A popular question that InsideTracker users ask is when to re-test. We see testing frequency as a spectrum, ranging from the elite athlete, where even slightly outside-of-optimal results can mean the difference between a win and loss, to the casual InsideTracker user who only needs a check in now and then. Regardless of where you stand, we generally recommend re-testing 3 to 4 times per year. Another part of the re-testing process is the decision around which panel is most appropriate, and whether up- or downgrading is advised. Our experience working with teams, businesses, and individual consumers drives what we recommend for re-testing.
Choosing the right panel for you or your client should be based on the individual’s goals and needs. Typical fitness consumers are concerned with metabolism when fat loss is a goal, and some elite athletes fall into this category as well. Team athletes worried about repairing muscles often look for and focus on the free testosterone to cortisol ratio or optimized vitamin and mineral status. For the serious user, the Ultimate Panel is a perfect option for covering a wide range of biomarkers, and it has the specific depth of information to push training and recovery. Business professionals find the Ultimate Panel to be a perfect option for achieving their goals as well. The busy executive will look to inflammation and immune-related biomarkers to keep them performing at high levels, especially during a heavy travel period when flying to Europe or Asia.
Each biomarker varies in terms of response time for change. A strength athlete may see fluctuation in the biomarker creatine kinase (CK) daily, while biomarkers like Vitamin D take weeks to improve. We understand the challenge of juggling all of the biomarkers at once, such as the 30 in our Ultimate Panel, and we now suggest clients be more precise with their testing dates to get more out of their panel and personal InsideTracker account. Here are our most important considerations for re-testing, defined by our team of scientists and developers:
Results: The number of optimized biomarkers will play a major role in deciding when to test again. Behavior modification research shows us that re-testing more frequently helps the user stay focused and on track with improvements, especially when very few markers are in the optimal zone to begin with. A testing frequency of every few months is usually long enough to be able to see honest effort, and also not so long that efforts fall to the back burner.
Speed: Engaged users who are fully committed to change and are looking to make rapid transformation should test more frequently, perhaps once per month, to ensure that the recommendations they are following are effective. Every time you test, the InsideTracker dashboard literally shows the pace or change that you are making, similar to a checkpoint or lap split in auto racing.
Risk: Humans are assets, and protecting important individuals is a growing trend for athletic teams as well as professional organizations. Even if you are not a top CEO or elite athlete, mitigating failure is essential, be it during a recreational marathon or an important sales quarter. InsideTracker can be compared to warning lights on your dashboard, forecasting trouble before a breakdown. We have invested in prediction and prevention measures, rather than the model of disease confirmation, which is failing today. Users with just one test can take action and make immediate changes with the online tools and personalized recommendations.
Integration: InsideTracker allows for integration with other goal-setting programs and health and fitness devices. For example, endurance runners benefit when they combine a GPS watch with their blood profile. Professional strength coaches can see how power is properly developed with hormonal biomarkers and weight room sensors. Finally, those monitoring stress can use biofeedback devices daily and look at their inflammation markers with our blood analysis to track improvements over time.
Budget: Budgetary constraints may limit test frequency to no more than three or four times a year, and this pattern works for many of our clients. It is better to test more frequently if you have several biomarkers that are outside of their optimal zones, than use a more extensive panel and test once per year. The key difference between an annual checkup and InsideTracker is that our program is about optimizing the body by making smart choices rather than screening for disease. If you are struggling to make changes after three tests, which is generally the minimal amount required to see a trend, you may want to upgrade to a more comprehensive panel and/or work with a professional.
The summary with the above advice is that more frequent testing creates a clearer path to improving any area of life, be it general health, world-class performance, or longevity. Your frequency schedule should be a balance between your goals, budget, and health status and needs. InsideTracker has an array of panels from which to choose, and each one can be used as a tool for targeted improvement and a catalyst to change.
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