Stop biohacking and where to focus in the year ahead.
Over the last few years 5-10 years, more and more "gurus" have popped up advocating for everything from cold showers, red-light therapy, blue-light blocking glasses, fasting, mindfulness and just about everything involving quick fixes.
While we agree some of these tools (not all) can help improve your health and fitness, biohacking is often practiced by people who haven't mastered the basic habits that lead to elite fitness. Part of this is because quick fixes are easy, but it’s partly because “unique” hacks look better on social media. I mean, let’s be honest, posts about going to bed at 9 pm are really hard to spin in a cool way.
Additionally, the biohacks most often practiced by internet gurus are often marketed as a path to enlightenment, driving people to become obsessed with random routines, they think will lead them to lasting happiness. However, ultimately these hacks rarely help people reach their goals because they become distracted and overwhelmed by the noise.
Again, we aren't saying cold water therapy or other biohacks aren't useful or beneficial for those who have the core components of fitness covered. So if that's you, give it a shot. If that's not you, and your goal is to become a Wild Warrior this year, then stop biohacking until you adopt the following habits.
Stop Biohacking and Focus on these 5 Areas Instead
According to Patrick McKoewn, author of The Oxygen Advantage, most people do not breath correctly, and use only the top 1/3 of their lung capacity (upper chest breathing).
Oxygen is the most important nutrient you consume, so learning to breathe correctly is an absolute essential for those wanting to manage their stress, improve their health, and improve strength and energy levels.
Practicing deep belly breathing is touted to have all sorts of health benefits and it should go without saying. You can only live for minutes without oxygen, so practice doing it correctly!
We suggest visiting Mr. McKoewn's youtube channel for some simple exercises to try. Wim Hof and XPT also offer great apps for practicing correct breathing technique.
#2: Drink Plenty of Clean Water
After oxygen, water is the second most important nutrient you must consume. Water is not only essential for life, getting plenty of water is also the ultimate biohack for detoxifying and riding your body of harmful substances.
According to a paper published on PubMed, up to 75% of adults are chronically dehydrated, and that number may be higher for older adults whose bio-feed back loop may no longer provide sufficient signals to help people understand when they are low on water.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is: About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men, an about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. That is far more than most people are consuming and this amount likely needs to be higher if you consumer coffee, soda, alcohol, or other diuretics.
Stop biohacking and using red light therapy for your skin if you aren't drinking the correct amount of water first.
#3: Strength Training
According to our favorite coach, Dr. Doug Mcguff, author of Body By Science, the most beneficial form of exercise you can do is to perform high intensity exercise 1-3 days per week. This is not only important for strength and cardiovascular fitness, it is absolutely essential for preventing sarcopenia, which is the slow loss of muscle that occurs as you get older.
I know what you are thinking, "what about cardio?" Well, as Dr. Mcguff discusses in his book, the concept of "cardio" exercise is mostly a myth. Any mechanical work you do with your body (i.e., strength training, running, walking, etc.) will work your cardiovascular system and improve cardiovascular endurance and capacity.
Running definitely burns calories, but in Dr. Mcguff's opinion, most people perform too much cardio and should instead focus on building strong, lean muscle.
Not only does strength training improve muscle tone, it also increases your body's resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories burned, even when not working out. This is because muscle is metabolically active tissue and requires more calories to maintain itself.
For those looking to lose fat, building muscle will help in a sustainable way, while helping you to look and feel great faster.
#4: Eat Real Food and Supplement Correctly
One of the most important biohacks you can do is simply to eat real food. This should be obvious to all of us, but sadly most people get stuck eating a diet of refined carbohydrates and processed food.
This topic could go in a million directions, so let’s simplify it to: just eat real food (JERF). Before trying the latest biohack, make sure you are eating only real foods for 30 days. This will help you identify which foods work for you, and which do not. Real foods include, but are not limited to: lean meat, fruits, and vegetables.
In addition to eating clean, it is important to supplement with high quality superfoods to fill the holes of your diet. This could include adding pine pollen, beef liver, bull testicle, greens powders, or anything else you prefer. The key is to find what you like and to consume it with consistency.
A note on supplementation: In order to know what supplements to take, it is important to meet with your doctor regularly and to get your blood checked. Some superfoods like Pine Pollen can provide a wide array of micronutrients and benefit just about anyone, but other targeted nutrients should only be taken if you and your doctor determine you either have a deficiency or a medical condition that could benefit from certain types of nutrients (e.g., Vitamin D3 for Vitamin D deficiency, etc.).
A lack of quality sleep can have dramatic effects on your health and recovery, yet it is often pushed aside for late night tv, nights out with friends, or all night work sessions.
If your goal is to improve your health, then developing proper sleep hygiene is important. I can’t tell you the number of people in the biohacking community we've talked to that preach cold showers or other hacks that say let get less than 6 hours of sleep a night (which isn't enough).
According to healthline.com, missing out on 7-9 hours of sleep regularly can contribute to a host of negative health effects, including: memory issues, mood changes, hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, weakened immunity, and more.
Now, if you are going to try any biohacking, doing so to help you sleep better is strongly encouraged. Things like white noise, keeping the room dark and cold, prayer/meditation, and even listening to relaxing music can help you fall asleep fast.
Looking for a music recommendation? Try the Spotify channel Hazy. It's very light and hypnotic; perfect for winding down after a long day. The best part about Spotify is that you can easily set a sleep timer to save the battery on your device.
Again, it's not that we think all biohacking is bad. In fact, we have extensively written on the benefits of sauna, and are obviously huge fans of targeted supplementation. However, our thought is that for most people, biohacking is like fertilizing your lawn without first ensuring it is adequately watered. Let us know what you think by commenting below.