Getting an Edge: How to Test to Enhance for Performance

Credit: Wikimedia, Crs9740

Credit: Wikimedia, Crs9740

What do endurance runners, triathletes, Pilates devotees, college athletes, obstacle course racers, olympic weightlifters, and CrossFitter all have in common? They all operate off of the same hormones and nutrients to participate in their sport and achieve maximum performance – but the question is, are they actually achieving maximum performance? Well, it depends on the data. Biometrics, to be exact.

When it comes to peak performance there is a specific list of biomarkers we recommend tracking, for those who are interested in taking their health and performance up a notch. A quick breakdown below:

Performance Hormones
Testosterone deficiency has numerous effects on muscle growth, fat storage, mood, and libido. These biomarkers indicate the cause of such hormone dysfunction.

  • Testosterone: An anabolic (a.k.a. building up) hormone driving production of muscle and burning of fat. By comparing with Free Testosterone, the only kind actually available for use in the body, a physician can assess the percentage of testosterone available in your body and gauge improvement needed. For a deeper dive on why testosterone is key in men’s health, check out a recent webcast we held with Dr. La Puma.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA):  A precursor to testosterone with its own anabolic function as well.
  • Estradiol: This is the main female sex hormone and byproduct of testosterone metabolism.
  • Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG): SHBG binds to testosterone and other sex hormones, taking away their bioactivity.

Metabolic Hormones
Metabolism is your body’s way of chemically processing sugar and fat for use throughout the body as energy. An optimal metabolism supports healthy weight control and energy levels; A dysfunctional metabolism can lead to undesired fluctuations in weight and fatigue or hyperactivity. When it comes to performance, the key players in metabolic hormones are:

  • Cortisol: The main stress hormone that breaks down muscle, raises blood sugar, stores fat and suppresses immunity.
  • IGF-1 (Growth hormone surrogate): IGF-1 is closely associated with growth hormone and encourages the body to build muscle and burn fat. IGF-1 plays an important role in promoting and maintaining muscle mass and brain function.
  • Insulin: A storage hormone for blood sugar and fat; Resistance is a precursor to diabetes.

The functioning of all cells and tissues in the body are dependent on the delivery of oxygen by your red blood cells, so it’s important for athletes to routinely assess their blood cells and essential nutrient levels. Specifically:

  • Folate (B9): An essential vitamin in the production of many cells, including red and white blood cells. Healthy folate levels support nerve function, bone and brain health, and help prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain.
  • Ferritin (serum): Ferritin is a protein that stores iron before it’s used to make new red blood cells.
  • Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC): TIBC measures the level of iron in the blood and how easily iron is transported to make red blood cells.
  • Vitamin B12: An essential vitamin in the production of many cells, including red blood cells and nerve function.
  • RBC Magnesium: Essential mineral in over 300 biochemical reactions; a common deficiency.

Keep in mind everybody has individual needs, deficiencies, and levels. The best way to know what your body needs is to ask it first, through regular biotesting and monitoring.

Whether you’re looking to achieve peak performance in your athletic training or balance your hormones (or just improve your overall health) there are biomarker testing packages that can help navigate next steps that fit with your biochemistry.

Interested in digging more into performance hormones and IGF-1? Check out one of our most popular blog posts, “The IGF-1 Trade-Off: Performance vs. Longevity”

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.