MET. Maybe you’ve noticed the three strung-together letters around your local fitness establishment. Maybe you gave them thought … but most likely you didn’t.

What were those three letters doing plastered to the sticker on the side of the stair master? What does MET stand for? What does it mean? And how does it impact us?

MET is an acronym for metabolic equivalent. It stands for an estimate of the number of calories burned during activity.

Our bodies use oxygen for energy. The more oxygen we use, the more calories we burn. Simple as that. At rest, our metabolic equivalent is roughly 1. Should we get off the couch and cease rest, opting for a light- to moderately-paced jog instead, our METs would increase. A not-so-strenuous jog can be about 7-8 METs, depending on the individual and the jogging conditions. Because of increased intensity and heightened demands on the body, we are using more oxygen – 7-8 times more than at rest. Therefore, we are burning more calories with the greater workload.

How does this translate to burning calories? Here’s the formula: METs x 3.5 x weight in kg / 200 x minutes performed

Example: Matt weighs 90 kg (that's 198 lb – to get pounds, multiply kg x 2.2). He participated in a HIIT program for 30 minutes, working at 11 METs.

11 x 3.5 x 90 / 200 x 30 = 527 calories

Matt burned 527 calories during his workout.

Of course, like everything, it gets more nuanced than this. Many factors go into weight loss – one’s metabolism, age, weight, lean body mass, etc. But hopefully you get the idea. If your goal is to lose weight, it might be wise to include high-MET activities into your routine.

So the next time you see or hear of the word MET, you’ll know exactly what is being shown or presented.

Jason Harle