Monday, July 29, 2013

The Value Of Biomarkers

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

How To Analyze Your Health

There have been many advances in technology in the form of entertainment, communication, media, and convenience. One of the companies that really made technology accessible to everyone was Apple, they challenged the status quo and it's why people lined up the night before to be one of the first to get one of their new products. They told you that technology belonged to the regular person, not some stuffy technician in a lab somewhere.

This same type of innovating thinking has crossed over to fitness. So much of fitness is based off of weak science. I like to joke that either you are given "bro" science or "hippy" science. But those ideas become popular belief, and sometimes popular belief is more powerful than the truth.

Someone needs to step in to challenge the status quo of fitness...

The first step in solving a problem analytically, is to define the problem itself and look for ways to mitigate it. This has always been the initial issue with fitness, no one attempts to define the problem, or define their health. And if you don't define it, then trying to improve it also becomes a nebulous idea, and becomes much like throwing darts in the dark with no target, hoping you end up being happy where ever it lands. It's why people try every exercise, every diet, and every supplement because they don't know what's wrong, they don't know what they need, and they don't know where they want to be. They just know wherever they are now is not where they want to stay.

Quantify Yourself

So now there is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical). Once you quantify it, you can improve it.

Improvement doesn't mean a high number, it means an optimal level. Too often someone hears something is good, like a new superfood and tries to consume as much of it as possible. Optimal exists on a bell curve, you want to be right in the middle of the curve, not too much not too little.

Guess work has been the bane of fitness and the reason for so much confusion, but has been regularly accepted as fact. This is unacceptable in the tech world and that same mindset and same guidelines are now being brought into fitness.

Follow the data, don't follow the crowd.


There are many companies and startups in this emerging market of quantifying biomarkers but InsideTracker was the only one I liked. You can tell a lot from your blood and InsideTracker has narrowed it down to 20 key biomarkers.

Even one set of InsideTracker tests isn't enough. Like anyone looking to analyze data, you need a series of tests that create trends, that's when you really learn and see patterns, improvements, or declines.

InsideTracker also puts the information in your hands so you become your own best advocate. You learn to understand yourself, and own your information. It's all on a dashboard that you log into online, and it will show your previous results as well. At the end of the day no one knows you better than yourself and this actually makes that statement more true.

Don't confuse this with getting some bloodwork done at the doctors when you go in for your yearly check up, the experience, the purpose, and the analytics are completely different. One's purpose is to see if you are ill or likely to die, InsideTracker's purpose is to see how close to optimal you are and what you need to get to optimal. The problem many people have with doctors visits, it reveals problems with very few sustainable solutions. Leave it to the engineers to resolve that problem.


From World Champion and Olympic cyclist Sarah Hammer, to triathletes Jarrod Shoemaker and Sarah Haskins, Olympic runner Ruben Sanca, along with over 50 other professional athletes use Insidetracker to monitor nutrition, boost performance, and hasten recovery.

Within 10 years, the NBA will be applying blood testing to get their athletes the right recovery and nutrition solutions.

Gil Blander, founder and president, told Popular Science:

“Every 5,000 miles, you take it in, plug into computer in the car, and the computer will tell the mechanic immediately, what are the issues with the car? Do we need to change the oil or air filter? Then you know what to do to replace it, and the car is good for another 5,000 miles,” he said. “With InsideTracker, we take a bit of our blood, look at 20 biomarkers we assume are important for athletic performance and overall well-being, and then we give you a recommendation.” 
Not all human beings have the same overall body chemistry and for each person based on your answers to their questionnaire and your goals, it gives a different set of optimal ranges.


Not just for athletes, many in the tech and startup world are adopting these technologies as well (early adopters). Cisco consider technologies like this along with The Fitbit as being integrated into every day use as early as 2020. They call it IofO (internet of everything).

A lot of our clients work way too hard, too many hours, they much travel, too much stress. It's unavoidable, so they need a way to know and to teach themselves where exactly their health is, if they are redlining or at optimal levels. One bad choice could mean millions of dollars, redlining for too long could mean serious health consequences and by the time you are symptomatic or your doctor catches on, the damage may be too great.

Which test should I take?

The only one I take and recommend to clients is the InsideTracker performance test. It's the only one that tracks all 20 biomarkers. Though they have do-it-yourself home tests that are much more affordable and may be a good point of entry for people just wanting to try it out.

If you happen to already have all the bloodwork done, instead of paying for tests through InsideTracker, you can just type in all your values, and just pay InsideTracker to analyze it for you and make recommendations.

What InsideTracker does is looks at your readings, tells you what they are, if they are optimal or if they aren't where you should be based on the questionnaire you fill out. It defines all the terms with links to studies, what each biomarker does for you, and dietary, supplemental, and lifestyle changes you can make to get your numbers optimal. Simple, easy to understand, and powerful.

It's shifting the power from the medical community back to the patients. Hopefully other than check ups and age appropriate physicals, you never have to go into the doctors office or ER for any serious health condition. And if you do, you saw it coming a long time ago. Curing will always be difficult, but prevention has room for optimal growth and more focus is now being put into prevention.

Preventive medicine is also something insurance usually will not cover. It's why services like these are so valuable.

For me and a few other clients, it became an inroad back to medicine. One client in particular had some readings that were off the charts, which made her go see specialists for further tests. It looked like she was headed for renal failure, and now she's seeing cardiologists, rheumatologists, and several other specialists. They are on top of this and closely monitoring her, but she became her own best advocate and really pushed for more answers. Something they said they would not have tested her for since she didn't seem to show any signs yet.

Another client who is in a very high stress field, seemed healthy enough. Then he was in the hospital for 2 months due to exhaustion. The hospital ran tests and all his labs were either too high or too low. But this is what happens a lot of the times, we use blood tests to validate how bad you're doing, not to prevent the situation in the first place. How often does that happen? You go to the hospital because you're not feeling well, and they tell you how bad you are really doing? What if you used technology to see how good you were doing before you got sick?

What would this information do for people trying to lose weight? Build muscle?

I so often hear, I've tried everything (meaning every diet and exercise). But one of the things they've never tried is having their blood analyzed. All of which you can get done relatively easily, inexpensively, and accurately. And it would provide an invaluable amount of data to formulate a plan, especially for weight loss. Without this information, everything else seems like guess work.

Supplements and Health Food Market

Another thing these tests tell you is, if whether you need to be taking all those supplements or if you've been taking too many. How do you know you need something unless you know you are deficient? We all have "health guru" friends who claim the healthy benefits of this or that and who proudly show everyone what they are taking or eating, with the automatic assumption that it is what their body needs. That is the first fallacy of a rational argument, assuming without actual knowledge that your premise is true. That's why we need tests, to remove the guesswork and poor faulty logic.

Often times we might have too much of vitamin.

Final Thoughts

You now have a definition of fitness and health. Your goal is to be healthy, to be high-performance. You also have a method to get you there effectively and efficiently. Why not use this technology to your advantage?

If nothing else, always get blood tests every time you go in for your check up or physical.

Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletterYou can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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