3 Functional Health Tests Everyone Should Have
When it comes to getting in shape, many people make the mistake and only look at the scale. What's worse is when the scale says they are gaining weight.
But what if you were building muscle?
You see, there are many ways to approach your nutrition so you can perform better and achieve your fitness goals. Focusing on your overall health and well-being is just as important, if not more important, than what the scale says.
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There are so many articles out there talking about new food and diet trends, recipes, and supplements... but you get frustrated when you don't see any results.
Since nutrition is a personalized field — meaning each individual is different — you can't simply blindly follow someone else's approach. The best way to really get to know your body and to have a baseline is to have three tests performed.
You will have your health information, a starting point to customize your dietary changes, and you will be on the way to achieving your athletic and overall health goals.
Our personal health can be analyzed in a variety of ways, but these three tests are easy and will give you a great insight on how to get started.
Health Tests You Should Consider
#1 - Stool Test
While this is definitely the least fun to talk about, getting a stool test will show you the health of your gut biome. This is related to your overall health status.
Getting your poo analyzed will show you how well you digest certain foods —they could even indicate foods which you can and cannot handle. You'll learn which bacteria are present, what they are doing, and if you suffer from any leaky gut or other forms of indigestion or malabsorption.
Athletes, in particular, suffer from high amounts of GI stress due to restrictive diets, high simple sugar consumption, and also the stress of frequent training.
While research into gut health is still relatively new, there are significant advantages to getting a stool test. They provide a lot of essential personalized information that will help you make better nutritional choices.
#2 - Blood Work
Having your blood work done is still one of the most effective ways to see how your body is functioning.
You need to go beyond your typical complete blood count if you want data you can use. Ask your doctor to test for all vitamins, minerals, blood glucose, ferritin, cholesterol profile, and hormone markers.
You'll be able to know if your cortisol levels are elevated, how your HDL levels are, if your B12 is depleted, etc. This is the most personalized and best health information you can get.
The information you receive will give you an insight on mood, fatigue, energy levels, and chronic disease risk. Using this data will help you progress towards your goals in a laser-focused way.
#3 - Body Fat
Your scale alone is insufficient data to see how you are progressing. Having a BMI test also is very insufficient to base your body composition and health from.
The BMI is your body max index and it simply shows how your weight correlates to your height. It's a simple clinical test and it is pretty much useless for athletes.
Looking at a scale can show you weight fluctuations and can help you understand your hydration levels and overall fluctuation trends over time.
Both of these tests fail to give you an actual breakdown into what is lean and fatty tissue mass. Testing body fat can provide you some insight because you'll learn how much fat tissue you have.
There are many different ways to test body fat like the bodpod, caliper measurements, and even bioelectrical impedance. Of all of these, the bodpod is most accurate because you will sit in a small chamber with a breathing tube for a few minutes.
You can have this test done at universities, some training centers, and some physician's office. The test is relatively inexpensive for the information you gain.
Caliper testing is when someone takes measurements of skinfolds at various points. The test is accurate when done correctly. You'll need to have the test repeated several times by a skilled person since human error with this method is high.
Testing your bioelectrical impedance is what you see the handheld devices and some scales have. These are easy to do — every time I jump on the scale, the test works. The accuracy may be off a little bit, but the ability to test often can give you instant results and a trackable trend.
They may not be accurate compared to a bodpod, but they are consistent at their reading.
Wrapping It Up
You should talk to your doctor about getting some tests run. It will give you insight so that you can plan your goals and finally execute them. Getting a respiratory quotient, bone density, and metabolic tests are tests you could also use to get some quality information.
But there are some tests you need to be skeptical of. This is why talking to your doctor is important. They will be able to show you which tests would work best for you and then how to put those test results into action.