Skip Navigation

Innerbody is independent and reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn More

InsideTracker Review: Evaluating their health tests and insights

We tell you all the details about InsideTracker -- cost, scientific merit, convenience, privacy and more

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Nathan LeDeaux, MD
Last Updated: Dec 7, 2021
InsideTracker review

Keeping fit is hard. It’s so hard that about 80% of people who lose weight on a diet won’t keep it off for longer than a year. Everybody is built differently and has different needs; a one-size-fits-all routine simply can’t meet all of your unique fitness or nutritional requirements.

If you truly want to change your lifestyle to improve your health – whether that be weight, athletic performance, or if you just want to become more in-tune with your body – it’s important to consider what your body is made of first.

InsideTracker combines cutting-edge research in blood biometrics and genetic testing with game-like personal goal-setting (complete with achievement badges) to help you to figure out what your body is inclined to do and maximize your body’s functionality. We tested InsideTracker inside and out to uncover what it is best for – and where it might fall short – so you can decide if InsideTracker is the next best move for your health journey.

Editor's Summary

Overall Rating 8.8 / 10

InsideTracker provides you direct access to the science of your own body through both blood and DNA testing, helping you to tweak and personalize specific health decisions at a high financial cost.

Review Summary

Pros

  • One of the only services to offer both DNA and blood testing for both short- and long-term insight into your health.
  • One of the only testing services to offer goal-setting based on and integrated with your results.
  • DNA testing is considerably faster than quoted with results coming back in less than two weeks.
  • Science is always front-and-center, with links to studies backing up almost every claim they make.
  • Scientific explanations are easy to access and understand.
  • Great for athletes focused on improving stamina, diet, and rate of muscle repair.
  • InsideTracker is giving our readers 25% off any order, using our promo code: INNERBODY25

Cons

  • Expensive when compared to other DNA and health testing companies.
  • A homogenous user base means that products relying on comparisons to other users’ information won’t be as accurate for all populations.
  • No health recommendations come from DNA analysis.
Our Top Picks

InsideTracker

InsideTracker’s combination of testing plans and actionable insights can help you improve your health. Get 25% off using our promo code (INNERBODY25).

Whether your interest is fitness, overall wellness, nutrition, physical appearance, biological age, or all of the above, InsideTracker can deliver the goods. It partners with reputable labs, relies transparently on good science, and gives actionable recommendations.

Ultimate Plan
Reviewed by Innerbody Research
$589
$442

with code: INNERBODY25

InnerAge
Reviewed by Innerbody Research
$99
$74

with code: INNERBODY25

Home Kit
Reviewed by Innerbody Research
$998
$499

with code: INNERBODY25

Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers like you make more informed decisions to live healthier lives. We extensively test each health service we review.

Our team has spent over 180 hours testing and researching InsideTracker and its close competitors in DNA testing to give you an unbiased exploration of your at-home testing options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. Through a thorough and deliberate approach to every product we encounter, we evaluate services based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, this review of InsideTracker, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

How we evaluated InsideTracker

To give you the best sense of InsideTracker’s strengths and weaknesses, our testing team focused on the cost, scientific accuracy, and opportunities for real-life application of InsideTracker’s products. Customer support and privacy were also strongly emphasized given the medically sensitive nature of genetic testing.

Scientific accuracy

9.3 / 10

If it wasn’t obvious from the homepage that InsideTracker’s team is made up of expert scientists, researchers, and physicians from Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Tufts, the level of scientific detail and accuracy throughout the process will tell you. Every small piece of scientific information is broken down and explained simply. Links to relevant scientific information appear everywhere. Plus, the InsideTracker team is always discovering new biological pathways from your blood and genetic data, adding to science’s understanding of the human body.

Cost

7.8 / 10

InsideTracker is not cheap, even for a combined DNA and blood test. Both blood test plans alone are more expensive than comparable packages from other services, and that price only increases when adding DNA testing. Other services also offer testing for more biomarkers or genetic traits at lower prices. Because InsideTracker also adds long-term health goals and action plans, they recommend retesting every three months to see if your lifestyle changes are affecting your biomarkers.

Since they are not medically necessary tests, InsideTracker does not accept any insurance plans, so the cost all comes out of pocket. When combining products, especially if you splurge for an Ultimate plan and take it at the recommended rate, the annual cost can easily crest thousands of dollars.

Real-life applications

9.1 / 10

Not only is InsideTracker a useful research tool, but the practical applications of knowing your blood biomarker statuses and genetic tendencies can help you treat yourself well in the long run as well. The Action Plan goal-setting tool provides specific recommendations for diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes based on your biomarker data. These come in simple dietary additions or substitutions, supplements, or lifestyle modifications like different types of exercise or mindfulness practice. InsideTracker even provides recipes using the ingredients you pick out. Of course, these suggestions are only as useful as you make them, but InsideTracker makes it easy to remember by highlighting up to five modifications of your choice and reminding you to do them daily.

