Overview | Quality | Convenience | Cost | Conclusion
As health and fitness continues to skyrocket in popularity, plenty of people are concerned about their nutrient intake and energy output in order to propel their performance forward.
InsideTracker is a telehealth service that aims to address health from a holistic perspective using analysis of your own blood.
But how well do these at-home services really work to illuminate your weaknesses or deficiencies? And are their action plans worth the pretty high price tag?
In this review, we’re tackling all of these questions and more so you can make a better decision about whether or not this is right for you.
InsideTracker: An Overview
InsideTracker was founded by graduates of prestigious Universities like Harvard, Tufts, and MIT. The company combines its novel testing methods with integrated scientific action plans to try to help you address possible deficiencies in your blood “biomarkers” so you can improve your overall health.
A blood biomarker is a molecule found in the blood or tissues that represents a normal or abnormal aspect of health. They can indicate how well your body responds to certain treatments, but they can also be used to estimate deficiencies or abnormalities in performance and overall health.
For instance, iron levels can serve as a biomarker in the blood. Excess levels of iron, or an iron deficiency, can cause you to feel a number of symptoms like fatigue or weakness.
Understanding your biomarkers is a great way to be able to address certain problems and symptoms that aren’t otherwise apparent from the outside of your body. InsideTracker tests for over 43 different biomarkers with just one sample of your blood.
The service comes with its share of advantages and disadvantages.
- Personalized goals are detailed and easy to follow.
- Nutrition and exercise recommendations are comprehensive and tailored to address abnormalities in your own personal biomarker levels.
- InsideTracker tests over 40 different biomarkers on some plans, which is much more than a typical physician-ordered blood test would.
- Over 2,000 partnering labs in the U.S. can draw your blood for InsideTracker.
- It’s a very expensive service, especially if you’re looking to access all of the full features.
- InsideTracker doesn’t test for your DNA by default — you’ll need to purchase a completely separate plan.
- The site and blood test are only tailored towards those with performance and athletics in mind.
- While you can have a phlebotomist come to you to draw your blood instead of going to a lab, it’s a costly surcharge.
So that’s the lowdown, but let’s dive in and talk about some of these features in some closer detail.
InsideTracker analyzes biomarkers in your blood, your DNA, as well as lifestyle information that you provide yourself. Then, its algorithm combines all of this data and pairs it with research-based information to provide you with personalized recommendations to help you reach health and fitness goals.
You’ll input your own goals to help the service tailor the results to you. For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, InsideTracker can give you individualized recommendations based on your current level of certain biomarkers. Looking to increase your running distance? InsideTracker can help you control dietary input accordingly.
Additionally, you have the freedom to pick and choose the insights that work best for you. For instance, one of our recommendations was to “eat more garlic,” but we really don’t like garlic. So instead, we chose to act on the recommendation to “eat more berries,” which was better suited to our needs and would achieve a similar end result.
The app also lets you track progress and encourages change, sort of like MyFitnessPal or Noom. There’s even a coaching dashboard where you can have an athletic coach monitor your performance, if that’s something you want to focus on.
The results of the app seemed to be pretty accurate. Our blood test revealed that our volunteer testee’s magnesium levels were low, which makes sense given some of their symptoms like fatigue and weakness. The app recommended that we increase our intake of tree nuts, which are magnesium-rich.
The app also recommended that we increase our weight load slowly and incorporate HIIT workouts into our routine, which were meant to help us achieve our desired goals of improving strength and power and improving our LDL cholesterol.
While these recommendations make sense, we wish there were a bit more specificity. For instance, we wish it perhaps gave us some guided HIIT workouts to choose from, or let us know exactly how much weight we should be increasing and at what intervals. With that said, the suggestions seemed very accurate, and actionable, to help us get where we wanted to be.
One of the features we absolutely love, though, is that InsideTracker has thousands of recipes within the app that not only tell you how to make delicious, nutritious foods, but they also tell you exactly why you should be making them based on your biomarkers. It’s clear, concise, and educational at its core.
All in all, we were really impressed with the sheer amount of detail and intricacy that went into the personalized recommendations. We never saw any that felt out of place, and they were all things that we could start implementing right away.
