Disclaimer: I received a free InsideTracker assessment to review as a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and also to find and write race reviews!
Four vials is a lot of blood.
I donate blood regularly, so having my blood drawn doesn’t really bother me, but the amount that they took that morning was a little surprising because every time I’ve gone for any other kind of blood test, it’s always only been one vial. But when I got my test results back a few days later, I understood exactly why InsideTracker needed to take so much. The report that they sent me was a more comprehensive and thorough assessment of exactly what’s going on inside of my body and what I need to do to improve my health, live longer, and maximize my athletic abilities than any other test of its kind that I’ve ever taken, including tests that were ordered by a physician. Being able to get access to information like this is well worth every drop of blood that I gave.
Before I go into any my details about my results or exactly what it is that makes InsideTracker so unique and valuable, let me give you a little history about myself:
I spent the a good portion of my 20s and early 30s living a pretty hardcore lifestyle. I’m not exaggerating when I say this. I have a laundry list of stories that I can share about waking up at 2pm in Nashville and Las Vegas with massive hangovers and my heart still pounding from all the caffeine in the countless number of vodka red bulls I had consumed the night before while staying out all night drinking with my friends and watching the sun come up before finally going to sleep. I’ve hosted all night jam sessions in my hotel rooms with some of the bands that were playing at the various music fests that I used to go to and I’ve gotten plenty of angry calls from front desks when the 20 or more people who were crammed into my hotel room made so much noise that we woke people up who were trying to sleep three floors above us. There’s also a semi-well known story about me standing in the middle of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas at 4:30 am and drunk dialing the tour manager of
Blake Sh a famous country singer to yell at him about being in Kansas City that weekend and not coming to join my friends and I for a lobster dinner.
I could go on, but my point is that when you live like that, one of the last things you’re really concerned about at the time is eating well and making sure that your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs for you to live a long and healthy life.
Needless to say, I don’t live like that anymore. If I didn’t start making healthier choices, chances are pretty good that I wouldn’t be typing this post today because I’d be dead. But something that’s been a bit frustrating to me over the last few years is that when I was younger, I almost never had to worry about my diet because despite all the wild times and crazy partying that I did, I still ran and worked out several days a week and I never seemed to gain any weight or lose any muscle mass regardless of what I ate or drank. When I got into my late 30’s, I started to notice that it wasn’t as easy for me to keep weight off as it used to be, and not only that, but even though I’ve spent the last several years sleeping well and watching what I eat, the finishing times in my races were actually better back in my wilder days than they are now.
So about a month ago, when the folks at BibRave let me know about a new deal that they had made with InsideTracker and offered to set me up with a free evaluation that involved having some blood drawn and then getting a personalized report about what I should and shouldn’t be eating, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of it because I really wanted to get a better understanding of exactly what changes to make to continue to improve my health.
A few days after I found out that I was selected to be a participant, I got the information about how to set up an account and where to go and get my blood drawn. The entire process was extremely easy. InsideTracker works with LabCorp to collect their bloodwork, and LabCorp has a number of locations all over the United States. When I looked for a location near me, there were about 8 of them within a 25 mile radius of my house. So I made an appointment online and went to get my blood drawn a couple days after that. As a side note, if you don’t have time to make a special trip just to get your blood drawn, or if you aren’t close to a LabCorp location, for an extra fee, InsideTracker will send someone to your home or your office and draw your blood for you there.
My recommendation for anyone that’s thinking about trying InsideTracker is to make sure to schedule your blood appointment early in the morning. The reason is because you have to fast for 12 hours prior to getting your blood drawn and it’s a lot easier to not think about eating if you’re sleeping for 8 of those hours. My appointment was at 8:45am, which was perfect because I went to bed at 9:00 the night before, slept in a little bit in the morning and then went to LabCorp and stopped and got breakfast on my way home. The timing worked out perfectly. If I would have made my appointment in the afternoon, I don’t know how I would have dealt with my stomach growling all day.
