Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blood Test - the results are in!

By Stephen

I first made the shift to a plant-based diet (no animal products consumed) about 4.5 years ago after discovering the legendary Scott Jurek. I had just started running, and wanting every advantage possible, I decided to tweak what I ate to see if I could duplicate Scott's results. While they weren't immediate, and I didn't started crushing races, I did feel better all around: running was easier, I felt lighter, my recovery times were shorter, and all the while I was indiscriminately destroying veggie burritos and vegan s'mac'n'cheese. Since going vegan (I was off and on for the first 2 years) I've finished 25 ultramarathons and have had relatively good success along the way. More importantly, I'm able to sustain multiple high-mileage weeks (generally around 85-100 miles/week, sometimes 120+ when peaking) without wasting away or fear of injury.

Anyways, as part of a routine doctor's checkup, I decided to have my blood tested. It had been about 2 years since my last visit, and while I had no reason to believe that anything was wrong, I took a "better safe than sorry" approach. Full disclosure here: I'm not a doctor, and I don't completely understand my results, but from what I'm told, they're exemplary. Again, without knowing which results are the best indicators for "good" health, I've included a smattering of numbers that interested me:

Lipid Panel
Cholesterol, Total:                              122 mg/dL      (reference interval: 100 - 189)
Triglycerides:                                      85 mg/dL        (reference interval: 0 - 114)
HDL ("good") cholesterol:                  49 mg/dL       (reference interval: >39)
LDL ("bad") cholesterol:                    56 mg/dL        (reference interval: 0 - 119)

Hemoglobin                                       14.2 g/dL        (reference interval: 12.6 - 17.7)

Hematocrit                                         42.9%             (reference intergal: 37.5 - 51%)

Hemoglobin A1c                                5.4%               (reference interval: 4.8 - 5.6%)

Metabolic Panel
Glucose, Serum                                   95 mg/dL         (reference interval: 65 - 99)
Calcium, Serum                                   9.9 mg/dL       (reference interval: 8.7 - 10.2)
Protein, Total, Serum                          6.5 g/dL           (reference interval: 6.0 - 8.5)

The test was performed during a relatively high mileage training block of two 85 mile weeks, which included three demanding workouts per week. Whether or not this affects anything, I don't know; but, it will interesting to get tested again after 8-10 weeks of consistently difficult training. Now, I realize this is less scientific than Matt Laye's thorough and well-documented high fat experiment, but knowing what I do about these results suggests that I'm at least not unhealthy. Please, if anyone is curious about any other result just let me know, and the same goes if I am way off with my assumptions. I wanted these results to be more of an affirmation of my dietary habits, rather than a vegan manifesto aimed at converting people to the dark side. I had an inkling that following a vegan diet wasn't hindering my performance or objective health, and this was exactly the confirmation that I needed to stay the path. Hopefully, this is helpful for those curious about experimenting with going plant-based, and while I realize that not everyone will react the same to a particular diet, it's worth a shot. After all, a couple of months of eating plants won't kill you, and you'll even save more than a few critters' lives!
Hit the trails!

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