The importance of blood biomarker monitoring for athletes
Written by sports dietician Dina Griffin
Blood biomarker monitoring is an inexpensive and simple method for assessing health and athletic performance status. Unfortunately, many athletes don’t know the reasons blood testing should be an essential part of their training plan. If you’ve been confused about this testing or want to better understand how it can help you, take a quick read to understand more.
WHY Blood testing?
The question may be better posed as “Why not?”. If you invest a significant amount of time and resources in training, coaching, gear and accessories needed to train and compete, blood testing is highly worth the investment and can make a big difference in the “inputs” and “outputs” to your training efforts.
Blood testing can reveal many insights related to training tolerance, training recoverability, as well as hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and micronutrient deficiencies. Your results allow the athlete and support team (i.e., coach, athletic trainer, sport physician, sport dietitian, etc.) to make relevant and necessary changes to the training plan, dietary pattern, and dietary supplementation. This has a potential impact on areas such as illness, injury, anticipated training adaptations, and your readiness to give it your all on competition day.
Part of what makes the Athlete Blood Test (ABT) service unique is that your results are not interpreted the same way as your general physician would. Rather, your results are put into the context of athlete norms for optimal performance. In other words, how do your results and the type of athlete you are compare to what is athletically optimal? Additionally, a member of the ABT Sport Science team personally reviews your results, along with your submitted questionnaire, so that individualized recommendations are provided in a detailed report. There is nothing on the market that compares to this service!
Who Should be blood tested?
Blood testing is appropriate for all athletes, no matter the age, ability, or competition level. It is especially helpful for athletes who:
- follow a specific dietary pattern that restricts a macronutrient or type of food (e.g., nutritional ketosis, vegan, vegetarian)
- have recently changed their dietary pattern (from omnivore to vegan or a mixed diet to a very low carb high fat diet, for example)
- have an auto-immune condition (such as Celiac disease or Hashimoto’s)
- have a significant medical history or current disease state (such as iron deficiency anemia, type 1 or 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease)
Even if you have none of the above, the testing service can provide “peace of mind” that your body is responding well to the training demands and your current nutrition pattern. It is one less worry to know more objectively your body has less chance of breakdown and getting into a “health hole” from which it can take a long time to recover.
HOW Is blood testing done?
You don’t need a doctor’s order or insurance approval to pursue blood testing through Athlete Blood Test.
There are several blood panels to choose from depending on where you are in your training season, your health history, and interest in consulting with the ABT Sport Science team or Sport Dietitian for an even higher level of personalization.
Blood biomarker testing and the service offered by ABT can reveal many insights as to hindrances or inefficiencies that can slow an athlete’s course of training and readiness to compete. Just like endurance athletes should be doing periodic performance testing to adjust heart rate or power zones for training, blood testing and monitoring need to be a priority more than once per year. The ABT service is your best route to get athlete-specific interpretation and an individualized assessment to keep you moving forward – fit and healthy!
Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD, CISSN, METS II
Board Certified Sports Dietitian
The Nutrition Mechanic