For as many tests as InsideTracker did on my blood, the results were ready surprisingly quickly. About three days after I had my blood drawn, I got an email that had a link to view them online. My report consisted of 32 different measurements that covered these categories:
- Metabolism & Weight Control
- Bone & Muscle Health
- Electrolytes & Fluid Balance
- Strength & Endurance
- Oxygen Transfer & Blood Function
- Liver Function & Toxicity
Each category has its own set of measurements (so for example, the Electrolytes & Fluid Balance category includes Potassium, Sodium, and Zinc and the Bone & Muscle Health category includes Vitamin D and Calcium, etc…). The measurements can be green (within your optimal zone), yellow (still normal but outside of your optimal zone, and red (too high or too low) InsideTracker recommends that you talk to a doctor about anything that comes back red. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of mine were green, and it was also good to see which areas I needed to work on.
In addition to just the measurements though, InsideTracker also provides information about the science behind exactly what your results mean along with some text and videos to check out that talk about why each measurement is important. Then they also go on to make recommendations about different types of food that you should eat more or less of and other activities (i.e. strength training, sleeping more, etc…) that will help improve your results.
So as an example, my Vitamin D measurement is outside of my optimized zone, and their recommendation is for me to eat more fish, mushrooms, swiss cheese, and a few other things, and also to make sure I get enough exposure to sunlight during the summer months.
Each food that’s recommended has a description that tells what it helps with and how it can improve your measurements. In some cases, there are also links to video recipes and depending on the specific category that you’re looking at, there might also recommendations for foods that should be avoided.
In addition to viewing recommendations based on your individual measurements, InsideTracker also has a food basket that you can view to get a personalized menu that takes every one of your measurements into account and gives you an exact diet to follow. You can make adjustments to your food basket based on the number of calories you want to consume and if you don’t like the options, you can also request a new set of recommendations.
There are also a number of settings you can use to adjust your recommendations based on your individual dietary requirements. So for example, if I was a vegetarian or a vegan, or if I needed a gluten free diet, or wanted to follow a paleo diet, I could simply check a couple boxes and InsideTracker would automatically adjust my recommendations.
There are also options to make adjustments based on your food preferences. So for example, if there’s no dietary reason that I can’t have dairy products, but I just don’t personally like them, I can update my settings have my recommendations adjusted accordingly for that too…. The food preferences can even be made more granular by allowing you to select individual foods that you like or don’t like… So let’s say I’m OK with dairy in general but I just don’t want to eat egg yolks… or if I really like to eat a lot of yogurt – I can adjust my preferences to reflect things like that too).
There are a total of 15 different dietary preferences and 15 high level food preferences to choose from so you shouldn’t have a problem getting a list of recommendations that also fits in with your exact likes and requirements. I don’t personally have any dietary restrictions or preferences but I did play around with the options just to see what would happen and my food recommendations were recalculated and updated within seconds each time. It’s very impressive.
I learned a lot from my InsideTracker results. I already knew that there was room for improvement in my diet but the reason that these particular test results were so useful is that they really gave me insights into exactly what changes I need to make, as opposed to just trying to follow a general “one size fits all” diet.
Another thing that I really like a lot is the fact that other than the actual tests themselves, InsideTracker doesn’t require you to purchase anything. There are no special diet plans to pay for, no shake mixes to buy, no special discounts if you become a “coach” and try to recruit other people to sell their products, etc… Literally every food that InsideTracker recommends is a whole food that can be found at most grocery stores. InsideTracker won’t benefit in any way from you buying any of the things that they recommend. It really is that straightforward: “this is what was measured, these were the results, and based on those results, this is what we think you should be eating”. With all of the various organizations trying to push diet and nutrition related products to people online, this was really refreshing to see.
The evaluation that I got (Ultimate) normally costs about $500. There are also other tests available that do different combinations measurements for different prices. You can decide which one you like, but regardless of which option you go with, I think that once you see your results, you’ll agree that the money was well spent. Also, keep in mind that that once you create an account and get your tests done, you can continue to access your results and recommendations indefinitely.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve slowly been making adjustments to my diet based on the recommendations I got from InsideTracker. I’ve already noticed a difference because when I wake up each morning, I don’t feel as groggy as I used to and I also feel like I have more energy throughout the day (which is especially good for me considering that I don’t drink coffee). In the future, I’m planning on continuing to make adjustments to my diet based on the recommendations that I got and then I’ll schedule another test after a few months and make sure that I’m on the right track. I’ll also post an update about my progress at that time.
I’d like to give one final shout-out to both InsideTracker and BibRave for setting me up with the evaluation. I was extremely happy with it would strongly recommend InsideTracker to anyone.
Want some more great info about InsideTracker? Check out this review from RunGingerRun.