by Perrin Braun, InsideTracker

Athletes train for years to maximize and perfect physical performance. But in order to improve endurance, speed, or flexibility, you not only need to spend many hours hitting the gym, but you also should know what’s going on inside your body.  InsideTracker is the only science-based service that combines blood analysis with a powerful algorithm to show the status of your unique blood biochemistry and to suggest simple interventions to optimize it. By following InsideTracker recommendations, you can improve your biochemistry and get the edge that you need to compete against other elite athletes.

IndsideTracker customer Sarah HaskinsFor instance, a US Olympic track cyclist spent hours training and building her endurance in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games. An InsideTracker blood analysis revealed that she was very low in vitamin D, a nutrient that helps the body maintain energy levels, defend against infection, and maintain strong bones. Vitamin D is critical for athletes because it has a direct relationship with inflammation and the ability to recover from intense training and competition. To help this Olympic athlete increase her vitamin D, InsideTracker recommended a set of simple interventions, which subsequently helped to make a measurable difference in her performance. And it contributed to her success in London, where she won two Olympic silver medals!

How can you benefit from InsideTracker?

Blood analysis provides a unique window into your body, evaluating up to 20 biomarkers essential to achieve optimal performance. If any of these biomarkers are out of your personalized range, you can improve them with simple interventions such as diet, supplementation, exercise, and training modifications. From just a small blood sample, InsideTracker generates personalized recommendations to optimize your athletic performance and reduce injuries.

What makes InsideTracker different from other nutrition plans is its integration of an “optimal zone” in the blood analysis—a number that is specific to each person and takes into account his or her own unique demographic information such as: age, gender, ethnicity, activity level, as well as lifestyle and performance goals.

InsideTracker Bloodwork screen shotInsideTracker’s sophisticated algorithm called B.R.I.A.N (Biomarker Research Integrative Analysis Network) determines the optimal zones for each marker based on the latest peer-reviewed research. For example, the generic normal range for a woman’s level of ferritin, a blood marker for iron, is between 12 and 150 units. But InsideTracker recommends that an active woman in her 20s should have blood levels of ferritin between 40 – 150 units for optimum performance. And, if you are not in your optimal zone, B.R.I.A.N suggests strategies that will help you get there. For example, if you have low stores of iron, B.R.I.A.N might make a three-pronged recommendation: add more iron-rich foods to your diet, take an iron supplement, and change your training routine to include some lower-impact workouts.

The InsideTracker team spent four years analyzing tens of thousands of research papers to find the biomarkers that are the most critical to improving your physical performance, and to identify the interventions to optimize them. Roughly 3,000 potential biomarkers were narrowed down to 20 of the most essential for improve health, injury prevention, and athletic performance. These are some of the biomarkers that are most essential for athletes:

Creatine kinase – Creatine kinase (CK) is a type of enzyme that is located in several tissues in the body, mainly in muscle. In normal conditions, there is a small amount of creatine kinase circulating in the blood, but when muscle damage occurs, CK leaks from the damaged cells and the amount of CK in the blood can rise substantially. Therefore, blood levels of CK act as an indicator to show the extent to which you are over-training.

Hemoglobin – A protein that is partially composed of iron and mainly localized in the red blood cells, hemoglobin transfer oxygen to the muscles and other organs. Iron deficiency decreases your body’s ability to transfer oxygen to your muscle during exercise, and athletes who don’t have enough hemoglobin might have compromised athletic performance, a depleted immune system, and an increased susceptibility to illness, chronic fatigue, irritability, and a high exercise heart rate. So, it’s especially important for athletes to make sure that their hemoglobin levels are adequate!

C-reactive protein – One of the best inflammation indicators is a protein in the blood called C-reactive protein (or CRP). Levels of CRP rise and fall in response to inflammation, so knowing your CRP measurement tells you a lot about what’s going on in your body. Inflammation is part of the vascular system’s complex response to harmful stimuli. Although inflammation affects everyone – and tends to become harder to control as you age – it is especially important for athletes to control inflammation so that they can reach their peak performance.

Testosterone – testosterone is a hormone that is essential to overall health and sexual function in men. Women normally have very small amounts of testosterone. Optimal testosterone levels are important to improved athletic performance because it helps to build muscle, improve strength, and increase the body’s capacity to use oxygen during exercise. In men, testosterone strengthens bone and prevents age-related bone loss. Regular exercise has been shown to increase testosterone levels. Over exercise has been shown to decrease Testosterone and to increase injury.

Testosterone is linked to cortisol—both are hormones that are affected during times of stress. Cortisol is released into the body from the adrenal glands when you are stressed or after intense workouts, which results in a decreased output of testosterone. Testing cortisol requires multiple saliva tests during the day, making it a very cumbersome and time-consuming process. Moreover, some recent studies with rugby players suggest that the effectiveness of cortisol testing is limited. A better approach for most athletes is combining blood analysis with Heart Rate Variability (HRV) testing, which gives you information about your personal testosterone: cortisol ratio.

So, how do you get started with InsideTracker?

If you’re an athlete who’s living in the U.S., you can do one of two things: get your blood tested at the nearest lab, or take advantage of the “do it yourself” (DIY) plan, which allows you to enter your most recent blood tests results from your primary care physician.

For anyone living outside of the U.S., the “do it yourself” (DIY) plan is the only available option, but it’s very convenient and easy to use! You simply purchase the DIY plan, enter your blood test results acquired from your primary care physician, and immediately receive analysis and recommendations personalized for you. No matter where in the world you live, you can take advantage of all the benefits that InsideTracker has to offer, so you can become a more informed, more fit, and more optimized athlete!

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Blood Biochemistry & Heart Rate Variability

InsideTracker is currently partnering with ithlete to create a better early warning system for athletes and coaches trying to reduce injuries and prevent overtraining. InsideTracker will provide you with food recommendations, exercise modifications, and lifestyle changes that you can implement to improve your HRV score.

We would love to have you try InsideTracker. To get you started, please use this Special 10% Discount Code exclusively for ithlete customers: ITHLEL211DE. Click here to choose your InsideTracker plan; enter the discount code on our checkout page.

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