What Athletes Need To Learn About Their Bodies To Improve Their Performance

Blood tests are not just for diagnosing illness. Biomarkers in the blood can communicate a great deal of information about how well the different systems in a body are functioning, and they can also reveal imbalances that can be resolved through lifestyle changes. In the world of sports, athlete blood testing can provide valuable insight to help the athlete train more efficiently and consume exactly the right nutrients to boost his or her performance.

Types Of Tests

There are various services that offer blood testing for athletes. Some advertise a minimally invasive finger-stick procedure, while others require a visit to a lab for a blood draw. In general, the latter type of testing is preferable because it yields much more information. Typically the finger-stick method provides a limited range of tests, while venous blood can be tested for a wider range of biomarkers.

Hormonal Panels

One of the most important things that athletes need to know is their individual hormone profile. Through athlete blood testing, many male athletes discover imbalances in their levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, or DHEA, all of which can affect their performance and decrease the benefits they get from training. Other hormones, like human growth hormone (HGH) and cortisol, can also affect performance and should be tested.

Nutritional Panels

Nutritional blood tests look for healthy levels of a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These tests can reveal a deficiency that is usually very easily corrected through diet or supplementation. Some athletes discover an excess of toxic heavy metals, like mercury, in their blood.

Testing For Inflammation

Blood tests that detect inflammation in the body can help athletes discover food sensitivities that are impacting their health. Inflammation can be determined by the presence of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance produced by the liver that increases whenever there is inflammation somewhere in the body. An elimination diet can often help determine the cause.

Testing For Hemoglobin Levels

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the muscles and the organs. In addition, they help the body burn fat and carbohydrates for energy. A low level of hemoglobin could indicate an iron deficiency, which can be easily remedied with an iron supplement.

Validity Of Tests

It’s important to remember that a blood test can only provide a snapshot of the body’s condition at a single moment. For factors that change frequently, like cortisol levels, it may be necessary to cross-check the results with additional tests. In addition, blood testing for athletes must be repeated periodically so that the effects of diet and lifestyle changes can be monitored.