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This little review of InsideTracker is both for you and for me.
For you, it gives a peek into the InsideTracker process.
For me, it helps me work out the results and plan of action.
What it is
Insidetracker is a comprehensive blood test.
Not only that, but they give you the steps to help improve you results, in easy to understand ways. This is where it has differed from tests I’ve done in the past that mail me the results and nothing else.
Why get it done
If you’re simply curious about your health status, a blood test can be a nice way to look inside to see what’s going on internally and with your diet, health, etc. You may feel fine, but who knows how you could feel if you got that Vitamin D deficiency both detected and solved!
In my case, I got it done for primarily my running performance. People spend $100-$600 on GPS watches every day without hesitation But, those don’t actually make you faster. A gps simply tracks what you’re already doing but does not actually improve your running. If it did, USA amateurs and elites would be running faster now then 30 years ago (and we’re slower as a whole).
But, determining that you’re deficient or excessive in something and fixing that…doing this will improve both your health and athletics! Forget the next GPS watch upgrade, get your blood tested.
How it Starts
It’s like ordering anything else online, select the level of testing you wish to have done and order. You either go into a location to be tested or they can come to you. No more than a week later you receive the results via email.
Getting the results
I had the results within 3 days I think, which is crazy. I’ve gotten my blood tested before and it took at least a week every time.
You get this little email titled Your Blood Test Results are In and it’s a little scary. I didn’t open the message for a while, I was nervous. I did not get the test done because I felt ill or in dis-ease, but you never know how you actually are.
Once you have the Results
This was the cool part.
It gives you the results and you select what and how you want to work on.
Let’s say X is low. They lay out different reasons it could be this way and various methods of solving it. You select the course of action that works best for you. This varies from supplements, sleep, stress management, to foods you should try to include in your diet.
What I got tested
The test I subscribed to was the most comprehensive. It looked at:
- White Blood Cells (inflammation indicator)
- Testosterone Group (sexual function and athletic performance)
- Iron Group (oxygen transfer and blood function)
- Glucose (blood sugar)
- Cortisol (stress indicator)
- Low Density Lipoprotein (cholesterol transporter)
- High Density Lipoprotein (cholesterol scavenger)
- Liver Enzyme Group (liver function)
- Calcium (bone health)
- Magnesium (mood and sleep indicator)
- Creatine Kinase (muscle health)
- Vitamin B12 (energy production and muscle repair)
- Folate (cell production and repair)
- Vitamin D (bone health and energy)
- Total Cholesterol (cardiovascular indicator)
- Triglycerides (fats for energy storage)
- Potassium (blood pressure regulator)
- Sodium (maintains fluid balance)
- hsCRP (inflammation indicator)
- Testosterone:Cortisol Ratio (overtraining and stress indicator)
- Free Testosterone:Cortisol ratio (overtraining and stress indicator)
What I’m doing right now
Here is the current state of my training
- Averaging 9-10 hours running weekly over the course of a month
- More than I’ve ever consistently done, but feeling well
- Most days since Christmas I’m in a calorie deficit to lose some weight.
- Averaging .5-.75 pounds lost weekly
- I get 7-9 hours of sleep almost every night. Generally to bed between 8-10pm and up around 5-6am no matter if I have an alarm set or not.
- Vegetarian, but eat lots of eggs.
- High carb diet, but low added/processed sugar intake
- Very little strength work
- Supplement daily with
- Multivitamin, magnesium
- Supplement weekly or every few days with
- Vitamin D, Iron, post hard workout amino acids, b12
So, I know you want to know 😉
Almost everything was within the recommended range with a few being just outside those ranges, which is fantastic.
There are a number of results that may need addressed:
- White Blood Cell Count: Low
- Cortisol: High
- All Testosterone: Optimal
- Free (circulating & available) Testosterone: Low
- Sex Hormone Binding Globulin: High
Let’s start with White Blood Cell count.
This was just outside of the optimal range. Sam Wittenberg, MD and multiple Boston Marathon qualifier says “there are several literature reports of mildly low white blood cell counts in endurance runners. These low WBC were not associated with impaired ability to fight infection.”
From the authors of Lower white blood cell counts in elite athletes training for highly aerobic sports they state “The lower white cell counts in athletes in aerobic sports probably represent an adaptive response, not underlying pathology.”.
So, I’m not terribly concerned with this slightly low WBC count. I’m in a period of higher than normal in the past training that I certainly do not plan on continuing without any periods of rest.
Overtraining & Stress Indicators
So, I’m running a lot.
As of writing this, for the last 13 weeks I’ve averaged 9:15 hours of running weekly, with every 4th week being within the 6-7 hour range and the others being 10-11 hours. I’m feeling great and my running is going very well.
The lab results under the stress and overtraining categories are a bit outside of the optimal ranges.
- Optimal 5-16.3 ug/dl
- Mine: 16.5 ug/dl
- Testosterone: Optimal
- Free Testosterone
- Optimal: 9.3-26.5 pg/ml
- Mine: 5.6 pg/ml
- This being low is very normal in endurance athletes.
- Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
- Optimal: 10-32 nmol/L
- Mine: 120 nmol/L
- This can go up and down throughout the day based on training and is normal to see elevated in people training a lot.
This also includes free testosterone:cortisol ratio, testosterone:cortisol ratio, cortisol, testosterone (athletic performance).
I’ve been reading scholarly articles to articles from doctors to athletes that have dealt with these results in the past.
My overall thoughts on my results are:
Basically, what my results say is that I’m in a period of high training load and the results are basically normal and expected for this. I’m not experiencing low libido, erectile dysfunction, loss of pubic/facial/ancillary hair. My energy levels feel great.
While my testosterone is optimal, my free testosterone is a bit low. One author made a comment that really stuck out to me about low testosterone, and it was that “it’s a normal response to high volume endurance training” and then suggested to cut volume by about 40% and do some heavy lifting every 2-3 days. This is important because if the levels are simply due to training load (which I expect is the case) they will all bounce back after a few weeks of lower volume running, more food, and lifting.
Likely I will do this after my final spring race, since I usually take a 2-3 week period of rest after a long training block followed by a big race, anyway. Maybe I’ll get tested after a period of lower training.
Someone commented that during their high volume periods they’d have lower testosterone and during their lower volume periods it would go up 3-4x, however since they were not training as much their fitness and paces would decrease since they were not as aerobically fit.
What I’m going to change
I am going to change a few things
- Iron. I’m going to do a better of of taking this away from meals and on an empty stomach.
- Lifting. I need to do a better job of regularly lifting heavy.
- Cortisol. I’ve began adding a bit of ashwagandha to my almost daily smoothie. This herb was suggested on my results from InsideTracker. I almost blew it off but Examine.com (my go to for supplement/nutrition info) does indeed state it may help with stress.
Below are a few screenshots from my results, so you can see a bit more of InsideTracker.
All in Iron group are optimal except Ferritin is a bit low
Free Testosterone : Cortisol Ratio
Testosterone : Cortisol Ratio