How InsideTracker Works
You begin by signing up and selecting from one of their four plans, which vary from a $49 “DIY” plan (where you supply/input your own biomarker data) to 3 other plans/tiers that provide increasing levels of biomarker analysis (from $99 to $299). Each of the non-DIY plans include 2 sets of bloodwork/analysis (so you can establish a baseline, then track progress). They recommend having a new blood test every 3 to 6 months.
Once you have purchased a plan, you then arrange to have your bloodwork done (either by scheduling an appointment online with a local LabCorp lab, or, for an additional fee, they will send someone to your home to draw blood). Note that you are supposed to fast for 12 hours before your appointment (water only!).
After you’ve had your bloodwork done, it’s sent off for analysis, and after a few days you’ll receive an email saying your results have been posted, and you can log onto InsideTracker’s website to view.
The “Bloodwork” section provides a summary of your latest biomarker readings, followed by more detailed analysis showing your historical readings and where they fall in relation to their “optimized zones”, and recommendations for how to improve each result. For example, if your calcium level is low, they might suggest you take a calcium supplement and/or avoid eating high-oxalic foods such as spinach at the same time as your calcium sources.
My InsideTracker Experience
I first came across InsideTracker via the Quantified Self LinkedIn group, where they had posted a discount offer to try out their service. I signed up for a single-test plan (no longer offered – they only offer multi-test plans now), and set up an appointment with LabCorp to have my bloodwork done. However, the next day, InsideTracker contacted me to offer the at-home test option at no charge so I took them up on the offer (I arranged to have someone come by my office). The entire process took probably 10 minutes (albeit a bit awkward, having my co-workers watch me get blood drawn in our conference room!)
A few days later, I got an email from InsideTracker saying my results were ready to view, followed by another email from their founder and president, Gil Blander, offering to schedule a call so he could walk me through my results.
On our call, Gil did a very thorough job explaining the significance of each biomarker result, and areas that he thought needed particular attention – low Vitamin D, slightly elevated LDL, elevated Creatine Kinase (typically a sign of overtraining – I explained I had been working out pretty intensely over the past few weeks), low Testosterone (wtf?! I assured Gil I felt fine!), and white blood cell count.
While he was able to provide some general guidance, he made it a point to say that for certain results like white blood cell count, I should follow up with my doctor. In fact, his emails contained the following disclaimer:
InsideTracker is not a disease management product. To ensure these values do not pose any health risk for you, we request that you discuss these matters with your Primary Care Physician soon. In addition, you should also discuss your participation in the InsideTracker program with your doctor.
5 Months Later…
Admittedly, I waited much longer than I had planned to have my follow-up test, but this gave me time to attempt to get several of my low/elevated biomarkers within the optimal zone (including testosterone! I’ll save details of this for a separate blog post, as it’s tied to another experiment but in a nutshell). Since I had only purchased a single plan to begin, I had to purchase the 2-test “Performance” plan, made an appointment with LabCorp, and once my follow-up results were ready, I logged in and could now see 2 data points for each biomarker – now I can start to correlate!
At the time of this writing, I am 2 weeks into my 30-day Bulletproof Diet and intermittent fasting experiment, after which time I will use my remaining Performance plan test to help measure any impact the diet/program has made. Beyond that, I plan on continuing with ongoing quarterly blood tests.
InsideTracker is a great, easy-to-use service that makes it easy for you to track and attempt to optimize your key biomarkers. While not cheap, you are paying for the ease and convenience their service provides. They continue to make improvements to their service, particularly with regards to their website. However, there is still no iPhone/Android app, and it would be nice to have a basic API (or just a JSON feed) so I can integrate my biomarker data into other projects.
Their key competitor at this time seems to be WellnessFX, so it will be interesting to see how InsideTracker continues to evolve and differentiate their service. Gil mentioned that they were already looking to integrate other physiological data into their platform, such as heart rate variability (HRV) via ithlete.
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