Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review of The Mediator Release Test (MRT Test)

Touted to reliably Quantify Diet-Induced Inflammation, I, in my new-found fervor to become a smarter (and healthier) athlete, was intrigued. The test is around 94% accurate (considerably more accurate than past tests) and *CAN* (depending on how you use the information of course) be a useful tool in the quest for better performance and health. Although I've only just received my results and began to study them, I'll try to give a "layman's" review, or at least my initial impressions.

First, to get it out of the way, the test isn't cheap, pretty much regardless of what tax bracket you belong to. I've found the "home test" system online for around ~$600, (looking at the 150 tests, it is less expensive as you test against fewer things.) and of course once you add a facility and doctor/nutritionist to that, you're looking at a pretty expensive blood test. Is it worth it? Currently my opinion is that it depends on a couple of things, probably mostly how you expect to use the information once you have it, but also just how bad some of your results are. (that is, if you aren't reactive to anything, which is admittedly not likely, but I suppose possible, then you get the green card to eat what you want I guess.)

Here is a sample of what the test results look like

Simple right?

One of the big positives of this test is that even if you haven't read a single thing about it, you can very likely read the results almost immediately and fairly accurately. If you guessed red = bad, yellow = caution and green = ok, then you have the general gist of it.

To break it down a little further, it becomes pretty apparent that Zucchini, Lettuce and Potatoes are a highly reactive food to this particular person, and that (according to MRT) those should definitely be eliminated from the diet. It's worth noting that doesn't mean you're going to have an allergic reaction, swell up and die if you ate a Zucchini... that's not what this test does (and you could be allergic to something in the green for that matter. In other words if you have Celiacs, don't start eating bread if you have this test done and wheat comes back in the green.) but your body does not like Zucchini and will create much more inflammation than if you had replaced it with Carrots.

What does all of that mean for us? From an athletes point of view, inflammation is primarily bad, (I know that is not exactly true and WAY oversimplifying but in this case...) and something you ideally are looking to minimize. Inflammation is a response to tissue damage, and it helps remove cellular "trash" so that the healing can begin. Inflammation is also important for the training adaptations that take place AFTER you break the muscles down. However, Inflammation can also do damage if it lingers (DOMS, secondary muscle damage) and, in the case of endurance athletes, it's very possible that you end up with consistently building fatigue and inflammation due to... well... endurance sports nature really. Constant (chronic) inflammation is not a good thing.

So what the hell does all that mean in regards to the MRT test. Well, take myself for example. I'll spare you the full details of my personal test results, but something struck me almost immediately when I got them back. Two things I had tested poorly against were banana's and yogurt. In preparation (generally starting in my taper and especially in the last 2-3 days before a race) for a race I almost always limited my diet to what I thought was "very clean." Two things I ate in VERY large amounts... Banana's and yogurt. (usually 10+ banana's and 8+ cups of Greek yogurt in the day or two before a big race.) What I was essentially doing was "inflammation loading" during my taper for a big race... then maxing out on it the day or two before! Besides that, both of those had been DAILY (yes, daily) staples in my diet for years... that's not the best way for someone who already produces a lot of inflammation to combat it and is likely one of the contributors to some of my "on/off" performances the last few seasons.

The next step (for me) is meeting with the nutritionist. The other half of the MRT test is the LEAP rotating diet plan. Anything that is a "diet" plan already reeks of failure (in my mind) because it is not flexible enough for a real life scenario. However, that doesn't mean it can't work or that parts of it can't be incorporated in my lifestyle. I do think I will do the suggested LEAP food reintroduction schedule, but I have put it on hold until I return from vacation. I will likely update this post with more on the LEAP half after I have had more experience with it.

So, what do I think.

Knowledge = Power. I'm a firm believer in that. The more you know (especially in regards to your own body) the more informed choices you can make, which usually equates to better choices. This test isn't for everyone, both as a result of it's currently prohibitive cost and the simple fact that knowing the results and not acting upon them is a total waste. (So if you aren't giving up Eggs / Bacon / Ice Cream / Zucchini no matter what, maybe it's not for you.) However, for the athlete who is interested in squeezing everything they can out of their body, or just the regular person who would like to feel a little better day to day, this is a great tool to be considered.

Thanks so much for reading. I'm very excited to be back to "sort of really" training again, and I have seemed to find that for the first time in a long time I'm looking forward to workouts instead of dreading or trudging through them. I'm excited for the future once more!

- Christopher Morelock


  1. Replies
    1. Hey,

      It is coming very soon. Short of it, If you follow the diet closely you will learn some interesting and important stuff about how your body reacts to certain foods, how you feel day to day, etc. Some of it seems very difficult to follow for extended periods (as I mentioned - diet - above) like, in my case, coffee is a so-so choice, but one I am very unlikely to give up.

      Stay tuned