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The Ageless Athlete Project

 

“Age is just a number.” We’ve heard that line tossed around, but is there truth behind it? Turns out, the answer is yes, and in early 2021 the GU Performance Lab partnered with InsideTracker to prove it. Ten Ageless Athlete Project participants, age 50-73, represented different athletic and personal backgrounds, as well as geographic locations, but they had one thing in common: a desire to live long, healthy lives doing what they love. These 10 set out on a 12-week program to offset the aging process through nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle improvements. The first step? Find each person’s InnerAge.  

What is InnerAge?

The truth is, people age at different speeds. The date that marks your birthday doesn’t necessarily reflect your body’s actual biological age – your InnerAge. Through analysis of several biomarkers, InsideTracker, the creators of InnerAge 2.0, can determine the body’s biological age and use their powerful data engine to generate science-backed recommendations to lower a person’s InnerAge. A lower InnerAge means higher quantity of and quality of the years ahead.

Meet Our Ageless Athlete Project Participants

 

IRENE

Runner, equestrian, retired educator, wife to Buster.
Age: 59
Baseline InnerAge: 61.1
6-Week InnerAge: 59.5
Final InnerAge: 62

Through her personal life and involvement in the lives of others who’ve experienced trauma, Irene understands well the gift and power of health. As a teacher, she partnered with Marines at Camp Pendleton to get troubled youth involved in sports and since retiring, she has volunteered with the Equine Assisted Learning Program for women who are victims of trauma. Practicing yoga, running, hiking, and riding horses keep her mind and body clear and in focus. 

Irene hoped “to overcome the fear I sometimes have about maintaining a healthy body as I age.  Knowledge helps to diminish fear…”

6-Week Progress: Irene accomplished one of her fitness goals! She ran a new PR for 10k, doing the distance in under an hour.

Final Update: Irene made great progress and initially decreased her inner age by two years in just six weeks. After the final test, however her InnerAge crept back up, finishing about one year older than where she started. Possible reasons: She took on a new teaching role at a local university and also started babysitting her two-year-old grandson, which likely increased some of the stress in her life. Regardless, she reached her fitness goal of a 10k PR. She attributes some of her success in running to adopting better nutrition and hydration habits, including using GU Hydration Tabs before and during long runs, and adding GU Energy Chews and Stroopwafels to the mix.

She and Buster continue to go on long walks and hikes together and prepare meals focused on lean proteins (especially fish and poultry), lots of colorful veggies, fermented foods (Irene is now a sauerkraut connoisseur!) and of course, healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado. She says she feels better, more focused, and has fewer cravings now that she’s eating fewer sweets. Additionally, she now does 30 minutes of yoga six times per week along with meditation/reflection time for 15 minutes daily instead of checking the news as part of her morning routine.

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BUSTER

Retired Marine colonel & educator, avid gardener, husband to Irene.
Age: 73
Baseline InnerAge: 73
6-Week InnerAge: 76
Final InnerAge: 74.9

Buster’s lifelong connection to hard physical work began at age 14 with farm labor in the Sacramento Valley, followed by athletic participation in school and then a career in the Marine Corps as a colonel. Rigorous training was a way of life, and even after he retired and became an educator, Buster continued to maintain top physical condition. These days he tends to 15 fruit trees and several large garden beds and - as he says - tries to keep up with his younger wife, Irene.

Buster hoped “to maintain or even improve my cardio-vascular health for the next ten to fifteen years with exercise and diet changes I am still able to accomplish.”

6-Week Progress: Buster has almost totally eliminated Mountain Dew from his life, switching to flavored sparkling water instead. He's back to doing Marine Corps pushups and is resistance training 3 times a week. He's also learned to like brown rice!

Final Update: Had an increase in some key inflammatory biomarkers that elevated his final InnerAge score. However, Glucose, Total Cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides all improved, which we were very pleased with. These improvements are probably attributable to his significant reduction in processed meat and sugar (soft drinks) intake. He’s also added resistance training exercises to his weekly routine, and found creative ways to lift weight, like filling empty laundry detergent bottles with water to use as dumbbells! He’s gotten back up to knocking out 20 consecutive “Marine Corps” pushups now and has finally replaced a stubborn Mountain Dew habit with zero-sugar flavored sparkling water. His favorite part of project: being able to participate alongside his wife, Irene.

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ANNEMIEK

Mom to 2 teenagers, trail runner, adventurer.
Age: 52
Baseline Inner Age: 59
6-Week InnerAge: 58.9
Final InnerAge: 56.9

Annemiek grew up in a rural area of the Netherlands, where organized sports were not routinely offered. She started running seriously about 10 years ago, finding sanity and the great gift of time - to think, to create, and to sort things out. With work and family life being hectic, Annemiek is grateful for her trail community and the absolute joy of running.

“I'm immensely curious and strive to still grow and be better...” 

6-Week Progress: Annemiek decided to run 52 miles to celebrate her 52nd birthday, with friends and family meeting her along the way to run a few miles alongside. She credits her improved nutrition habits with being able to recover surprisingly quickly afterward.

Final Update: Annemiek dropped her InnerAge score by over 2 years in 12 weeks and as a result of sticking to her nutrition plan, finally got her glucose levels to her optimized zone! Key factors in the drop in glucose levels were: pairing fat or protein with fruit as snacks instead of fruit by itself (better for blood sugar control) and being more deliberate about fruit choices, opting for berries and other high fiber fruit. The biggest takeaway for Annemiek was being mindful of her family's food choices; she's now more focused on whole foods and thoughtful protein intake, including increased consumption of fish and poultry. While her husband says groceries are now slightly more expensive, their kids appreciate having more fruit/fresh food in house to choose from.

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STEVE

Ultra runner and retired network engineer.
Age: 63
Baseline InnerAge: 58.7
6-Week InnerAge: 54.9
Final InnerAge: 57

Steve discovered marathons the way many do; his friends decided to do one together. He hated it and told himself he’d never do another. Fast forward a couple decades and many marathons and Steve is an avid trail ultra-runner. He loves the community, the scenery, but most of all, the challenge of discovering his full potential. Now that he’s a bit older and his physical capabilities have begun to decline, Steve is focusing on the mental aspect of performance, and believes he has many many miles and even a few PRs ahead of him.

“While I still desire to compete, it is now an internal competition with myself, and I now have the desire to ensure longevity in my ability to participate in a sport and lifestyle I love so much.”

6-Week Progress: In addition to lowering his InnerAge, Steve is noticing his cravings for sweets and salty snacks have diminished. And even though weight loss isn't a goal of the program, just by following Performance Lab recommendations, Steve has dropped a pound a week so far.

Final Update: Steve dropped nearly 2 whole years from his InnerAge score, and he exhibited the biggest difference between InnerAge and chronological age of any of our team, coming in at nearly 6 years younger on the inside! He attributes much of the progress to his more mindful approach to nutrition, such as swapping out refined grains (bread, pasta, white rice) for more whole food-based substitutions, like cauliflower rice instead of white rice, sweet potato “toast” in place of bread, and spiralized veggie “noodles” instead of pasta. He also added a time-restricted feeding window of less than 12 hours a day, meaning he fasted for more than 12 hours overnight from his dinnertime meal to breakfast the next morning.

He notes, “I’ve experienced a change in how I treat my nutrition. It is now a part of my training. This new focus has both motivated me mentally and altered my perception of hunger versus cravings. Emotionally, I feel better about my food choices, which feeds (no pun intended!) into a catalyst of continuing to make better food choices. Moreover, it has motivated me to explore a wider array of healthy options and broaden my default choices.”

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KIM

Epic adventurer, self-proclaimed “mountain girl,” wife to Topher.
Age: 50
Baseline InnerAge: 47.4
6-Week InnerAge: 50.5
Final InnerAge: 46.9

Kim is an adventurer through and through. Happiest on the trails, she’s an avid runner and cyclist with a background in professional ski racing. Injuries have been a challenge, and her 8 knee surgeries have taught her to focus on recovery and listening to her body. Yoga has been a huge positive for Kim; she loves how the movements keep her feeling fluid and flexible. She wants to learn all she can about taking care of her body so she can continue chasing epic adventures with Topher for decades more.

“If I can learn how to grow and age to be a better athlete…then sign me up!!”

Final Update: Kim's final Inner Age score dropped from midpoint check in (~4 years), finishing at about 3 years younger than her chronological age. Her LDL and total cholesterol returned to normal after being elevated midway through the project, as she removed red meat from her diet and instead focused on more seafood and dairy proteins. Protein intake was a key takeaway for Kim, who now aims to include 20 grams at each meal in order to maintain lean muscle.

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TOPHER

Ultra-runner, outdoor adventurer, husband to Kim.
Age: 51
Baseline InnerAge: 49.4

6-Week InnerAge: 52.8
Final InnerAge: 48.2

Topher’s broad athletic experience is as deep as it is broad, with impressive accomplishments in windsurfing, sailing, climbing and running. He thrives when pushing his limits and discovering his true potential. A lifelong learner, Topher has adapted to the mental and physical changes that come with getting a little older; he’s reoriented his goals and has surrounded himself with athletes who challenge and inspire him.

“If I can get the most out of myself on any given day, I am incredibly satisfied and appreciative.”

Final Update: Surprising midway test results brought Topher’s InnerAge score up slightly from the first round, but it came down again for the final test, dropping about 3 years off his initial score. He made similar modifications to Kim, including adding more protein, resistance training twice weekly, and focusing on mindfulness. Of note, both Kim & Topher took their tests the same day after having the same meal the day prior (pasta with red meat sauce) which might have impacted blood lipid levels at the halfway checkpoint. They both say they’ll make protein a priority going forward, but mostly avoid red meat in favor of seafood.

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LINDA

Runner, CrossFit enthusiast, training partner to Nancy.
Age: 71
Baseline InnerAge: 74.9
6-Week InnerAge: 73.2
Final InnerAge: 71.8

Linda has been involved in athletics her whole life, from team sports at an early age to her current 5-days-a-week CrossFit routine. She’s also been a runner for over 3 decades and tends to feel “off” when she doesn’t get to work out. Since entering her ‘70s, Linda has noticed feeling more tired after working out, but she’s taken it in stride.

“I feel like I will be able to exercise at some level forever.”

Final Update: Linda was our top female finisher, lowering her InnerAge score by over 3 years! Her total Cholesterol and LDL decreased dramatically and her HDL (good cholesterol) increased to optimal levels. The major changes Linda made included cutting out her nighttime snack habit, increasing fiber intake, and adding exercise “snacks” of 10 minutes in addition to her main Crossfit workout each day.

Since starting her nutrition and supplementation program, Linda, who goes to CrossFit 5 times a week, has PR'ed in multiple lifts. She credits her increased bean/legume intake and decreased red meat consumption, along with cutting out sugary sweets. A major challenge was getting a full 2 TBSP of olive oil each day, so she added a handful of olives as a snack.

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NANCY

Distance runner, CrossFit enthusiast, training partner to Linda.
Age: 70
Baseline InnerAge: 75.7
6-Week InnerAge: 77.1
Final InnerAge: 79.9

Nancy has had a lifelong love of athletic activities, but her biggest passion has been long distance running. She began while in grad school in the late ‘70s as a way to get to know her future husband, who was an ex-football star, and thoroughly enjoyed it until 2014 when she had a knee replaced. Now she’s going on 10 years of CrossFit participation and loves it almost as much as she loved running. A natural competitor, Nancy has had to put her ego on the shelf now that she’s in her ‘70s. She has impressive goals ahead: walking a marathon on her 90th birthday and continuing CrossFit into her ‘90s.

“I want to be able to see my grandchildren grow and marry and lead wonderful lives because it has been modeled to them.”

Final Update: Nancy did all the right things, and was very compliant with her nutrition program. However, a recent change in medication had a negative impact on some of her biomarkers and has since been addressed with her doctor, who mentioned similar complaints from other patients. After coming off the medication, her biomarkers are now almost back to normal. She plans to keep up the nutrition and lifestyle interventions we implemented and retest in a few months, once she’s had time to fully adjust to the change in medication. Had it not been for the Ageless Athletes Project, Nancy may not have known for some time the negative impact the new medication was having on her body.

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JESSE

Camp Gladiator enthusiast, lifelong athlete, bro-in-law to Janet.
Age: 70
Baseline InnerAge: 76.1
6-Week InnerAge: 77.4
Final InnerAge: 75.2

Jesse has been athletic for most of his life, from participating in various team sports as a kid to playing recreational softball into his ‘60s. With back issues forcing him out of softball, he took up running and discovered Camp Gladiator workouts. These activities have helped him feel great despite spending hours at his desk each day. Jesse admits to not eating very well and is looking forward to making changes to keep himself fit for years to come.

“With the CG workouts & my running I feel very good for my age. I would like to be able to continue this journey for at least another five years.” 

6-Week Progress: Jesse has decreased his red meat intake and started taking probiotics regularly. He's seen increased energy and is committed to keeping up with the dietary changes.

Final Update: Jesse improved his glycemic control (blood glucose/HbA1c) significantly over the course of the study and even dropped some weight. He thinks the changes he made, such as reducing red meat intake and eating at home more often, made a difference.

He commented: “The biggest change I’ve noticed is my level of energy and waking up before my alarm goes off.” Jesse also has a pretty remarkable streak going of achieving 10,000+ steps per day; he’s been hitting that goal for over 2 years straight. Even during the deep freeze that struck Texas this spring, which resulted in rolling blackouts, he managed to eek out his 10k a day by taking laps around the house to keep warm. That’s dedication! He and Janet also recently completed the Fort Davis trail 10k in the mountains of west Texas. He notes: “It was a very difficult run to complete due to the very rocky terrain. I believe the study helped my stamina.”

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JANET

Camp Gladiator enthusiast, outdoor lover, breast cancer survivor.
Age: 57

Baseline InnerAge: 54.4
6-Week InnerAge: 51
Final InnerAge: 53

Janet started working out at age 50, when her best friend introduced her to Camp Gladiator workouts. She also enjoys hiking and other outdoor activities. Because of her high metabolism, she never felt the need to workout before. Janet now has her routine down, but is looking to improve so she can continue working out and remaining healthy.

“I have noticed that my workouts have been a challenge in the last two years. I notice a big difference with stamina and with agility. ”

6-Week Progress: Janet is seeing improvements in her muscle definition in her arms and back. She lowered her InnerAge by 2.5 years and is training for a 10k in March.

Final Update: Janet's Inner Age dropped by 1.5 years, and is now 4 years younger than her actual age. In addition, she's noticed that the change in her nutrition plan and lifestyle adjustments have resulted in extra shiny hair, less bloating, and more definition in her upper body. Without weight loss as a focus of the program, Janet dropped 8 pounds in 12 weeks as she trained for a 10k. 

With the increased training, she began supplementing with GU Magnesium Plus Capsules to improve sleep and recovery. She's been intentional about going to bed earlier and has experienced fewer sleep interruptions; as a result she's felt more refreshed. 

Janet has enjoyed going through the study with her brother-in-law Jesse, who she's used as a sounding board and accountability partner as she's changed her approach to food choices and focused on making gradual positive improvements.

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Want to Discover Your InnerAge?

For a limited time, InsideTracker is offering 20% off all products including InnerAge 2.0 and InnerAge 2.0 add on. Use code AGELESS when you sign up today and you’ll also receive a special discount code for your favorite GU products.