InsideTracker Action Plan

Customer support

8.8 / 10

Customer support is easy to access, friendly, and fast. There are several options to choose from, but text-based instant messaging with any of their customer service representatives is reliably the fastest way to get an answer to your questions, assuming your question isn’t answered by the FAQ, which you need to go through with an AI before you can talk to a human being. Both the representative’s name and an “active” label are visible as you talk, creating a greater sense of connection, but other people are only available to instant message during standard business hours (9 AM - 5 PM ET on weekdays). If you have an evening or weekend question, it’s best to email.

Privacy

8.4 / 10

While all of your information is covered by HIPAA and GINA (the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act), InsideTracker doesn’t always make their use of your information for research clear. When you sign up for an account, there is a pop-up to let you know that all information you provide – including bloodwork and DNA results – may be used in a scientific research study. They might strip identifying information from your information for use in a research study, or share more specific data with organizations like the National Institute of Health, institutional review boards, or donors. However, the pop-up is easy to ignore. There is information about the consent you’ve given at the bottom of every page, in case you want to look back at it after signing up for your account.

What is InsideTracker?

Founded in 2009 by a team of Harvard, MIT, and Tufts scientists, InsideTracker is part research study and part biometric-measuring service. InsideTracker aims to help you find exactly the right diet and exercise choices for your body, getting rid of time-wasting diet trends and unhealthy fads. They measure biomarkers – or biological reference points for bodily processes – in both your blood and DNA to point you in the right direction.

InsideTracker’s plans

InsideTracker offers multiple plans for you to customize just how much you want to know about your body. This means you can find the best level of detail and price point for you. You can choose from a stripped-down Home Kit, which measures seven important biomarkers in your blood through a finger prick test, to a full-blown Ultimate plan with DNA measurement, which looks at 43 blood biomarkers and 261 genetic markers. They also offer InnerAge 2.0 to compare your results against others who have used InsideTracker.

We recommend ordering at least a test that checks your blood biometrics (Ultimate, Essentials, or Home Kit), as a majority of InsideTracker’s insights are based on blood biometric information. An Action Plan is included with each of these blood biometric tests, as well as with the blood upload plan.

Unlike lab results from a doctor’s office, which just reveal whether or not you are in a “normal range” for the biomarker, InsideTracker gives a sense of how close to “optimal” your results are. This optimal zone is calculated based on your age, hormonal sex, and activity level, among other demographics. A young female athlete, for example, will have an optimal ferritin (iron) level that is higher than a male athlete of the same age to account for iron loss during her menstrual period.

Focus on actionable results and research

The fun of InsideTracker begins after your lab results arrive. Once you know how your body is performing, InsideTracker prompts you to set health-improving goals based on your identified deficiencies. These can include anything from “lose a few pounds” to “improve quality of sleep” to “prevent injuries.”

InsideTracker Goals

Improving your health is as easy as picking one to five small actions that move you toward your goal. InsideTracker pulls these from a database of over 7,500 different steps and cross-references them with your blood test results to see what might help you the most. To verify you’ve done those tasks after you’ve chosen them, InsideTracker asks that you check in every day and sets a re-test date for you three months after setting up your Action Plan.

The doctors, scientists, and researchers behind InsideTracker aren’t just doing this for your insight: InsideTracker is the vehicle for a series of research studies investigating biomarker interactions, goal-setting, and lifestyle changes. By joining InsideTracker, you are helping to contribute to this body of knowledge.

InsideTracker’s scientists published an article in October 2018 in Scientific Reports, a prestigious journal under the top-tier journal Nature, with revelations about the first 1,000 users. Some things they found backed up things we already knew – vitamin D and cholesterol are related – while other things are entirely new. (For instance, magnesium may play a role in muscle repair because it seems related to creatine kinase.)

While InsideTracker users’ average demographic information is shared in studies like this, no personal data or anything that could identify you is given to the public. Taking part in these studies requires no extra steps on your part, only a signature on a consent form if InsideTracker’s team decides to move forward with your information in a study.

Who can use InsideTracker?

There are relatively few restrictions on who can use InsideTracker. For the most part, anyone over the age of 18 in the United States can use any of the plans to test their biomarkers and DNA to see where they might be able to improve their health.

The Essential, Ultimate, and InnerAge 2.0 plans require having blood drawn, either through InsideTracker’s partnership with Quest Diagnostic laboratories or InsideTracker’s mobile blood draw service. If you cannot have blood drawn for whatever reason, you can still use their DNA test or a Home Kit, which just takes a finger prick’s worth of blood.

Mobile blood draws are a convenient way to have your blood drawn at your own pace. For an additional $96, InsideTracker will send a registered nurse or phlebotomist to your home, office, or other location of your choice. This way, you can avoid the waiting room and get your results comfortably and conveniently.

Mobile blood draws are required in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, and are slightly more expensive ($130) at this time in Hawaii. Otherwise, blood draws are fast and easy to do at your local Quest Diagnostics lab. With over 2,500 Quest Diagnostics locations across the country, you’ll be able to find one near you. An appointment, while helpful to schedule, is not necessary.

If you live in New York, you will not be able to use a Home Kit due to state restrictions.

If you live outside of the United States but are interested in InsideTracker, there are select plans you can still purchase and use. Canadians can purchase and use the Ultimate, Essentials, InnerAge, blood results upload, and Home Kit plans, though a mobile blood draw is required. All other international orders are restricted to blood results uploads and Home Kit plans.

