Making Sense of Bloodwork

One of the best barometers to determine how healthy you really are is via a blood test. No matter how healthy you feel on the outside, sometimes there may be an internal problem that could fester into a more serious issue if it goes undiagnosed for too long. Often a thorough blood test can narrow it down significantly – if either you or your doctor are qualified to decipher the numbers that is! And sure, we could wake up tomorrow and get hit by a bus anyway, but I’d suggest covering the bases you can control so you live as healthy an existence as possible. One way of doing that is through frequent checkups and blood tests (say, once every 6 months or so).

A scanned copy of my results is below (it may be hard to see).

  • The first test listed is “glucose fasting”. This can be a precursor to diabetes if your results come back well out of the reference range–just make sure you’re truly fasted for 10 hours before getting blood drawn or it’ll skew this number.
  • Triglycerides, HDL, LDL (cholesterol): Generally these tests are a good marker of heart/cardiovascular health. They aren’t the be-all-end-all, and genetics can be a major factor here, but I’m optimal in all and I’m convinced it’s a combination of cardio (at least 3x a week) and diet. I avoid processed carbs where possible and fatty foods, though there’s a cliff note there. Healthy fats (included some saturated) from coconut oil, grass fed beef, omega 3 eggs, fish, olive oil etc. can directly IMPROVE all three of these tests so don’t shy away from them. Eggs aren’t the enemy.
  • ALT/AST (liver values): Feel tired or lethargic? You may be taxing your liver with poor diet, alcohol and other toxins. The liver is very resilient and can regenerate itself, but don’t ignore the warming signs. A healthy liver equals a healthy you. Be sure to avoid heavy weight lifting or intense exercise at least 48 hours before your blood test or you’ll falsely spike your liver enzyme values. A simple method to help your liver function: fresh squeezed lemon juice (from a REAL lemon) in warm water or hot tea every day.
  • Urea Nitrogen/CPK: I’m out of range in both of these, although not to levels that are a concern to my doc. Urea nitrogen can be elevated by a diet high in protein (and I eat a lot of meat), but isn’t a risk if water consumption is adequate. CPK is a sign of muscle breakdown, and more seriously can indicate a heart problem, but more than likely in my case is a result of a hard workout two days prior. Next time I’ll need to stay out of the gym for a week before to get a true sense of where this is.
  • Testosterone: The male hormone. I’m in range here, but considering I’m 27 I’d hope so!


Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.