What is InsideTracker?
I recently came across InsideTracker, a biomarker testing service designed to optimize human performance and health. After seeing multiple athletes post about their experiences (it’s relatively big in the Spartan/distance world), I decided it was time to get a test to see what it was all about. After all, I had gotten some tests run before (Ferritin and hormone levels), but the process to schedule through my doctor was usually long and arduous and I was due for some updates.
When I visited InsideTracker’s website, I found it was understandable, easy to use and offered different packages for me to choose from. I reached out for more information and was pleasantly surprised to find that InsideTracker employee, Jonathan Levitt, got in touch with me immediately and set up a phone call to discuss opportunities for partnership. After discussing best options, I selected the High Performance Plan to start.
How to use InsideTracker:
The process? Quite simple. Purchase a test on InsideTracker, schedule your appointment at a nearby clinic, bring your confirmation paper, get blood drawn and receive your test results online a few days later. Easiest test I’ve ever taken!
InsideTracker not only tests your levels of biomarkers, but delivers your results in an easy-to-understand format and offers recommendations based on these, including foods to eat more/less of in your diet to improve certain levels.
As an example, I’ll take you through my test results and what they mean:
Creatine Kinase – a measure of muscle health – a higher level means a higher level of muscle damage. Mine was very high, which surprised me. While I put in quite a bit of miles and do some lifting and climbing, I didn’t realize how strenuous it is and how taxed my muscles were.
Recommendations for improving Creatine Kinase include:
- Long rest intervals during lifting
- Consider taking 1g HMB (β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate) 3 times/day with meals
- Reduce downhill running or replace it with flat or uphill running
- Replace one weekly run with lower-impact activity such as cycling or swimming
Liver Enzymes – mine is slightly high and “needs work,” partially due to my high levels of ALT and muscle damage. This calls for more nuts (high in Vitamin E, which help this)
ALT – also increases in response to muscle damage caused by exercise. This is involved changing stored glucose into usable energy. Fun fact: daily coffee consumption seems to enhance this – more reason to keep on brewing! 🙂
Ferritin (iron storage) – mine was at its lowest it has ever been! This was a wake-up call to start taking supplements again and eating red meat on the regular. I generally try to eat a more plant-based diet, but even with all the spinach and fortified foods in iron, it’s not enough to make up for taking a supplement. I like a little red meat every once in a while to keep my levels in check.
As InsideTracker mentions, “Runners may deplete their iron through intestinal bleeding and through rupturing red blood cells when their heel strikes the ground. Iron-deficient athletes have lower levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin, which may reduce oxygen delivery to the muscles and impact performance.”
Vitamin B12 – energy production and muscle repair – mine was slightly high (almost no surprise, since it is involved in muscle repair)! Many foods are also high in B12, so this is one I could cut back a bit on.
Example results (not mine):
Inflammation group – Mine was in the “good” range! Glad to see those berries are paying off 🙂
hsCRP – inflammation indicator – this stands for high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) test and measures CRP, which is a marker of inflammation throughout the body. This is actually a better indicator of inflammation versus the ordinary CRP test. According to InsideTracker, “When the hsCRP test shows optimal levels of CRP, less than 1 mg/dL, the amount of inflammation in the body is very low. Optimal hsCRP levels appear to be an effective predictor of healthy heart, circulatory system, blood pressure, and blood glucose. The hsCRP test is very sensitive to the amount of CRP in the body and therefore a better indicator of inflammation than the ordinary CRP test.”
Vitamin D – this one is pretty self-explanatory… but is it? The best source is from the sun, but we can also get our dose from food sources like fatty fish. Mine was slightly low, which convinced me to start taking my supplement again (below a certain level, this is best) and also optimize my time in the sun!
Testosterone group – previously, mine has been very low (almost nonexistent at one point), but it’s now back to optimized! This was perhaps some of the best news for me since it is directly related to athletic performance and overall vitality. It may not seem as important for women, but if one sex hormone is off, it can throw a whole series of things down the drain. If you are struggling with this, I recommend eating plenty of high-quality carbs to match activity levels, cutting back a bit on the long-duration cardio and lifting heavy.
Cortisol – stress indicator. Mine is in the optimized zone which I was happy to see, but it is nearing the high end, which means I ought to de-stress, prioritize more sleep and simply RELAX!
This one is very important, as InsideTracker states:
“Cortisol is a steroid hormone that the body releases in response to stress. Your levels of cortisol fluctuate during the day with peak levels in the morning and lower levels at night. Called the “stress hormone,” cortisol performs important functions such as providing quick spurts of energy, maintaining blood glucose levels, regulating blood pressure, aiding in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and reducing sensitivity to pain, and regulating the immune system.
After a stressful event, however, it is important for cortisol levels to return to normal. Optimal cortisol levels contribute to better quality sleep, good digestion, healthy bones and muscle tissues, well-regulated blood sugar, healthy blood pressure, and a strong immune system.”
Testosterone:Cortisol Ratio – this is simply your ratio of testosterone to cortisol, which can tell a lot about how the two are related. Despite an optimized T level, my cortisol needs some work. Like I said above, this means more sleep, rest and stress management techniques. Who doesn’t need more of that?
All in all, only 6 / 11 of my tested levels were “optimal.” Basically, InsideTracker told me it’s time to wake up and give some care to my body! I am definitely going to be making some adjustments (and already have) to my nutrition and training, as well as retesting my levels again in 2018.
As you can see, InsideTracker has provided me with tons of insight that I wouldn’t have otherwise known, which will not only help me perform better as an athlete, but also feel better as a human being. It tests important markers for health and optimized performance and explains results in an easily understandable, accessible way. I recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether you consider yourself a high-level athlete or a weekend warrior. Everyone can benefit from knowing their biomarkers to improve their overall wellbeing, starting from the inside out.
Use our discount code “SRC” for 10% off your first test or use our link below to sign up!
For more reviews on InsideTracker, read Tina Muir’s review here.