Blood testing

InsideTracker’s speciality is their blood testing. There are two major blood testing plans they offer which test different numbers of biomarkers at different price points, as well as a cursory home testing plan.

After processing your blood work results, InsideTracker analyzes them based on your optimal zones. Your information is then delivered to you in a clear, easy-to-read, and intuitive form through their website, highlighting tests that were less than ideal.

InsideTracker wants to help you change those less-than-optimal biomarkers through an Action Plan. Action Plans come free with every blood biomarker test and give you a list of potential goals to improve your life. InsideTracker pulls your biomarker information from your blood test results to suggest what small tweaks you need to make in order to achieve your health goals. InsideTracker is one of the only health and DNA testing companies who follows up with you to make long-term improvements.

Ultimate plan

InsideTracker’s Ultimate plan is a blood test that measures 43 different biomarkers covering a wide range of bodily functions. These include:

  • Energy and metabolism (glucose, HbA1C, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), triglycerides)
  • Strength and endurance (creatine kinase, testosterone, free testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS), cortisol, sex-hormone-binding globulin, albumin)
  • Bone and muscle (calcium, vitamin D)
  • Brain and body (magnesium, red blood cell magnesium, folate, vitamin B12)
  • Oxygen and performance (hemoglobin, ferritin, total iron-binding capacity, iron, transferrin saturation)
  • Inflammation (white blood cell count, high sensitivity c-reactive protein (hsCRP))
  • Minerals (potassium, sodium)
  • Liver functioning (alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT))
  • Complete blood count (red blood cell count, hematocrit, mean cell volume, mean cell hemoglobin, mean cell hemoglobin concentration, red cell distribution width, platelets, mean platelet volume, monocytes, neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, basophils)

Each of these biomarkers is a strong indicator of overall health and bodily functioning, both established and experimental. If you’re looking to explore some interesting nutritional relationships and cut to the core of your biological functioning, the Ultimate package may be best for you.

InsideTracker Vitamin D Results

One order of an Ultimate plan costs $589, and you can add on a DNA test, InnerAge, previous blood or DNA results upload, or a mobile blood draw for additional fees. There are no bundle deals for adding other packages, but you can save some money with a bulk deal if you buy more than one Ultimate plan at a time. InsideTracker recommends that all blood tests be repeated every three months to monitor your goals.

Essentials plan

If your budget is limited but you still want to know the basics of your body’s inner functioning, InsideTracker’s Essentials plan may give you that insight. This blood test measures thirteen different biomarkers, including:

  • Energy and metabolism (glucose, HbA1C, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides)
  • Strength and endurance (creatine kinase)
  • Bone and muscle (calcium, vitamin D)
  • Brain and body (magnesium, folate)
  • Oxygen and performance (hemoglobin, ferritin)

These biomarkers are core to our understanding of the body. Many of these are labs that your primary care provider may have ordered before, such as your glucose and HbA1C. They can provide insights into your risk of diabetes and how well your muscles heal. It’s important to note that several of these biomarkers are focused on exercise and athletic performance, so if athletics are not your primary motivation for looking into your health, it may be better to look at a different plan.

One order of an Essentials plan costs $189. The Essentials plan can be combined with a DNA test, InnerAge, previous blood or DNA results upload, or a mobile blood draw for additional fees. That said, you can get a bulk discount if you order more than one Essentials plan at a time. InsideTracker’s team recommends retesting your levels every three months to see whether or not your changes are affecting your biomarker levels.

Home Kit

The Home Kit is designed for those who:

  • Can’t make it to a Quest Diagnostics lab
  • Live internationally
  • Are otherwise not inclined to get a full blood draw necessary for the Ultimate and Essentials plans

Rather than drawing blood, the Home Kit uses a finger prick, which will make the tip of one of your fingers bleed just a little. From that little bit of finger blood, InsideTracker will be able to give you information about seven different biomarkers:

  • Energy and metabolism (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides)
  • Hormones (cortisol)
  • Inflammation (hsCRP)
  • Bone and muscle (vitamin D)

This information will then go into the service for an Action Plan like any other blood biomarker analysis. It is also one of the easiest ones to pair with a DNA kit since both plans are shipped to your home from InsideTracker. One Home Kit costs $299, and it is highly recommended that you retest yourself every three months to monitor your progress.

DNA kit

Genetic insights

InsideTracker has partnered with Helix, a personal genomics company, to analyze up to 261 different genes associated with the biomarkers you have had blood testing for. Associated insights are expansive and pertain to:

  • Higher BMI, fasting glucose, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • Potential to lose weight on a low-fat diet or high saturated fat diet
  • Caffeine metabolism
  • Potential to need more sleep
  • Lower magnesium, vitamin D, calcium
  • Lower hemoglobin
  • Higher diastolic and systolic blood pressure
  • Higher vitamin B12
  • Higher white blood cell count, C-reactive protein, and GGT
  • Potential to excel at endurance activities and/or power activities
  • Higher testosterone and free testosterone levels
  • Gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, and peanut allergies

You may not get complete answers about each of these insights. DNA is delicate, so it is rarely possible to read your full genome from a cheek swab, even when performed perfectly.

