes. “Young athletes, collegiate, pro athletes—the one percent gain they would get from knowing what they’re doing is huge,” the doctor says.

The advantages of such a system are not just for athletes, of course. People who are obese and those who suffer from diabetes can easily benefit as well. As many of those sufferers can attest, losing weight is a constant uphill battle. But, as Dr. Norris points out, knowing when one’s cells are in a fat-burning mode makes all the difference in that battle.

“If you do not have oxygen in your cells, you cannot burn fat,” he states. “So, if you’re hovering around a heart rate that, for you, is anaerobic, you are literally doing no good for yourself. You will see no gains. And you will not consistently stay with that routine.

“When a diabetic comes to me, and they have knee arthritis, and they need to lose weight in order to even qualify for surgery,” Dr. Norris continues, “we can prescribe exercise based on their own metabolic fingerprint that essentially—if they control their diet with it—should give them optimal results.”

The individual’s metabolic fingerprint, as the doctor explains, is not only kept on medical record, but it also provides the data for an application on one’s smartphone. This enables the individual to keep track of one’s own exercise routine. When one simply enters the weight and the number of repetitions one is doing, the app crunches that data with the metabolic fingerprint and does the rest. “It tells you what to do, when to start, when you are in your peak zone, and when to stop,” Dr. Norris elucidates. “You are guaranteeing yourself that everything you do is as efficient as it can be with a minimum risk of injury.”

To learn more about how a metabolic fingerprint is used for medical applications, please read “Clockwork Precision in Athletics, Part 4”
in next month’s issue of Healthy Cells Magazine. If you missed the previous articles in this series, you may read them online at, or contact Cheryl at 309-664-2524.

Method Sports Performance, developed by Dr. Norris and Dr. Newcomer, will be opening later this year as part of the Integrated Center for Wellness. Method Sports Performance will offer a science-based approach to improving the performance of athletes of all ages. For more information, you may contact Dr. Norris at [email protected]

Photo credit:  Predrag Vuckovic/iStock
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May 02, 2016

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