Accessing the full features of InsideTracker does require a little bit of effort on your part.In order for the company to assess your biomarkers, you need to get a blood test.
You have a few options here. For one, you can schedule a blood test with one of over 2,000 supporting labs (Quest labs) across the country that support a blood test without a prescription. Likewise, you can have a phlebotomist come to you and do it for you at your home. The problem with the latter is that it is a pretty hefty surcharge on top of the fee you’ll already pay for the service itself.
To address this, InsideTracker does have an at-home kit that lets you prick your own finger and send out a blood sample from the comfort of your own home. The major drawback here is that it only tests for seven biomarkers as opposed to the 43 that are available through the traditional method.
With the exception of the DNA kit, you’ll be able to see your results in just under a week. Also, keep in mind that you need to fast for 12 hours before your blood test for it to be accurate.
However, getting your blood work is by far the hardest part. After that, accessing and using the app is extremely simple, and we even found it to be satisfying. It was really cool to be able to see a detailed report of your blood biomarkers, and it felt really great to check some of the suggestions off of our to-do list upon completion.
Keep in mind that your markers will change based on your lifestyle alterations, so you’ll need to get retested if you want up-to-date suggestions and results.
Surprisingly, InsideTracker recommends getting tested upwards of five times a year if you’re a performance athlete, which we think is really unrealistic for most people.
The cost of your InsideTracker readings depends on which plan you choose. We did the Ultimate plan, which is their most comprehensive option. It tests for 43 biomarkers and provides personalized results. While we loved it, the price is very high at $589.
And that doesn’t include the DNA or InnerAge upgrades, which will net you an extra $96 and $99 respectively. We have to say – we think that’s a little bit steep for what you’re getting.
You can also get just the DNA portion, which tests for genetic traits and potential wellness risks, for $249. Or, you can get the InnerAge service by itself, which tests for 14 biomarkers in females and 18 biomarkers in males. That’ll run you $179.
Your other options are the Essentials plan and the home kit. The Essentials plan is $189 and it tests for the core, essential markers that affect your health and fitness. As for the home kit, while it lets you do your blood test from home without needing to go to a lab, it will run you $299 and only tests for seven biomarkers.
The good news is that there are plenty of options here, so you can probably find a plan that works for you. The bad news is that all of them are pricey, and considering you need to get retested for updated results, this isn’t something that is accessible for most people.
If we were to do this again, we’d probably recommend going with the Essentials plan. While the Ultimate Plan was definitely comprehensive, we really didn’t need to know all of the information it gave. For ? of the price, it makes sense to just get the most important markers screened instead.
InsideTracker is a blood biomarker analysis and health coaching service that uses your body’s biomarkers to tailor personalized and detailed recommendations to help you reach your goals.
While the blood drawing process can be time-consuming and complex, the individually tailored results are nothing short of impressive.
The smartphone application is easy to use, and it clearly gives you actionable plans to help you achieve performance-related, wellness-related, quotas that you set yourself. Not to mention, you can tailor your experience accordingly, choosing to focus on only the actions that you feel apply to you.
While a major downfall is that the plans feel overpriced, there are plenty of different options that are likely to appeal to you in some way. You can even upload past bloodwork results to get your readings without needing to get a completely separate test.
All in all, we think that InsideTracker is a great way for fitness-minded athletes to gauge their inner wellness while also taking steps towards improving their strengths and weaknesses. While it might not be for everyone, it’s definitely worth a try if you’re hoping to gain some valuable insight as far as what’s going on inside your body.
References and Sources:
Definition of biomarker – NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms | National Cancer Institute
Hemochromatosis – Symptoms and causes | The Mayo Clinic
Magnesium deficiency | MedlinePlus
Owner, entrepreneur, and health enthusiast.
Chris is one of the Co-Founders of Pharmacists.org. An entrepreneur at heart, Chris has been building and writing in consumer health for over 10 years. In addition to Pharmacists.org, Chris and his Acme Health LLC Brand Team own and operate Diabetic.org and the USA Rx Pharmacy Discount Card powered by Pharmacists.org.
Chris has a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation and is a proud member of the American Medical Writer’s Association (AMWA), the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the Council of Science Editors, the Author’s Guild, and the Editorial Freelance Association (EFA).
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