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The First Step Towards Better Health: Bloodwork as Your State of the Union

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As I mentioned last Friday, today begins a multi-part series on taking control of your health and fitness. For many, this is a new year’s resolution, and it’s a good one.

It’s also one that fails very frequently because people typically attack it by going to the gym with no real goals other than “weight loss” in mind. Two months in, they’re frustrated, likely starving and have low energy. They quit and then prefer to go to a cryolipolysis treatment. there is more information about this treatment here https://www.amazon.com/Isavera-Fat-Freezing-System-Sculpting/dp/B07F37V2LT

Like everything else, having a plan is paramount. And in order to have an effective plan, you have to know where you are before you begin. In other words, you need a baseline.

Taking Inventory

No matter how out of shape or unhealthy you think you are, do not skip this step. Why? First, you might get some ugly news back, but that’s good: you will know exactly what you need to improve, and you might have some idea of what’s contributing to mental fog, low energy or poor libido. Second, you’ll probably want a medical screen run before to start an exercise program if you’ve been sedentary for an extended period of time, so you’re killing two birds here.

Above all, you can’t adequately get to where you want to go unless you know where you are. To this end, your first step is getting some comprehensive bloodwork done.

I normally refer folks to Robb Wolf’s excellent list of basic tests to have run so you can understand your health’s state of the union, as it were. His full article is here, but below is what Wolf recommends for men and women, respectively.

Testing for Males:

  • Complete Blood Count (white blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelet count)
  • Complete Thyroid Panel (TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO)
  • Complete Lipid Panel: (Total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL, VLDL)
  • Adrenal Panel: (Cortisol, DHEA, DHEAS)
  • Complete Metabolic Panel: (Electrolytes, Comprehensive Kidney and Liver Function, Fasting Glucose)
  • Complete Hormonal Panel: (Total Testosterone, Free Testosterone, Estradiol, GH stimulation tests, IGH–1, SHBG)
  • Renal Function Panel: (BUN, Creatinine)

Other Important Tests/Readings:

  • Specific C-Reactive Protein
  • Homocysteine
  • PSA (Prostate specific antigen)
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Red blood cell magnesium
  • Zinc

Low or borderline-low levels of testosterone may be corrected when replacing testosterone levels by TRT.

Testing for Females:

  • Complete Blood Count (white blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelet count)
  • Complete Thyroid Panel (TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO)
  • Complete Lipid Panel: (Total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL, VLDL)
  • Adrenal Panel: (Cortisol, DHEA, DHEAS)
  • Complete Metabolic Panel: (Electrolytes, Comprehensive Kidney and Liver Function, Fasting Glucose)
  • Complete Hormonal Panel: (Estradiol, Progesterone, Total Testosterone, Free Testosterone, GH stimulation tests, IGF–1, SHBG, FSH, LH)
  • Renal Function Panel: (BUN, Creatinine)
  • Immune Panel: (CBC, T and B lymphocytes)

Other Important Tests/Readings:

  • Specific C-Reactive Protein
  • Homocysteine
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Red blood cell magnesium
  • Iron
  • Ferritin
  • Melatonin
  • Zinc

Ask your doctor about the costs associated with these tests. Many of these will fall under standard bloodwork, but some may not depending on your insurance arrangement.

Also, understand that any blood panel returns a snapshot: a picture of results at a given point in time. For things like hormone panels, taking two a few months apart allows you to compare progress. Bloodwork should be an ongoing, periodic exercise so you can keep tabs on your progress.

At 43 and in reasonably good shape, I had these tests run on myself (along with a complete nutriton panel, which we’ll get into another time), and I learned some interesting things. My Vitamin D was low (it was winter here in Michigan), my zinc levels were non-existent, and I was deficient in magnesium. My total testosterone came back low (a result of not enough sleep or calories for the workouts I was doing). Upon seeing these results, I immediately began corrective action – action I wouldn’t have taken without knowing these results.

