My Review of the InsideTracker Health Analytics Service
I recently tested InsideTracker (Disclosure: They provided me a complimentary test) which offers a bloodwork analysis service that provides you with recommendations to help improve and optimize your health based on the results. Their service aims to improve health to boost energy, improve sleep, and enhance performance as well as several other benefits. They offer 5 different plans covering a diverse range of features priced between $49 to $499.
The entry level plan for $49 allows you to upload your own bloodwork results which you should already have from your current doctor after getting a physical. Generally these only offer several basic biomarker data points (glucose, cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides) which they will then run their analytics against to provide recommendations. If you don’t have data from your own bloodwork test you can move up to a plan where you get a home kit to draw blood and send to them for analysis which runs $99. From there you move up to plans between $149 – $499 where you can go to a lab with each level providing additional biomarker data for deeper analysis and recommendations.
I was provided their top of the line Ultimate plan for my test. My first step was to get blood drawn. I was provided a labslip and instructed to find a local Labcorp facility to schedule an appointment through their website. The process was pretty simple and after fasting for 12 hours I arrived at the facility provided my appointment and had my blood drawn. It was the same experience as going to my doctor except there were additional vials drawn based on my normal procedure. Getting the results was extremely fast. I was in the facility on a Thursday and was notified that I could access the results on Sunday.
Before I was able to access my results I had to create my account on the InsideTracker website. During the process you are prompted with a form asking several questions to provide details that will shape your profile in a way to help frame the analysis and cater the recommendations for you. These questions include details around age, gender, ethnicity, and body weight. You also provide details around your lifestyle including exercise information and other lifestyle details. Lastly you provide your meal and diet preferences so that it will adhere to them with their food recommendations.
Website Results Interface
Upon logging into the website to view my results I was presented with data across 30 biomarkers that are broken down by categories that include energy, metabolism, bone and muscle health, strength and endurance, and several others. The results are provided showing the values for each biomarker on a scale that are either above or below “your optimized zone”. The optimized zone is calculated specifically for each person based on an algorithm that uses the personal data I provided such as age, gender, ethnicity, weight and other details when creating my account. Each of the biomarkers provides some analysis to give you an introduction that helps describe how it relates to your health. Then based on the results you are provided several recommendations which include dietary choices, and other behaviors to be considered for improving your health.
(click to enlarge – my full results are here)
Some of the results I learned that needed improvement included low levels of testosterone, elevated cholesterol levels, elevated B12, and low vitamin D. Based on my previous bloodwork results I was already aware of my elevated cholesterol and I’m currently on medication. I also was aware of my vitamin D deficiency and have been taking a supplement but apparently is still an issue as my results show it below my optimized zone. What I previously wasn’t aware of was my low levels of testosterone or elevated B12. I take a supplement and will now reduce my dosage as a result. These are just a few of the many results provided that were in areas that needed improvement.
Comparing to My Normal Results
My medical group provides me with access to some of my health records by use of a portal powered by FollowMyHealth. This allows me to view some of my medical data both from a website and mobile app. Below I have provided a screenshot to illustrate the differences between the results I get from the blood analysis through my medical group portal as compared to InsideTracker.
So you can see that my medical group simply provides individual values along with a 3 point low, medium, high scale. InsideTracker provides me with a more extensive scale that is based on my custom optimized zone but more importantly also educates me on the result and provides a plan of action with recommendations for improvement.
So armed with their dietary recommendations, the site provides two additional tools to help you take action. They have a nutrition recommendations form that displays foods you should eat more or less of where you can filter foods by the biomarker you want recommendations for which you can then further drill down by meal preferences specific to your lifestyle. You can filter for vegan, gluten free, as well as pork, dairy, or shellfish free foods as well. The second tool provides a food basket form which you can use to provide further details around the food recommendations which will include serving sizes, nutritional information along with a personalized daily calorie count. You can even take one more step to further refine these choices based on the foods you like and dislike. In the end this data can be used both as a shopping list and daily roadmap for nutrition.
(click images to enlarge)
It’s now been a few weeks since I’ve established my initial baseline results and have been slowly incorporating these diet choices and recommendations into my lifestyle. InsideTracker recommends repeating the home test for bloodwork on a monthly basis and the lab based testing every 3-6 months. Once I test again I will be able to compare the new results against my baseline and close the feedback loop to track progress against my goals.
I have tested several devices and services around activity tracking and health and the biggest challenge can be to making sense of the data and getting clear recommendations for improvement based on the results. InsideTracker is great because it provides accurate health data along with clear recommendations that provides a path for improvement that can then be measured for progress. When comparing the results from my medical group against the results and recommendations provided by InsideTracker, it’s easy to see the added value provided by the service. They make the service accessible by offering varying plans that start at an affordable price. I think InsideTracker is one of many services that are coming that will begin to empower people to better understand and take control of their health. I’m looking forward to my next blood draw where I can learn about how my behaviors have hopefully improved my results.
Measured Me and Bionic.ly sites both did reviews of the home tests and provide additional details regarding InsideTracker’s entry level offering which are very useful if you are considering trying the service. Digital Trends also reviewed the service based on the lab testing plan.