This week I joined the InsideTracker team! I am very excited for this career change, but even more excited about what InsideTracker is doing for my health and performance!
What is InsideTracker?
To summarize, InsideTracker provides specific recommendations based on analysis of hormone and nutrient biomarkers in your blood. The goal of the program is to help optimize these levels.
Before starting at InsideTracker, I had the opportunity to take one of their blood tests, the Ultimate Plan.
As someone who considers herself a health nut, I was very curious to see what the results would come up as. Most of the time, I eat extremely healthy and regimented. While I do enjoy the occasional slice of pizza, I typically eat ‘real food’ that is non -processed and as close to ‘whole’ as possible. What I didn’t realize, is how my sleep habits and my training can affect my blood and my overall health. InsideTracker certainly proved to be a wake up call on a couple of things. This was a little bit of a shock, since I always thought I was doing everything right when it came to my nutrition and my lifestyle.
I thought I would spend some time today talking about my InsideTracker biomarker findings and how these findings have impacted my Ironman Training.
The most eye-opening results were my Cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a vital hormone involved in a multitude of our bodies’ most crucial functions. The many problems that result from chronically elevated cortisol can impact both physical and mental well-being.
It turns out, cortisol and I have a lot to work on…
My levels were in the ‘red zone’ of cortisol levels, significantly higher than the optimized zone… yikes!
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that the body releases in response to stress. Called the “stress hormone,” cortisol performs other important functions such as providing quick spurts of energy; maintaining blood glucose levels; regulating blood pressure; aiding in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism; reducing sensitivity to pain; and regulating the immune system.
What have I been doing to help reduce my high cortisol levels:
… trying to get more sleep. I posted about this a few weeks ago… I’m working on it… but it’s not easy.
… adding InsideTracker’s food recommendations to my diet like avocado. I am already eating enough walnuts and almonds, so hopefully adding avocados to my diet will help reduce cortisol levels.
I look forward to retesting my Cortisol levels to see if they have changed with added sleep. If not, it might be the case that my levels are chronically high.
In addition to Cortisol being high, my Testosterone/Cortisol Ratio was poor.
this was an eyeopener…
The testosterone:cortisol score (T/C) is therefore an indicator of whether the body is in a state of increasing or decreasing muscle mass. The score ranges from 0-100, and the higher the score, the more optimal the conditions for increasing muscle mass. A low T/C score can be an indicator of over-training, high stress levels, or poor quality sleep, any of which can result in muscle breakdown and fatigue.
Again, I need to work on my stress levels and getting MORE SLEEP.
Vitamin D is another marker InsideTracker showed I was deficient in.
This was no surprise, given the climate of where I live (Boston) and the horrible Winter we had this year. While I always knew Vitamin D was important for my health, I never knew HOW important it was until I got my markers tested. It turns out Vitamin D has a lot to do with my performance and recovery. Vitamin D increases bone health, muscle mass and strength and helps regulate the immune system. I honestly had no idea prior to my test that vitamin D had any impact on how I was performing. Since the test, I have been taking a vitamin D supplement daily (5000 IU/daily thanks to InsideTracker’s recommendations), and I have noticed that my post workout muscle soreness has lessened. I have also noticed that I feel less fatigued during and after workouts and my body just feels stronger.
My overall Iron group levels were found to be low.
InsideTracker’s Fitness and Performance Plans measure two iron-related markers, hemoglobin and ferritin. Our new Ultimate Plan adds four more iron-related markers to give users a systemic view of this essential nutrient, allowing for a better understanding of any iron imbalances.
Iron is essential to our survival. Iron is the key component of hemoglobin, which allows red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. It also plays a major role in cell growth and differentiation, and the development of new cells, hormones, neurotransmitters, and amino acids.
When I first found out that I was iron deficient, I began taking an iron supplement daily. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but I will slowly add more grass fed red meat into my diet, especially during difficult training weeks. I would eventually like to wean off of the iron supplements and get my iron from my food sources entirely.
On the positive side, my InsideTracker results show that I’m doing a lot of things the right way.
My inflammation levels are low. I was concerned given my lack of sleep and high level of training that my inflammation would be on the high side, but it was actually the opposite.
My calcium, glucose and magnesium are at optimal levels
An athlete’s resting glucose level is an under-appreciated biomarker, but it can reveal a lot about what’s going on inside an athlete’s body when tested repeatedly over the course of a season and throughout a career
Now for the exciting part… since getting my InsideTracker results & making the changes recommended to me, I have never felt better.
I have not raced since getting my biomarkers tested, but I can testify that my training has shown significant gains.
My swim times have been dropping, substantially. I went from averaging a 1:45 per/100 yards freestyle at Masters Swim Practice to now averaging 1:27-1:30 per 100 yards freestyle. I have also gone from being in the back of my swim lane to leading sets at practice. My teammates have noticed my speed improvements and it feels amazing. I look forward to seeing how my speed in the pool transfers into open water.
Biking has never felt better. Not only the act of biking, but the recovery between bike workouts has never been easier and more seamless than it is now. I used to dread biking and often felt tired when riding… no more! My quads are not as fatigued as they used to be, both during and after riding. I’m putting out more watts on the bike than ever before. On the weekends when I do my long endurance workouts, I have no issues riding long on Saturday and then running long on Sunday, for example. Training just feels GOOD.. and I’m working harder than ever before. Crazy!
If you have been following my blog, you know that running is my thing. I have always been a natural runner and endurance has come easy to me for most of my life. One thing that has changed as of late is, keeping a fast pace over a long period of time. For example, I can now keep a sub 7 minute pace for 10+ miles. Something I never thought I’d be able to do. Running FAST feels easier than it ever has before. Also, knock on wood, I feel better than ever on my two feet. Not only am I getting faster, but I’m not experiencing the aches and pains that I used to face on a regular basis, like my knees for example. As a girl who often joked that she was always the ‘injured runner’ perhaps I have turned a page?
I cannot wait to see how all of this affects my racing in 2015! #kona 😉
I want to emphasize that InsideTracker is not solely a package of blanket recommendations to fix non-optimal biomarker levels; it is a lifestyle tool that provides a highly individualized experience to help you carve your own path to health and wellness.