I used InsideTracker as part of my postpartum care plan, in addition to more traditional postpartum care work, such as pelvic floor health and core rehabilitation. The InsideTracker app makes it easy to keep track of nutrition and lifestyle goals, even as a new mom. Use this link and code AFOODIESTAYSFIT at checkout for 20% off an InsideTracker plan.
I’ve been using InsideTracker for a few years to help improve my running performance (and to make sure I wasn’t lacking anything crucial as an endurance athlete). It’s always been insightful and helps keep my health top of mind since there are so many aspects of health we can’t see, like cholesterol or high cortisol.
I was especially curious to see what my bloodwork showed after having a baby and while breastfeeding, since my hormones were all over the place. I also ran throughout my entire pregnancy and my labor was less than ideal (I was in the hospital for five days), so I wanted to see if there was anything I needed to keep an eye on even when not running long distances. Because hey, being a mom is an endurance sport in itself! My son is now almost two years old and since I breastfed for an extended time and also ran while breastfeeding, and I still get bloodwork done 2-3x a year.
If you’re not familiar, InsideTracker is a personalized nutrition model by Segterra that provides a comprehensive blood testing service so you can track your bloodwork and biometric markers over time. It’s far more comprehensive than the standard blood work you get at the doctor and you can get it done more often than an annual checkup.
Since everyone’s needs are SO different, having a personalized analysis of your bloodwork along with an action plan tailored for your results helps you stay on top of your overall health. You workout, you eat healthy (or try to!), right? But do you look at factors that may be impacted by your genetics, stress levels, and sleep (or lack thereof)? You should.
Keep in mind that many doctors don’t have much training in nutrition so they may not be able to recommend foods to help address certain results. I love love love that most of the recommendations from InsideTracker are dietary based., e.g., tweaking your food intake rather than taking a pill, which I love. Yes, pills are sometimes necessary, but if I can fix things with food, I always pick that approach first. The recommendations are all backed by research, M.D.s, and R.D.s so it’s not just some random influencer telling you what to eat. 😉 Y’all know I always tell you to work with an expert when it comes to things as important as nutrition.
Okay, back to why InsideTracker is one of my postpartum must-haves. After having Thomas, I wanted to stay on top of my health and make sure that I wasn’t neglecting anything that could have long-term implications. I also didn’t know what biomarkers could be impacted by breastfeeding, if any. InsideTracker provided a great way to develop a postpartum care plan that is tailored to me. And it simplifies things, which was great since I was juggling a lot while working, managing a team and learning the mom thing.
Since many new mamas often neglect their own health and recovery postpartum, this is a GREAT way to help you stay on top of your health.
Here’s how it works.
You schedule an appointment at a local lab, print off the paperwork, go get your blood drawn at the lab (they look at the paper to see what labs to run), and they send the results to InsideTracker. I was at the lab for about 10 minutes. When you purchase your plan, they guide you through everything — including a lab location finder where you can schedule your appointment in advance. They are also rolling out mobile blood draws in certain markets, which is AWESOME for new moms.
Once your bloodwork is analyzed (mine took a few days), you’ll get an email with a link to a personalized dashboard with SO MUCH INFORMATION, all backed by evidence-based scientific research. It’s a lot of information but it’s well organized so it’s easy to digest and easy to take action. There are links to learn more on every topic, so you can understand the “why” behind the recommendation, which I love. (I’m a Questioner, thank you very much Gretchen Rubin.) The action plan includes things like:
They show foods and meals to incorporate into your diet for an ultra-personalized nutrition plan specific to YOUR needs. InsideTracker factors in your current diet into your recommendations, such as if you’re following a specific diet, like vegan, keto, paleo, etc.
My recommended foods to include are beans and olive oil.
Sleep sleep sleep! It’s so important, but so hard, especially with a newborn. But, once again, sleeping 6-8 hours a night was one of my lifestyle changes that InsideTracker recommended. As a new mom, sleep is hard to come by. But get help where you can — our doula and sleep coach were both lifesavers in the first few months after Thomas arrived. And, now I can check off in the app that I am getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night, for the first time in years. Amazing.
Based on my results (more on that below), I started taking a Vitamin D supplement and an iron supplement. I already take psyllium, which was recommended, so I kept that up.
Since I’m already very active (running, strength training, riding the Peloton, yoga and golfing), my action plan said to simply continue aerobic exercise, aiming for 150 minutes per week. That’s 5 sessions of 30 minutes. Not a problem!
Re-testing is part of what makes InsideTracker so powerful — and so interesting. I love seeing the trends in my results over time.
When I got my blood test back in March 2021, I had some improvements since my previous test. So that was good news. Many things stayed the same, but I also got a few “needs work” results that I addressed.