All of the information about your genetic analysis is packaged into a PDF for your ease of reference. Each trait gets its own page (with some repeated), explaining what genes are associated with the trait, where your risk falls based on what genes you have, and how that aligns with your blood biomarker results. The last few pages of the packet share raw DNA data (specific alleles you have and the alleles associated with higher or lower risks).

DNA Kit testing

You won’t need to leave the house for your DNA test. InsideTracker will mail a small package with sample materials and a prepaid envelope. To collect a sample, swab the inside of your cheek and swirl the end into the test tube full of solution. The genetic material will stay in the solution, which you will ship back to InsideTracker and will then ship to Helix. You can expect results back in four to six weeks.

Your DNA results do not affect your Action Plan. Rather, your results provide insight into your natural predispositions and whether you may have a harder (or easier) time getting some of your biomarkers into their optimal zones. This may help to prepare you psychologically, or it may just satisfy your curiosity. There is no information shared about personal heritage or ancestry, nor any serious health information (such as whether or not you carry genes for major illnesses or cancers).

The DNA Kit is available for purchase in all 50 United States and Washington, DC. The kit costs $249 as a solo package, but we think it’s most effective when purchased and used alongside a blood biomarker plan. This is something you’ll only have to purchase once, however, as your DNA will not change over time in response to lifestyle changes. If you have previously used 23andMe or AncestryDNA, you can upload your raw genetic data for analysis through InsideTracker. For a $29 fee, Helix will analyze your DNA exactly like they would if you had purchased the kit through InsideTracker.

Add-on plans

Alongside the major blood and DNA testing plans, InsideTracker offers a few other options to help you quantify your health and improve it using their Action Plan.

Blood results upload

If you’ve had blood testing done recently, you can upload your results to InsideTracker’s site for fast analysis of your biomarkers. This bypasses the blood testing step of both the Ultimate and Essentials plan but still gives you the benefits of optimization based on InsideTracker’s health algorithm and an Action Plan. InsideTracker will look at any of the biomarkers tested in the Ultimate kit but will not analyze anything that is not already pre-programmed within the system. If you want to have your estrogen and progesterone levels optimized, for example, you wouldn’t be able to do it with the blood results upload plan.

View Tests

This plan costs $119 and does not include a blood draw. You can add a DNA kit or InnerAge 2.0 to this for additional insights, but the comparisons will be based solely on the results you have uploaded.

DNA results upload

If you have previously had your DNA tested, you can upload your genetic information for a fast analysis of InsideTracker’s 261 tagged alleles. A previous DNA results upload only adds $29 to the total cost of your plan, which is a bargain compared to other additions. However, InsideTracker will only accept your genetic information if you had it tested by 23andMe or AncestryDNA.

Like a full DNA kit, an Action Plan is not included in your DNA results upload. However, if you also have blood biomarkers analyzed, your DNA upload will be compared against your blood results.

InnerAge 2.0

InnerAge is a comparative program run through InsideTracker that looks at other users’ data and compares your biomarkers to theirs. It will then assign you a new, biological age based on the age demographic your biomarkers best look like. This, it says, is your InnerAge. There was a new version of InnerAge, 2.0, released in mid-2021 that doubled the number of biomarkers analyzed to determine your InnerAge. There are now fourteen biomarkers for hormonal women:

  • Albumin
  • Basophils (as a percent of total white blood cell count)
  • DHEAS
  • Eosinophils (as a percent of total white blood cell count)
  • GGT
  • Glucose and HbA1C
  • LDL and triglycerides
  • Lymphocytes
  • Monocytes (as a percent of total white blood cell count)
  • Red blood cell size
  • Total iron-binding capacity

There are eighteen biomarkers used to determine InnerAge for hormonal men:

  • Albumin
  • Basophils (as a percent of total white blood cell count)
  • Calcium
  • Hematocrit
  • hsCRP
  • LDL and triglycerides
  • Lymphocytes
  • MCH (mean corpuscular hemoglobin, the average amount of hemoglobin in a red blood cell)
  • MCHC (mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, the amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell)
  • Neutrophils (as a percent of total white blood cell count)
  • Sex-hormone binding globulin
  • Testosterone and free testosterone

Your InnerAge does not add to your Action Plan but gives you a point of comparison for your health. It’s an interesting insight, but it’s important to note that, as of the most recently published information, 85% of the user base is white. They also tend to be moderately active with normal BMIs and an average age between 40 (for hormonal women) and 43 (for hormonal men). If this isn’t you, your InnerAge is not going to be accurate. While we don’t know how InsideTracker’s consumer population has changed since late 2018, take your InnerAge with a hefty grain of salt. You may be more – or less – healthy than people of your race, gender, age, and activity level.

InnerAge is another plan that is retestable as your biomarkers shift. InsideTracker recommends retesting every three months, like the other blood biomarker tests. While you can use InnerAge on its own, it is informative to use alongside an Ultimate or Essentials plan, as InnerAge’s blood biomarkers overlap less here than a Home Kit. To encourage this, each InnerAge plan costs $179 on its own but can be bought at a discounted $99 when combined with an Ultimate or Essentials plan.

