The body composition specialist

The Jackson Litchfield Guide to High Quality Self-Quant: Blood Tests and Diagnostic Panels that Will Help You Achieve Your Personal Best

I’m all for the quantified self-trend. I believe anything, including blood testing, reliable fitness trackers like the oura ring, step counters, body fat measurements, as well as blood, saliva, or DNA testing – anything that gives us the information we need to take our health to the next level — is more than welcome in my book.

Blood and urine panels can help athletes and anyone dedicated to improving their health optimize our nutrition and workouts in ways that can help us avoid injury, disease, muscle wastage, hormonal imbalances that compromise energy, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies that could endanger health in all kinds of ways. Plus, they help us tailor our workout regimens so we can take our performance—and our bodies—to the next level.

For example, blood tests can help alert us to changes in blood sugar status which can compromise performance, vitamin deficiencies which can dampen our energy and lengthen recovery times, heightened needs for hydration due to electrolyte imbalance, and much more.

The Dutch test is a prime example This dried urine test that you take over the course of one day can help alert you to imbalances in adrenal and HPA axis hormones which may set you up for a long, draining bout with a condition like adrenal fatigue. As Gil Blander notes,

A blood test requires just a tiny amount of blood to provide a massive amou1nt of information, including how you can optimize your body using simple training, nutrition, and even lifestyle changes. Everyone’s blood contains biomarkers, substances that science has shown can act as indicators to reveal your body’s status. Each biomarker represents a function or biological change going on inside the body, and each biomarker is measurable.[1]

What is even cooler is that for every biomarker in our blood, there are interventions we can take to correct minor or major problems before they become full-blown diseases.

Say a blood test yielded results of low T as well as flagging scores on vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium. For that athlete, coaches/trainers might decide that instead of pushing their athlete harder on workouts, they should, instead, advise them to up their intake on supplements like D-Aspartic Acid and zinc to get these levels up to par and naturally boost testosterone, as well as get more early, natural morning sunlight to naturally boost vitamin D .

Bert Helm in his article “Test Your Blood, Get Fitter” notes that,

For years, pro athletes have had an advantage most amateurs could only dream of: highly personalized diet plans and training regimens based on blood work, genetic analysis, and other high-tech diagnostics. What would it be like if the rest of us had easy access to the same kind of data?[2]

More than 40 companies now offer blood and performance testing geared specifically to us bodybuilders and workout fiends.[3]

The Big Four: Truly Superior Tests 

There are four tests which I feel yield the most comprehensive health diagnostics for athletes and pro active health enthusiasts specifically. The tests I will discuss today will give you the most detailed and valuable information about your health, including but not limited to our nutritional status, oxygen transport status, hormone balance, amino acid status, gut bacteria deficiencies and excesses, and food allergy status that can help protect our systems from any kind of threats to our energy, immune systems, hormone-related diseases that might lie on the horizon, and markers for inflammation which might help us avoid both injury and multiple sclerosis.

The Organic Acids Test

The Organic Acids Test is a type of metabolic panel that evaluates both how well you burn the food you eat for energy via metabolism and how well your body is manufacturing energy as well.

It’s also the best test to examine gut bacteria to see if you have overgrowths of yeast or certain types of bacteria.

Anyone can suffer from an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast and you can live with the subtle symptoms of these overgrowths for life, never knowing what, exactly, is making you feel less than your best self.

If you’ve been experiencing flagging energy, nervousness, symptoms of a compromised immune system such as frequent colds, flu, or infections, and neurological issues such as hyperactivity and/or depression, the organic acids test may help you target issues that have been plaguing you for years.

What I like most about the Organic Acids Test is that it is an effective way to gain introspection into how healthy our metabolism is and, more importantly, to help us use this picture of the metabolism to gain insight into critical mechanisms in the body that might have been affected by medications or toxins, specifically the mitochondria, the ur-source of energy for every system of the body. As one researcher notes,

Many other non-genetic factors can also alter human metabolism. Toxic amounts of the drug acetaminophen and other toxic chemicals can use up a key molecule, glutathione, that helps the body detoxify, leading to the overproduction of the organic acid pyroglutamic acid. Tumors of the adrenal gland called pheochromocytomas can cause the overproduction of the neurotransmitter epinephrine, resulting in marked increases in its metabolite, vanillylmandelic acid (VMA). Genetic diseases of the mitochondria, the cell’s energy source, as well as toxic chemicals that disrupt mitochondrial function cause elevation of succinic acid.  Succinic acid is a key intermediate of both the Kreb’s cycle and the electron transport chain that generates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the currency for most of the body’s energy transactions.[4]

Overall, it is an excellent evaluative tool for how well we manufacture energy, burn food for energy, and offers other insights into

  • Our ability to generate ATP from the fats and carbs we consume
  • Our current state of blood sugar management
  • Whether we have vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • Our current level of oxidative stress
  • Our neurotransmitter status (which can help us know if we are at risk for depression, sleep problems, etcetera).
  • Oxalate levels (oxalates in excess can cause fibromyalgia, kidney stones, and anemia).[5]


The CDSA (Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis) Test.