My lipid group and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) improved. Which is great especially considering LDL and triglycerides can stay elevated while breastfeeding. There was still some work I can do on those numbers, so the InsideTracker dashboard recommends that I increase soluble fiber (beans and psyllium are good options) and eat more whole grains (oatmeal is good for cholesterol and milk supply!).
My HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) looked good. HDL can be impacted by consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon, walnuts, avocado, seeds, and unsaturated fatty oils like olive oil. And I eat those foods every week, so that makes sense. It’s important to keep up my intake of these after having a baby since Omega 3 can also help improve mood. And since I struggled with postpartum depression, I especially appreciated this insight.
These fat-soluble vitamins were slightly elevated, but that can be impacted by breastfeeding. But, it was important that I kept an eye on these biomarkers for the future, which is one reason they include reminders to get re-tested regularly.
I especially needed to keep an eye on my calcium level since an “optimized” calcium level doesn’t necessarily translate to bone density. So a DEXA scan may be useful in the future considering I have a family history of osteoporosis.
Vitamin D levels can also impact bone health and it’s essential for mood regulation. After speaking with a registered dietitian and my M.D. about my results, I started taking a 2000 IU supplement to help address this. I also needed to be retested a few months after this first postpartum test since that last test was done in the gloomier months. And it’s difficult to get enough Vitamin D from diet alone. More sunshine in the spring and summer months helped later too!
Ferritin is a protein that stores iron. So testing ferritin gives a more accurate indication of your iron levels. Ferritin is helpful to know since it often goes down postpartum and is required for the formation of oxygen-carrying proteins that deliver oxygen to almost every cell in your body. My levels were right on the cusp of too low, so I don’t critically need a supplement. But I did start taking a very low dose of 14mg after I consulted my doctor. Remember, more is not always better!
The rest of my iron group looked good. Some data shows iron is better absorbed on easier workout days. So I started being intentional about iron-rich meals on recovery or rest days.
My cortisol levels bumped up a little from my last test. This makes sense because stress and fatigue is a thing — especially postpartum. But, it can also be related to the stressful year we all had in 202, healing from birth and from being an avid runner for so long. Elevated cortisol can also lead to chronic injuries.
But overall, most of my inflammation markers looked good. And since I wanted to be smart about my return to running postpartum, I need my recovery levels to be optimal.
My glucose levels were a little elevated, but that can also be influenced by breastfeeding. It’s just something to keep an eye on over time.
Red blood cells (listed under the Iron Group) can see major changes with breastfeeding. So that’s a critical biomarker to watch. High red blood cell count helps deliver oxygen through your body.
Watching serum testosterone levels postpartum is also important since they have been associated with postpartum depression.
And lastly, InnerAge is a great tool to keep an eye on your overall health. Since it shows which biomarkers lower it and what raises it. My inner age showed that I’m 10 years younger than my chronological age which felt great.
This is a sex hormone precursor (meaning it is used to make estrogen and testosterone). Low DHEAS levels can be related to stress (emotional, physical) and high levels of activity without enough calories, particularly fats. My number was high but it’s not uncommon for it to be elevated postpartum. Since my number had increased over the last year tests and over a couple years, I checked in with the InsideTracker RD and this was her feedback:
I would gather it is high because you’re still in a postpartum phase. DHEAS naturally decreases with age, so having higher (but optimized) levels of DHEAS is protective against age-related diseases due to its anti-clotting and anti-proliferative properties. It plays a role in increased energy, immune health, and bone and muscle health. However, if DHEAS is always high with a high testosterone level as well, that can indicate PCOS. I don’t see that in your results, so all good!
Knowing these different markers concerning postpartum and women’s health has been so eye-opening. As a new mom, it’s so easy to not take care of ourselves because it’s SO hard taking care of a newborn. Nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress – it’s all so hard to manage when you’re taking care of someone else around the clock. And if you’re a breastfeeding mama, there are even more biomarkers that can be impacted.
This round of results reminded me again just how much I love InsideTracker. I know I wouldn’t stay on top of things at this level, even if I was going to the doctor to get my blood drawn regularly (which I wouldn’t) and then trying to draw my own conclusions and recommendations (which would just involve googling). InsideTracker certainly does not replace a doctor – they encourage you to share your biomarker results with your doctor! – but it allows you to take control of your health and be your own advocate, and that’s what’s so important.
Big thanks to InsideTracker for sponsoring this post a year ago (I’m republishing non-sponsored now because I think it’s important and helpful) and for supporting my journey for so many years, during marathon training and now while starting my latest endurance sport as a mom!
Ready to get started with InsideTracker? Use this link and code AFOODIESTAYSFIT at checkout for 20% off an InsideTracker plan!