The InsideTracker customer experience

Ordering tests

Signing up for InsideTracker is simple: first, you need to pick out and purchase a plan. You cannot create an account without first having some blood or DNA biomarker purchase to tie your personal information to. This likely cuts down on the number of participants the researchers will have to sift through to find full sets of data for research purposes.

After deciding on the plan (or plans) you want, you’ll be prompted to create a preliminary account with your full legal name and email address. Then you can go ahead and purchase your plan. There will be a page to review your decisions, as well as to add any additional plans you’re interested in, such as a DNA kit or InnerAge 2.0. Payment is accepted through credit or debit card, PayPal, and Google Pay. Note that you’ll have to review your payment information twice before payment is accepted. InsideTracker isn’t a medical service, so they won’t take insurance.

Personalizing your account

Once you’ve paid for your tests, you can proceed to create a full account. InsideTracker asks you to set it up first with standard demographic information:

  • Gender (closest hormonal match)
  • Date of birth
  • Ethnicity
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Address
  • Phone number

You’ll also be prompted to create a password for your account. InsideTracker uses this basic information to set parameters like BMI for your biomarker test. A small window pops up next, letting you know about InsideTracker’s research studies. Since InsideTracker is as much a research study as it is a wellness guide, you’ll have to decline or opt out of the study if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your information.

Like with all good research studies, InsideTracker won’t share any personal information with the general public. If any of your information is used in a research study, you will receive an additional consent form later. All of your identifying information will be stripped from the published data.

As soon as your account has the basics and you’ve come to a decision about participating in the research study, there’s an additional series of questions that you can answer if you want to further personalize your account. They ask about your preferences and current:

  • Diet (frequency of food groups and intolerances)
  • Supplements (any vitamins you take)
  • Exercise (how often and what type)
  • Lifestyle (drinking, hours of sleep, and caffeine consumption)

Answering these questions will help InsideTracker to give you the most specific recommendations once your results come in. These questions took our testers about ten minutes to answer in full.

Blood testing

Purchasing a blood biomarker test seems like all that you need to do before having your blood drawn. However, you’ll need to pause before getting in your car to get lab work done: ordering a test means that InsideTracker will need to create a lab order and slip for you to print off and take in physically to your local Quest Diagnostics lab. On average, this lab order takes about 48 hours to create; our testers found theirs in their email inbox the next morning.

Insider Tip: To get InsideTracker to create your lab order, you’ll need to go into “orders” in your account and activate the test. This isn’t done automatically.

There are some behavioral changes you’ll need to keep in mind before your blood draw. Prior to drawing blood, you will need to avoid:

  • Exercise within the past 48 hours
  • Alcoholic beverages within the past 24 hours
  • Food within the past 12 hours

Those activities affect your blood biomarker results. If you don’t heed these instructions, you won’t receive accurate information. Whenever you decide to get tested, we recommend going first thing in the morning for the best results that require the least disruption to your dietary routines.

Once you have your lab order printed, you can take it to any Quest Diagnostics location. You can set an appointment (our testers were able to get an appointment for the following day) or walk into any Quest Diagnostics lab. The blood draw is straightforward – it took all of our testers less than an hour to get in and out, even with a significant wait in the office, in one case – though the Ultimate kit needs about six vials of blood to test all 43 biomarkers. Since this is a fasting test, consider bringing something high in sugar, like juice or candy, to have after your blood draw.

If you purchased a mobile blood draw, you’ll need to set an appointment in your account in the same “orders” section. It’s even easier from that point: a registered nurse or phlebotomist will come to the address you’ve specified at the time you set and draw the blood for you.

All blood results will show up in five to seven business days. Our team found that timeline accurate, with results coming in after five or six days. You’ll receive an email notification when your results are ready, typically first thing in the morning. Signing into your account on the InsideTracker site will automatically take you to the results page when you’re ready.

illustration of InsideTracker’s algorithm

Getting blood results

InsideTracker gets all results back quickly. Once they’re ready to read, you’ll receive an email alert from the service directing you to your account. Here, you’ll get a full web page of information on your blood biomarkers, grouped into primary categories (such as “Inflammation”) with easily searchable tags.

When looking at your blood biomarker results, InsideTracker automatically sorts your results so that any biomarkers that are out of an optimal range are placed first. Specifically, any biomarkers that are clinically problematic (too high or too low) are at the top of the webpage, followed by biomarkers outside of InsideTracker’s optimal zones. These details are handily color-coded:

  • At-risk (problematic) biomarkers are colored red.
  • Biomarkers that need improvement are yellow.
  • Optimized biomarkers are green.

While InsideTracker is not a medical site, be sure to keep an eye out for at-risk biomarkers; you may need to print off your information from InsideTracker to share with your primary medical provider.

Within each biomarker’s analysis, there is an almost overwhelming amount of information to look through. First, the overall category’s score is shown based on InsideTracker’s average analysis of all of the biomarkers within the category. This is positioned on the left-hand side of the screen; the right-hand side holds potential ways to remedy or support the biomarkers. These suggestions include healthy foods, supplements, and exercise recommendations. If the suggestions are relevant to more than one category, InsideTracker lists all of the ways they may help.