In particular, ask your doctor to pay specific attention to any biomarkers related to inflammation: complete metabolic panel with lipids, complete blood count (CBC), C-Reactive Protein, Rheumatoid Factor (RF), etc. Inflammation is the root cause of an absolute smorgasbord of disease, so it’s important to know if you are suffering from systemic inflammation.

Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. Remember, you can’t get to your goal unless you have a starting point.

Next week, we’ll begin talking about where you’ll realize or miss 90% of your health and fitness goals: your diet.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me. See you next Friday.

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 8/5/11

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It’s Friday, and that means I get to answer the hundreds of reader emails I don’t get.  From anyone.  Ever.  So what I do is sit around on Thursday night and send emails to myself from ancient, forgotten email accounts, then I answer them. Sad and pathetic? Yes. Sociopathic?  Probably.  But how many well-written, inquisitive emails are you getting from yourself, big shot?  Exactly.

That aside, I do get asked about what I eat for breakfast by people who know I’m into the primal/paleo thing that’s going around right now.  As someone who tries to eat as close to paleo/primal as he can and who is almost always in a fevered rush, smoothies are a blenderful of awesomeness that even I can prepare without messing anything up.  Honestly, I have them five or six days a week for breakfast, and they’re fantastic. Today, because you asked nicely last night, I’m going to share my recipe with you.

You have to be careful with smoothies, even though they’re universally marketed as healthy.  Done wrong, smoothies are a sugar bomb, and the calories climb very quickly if you don’t keep an eye on what you toss into your blender.

Regardless if you’re a primal/paleo nerd or not, just about any modern diet will tell you that it’s all about controlling your insulin response, i.e. how much sugar you ingest. Fearing fat is the stinky potatoes of yesteryear.  In the smoothie world, watching insulin response means traditional standbys like orange juice or apple juice are things you’re going to want to avoid.  You’ll also want to avoid milk, as it’s horrendously over-processed and highly insulinogenic.  Don’t get me started on milk, because I have a ton of things to say and you probably don’t have the attention span to listen to a food nerd go on and on about homogenization.

(I don’t blame you, either.)

Oh I can’t help myself, sorry: If you must do milk in your smoothies, please make the effort to go and find full-fat, raw milk from a farm or similar source.  If you can’t do that, the next best milk I’ve found is Farmer’s Creamery, which is vat pasteurized and non-homogenized.  Don’t opt for skim, because it lacks the fat that helps slow insulin response.

So anyway.

I have been making almost the same smoothie for a year now, and as far as primal/paleo goes, it’s pretty solid.  It’s also full of deliciousness.  Here it is.

Primal/Paleo Smoothie

If you like your smoothies a bit thinner, add water to taste.  Also, if you want more calories, add some heavy cream (I sometimes add one tablespoon).

Making this with the PaleoMeal product, it’s a very reasonable 352 calories.  Usually, the carbs are higher than any other meal I eat during the day, and this is because 4-5 days a week I am in the gym doing stupid stuff to make my body hate me and break itself so I don’t keep doing it.  Every human body needs some glycogen if it’s going to voluntarily injure itself in a gym.

Here’s the smoothie macronutrient breakdown: 9.9g of fat (4.4 saturated), 48g of carbohydrates (only 12g of sugar and 15g of fiber), and 28.3g of protein.  If I’m feeling tired or think I need more help with recovery, I’ll add a half scoop of Optimum Nutrition Natural Gold Standard protein, which adds 65 calories and 12g of protein.

If you happen to be a DailyBurn user, I’ve created the recipe for you here. You’re welcome.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s the healthiest and best quick breakfast going.  The major flaw is a distinct lack of bacon, which is why on the weekends I go insane and eat all the bacon I can cook before I get dehydrated and someone needs to hook me up to an IV.

In addition to the smoothie trick, I have some links for you. Yay? Yes, yay.

What is this crazy primal thing, anyway? If you’re interested, you should head over to Mark Sisson’s site and spend, oh, ten hours there. I know I have.

A great collection of significant historical and cultural Creative Commons or No Rights Reserved audio clips.

This is one stubborn bird.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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More links:

MIPRO Consulting main website.

MIPRO on Twitter and Facebook.

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