Runs and Places

InsideTracker Update

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!

A few months ago I wrote a post about a product called InsideTracker.  If you didn’t read that post, here’s a quick summary:

InsideTracker Logo

Here’s the official description:

InsideTracker is a personalized health analytics tool that was created by a group of scientists, doctors, and nutritionists from some of the top universities in the United States (MIT, Harvard, Tufts).  The InsideTracker platform tracks and analyzes key biochemical and physiological markers and applies sophisticated algorithms and large scientific databases to determine personalized optimal zones for each marker.

Wait… what does that mean in English?

You go and get some blood drawn and then a few days later you get a personalized report that lists out all of the various vitamins, minerals, hormones, and enzymes that are found in your body.  This report will tell you exactly which of these biomarkers are out of balance (i.e. you have too much or too little)…. And even better yet, it also gives you a list of foods you should or shouldn’t eat and activities you can do to correct any issues before they start to cause serious health problems.

Inside Tracker - Blood Glucose

You can read some additional details in my original post if you want.  For this one, I thought I’d focus on the changes I made after having my tests done a little over six months ago and some of the improvements I’ve noticed as a result:

Vitamin D

The first of my biomarkers that was low was vitamin D.  Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and regulates development and maintenance of the nervous system and skeletal muscle.  Not having enough of it can result in stress fractures, weight gain, poor heart health, and increased inflammation.

From what I hear, low Vitamin D levels are fairly common in the US because we get most of our vitamin D by absorbing sunlight through our skin.  And… well… a lot of people just don’t spend as much time outdoors as they should.

I took my original tests in March when it was still cold outside.  So I have a feeling that the Chicago winter may have played a part in this particular reading because I do spend significantly more time outdoors during the 9 months of the year that aren’t winter.  Either way though, I’ve been following up on the suggestion to eat more fish, mushrooms, and whole grains to try to bring my levels up to their optimal zone.

LDL

LDL transports calcium throughout your body and delivers it to the various organs that need it.  Too much LDL can cause plaque to build up under the lining of your blood vessels.  This thins out your blood vessels and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and a variety of other serious medical conditions.

In my case, my LDL reading came back “near normal”.  This means that it was slightly on the high side, but not yet to the point of being alarming.  So I added some salmon, black beans, peas, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, whole wheat pasta and almonds to my diet…. and I also cut out (gasp) bacon…. for the most part anyway.  I’ll still have a slice here and there but I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to.  I must say though – the day I decided to cut back on bacon was a very sad day.

Blood Glucose

Blood Glucose is the body’s primary source of energy.  If your blood glucose is out of balance, the result can be anything from difficulty being able to control your blood pressure to diabetes.

My blood glucose level was normal… but not in my optimal zone.  To be honest though, I like most of the foods that bring it down anyway.  So it was pretty easy to eat more peaches, plums, oranges, sweet potatoes and avocados.  I’ve also been trying to cut back on processed sugars, which will help to bring my levels down as well.

HSCRP

HSCRP (high sensitive C-Reactive Protein) is a measure of inflammation throughout your body.

My HSCRP level was out of my optimized zone, but still normal.  Just like my blood glucose level though, I wanted to make sure that everything is optimal so I increased my intake of beets, walnuts, salmon, almonds, blueberries, strawberries, and mushrooms.

Creatine Kinase

Creatine kinase is an enzyme that’s located inside muscle cells and leaks out into your bloodstream when the cells get damaged.

My creatine kinase level was high but this is the only test result that I’m a little skeptical about…. and not because of anything wrong with InsideTracker but because I was supposed to have not worked out for at least a week prior to getting my blood drawn and I didn’t exactly follow those directions.  I was training for a race at the time and there really wasn’t a time where I wasn’t planning on working out at least once for an entire week.  So there’s a good chance that my creatine kinase level was high because I simply hadn’t given my muscles enough time to repair themselves before getting my blood drawn.  In any event though, I’ve still been following the suggestions to try to lower it, which include increasing the amount of seeds, beans, and lentils in my diet.

Other

My Iron, Ferritin and Liver Enzymes were all right in the middle of the optimized zone, which is good.  So I didn’t do anything to specifically address these things, but a lot of the foods that I listed above will help keep them in the optimized zone anyway.

If you notice – a lot of the suggested foods overlap with each other.  Salmon is good for optimizing a lot of different bioindicators.  So are berries, nuts, mushrooms, etc…  So while the all of the different measurements and food suggestions might look overwhelming at first, the truth is that a lot of people can see some pretty big improvements with just a few small dietary tweaks.

InsideTracker also makes the overall process easy by providing a personalized shopping basket that consolidates all of your suggested foods into one place.

InsideTracker - Food Basket

Better yet, InsideTracker will automatically adjust your food basket suggestions based on your dietary preferences.  I’ve been toying with the idea of switching to a plant based diet lately (I’ll write more about that in a different post).  So I wanted to see how easy it would be to still have my diet optimized based on my InsideTracker results if I decided to make a change like that.  All I had to do was check a checkbox in my settings and InsideTracker removed all of the meats and cheeses from my food basket and replaced them with things like Brazil Nuts and Morel Mushrooms.

Results

I still need to schedule another official blood test to see how my biomarkers look now but honestly even without knowing the exact numbers I can feel the difference.

  • I have a lot more energy and I no longer wake up in the morning wishing I could stay in bed for a few more hours.
  • When I was helping my daughter Sara train for her first 5K last month, there were times when I did two runs and strength training in the same day.  I haven’t had enough energy to follow a workout schedule that was that rigorous in at least five years.
  • I also sleep more soundly and feel like I have more endurance during my races.
  • And for the first time in a few years, my finishing times are going down instead of up (sometimes very significantly).

There are so many different supplements, diet programs, exercise programs, etc… out there that claim to help people get healthier or lose weight.  In the worst cases, these programs have no benefits at all and are run by people who really don’t care about anyone’s health but only want to sell their products to make a profit….. but even some of the best programs still fall a little bit short because they’re not truly personalized.  Not to mention a lot of dietary advice conflicts with other advice, leaving people confused about what the best thing to do really is.

Like I mentioned in my original post, InsideTracker is different.  The company that makes InsideTracker doesn’t sell any of the suggested foods themselves.  They simply give you recommendations based on your blood test results and then you can go out and buy what you need in the produce section of any grocery store.  Spending years listening to all the different types of conflicting diet advice and then having InsideTracker give you a personal reading that tells you exactly what your body needs is like stumbling around in the dark for your entire life and then finally having someone hand you a lantern.

So just like the disclaimer at the beginning of this post said, I got my InsideTracker evaluation for free through BibRave.  If you’re interested in paying for it, there are a number of different pricing options available depending on exactly what you would like to have tested.  Honestly, even if I had paid full price for the test that I got, I would still be writing this same post and saying that it was worth every penny.

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