For example, one of our testers had low vitamin D (which is extremely common in Americans). InsideTracker recommended:

  • Spending at least 20 minutes in direct sunshine each day (to help low vitamin D)
  • Taking a 5000IU vitamin D3 supplement daily (to help low vitamin D, above-optimal LDL, above-optimal total cholesterol, above-optimal triglycerides, and below-optimal HDL)
  • Taking a 325 mg magnesium citrate supplement daily (to help below-optimal magnesium, high C-reactive protein, and low vitamin D)

These linked recommendations are based on scientific literature and InsideTracker’s research. Luckily, each recommendation has a “reference” link to point you to exactly how they made that recommendation. For example, they decided on 5000IU of vitamin D3 supplements to help improve low vitamin D because of this study. A separate “science” tab underneath your recommendations explains what the biomarker is, why it’s important, and how it relates to other important biomarkers.

InsideTracker has over 7,500 recommendations in its database ready to help you optimize your body. However, reading through all 7,500 would be a daunting task, let alone trying to sort through which ones are going to help you in the most areas. Once you’ve read over your biomarker results to see what is and isn’t optimized in your body, InsideTracker lights your path to self-improvement. Heading back to your dashboard will prompt you to create an Action Plan.

Action Plans are available for every package that involves a blood test, whether you took it with InsideTracker or have uploaded prior results. From there, you will be able to pick a major goal to improve your well-being. InsideTracker will filter its suggestions to improve non-optimal biomarkers associated with your goal so that you can take steps easily.

Overall, the bloodwork results page is stuffed with important information but also easy to navigate and understand thanks to great graphic design and layout choices. It goes above and beyond to keep you informed not only on your own body but the science behind it as well.

Action Plans

Action Plans put theory into action by helping you to set easily achievable goals personalized for your body.

Out of all your potential choices, InsideTracker suggests you choose between one and five steps to start with. These steps vary from eating more nuts to taking supplements to sitting outside for twenty minutes a day. One of our testers wanted to improve their cognition and was told to lower their average blood sugar by working on mindfulness and taking alpha-lipoic acid supplements. These steps all have links to previous scientific studies that back up recommendations.

Once you’ve set your steps, InsideTracker begins sending push notifications for you to check in with the site daily. Action Plans have an achievements page, where you can unlock badges for doing things like completing tests every three months, checking in daily, and optimizing various biomarkers.

InsideTracker also has a wide recipe database with fun ways to integrate all of their suggested healthy ingredients put together by registered dieticians. If you’re having a hard time coming up with healthy meals, the Food Basket page helps you to sort through the recipe database by ingredients you like or those InsideTracker has recommended you eat.

When it comes to making lifestyle changes that stick, the American Psychological Association suggests having a support system that you can lean on and that can hold you accountable for acting on your plans, as well as making small steps toward improvement. InsideTracker’s Action Plan does both of those things for you. By breaking down your goal into one to five action steps to improve the associated biomarkers, InsideTracker provides the framework for success. Each recommendation has scientific studies linked that explain why they recommend that particular step to achieve your goal.

Not all of the lifestyle recommendations are created equally, however. There are a handful of recommendations where stretching your imagination is required to make the science fit your goal.

For example, one of InsideTracker’s suggestions for lowering your overall blood glucose is to use mindfulness. They link to this study, which summarizes that when obese people practiced mindfulness behaviors regularly, they were less likely to snack throughout the day and therefore lowered their average blood sugar. While it is a thorough study, you may not be obese or struggling with mindless eating. In that case, it’s unclear whether or not mindfulness would help you to lower your blood glucose. Like with the rest of InsideTracker, not every point is going to help every person, so be sure to do your research as you personalize your health journey.

DNA testing

You won’t have to leave your home to get your DNA tested. Instead, InsideTracker ships you a small box with all of the necessary materials. For our testers, the package arrived five or six days after placing the order. InsideTracker does have tracking information on their site for your package so you can know when to anticipate its arrival.

Upon bringing your package home, you’ll need to register your DNA kit with your account before doing anything else. It helps to have InsideTracker open and available while you take your DNA sample, as the site walks you through step-by-step like an instructions guide. Inside each brochure-sized box, you will find:

  • A prepaid return envelope
  • A biohazard bag
  • A test tube with solution
  • A sterilized pre-packaged swab

Your kit registration number is accompanied by a barcode on the small test tube. InsideTracker’s website asks for the last four digits. This is an important step as registering the kit with your account means your information will stay tied to you.

Make sure that you haven’t eaten, smoked, or drunk anything within thirty minutes of testing, as DNA from anything ingested can linger in your mouth, and knowing the DNA of the cheese in your sandwich isn’t as useful as knowing your own genetic makeup.

Collecting DNA requires a cheek swab. This method of testing is like a nasal swab test, such as a COVID-19 or flu swab, but on the inside of one of your cheeks instead of up your nose. You’ll need to unwrap the swab halfway out of the package, roll the fuzzy end around the inside of your cheek as instructed to collect cells, dip the swab into the solution in the test tube, and pull the swab out and discard it.

That’s it! Your genetic material is now floating in the solution, ready to be analyzed. Put the tube in the biohazard bag, seal it, place the biohazard bag in the prepaid envelope, and drop it in the mailbox.

