Having a background in science, I absolutely love having as much data as possible about my training. More data means you can draw better conclusions! So when I was contacted to try the InsideTracker Ultimate Blood test, I had to jump at the chance. Not only do they take a look at your bloodwork, but also hook you up with a dietician and use a science-backed plan to help you with anything out of your optimal range.
From a training perspective as an athlete, it’s important to know if your body is recovering properly or if a nutrient deficiency is preventing a full recovery from hard workouts. Luckily, the Ultimate blood test looks at 43 different blood markers to give us a good look.
My Background and Expectations
I’ve had my blood taken periodically for most of my adult life. Not very often, but at least every few years. For example, my Vitamin D was a huge concern to my doctors in my mid-20s when I was struggling with the worst of my depression. One of the reasons I took up running is that my doctor told me I needed to be in the sun more to get more Vitamin D. In the years afterward, I was figured that my Vitamin D levels were better since I spend so much time outside now.
I know I’ve had other deficiencies as well, but nothing my doctors were ever concerned about but might affect my overall training. For example, I’ve been anemic for a very long time. InsideTracker doesn’t only report your results but connects you with a nutritionist to try to pinpoint your problem areas. Am I still anemic? How can I fix it?
Let’s see where I am at!
The Blood Draw
After purchasing the Ultimate plan online with InsideTracker, I was able to print out my lab slip and make an appointment with Quest Diagnostics. They’re pretty ubiquitous throughout San Antonio, so I was able to find one and make an appointment fairly quickly.
Since blood results are the most accurate after a fast, I started my day without breakfast. I went ahead with an easy strength training session, then went in for my blood draw. I was literally in and out Quest after about 15 minutes. They took six vials of blood, the vials looked to be 10-milliliter vials (but don’t quote me on that one). Much less than donating blood and I really felt no ill effects later in the day.
Insidetracker Ultimate Blood Test’s Results
The turnaround on the results were pretty quick. I had my blood drawn on a Thursday morning and I received an email by the following Tuesday afternoon that my results were online and ready to see!
They start you of with an “At a Glance” Section. I won’t go into my entire results, but I had a few things higher than expected because I had done strength training that morning. Some hormone and inflammation markers will be elevated after even a light workout. I recommend taking a full rest day before your own test.
I really had only three markers that were really concerning to me. Not surprisingly, they’re all very important for running. Also not surprising, they’ve been the problem areas I’ve had for a while. And, they’re all very common in women long-distance running: low vitamin D, low vitamin B12, and ferritin.
I really enjoyed the layout of each marker. The graphs are simple and very easy to understand. If you want any more information, there are links with each biomarker so you can read up on them too. Vitamin D and vitamin B12 are pretty self-explanatory, but ferritin requires a bit more explanation.
Honestly, I could go into a whole blog post into how iron is incorporated into your system and why it can take months for you to be able to fix anemia. In a nutshell, ferritin is the storage protein that holds iron until it can be incorporated into proteins within your cells. (ex: your red blood cells that use iron to help carry oxygen throughout your body). Your body just being exposed to more iron can trigger it to make more ferritin to store it, but this takes time.
Another fun thing I really enjoyed it the InnerAge feature. Using an algorithm, Insidetracker calculates your biological vs your chronological age. I love that according to my biomarkers, I’m still in my twenties! All that running and lifting really does pay off.
It’s just another way to track how all of your biomarkers are working together to hurt or help your health.
Discussions with the Dietician: Action Plan
After I received my results, Insidetracker hooked me up on a video call with a dietician. We started with my different “At Risk” Biomarkers then discussed my diet and how I could adjust. The great thing is at the dietician was really receptive to what I could and could not do. For my B12, she recommended adding more fish or red meat to my diet. I’m trying to eat less beef for environmental reasons. And living in a landlocked location, fish is cost-prohibitive. She went ahead and suggested a supplement instead.
For my iron, she suggested a two-prong approach. Taking an iron supplement on an empty stomach and switching out my morning parfaits for overnight oats.
She also pointed out that many of my electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) were on the very low end of the optimal range. They were still “okay” but recommended I take something to supplement that. This was probably the most surprising thing for me. I come from two families that have always had heart issues, so I was raised learning to cook a low sodium diet. However, I wasn’t eating enough in my diet for my activity levels. We decided to add the occasional hydration tablet to my water as well.
In Summary: Three Weeks Later
It’s been three weeks since my discussion with the Insidetracker dietician about my blood work. The best way to see if my diet is working is to do another blood test, but I have noticed a few things in my day to day life:
Of course, taking iron supplements will not have an effect right away. Vitamins start being incorporated pretty quickly and I’ve already noticed a difference. I’ve had a lot less fatigue at the end of the day, which makes my evenings way more enjoyable.
I haven’t really noticed a difference in my running, but my strength training is a very different story! My lifts have been pretty stagnant for the last few months. However, after a few weeks of B12 and Vitamin D, both my squats and deadlifts went up considerably. Of course, this COULD be just a coincidence but I’m taking it as a win.
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