The Flourishing Experiment

Ashley Reaver, RD, from Inside Tracker, talks about how endurance athletes monitor their biochemical and physical markers and how you can too. Go-to, real-food dietitian Serena Marie, RD, talks about blood sugar and a new product that can help monitor your blood sugar levels. She also discusses pre-prediabetes. Runner of the Week, Marla Lenox, talks about why she started running, and how her running has influenced others. She also provides a race recap of the Big Beach Marathon in Gulf Shores, AL.

Featured Guest: Ashley Reaver, RD

Ashley Reaver, RD, from Inside Tracker, works daily with endurance athletes to better their nutrition. The Inside Tracker “platform tracks and analyzes key biochemical and physiological markers and applies sophisticated algorithms and large scientific databases to determine personalized optimal zones for each marker,” according to the company’s web site.

  • Inside Tracker’s work with markers sets it apart from your normal clinician’s tests and results, since your primary physician is simply scanning for disease and to make sure you aren’t dangerously approaching a disease state.
  • Most of Inside Tracker’s clients are what Ashley calls “worried well”—which means generally healthy athletes who want to have more information on themselves.
  • The levels of biochemical markers that might keep you out of a diseased state aren’t necessarily the same levels of those markers that you would want for optimal performance.
    • Example: Prediabetes starts at around 100 mg/dL, and your primary physician most likely won’t alert you that anything’s wrong until 99 or 100 mg/dL; when in fact you might be at 98 mg/dL and would have the opportunity to turn the situation around.
  • Ashley gives clients nutritional and supplement advice on how to optimize their health.
  • Kari had a test in February 2015 through Inside Tracker, and compared her results then with her results after running three marathons in six weeks to see if the results differed.
  • Kari’s glucose is a little higher than what Inside Tracker’s optimal range is, but this is typical for endurance athletes (but not to the prediabetic level).
  • This is because muscles’ primary/preferred source of fuel is glucose, and that’s what many athletes choose to fuel with.
  • Ashley suggests that the best time have a sugary fuel (sports drinks or gel, fruit) is right before, during, or after a workout, because your muscles are craving that fuel source.
  • After running three marathons, Kari’s glucose was 94 mg/dL.
  • Ashley’s glucose used to be around 96 mg/dL, but once she cut down on bananas after her own Inside Tracker test, it’s been in the 70s ever since. Her body doesn’t metabolise bananas well, and that’s something she found out after using Inside Tracker’s knowledge.
  • Iron is another vitamin that many endurance athletes are deficient in. The clinical level of deficiency is very low. Inside Tracker also tests a marker called ferritin, which is the storage form of iron. It is the biomarker that you want to have your finger on the most, because it’s the best indicator of iron status overall. Ferritin is something your primary doctor might miss.
  • Women under fifty years old lose more iron than men of the same age (and even more so women who are vegetarians or who don’t eat much red meat). They can include more leafy greens, shellfish, fortified cereals, and so on to help improve iron levels.
  • Ashley says that ferritin is like filling a swimming pool with a garden hose—it takes a long time for your body to feel comfortable storing iron away. The lower the ferritin marker, the longer you’re going to have to take a supplement in order for your body to start raising your iron level in subsequent tests.
  • Kari saw a nice spike in her iron levels, and she thinks it might be because she started using a cast iron skillet.
  • Hemoglobin levels can also play a factor in how much energy endurance athletes have. It’s a molecule on the red blood cells that help transport oxygen to our working muscles. You may have a low hemoglobin level if you feel like you can’t push yourself hard or complete the distance that you’d like because of fatigue. Hemoglobin is made from ferritin stores, so if you have a low hemoglobin level and low ferritin levels, that’s caused by a lack of adequate iron.
  • Vitamin D is another key player. For almost all athletes across the board, Ashley has found that most people are deficient in Vitamin D. Naturally occurring good sources of Vitamin D include fatty fish (salmon, halibut, trout, sardines) and fortified dairy products. The best way for a very clinically deprived athlete is to take a supplement.
  • Ashley likes to see a blood level set above 40 ng/mL for Vitamin D.
  • Another important marker that Inside Tracker tests for is cortisol, which is a response to lifestyle stress, pushing too hard, improper fuel, or not enough sleep. Inside Tracker has been the first business that has definitely told someone on paper that they need to take a break and sleep more.
  • Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, and it functions to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It also decreases bone formation.
  • Kari saw a fairly significant decrease in her cortisol from February 2016, which surprised her. There are certain diseases that would cause high cortisol levels, such as thyroid or joint issues. Try to be more mindful of what your thoughts are doing to your body. Meditation and yoga are also good ways to relieve stress.
  • Kari mentions Go Wild: Eat Fat, Run Free, Be Social, and Follow Evolution's Other Rules for Total Health and Well-Being by John J. Ratey.
  • Try to time your Inside Tracker blood test after a really intense training block or a really hard race or before those events.
  • To look for muscle damage, the test should look for creatine kinase. For endurance athletes, Ashley doesn’t see quite as high creatine kinase levels, because running can take more of a toll on joints than it can the muscles.
  • Kari’s creatine kinase levels were fine before and after her three marathons.
  • If you buy one test from Inside Tracker, every year you can update it with a free set of blood from your yearly physical.
  • She encourages athletes to get tested at least through one training season.

