How to interpret jacked up InsideTracker results

By Henry Howard

I knew my most recent InsideTracker results would be off, given the timing of the blood draw. Due to issues with scheduling a time for the mobile draw, it occurred 10 days after I completed my third 100-miler and second at the Hennepin Hundred.

Still, I analyzed the data and compared it with previous tests to get an understanding of how my training, nutrition, recovery and other factors are having an impact on my overall health. But InsideTracker doesn’t stop there. Each time I get a test, I also receive personalized recommendations on how to improve my scores, especially ones deemed “at risk.”

And there were plenty in that category this time around.

In fact, there were 10 — twice as many as most of my previous tests recorded and by far the highest total I’ve ever had. Of the 48 biomarkers tested during my Oct. 17 blood draw, eight others were declared to be needing improvement while 30 were in the optimized area.

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My key takeaways

When I had the blood draw, which produced these results I was still recovering from the Hennepin Hundred. It was not an ideal time for a test from which to compare data. However, there were definitely takeaways that will help me moving forward.

Among them:

1. Vitamin B12: After my May 23 blood draw, I noted “an excellent sign that what I have been doing the past six months is working” to improve this category. After a couple of low scores, the May test showed a dramatic increase, thanks to a new-to-me vitamin B12 supplement and my increased dosage (500 mcg per day). The new test revealed a vitamin B12 level almost double the previous high. My takeaway here is to back off the supplement a bit. My next InsideTracker test will be a good barometer to determine whether the October test was an outlier or I need to come up with a different strategy.

2. Sodium: Following the first time that my sodium level measured “at risk,” the October results showed a continued dropoff. The optimized level is between 137 and 145, with the needs improvement area from 133 to 135. My score fell from 134 to 133. My hunch is that I was still battling a sodium loss from the training and ultra marathon. Still, I need to follow InsideTracker’s recommendations to correct this. They include rehydrating with a sports drink after workouts, and having foods like potato chips and olives. The electrolytes from Long Run Coffee should also help this category, too.

3. Inflammation group: It was no surprise that my inflammation scored in the at-risk category so soon after my 100-miler. However — unlike vitamin B12 — this mark is consistent with previous tests. Along similar lines, my white blood cell count is low. The recommendations include foods like quinoa, chia seeds, almonds, avocado and garbanzo beans. These are among the staples in my diet, so this appears to be an issue of recovery rather than food. InsideTracker also provides useful information on its website that provides a deeper dive on these categories. For those who battle high inflammation levels, this is a really good overview.

4. Red blood cells: My red blood cell (RBC) count fell into the danger zone, going from 4.5 to 4.1 (4.2 is optimized), according to my May test. The October reading showed that it dropped down to 3.9. I believe this also is a direct result of the timing associated with my test. From the InsideTracker report: ”Since you are a highly active individual, periods of heavy training or new workout modalities, may cause reductions in your iron group markers, including red blood cells. Timing the replenishment of your iron stores (from food and supplements) is key for maximizing absorption.” This is another area to monitor closely, given the back-to-back declines.

Action steps

After each InsideTracker test, I review the score, analysis and recommendations, and create a to-do plan for myself. Given the aforementioned issue with the timing of this test, I am going to largely try to focus on the takeaways from my May test until I get a new one. Those are:

• Vitamin B12. Keep using the new supplement but back off to five days a week instead of daily.

• Sleep. This is an area I have struggled with. As my training load will be reduced in the months ahead, this is a good opportunity to ensure I get the rest my body needs more consistently.

Sodium. I am interested to see how this category will fare next time. To improve this biomarker, I’ll be more consistent in refueling with a sports drink, per the suggestion from InsideTracker.

Overall, this has been a good exercise in interpreting the data from an amateur’s perspective. While there are no drastic changes to make, there are definitely some areas to closely watch. And, thanks to InsideTracker, I have the ability to apply science, real data and customized recommendations to boost my health even more.