No pain or discomfort should come from a cheek swab, but aggressive swabbing may cause some mild dryness or discomfort that will go away quickly.

After you put your DNA in the mail, there’s a considerable waiting period before you get results. InsideTracker quotes that DNA testing will take four to six weeks to get information back to you after they receive and process your DNA. However, our testers found that DNA results came back ten days after InsideTracker notified them of receipt. This is considerably faster than quoted, and while we can’t promise that they’ll be that fast every time, the speed with which they beat the clock is impressive. It didn’t come at any sacrifice to quality, either: analysis showed every allele tested came back whole.

Getting DNA results

InsideTracker gets all results back quickly. Once they’re ready to read, you’ll receive an email alert from the service directing you to your account. Here, you’ll get a link to download a PDF about your genetic markers.

The PDF begins with several pages of clearly laid-out information about the science of genetics, what it means, and how both InsideTracker and partner company Helix analyze your DNA. In this case, Helix isolates and sequences your DNA, and InsideTracker compares that to genetic markers and your blood work (if you’ve had it done) to offer ways to work with – or against – your body’s natural inclinations.

Each section of the packet begins with a page explaining the science behind the general category, such as weight, and whether or not it is influenced heavily by genetics. The packet also includes:

  • The factors that they consider when making recommendations (for weight, this is your BMI, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides)
  • The types of solutions they will offer (such as type of diet)

Factors each get their own minimalist page with color-coded information. You can see your genetic risk for each factor at the bottom of the page, below some general and approachable information about the factor itself including how many genetic markers they analyzed. This is color-coded in shades of blue:

  • Pale blue indicates a reduced risk
  • Medium blue indicates an average risk
  • Navy blue indicates a high risk

If the factor is comparable to blood analysis, such as triglycerides, a similar-shaped box will sit to the right of your genetic risk. Your actual blood analysis reflects exactly the same information as your blood biomarker page, including the same style of red, yellow, and green color-coding. In some cases, the page will include the same bar-style chart showing you where your blood biomarker results are. If there is more than one gene that contributes to your genetic risk, a similar bar chart will show you exactly how low (or high) your genetic risk is.

Every result has a section explaining what your results mean. You may learn that you need more caffeine than the average person, or that you have a genetic predisposition toward lactose intolerance. These are not medical recommendations; if you have questions or concerns, take your results to your primary medical professional.

InsideTracker DNA Test

At the end of the packet, there are two indexes defining all of the major scientific terms used throughout. Finally, the last five pages are full of tables identifying your raw genetic data. These three-column tables identify the rSID number (the scientific name for the gene), your genotype, and the abnormal alleles for that gene. This way, you can compare your actual genes to the current literature and future studies. While the science behind recommendations isn’t quite as strong in the DNA packet, this multiple genetic marker trait index lets you investigate what you want at your own pace.

There is no Action Plan associated with the DNA test. Rather, the DNA test helps you to understand your blood biomarker results and prioritize changes. Through DNA testing, you might become more aware of things that make lifestyle changes even more difficult, such as a genetically predisposed risk to have higher-than-optimal levels of certain biomarkers. On the flipside, it may also set you at ease if all looks well, but remember that this is not a medical test and cannot diagnose (or exclude a diagnosis of) anything.

Privacy

By signing up for InsideTracker’s website, you are providing your informed consent to participate in the organization’s long-term research studies. This means that your information, while anonymized, may be used in research studies, shared with outside researchers and investors, and potentially published in scientific journals. For example, the study published in September 2021 includes the information of over 900 users, though none are named or have identifying information attached.

After you make an account with InsideTracker, you will be notified of potential research use of your information and given the option to decline. If you later change your mind and aren’t comfortable with your information being used this way, you can email customer support to opt out. Should InsideTracker’s scientific team publish research with your information, they will send you another separate consent form for you to sign.

InsideTracker does not have access to all of your genetic information either. InsideTracker’s parent company uses Helix, a population genomics company based in California, to analyze your DNA. Helix finds the genetic information for the particular genes InsideTracker looks at and sends them only that information. Helix has strong privacy measures in place, including strong SSL and TLS ciphers and data encryption to keep your genetic information safe.

All of your personal medical information within the site is protected by both HIPAA and GINA. There are no medical providers you can directly interact with through InsideTracker, as their insights and suggestions are not meant to be understood as medical advice.

InsideTracker’s alternatives

23andMe Health

As one of the best-known DNA testing services, 23andMe analyzes your DNA for a huge variety of traits. This includes:

  • Ancestry
  • Physical traits (such as flat feet and eye color)
  • Health predispositions (such as gestational diabetes and eczema)
  • Carrier status (if you carry – but don’t display traits for – genetic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia)
  • Wellness (such as caffeine sensitivity)
  • Pharmacogenetics (how you metabolize drugs)

There are two different versions of 23andMe, one which covers ancestry information only and one which also covers all of your health information (23andMe Health). Ordering both 23andMe and 23andMe Health will cost $199 total. Since they are so well known, 23andMe Health is often accepted as medical advice. They are the only genetic testing service that accepts HSA and FSA payments.