Runner of the Week: Marla Lenox
January Jabra earbuds winner and Big Beach Marathon runner, Marla Lenox, talks about why she started running and how she fits in running with a husband, daughter, and a full-time job.

  • She started running two years before her daughter was born to get in better shape so that she could be healthy during pregnancy. When she started running, she was about twenty pounds overweight, didn’t feel good about herself, and had poor nutrition.
  • She started eating more vegetables and meat.
  • Running keeps her sane when she’s very stressed.
  • She’s currently doing Serena Marie, RD’s Shake Yo’ Sugar Habit challenge. She tries to substitute the sugary foods (cake and cookies) to healthier, whole-food options now.
  • She ran until about eight months pregnant until she got uncomfortable. She was able to start running again before the doctor cleared her at five weeks.
  • She then trained for a half marathon, and now runs marathons.
  • Because of running, she and her mother have gotten closer and now run Disney races together. Her mother has started running with co-workers too.
  • Her mom is now much healthier, and she seems more relaxed now that she has started running.
  • Marla is married and initially felt guilty for running after she had her daughter, because her husband Josh didn’t quite understand what running meant to Marla at the time.
  • She works full-time, so she gets up around 4:30 or 5 a.m. to get home by 6:30 a.m. to get her daughter ready for school. She does speed work on Tuesday nights, and she does her long runs on Sunday mornings.
  • Marla’s daughter loves to run. She ran a kid’s race at Disney, and was so proud of herself for getting a medal like her mom. There’s a one-mile run for the older kids and a 200-yard dash, a 400-yard dash, and a “diaper dash” for kids at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
  • Marla ran the Big Beach Marathon in Gulf Shores, AL. The weather was a little warm, the flat course started on the road, went to back-country trails, and then finished on the road coming back to the Hangout where it started and ended. There were not a lot of spectators, and it was a very small race.

Don’t forget! The Delaware Marathon Festival in Wilmington, DE, will be on Saturday, May 7 (5K and kids race) along with a TRLS dinner meetup (details to come). On Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 8), the marathon, half marathon, and the relay races take place. Kari will be the relay race finish line announcer. Go to the Contact tab of the TRL site to let Kari know that you’ll be at the meetup!

Serena Marie, RD
Kari asks Serena Marie, RD, to explain DexCom, which helps diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels. It could also be used for dieters who are trying to monitor their blood sugar levels.

  • Side note: Side Stitch by Ginny has made special TRLS headbands! Serena loves hers so much that she wears it constantly. They’re easily washable and look awesome.
  • DexCom is a blood sugar glucose monitor.
  • If you have Type II diabetes or are born with Type I diabetes, then you have to monitor your blood sugar and may need to adjust how much insulin you take.
  • It’s hard when you’re dieting to increase nutrient density and decrease caloric density, and it will take time to see fat loss. Rather than having to wait weeks to see the effects of your dietary changes, if you could have that immediate feedback of seeing what a meal does to your post-meal blood sugar.
  • In Serena’s Shake Yo’ Sugar Habit challenge, she promotes asking yourself what prompted you to eat sugar and what were you feeling.
  • So many people “double carb load” unnecessarily where they may have French fries with a hamburger and bun, or they may have chips with a sandwich. Some may be walking around with pre-prediabetes and not even know it. Think about Serena’s quote: “You don’t need to carb load for your desk job.”
  • As a dietitian, Serena prides herself on the fact that nutrition is an ever-evolving field of study. The US dietary guidelines are based on science from the 1950s or science that wasn’t really based on science.
  • If you’ve listened to the podcast from the beginning or read Serena’s blog from the start, you’ll see that her thinking has evolved and grown. For example, she’s not as pro-ketogenic diet as she once was and does think that simple, healthy carbs can be good for some people, especially female runners.

Gratitude Jar (Woot! Woot!)

This week, Serena is grateful that Brooklyn is located on a body of water, because she is in love with living there. It’s a place for foodies, there are tons of places to go running, and it is near the Hudson River.

Kari is grateful because she went to Tucson, AZ, and Cancun during Spring Break and didn’t get sick like the last time she and her family went to Cancun. She loves going body surfing with her family, and she’s especially excited that she found $25 body surf boards at Costco to use this summer.

Remember, some of the most successful people write in gratitude journals. In the morning, Kari draws a circle sun with lines/rays coming out, and she writes what she’s grateful for on the lines. Her family also has a Gratitude Jar that they use each evening. After they write what they’re grateful for, Kari picks out three different gratitude notes and reflects on them with her family.

We want to hear what you’re grateful for. Use the hashtag #TRLSgrateful to tell us today!

Next week, Kari brings back Margaret Webb, the author of Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer, who appears on Episode 48. They chat about race protocol, runner etiquette, and body image.

Don’t forget to join the TRLS e-mail list by going to today for special announcements!


Ashley Reaver:
Facebook: Inside Tracker from Segterra
Twitter: @InsideTracker
Twitter: @ashleyreaver
Instagram: @insidetracker

Marla Lenox:
Twitter: @RunSweetPotato
Facebook: /marlalenox

Serena Marie, RD:
Facebook: /SerenaMarieRD
Twitter: @SerenaMarieRD
Instagram: SerenaMarieRD


Kari Gormley:
final unedited 2 (1 of 1)
Facebook: The Running Lifestyle Show
Twitter: @KariGormley
Instagram: @KariGormley

Direct download: ashley-reaver-04-21-2016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT