Join our "Baseline Party"

Alex Bangs and I were talking at the QS Silicon Valley show&tell last night about wanting to get good baseline tests in advance of some self-experiments, and we’ve both been procrastinating. So this is our solution.

We are announcing a “baseline party” here in the forum. In this thread we will make a list of possible things to test, get some advice, decide on what we want to test, and maybe collect information on where to get our tests and how much they will cost. Then we’ll pick an approximate date, and do it. (Not together, of course, just more or less simultaneously.)

We’ll leave it to everybody’s discretion whether they want to post their test results. The important thing is not sharing the numbers, but thinking about what we want tested, and encouraging each other to take this useful step.

Please join us!

Will we post the results here? Also - will we have follow up tests post-experiments?

Posting the results is a decision for everybody to make for themselves. Alex and I want to make a good list of possibly useful baseline tests, and we can settle on what we want to do. For instance, we know we want lipid panels, but shall we pay for getting the sub-types? This would probably be nice to have if we are doing anything with diet or exercise.


Thanks for getting this started. I’m interested in taking some measures before a new diet so a few things that I’d like to look at would be:

  • Fasting glucose and/or HbA1c - may be a little interesting for people who are non-diabetic; if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, these are things you should already be watching pretty closely.

  • Lipids - aggregate LDL/HDL and Triglycerides are good places to start - a basic lipid panel would have these and is not too expensive. I’ve spent some time learning about lipoprotein subfractionation/particle distribution tests and I think these are potentially more useful. They give you aggregate LDL/HDL but also the quantities of different particle sizes of LDL and HDL. These fractions can shift around based on diet even when the aggregate numbers stay the same - and some shifts may indicate a more pro-atherogenic pattern (bad for your blood vessels). Examples of these are NMR LipoProfile (from Liposcience; considered the gold standard by some and used in drug clinical trials) and VAP (from Atherotech; more commonly available than LipoProfile, from what I can tell). Quest also has a couple of options (one old tech from recently acquired Berkeley HeartLab and a newer test Quest developed). If you are going to do something with these particle tests, be sure to get a baseline so you can see shifts and you will want to stick with the same test type for before and after. Cost for these kinds of tests may be $200 or less depending where you get it. Important caveat - interpreting these particle test results is not trivial and might require some expert help, not all physicians may know how to order or interpret these.

I’m interested in other suggestions people have for good tests to do before diet changes. I know Dave Asprey has a lot of thoughts in this area, good to hear what he has to say.

– Alex

Everyone should check a baseline CBC with differential and Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP, Chem 14). Cheap at Quest. Also probably a TSH.

The Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) from Atherotech is available through Quest. Wholesale price is under $30 including send out fee. Would need your doctor to order this in California, and it would help if he/she had contracted pricing with Quest to get the better pricing. Insurance may or may not cover lipids (including VAP) depending on whether you have a “qualifying diagnosis.”
– I agree having a doctor who’s savvy about lipid sub typing would be ideal to help interpret it.
– Quest also recently bought Berkeley Heart Lab so their test may be available cheaper soon too.

For blood sugar baseline, one can do a fasting blood glucose, HgbA1c, fasting insulin level, and a Glycomark (indicates how often glucose was over 180 mg/dL, reflecting postprandial hyperglycemia). All available through Quest.

For inflammatory milieu, can do a hs-CRP and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).

Depending on an individual’s situation there are many other potentially useful baseline things to measure, but it’s hard to generalize. I think this is a valid place where a “quant doctor” could be helpful to both choose a relevant/interesting set of measures, and to help interpret results especially if they are out of range… Some things it’s safe to “sit on” and watch. Others not so much. This would need to be a real doctor-patient relationship since when measuring health stuff things don’t always play out simply.

Others may prefer the DIY approach, which I think is possible using out of state lab companies.

As always, just my 2c.
Paul Abramson MD


I just moved the thread into “medical tests” which is probably where I should have put it in the first place.

OK, who’s in?

I’m in. Do we have a date in mind?

Also, I’d like to get a good body fat test, time myself running 200m and a mile, and get some sort of mental and emotional baseline, although I don’t have a good one in mind.

You can get A1C tests done for $9 from Walmart w/o a prescription. (don’t get the instant read!)

Anyone know of ADHD baseline tests?

How about ?

Just back from travel and catching up on this thread. How about if I finish collecting suggestions and put up a “baseline wish list” by next Sunday. After this we will choose a date. Add any more suggestions between now and then!

This is a neat idea! Please include descriptions of the metric and how it will be gathered in the final list (a small effort to standardize). I am more likely to participate in baseline tests that are cheap, simple, and physical. One test that seems useful (for elite athletes, at least) is resting heart rate upon waking up in the morning. That said, I’m more interested in Medical tests for normal people and how other QS’ers have found them useful.

I’d also like suggestions on where to acquire the tests we decide on!
Incidentally, how do people manage all this data now that Google Health is no longer around? I have lots of old health test records, + data from fitbit, bodybugg, zeo, weight/bodyfat blood glucose/blood pressure, but no longer have one common location to store all the info!