I. What Is Basic Metabolic Panel Testing?

Metabolism is a chemical process in the body that breaks down food and converts it into energy to help the body function. A BMP measures eight different substances in the body that can indicate conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, bone disease, and heart failure.

Why should you get tested

A BMP helps diagnose or rule out illnesses. It can also monitor how an already diagnosed condition is improving with treatment.

Who should get tested

This test may be recommended as part of a wellness exam or if your doctor is concerned about metabolic processes, including kidney function, blood glucose levels, and electrolyte levels.

When to get tested

Your health care provider will advise if you need a BMP as part of routine care or treatment. It may also be performed if you’re admitted to the hospital or emergency room.

II. How to Prepare for Basic Metabolic Panel Testing

Your health care provider will give you instructions to prepare for the blood test. Typically, you’re asked to refrain from eating or drinking anything but water for at least eight hours prior to the test. You should also advise your doctor of any medication or supplements you’re taking, which can affect how the results are interpreted.

The blood sample required for testing is typically drawn from your forearm, so you should wear a shirt with loose sleeves that are easy to roll up.

III. How a Basic Metabolic Panel Works

A basic metabolic panel measures the levels of the following substances in the body:

  • Glucose, which is a source of energy
  • Calcium, needed for bone growth and blood clots
  • Sodium, which ensures your body has enough water to function properly
  • Potassium, required for cell health
  • Carbon dioxide, which is an indication of kidney and lung function
  • Chloride, which indicates how your body is managing fluids
  • Blood urea nitrogen, which shows how your kidneys are working
  • Creatinine, which also indicates kidney function

Your doctor will give you a written order to take to a lab or clinic, where a technician takes a sample of your blood and sends it to a lab for analysis. You can also purchase an order for a basic metabolic panel from some websites.

IV. Understanding Basic Metabolic Panel Testing Results

BMP results are typically processed by machine and available within a few days, although it may take longer depending on the lab you use.

Your results are usually sent to your doctor or available online. The results indicate the levels of each substance in your blood. While there are generally accepted normal ranges for the substances measured, these ranges can vary by lab.

A physician should review your results with you in the context of your particular health situation, as there may be reasons that your results are higher or lower than the normal range. If there are any results your physician is concerned about, additional tests may be ordered to obtain further information.


What tests are included in a BMP?

A BMP measures the levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, glucose, carbon dioxide, chloride, potassium, sodium, and calcium in your body.

How long does it take to get the results of a BMP?

BMPs are processed by a machine. The results may be available within hours at a hospital emergency department or within one to two days, depending on the laboratory.

What are normal results for a BMP?

While the range of results considered normal varies by laboratory, the following are typical reference ranges for a BMP, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • Blood urea nitrogen: 6 to 20 mg/dL (2.14 to 7.14 mmol/L)
  • Creatinine: 0.8 to 1.2 mg/dL (70.72 to 106.08 micromol/L)
  • Glucose: 64 to 100 mg/dL (3.55 to 5.55 mmol/L)
  • Carbon dioxide: 23 to 29 mmol/L
  • Chloride: 96 to 106 mmol/L
  • Potassium: 3.7 to 5.2 mEq/L (3.7 to 5.2 mmol/L)
  • Sodium: 136 to 144 mEq/L (136 to 144 mmol/L)
  • Calcium: 8.5 to 10.2 mg/dL (2.13 to 2.55 millimol/L)

It is best to review your test results with a physician. Factors such as your gender, age, medical history, and medications you are taking must be considered when determining if your results are significant.

Can I order a BMP online?

You can order a BMP directly from some websites by selecting the type of test and the lab at which you would like it performed. Once you have completed your order, you will receive instructions on preparing for the test and a requisition that you take with you to a laboratory. Test results are typically accessed on a website when available.

What type of glucose test is included in a BMP?

There are different types of glucose tests. The BMP typically includes a fasting glucose test, which requires you to not eat or drink for 8 to 12 hours prior to the blood draw.

Other glucose tests that may be done separately include a random glucose test, which is taken at any time of day, and an oral glucose tolerance test, which is taken one to two hours after consuming a sugary glucose drink.

How is a BMP different from a comprehensive metabolic panel?

The comprehensive metabolic panel includes 14 tests: all of the tests from a BMP and additional tests for proteins and liver enzymes. A CMP provides a more complete look at organ function and can help diagnose diabetes, liver, and kidney disease.

The additional tests include:

  • Albumin
  • Total protein
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
  • Bilirubin

VI. Learn From Our Basic Metabolic Panel Sources

For more information, please see the sources used to put together this guide.