While 23andMe covers more ground genetically than InsideTracker, there are no wellness plans or tracking services available through 23andMe. What you do with your information is up to you here; if you are just curious about your DNA without wanting to implement any lifestyle changes, this may be a good alternative. That said, 23andMe may point out sensitive information, such as if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (which are very closely tied to breast and ovarian cancer). If this is the case, be ready to reach out to a genetic counselor or your medical provider for more insight. InsideTracker does not diagnose or analyze any sensitive information of that nature.

AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA is another major player in the genetic testing space. They are one of the two testing companies, alongside 23andMe, that InsideTracker will accept genetic information from. If you have previously had an AncestryDNA test done, you can upload your results into InsideTracker’s dashboard and they will analyze it for their genetic markers (for a $99 fee).

While AncestryDNA mostly focuses on heritage and ancestry information, there is an option to look at health markers like InsideTracker. AncestryDNA Traits is a $20 add-on to AncestryDNA’s $99 genetic testing kit. This analyzes your genetic information for 36 separate traits, including:

  • Your sensitivity to various nutrients (like vitamin D)
  • Sensory information (like sun sneezing)
  • Fitness (like weight predispositions)
  • Appearance (like eye color and cleft chins)

Many of these traits are also covered under InsideTracker’s DNA kit (fitness predispositions, nutrient information, and a few sensory traits such as caffeine sensitivity and lactose intolerance). Where InsideTracker will help you to design a healthier lifestyle moving forward, AncestryDNA Traits looks back at the past to map regional and global patterns of inheritance to find where exactly you got your thick facial hair and attached earlobes. AncestryDNA does not do any blood testing; they strictly work with genetics, so you will not be able to get any short-term biomarker information from this service.

DNAFit

DNAFit offers genetic testing to help you identify and refine an ideal diet, fitness routine, and lifestyle based on your genetic predispositions. They promise to find optimal diet and macronutrient balances for you, personalizing your food needs at similar price points to InsideTracker. DNAFit overlaps with InsideTracker’s DNA testing abilities and will also let you upload information from previous AncestryDNA or 23andMe tests. The team behind DNAFit uses your information for publishable research studies, just like InsideTracker, but has even stronger security measures.

Like the DNA Kit, it’s recommended you only take a DNAFit test once, as your genetic information won’t change over time like blood biomarkers. They get your results back in 10-15 days, as opposed to the four to six weeks that InsideTracker promises (though we found InsideTracker’s actual time to be comparable). That said, there is little opportunity for follow-up testing or monitoring lifestyle changes like InsideTracker allows. DNAFit does not offer any blood tests, only DNA analysis, so may not be as useful for short-term lifestyle changes.

WellnessFX

If you aren’t planning to make any big changes but still want to stay on top of your personal health information, WellnessFX may be a good option for you. WellnessFX has a strong focus on personal awareness and preventative care, providing access to health professionals available over email and instant message to talk with you about your results and any questions you may have. They measure a wide variety of blood biomarkers in several different plans:

  • e-Checkup (25 biomarkers, $99)
  • Baseline (53 biomarkers, $198)
  • Performance (70 biomarkers, $497)
  • Premium (92 biomarkers, $925)

WellnessFX is a great alternative to InsideTracker if you can’t afford InsideTracker’s prices. The baseline package from WellnessFX measures 40 more biomarkers than InsideTracker’s Essentials package but costs the same. WellnessFX also offers custom packages for varying rates if you want to keep track of specific biomarkers but can’t afford a higher-tier package. Likewise, if you want to know more about your heart health, women’s health and fertility, or omegas, WellnessFX has smaller and less-expensive focused bundles.

While WellnessFX offers a larger variety of pricing tiers and more biomarker testing options for women, there are no options for DNA testing through WellnessFX. There is also no follow-up or way to set goals or recommendations for lifestyle changes.

Everlywell

If immediate concerns are a higher priority than long-term bodily optimization, Everlywell can send you an at-home testing kit. All you’ll need to do is a finger prick test – no trips to the lab necessary – to check on your blood glucose, food sensitivities, fertility, and more. Each of these tests is bundled into individual packages ranging in price from $49 to $259. Everlywell’s blood testing may require purchasing more packages if you want InsideTracker’s comprehensive experience, but their individual-test design lets you completely customize your experience. Everlywell will not test DNA, nor does it provide any follow-up plans or suggestions based on your results. In fact, it recommends you follow up with your primary care provider, rendering your results in a physician-standard format for you to print off.

In-person care

If you have concerns about any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms or family histories of genetic abnormalities, it’s always a good idea to bring your primary care doctor into the conversation. They will be able to order the same blood tests as InsideTracker, as well as more specific and diagnostic blood tests. If you need treatment for things like high cholesterol, your primary care provider can give you medication. InsideTracker will neither diagnose nor treat any conditions, even if your blood biomarkers point toward an obvious concern.

If any of your genetic information throws you for a loop, or if you have any concerns, you can also see a genetic counselor. Your primary care provider can refer you to a genetic counselor. Many of them specialize in genetic risks for cancer and birth defects, but they will be able to test for a wider range of traits more precisely than any non-medical service like InsideTracker. However, they may not be able to get you the same broad information that services like InsideTracker can, including genetic markers for things like sleep quality or lactose intolerance if you are not displaying troublesome symptoms.