When embarking upon a fitness program, in order to ensure it is safe to do so, any good Personal Trainer will require their clients to undergo a few simple measurements, such as having their blood pressure taken and, of course, recording their client’s height & weight etc. Some trainers may also perform further measurements enabling them to calculate body fat %, basal metabolic rate and daily calorie requirement. At this point, you’d probably expect to be chatting about your fitness history, your diet and your current health, but upon being offered a comprehensive health check, including blood testing, you may well ask, “Why analyse my blood?”
Not many trainers will offer this service. However, blood analysis can reveal some extremely important (& very interesting, often unknown facts) about your current health & fitness, and the results can be used to track your progress too…
There are many medical reasons why someone might want – or even need – their blood testing, but why analyse your blood in a fitness sense? Following is an explanation of four common blood tests that X-Life’s Master Trainer is able to perform and how it relates in your journey to becoming a better you…
A fatty substance manufactured naturally in the liver, cholesterol is essential for many metabolic functions. Eating saturated fats, e.g. animal fats (which are solid at room temperature) increases cholesterol production. This increased production & can lead to raised levels of LDL & vLDL (low & very low density) cholesterol causing atherosclerosis – a hardening & loss of elasticity of artery walls – which could lead to coronary artery disease (CAD).
Whilst these ‘bad’ cholesterols can cause problems, HDL cholesterol transports LDL & vLDL’s to the liver, where it is metabolised. It is therefore very important to have a good idea of your levels of HDL versus LDL & vLDL cholesterols, in order to determine your risk of CAD. Stress, high intake of saturated fat, smoking & drinking all increase levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Recording these data at regular intervals throughout your fitness journey assists in determining your optimum nutritional requirements, improving your LDL & vLDL levels, leading to a healthier, fitter you.
…is produced in the small intestine following the consumption of carbohydrates. In response to the presence of glucose in the blood, a hormone called insulin is released from the pancreas, helping transport glucose to be used as energy, or stored as glycogen in the muscles & liver. Upon detecting low levels of blood glucose, the body releases another hormone, glucagon, which facilitates the release of stored glycogen, raising blood glucose levels & providing energy to the body. Glucagon also helps the release of fat stores…
When an individual consumes too many carbohydrates & low amounts of protein over a prolonged period of time, the pancreas regularly releases insulin in excessive amounts, which leads to its inefficiency. This increased presence of insulin, failing to transport glucose to where it’s needed most, inhibits the release of glucagon (associated with a negative impact on fat loss) and the sustained, unhealthily high levels of glucose can lead type 2 diabetes.
It has been shown that a good nutrition plan & regular exercise can reverse the effects of, and even cure, type 2 diabetes!
One of the body’s energy systems, responsible for powerful movements, the Lactate system provides fast energy delivery, a bi-product of which is lactic acid. Lactate testing gives an idea of the amount of lactic acid present in the blood. As mentioned above, carbohydrate consumption provides the body with glucose for energy.
During intense exercise, when the cardio-respiratory system is struggling to provide oxygen where it’s most needed, this anaerobic metabolism of glucose produces a substance called pyruvic acid. This is converted into lactic acid if a sustained shortage of oxygen is encountered, causing the burning feeling we associate with over-exercising.
Recording lactic acid levels in the body gives a great sense of how well the subject’s cardio-respiratory system is coping under different levels of exercise intensity. It can therefore be used as a measure of overall fitness.
These are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food, as well as in the body. They are present in blood plasma, derived from fats eaten in foods, or made in the body from energy sources such as carbohydrates. Calories ingested in a meal but not used are converted into triglycerides & transported for storage in fat cells. Hormones regulate the release of triglycerides into plasma from fat tissue in order to meet the body’s energy needs between meals. An excess of triglycerides is linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease (CAD) & may also be a consequence of other diseases, such as untreated or uncontrolled diabetes.
Commonly overlooked, these four tests, can provide the Personal Trainer with a wealth of knowledge about the starting point and progression of his or her clients. The results can also be used as motivation and accountability tools, proving to the client, not only how well they are doing, but also the health benefits of training regularly.