What's in Your Blood?

It's a common misconception that if you exercise and eat healthy you don't have to worry about what's going on inside your body. The reality is that even if you're one of those spandex-clad athletes with the body of a Greek god or goddess, what's happening on the inside can be quite shocking.

No matter your outward appearance of fitness, all athletes should undergo basic blood testing for vitamins, hormones, nutrients and metabolic factors that can directly affect health and performance.

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At a glance, here are some common deficiencies that can impact your performance:

-Low testosterone and high cortisol, manifested in overtraining symptoms, low libido, lack of motivation, and loss of competitive drive.

-Low luteinizing hormone, high estrogens and low progesterone could result in brain fog, appetite cravings and a seeming inability to shed fat despite lots of training.

-High TSH and low thyroid hormones can lead to a constant feeling of being cold, sluggish metabolism, and impaired digestive function, gas and bloating.

-Low magnesium and electrolyte levels can cause problems falling asleep at night, waking up multiple times during the night, or being tired during the day.

-High inflammation markers can result in sore joints, nagging injuries that won't go away, missing workouts from sickness or having sniffles all the time, and occasional "ghost" symptoms, like random headaches, heart flutters, or muscle tingling and numbness.

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If you're concerned about issues like these or simply want a full, informed look at what's  in your blood, consider asking for the following tests:

  • Hormone and hormonal precursors: vitamin D, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA, insulin, IGF-1, estradiol and SHBG
  • A full lipid panel: HDL, LDL, vLDL, ApoB, Lp(a) and triglycerides
  • Inflammation: HS-CRP and interleukin
  • Thyroid and blood sugar: TSH, T3, T4, glucose and HbA1c
  • Liver and kidney health: BUN/Creatinine, AST & ALT liver enzymes, bilirubin, albumin and total protein
  • Minerals: Calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate and RBC magnesium
  • Red blood cells and oxygen delivery: Ferritin (serum), total iron binding capacity (TIBC), folate, Vitamin B12, hemoglobin and hematocrit
  • Immune system: White blood cell and granulocyte count

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About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield is a triathlon coach and nutrition consultant who helps athletes around the world via online coaching. For coaching, books by Ben, Ben's recommended supplements and more, visit Pacific Elite Fitness. Ben also has a free blog and podcast at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

Ben Greenfield is a triathlon coach and nutrition consultant who helps athletes around the world via online coaching. For coaching, books by Ben, Ben's recommended supplements and more, visit Pacific Elite Fitness. Ben also has a free blog and podcast at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.

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