If you have any kind of gastrointestinal issues or simply want to see how healthy your gut is and how well you’re breaking down the foods you eat into energy, this comprehensive stool panel offers a complete picture of gut and digestive health. The CDSA is also good for spotting any kind of putrefaction in the gut which can indicate that we are not fully digesting meat and it is rotting in the gut.

This stool analysis evaluates:

  • Gut Microbiology Markers
  • Digestion/Absorption Markers
  • Gut Metabolic Markers

By helping to spot imbalances in good and bad bacteria as well as evaluating signs of poor digestion and gut inflammation, the CDSA can help give insight into a wide array of gut problems such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain, the CDSA also yields information into how to fix these gut issues by addressing problems with malabsorption and maldigestion of certain foods you might want to avoid in the future, as well as spotting overgrowths or lacks of bacteria which might be regulated with probiotics, prebiotics, or certain foods. We now know that neurotransmitters, like dopamine, reside chiefly in the gut as well as 90% of our immune systems. For the sake of our mental and physical health, we must seek digestive balance for our overall peace of body and mind.


Food Intolerance Panels (IgG Food Allergy +Candida)


The IgG Food Allergy Test tests for some 93 varieties of foods eaten commonly in the Western world and includes proteins, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. IgG antibodies are released in the presence of foods we are allergic or intolerant to. Their mere presence in the body can cause mood disorders and feelings of fatigue. Just eliminating the food these tests will identify can result in a complete cessation of symptoms like “can improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, autism, ADHD, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and epilepsy, according to numerous clinical studies.”[6]


The IgG panel can help an individual to discover sometimes hard to pinpoint allergies and sensitivities to foods that may be setting off subtle problems in the body that may impair quality of life but remain elusive to the patient.


As one researcher notes,


The 93 foods tested in the IgG Food Allergy Test w/ Candida include representatives of major food groups common in the western diet.  Elimination of IgG-positive foods can improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, autism, ADHD, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and epilepsy, according to numerous clinical studies.[7]


A food intolerance panel can help you to identify nagging health and GI issues that have stymied you for years, finally giving you the green light on what you can and cannot take in terms of food


The Dutch Test (The Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones)


DUTCH stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. This very comprehensive urine test is one that seeks to target sex and adrenal hormone imbalances that can affect your mood, energy level, motivation, drive, confidence, and of course, compromise your health as well. The DUTCH test is so accurate because you take it over the course of 24 hours, so that hormones like cortisol can reach their peak and waning levels for accurate testing.


For bodybuilders, the Dutch hormone panel can provide invaluable information that can help us optimize health and workouts and avoid over-training and pushing ourselves into dangerous territory, like adrenal or chronic fatigue.


The Dutch test can help bodybuilders and athletes


  • Spot stress issues in the HPA axis that can undermine workouts and spike fat storing hormones like estrogen and cortisol.


  • Optimize sleep by measuring melatonin status so we can take action if we’re low.


  • To target low DHEA levels and when we’re low, supplement, so that we can optimize this “feel-good hormone” and avoid a long list of conditions caused by low DHEA, such as depression, decreases in bone density, loss of muscle mass, weak immune systems, and loss of libido, and joint difficulties!


  • To target any conditions of estrogen dominance, so we can avoid deadly estrogen-based cancers and avoid embarrassing conditions like flabby belly fat and “man boobs.”


  • Spot how well we clear both estrogen and cortisol from our systems. How we clear excess hormones from the system is just as important as how we manufacture them. Why? Because if we don’t metabolize estrogen well, we can later develop cancers like prostate or breast cancer.


  • If you suffer with fatigue, mood swings, or unexplained weight gain, the Dutch test can give invaluable information that can help you to dial in your diet and exercise program to specifically lower or raise flagging or spiked hormones


  • If you suffer with any fertility issues or erectile dysfunction, the DUTCH panel will yield results that can help you gain a clearer picture of how adrenal and sex hormones work together to create your problems and then strategize ways to remedy these imbalances.


Today, we can take our health into our own hands, sparing our doctor the kind of concerning discrepancies in tests that bodybuilders and hard-chargers typically experience due to hard exercise the day of the test.


Self-quantification is still a growing field but one that has given us so many ingenious tools with which to improve our lives and better inform our eating, living, loving, and workout lives.


Love you,

Jackson Litchfield.


[1]Gil Bland. Blood Analysis: Unlock the Body’s Secrets to Reach Peak Performance. Breaking Muscle.


[2] Helm, Burt. Test your blood, get fitter. Men’s Journal.


[3]Helm, Burt. Test your blood, get fitter. Men’s Journal.


[4]What are organic acids?

5N. A. Digging Deeper to Perform Better – Testing for Athletes. Nourish 2 Flourish.


[6]Great Plains Laboratory. The IgG food intolerance test.


[7] ibid