Although not known by that name, biohacking as a movement has been around for centuries. The people behind it are responsible for innovations in a variety of fields: digital health, wearable technology, bio upgrading, self quantification, lifehacking, nutrition and sports performance. In fact the key innovations that pushed the bio-science and the way we model the environment forward were in fact biohacks.
Just think of life expectancy which in 1900s was around 30 years, and nowadays surpasses the 80 mark on average in US. This increase is due to biohackers improving people’s lives through ideas and experiments that were at the time unconventional.
Here the term hacker is used in the original sense of taking things apart and putting them back together in a new, better way.
You have probably been biohacking your own self every day without even knowing it. The simplest example is one of the main items in your pantry – coffee.
Picture this: It’s early in the morning and you’re feeling tired and groggy. All you need to kickstart your day is… a cup of a warm brew. You make yourself an espresso and after a few sips you already feel revitalised.
Congratulations: You just hacked your biology and added an edge to your performance.
Now that you know the most common biohack and why hacking your biology can make a difference, let’s cover some of the less known biohacks that can also transform your life today:
9 Biohacks to Become a Super Human
1. Add Cold Thermogenesis to Your Routine
You don’t have to go to the extremes of Wim Hof “the iceman” to benefit from cold exposure. A regular cold dip or a cold shower will do the trick.
I can see you shuddering at this biohack, but here are a few major benefits to it:
- Builds the good fat that keeps you warm, burns the bad which keeps you from achieving the beach body.
There’s good fat? Yes, it’s the brown fat also known as adipose tissue. This is the type of fat that actually keeps you warm and allows easy adjustment to climate changes. Do not mistake it with the fat that resides on your belly. The belly fat will come off by your body trying to warm itself thus burning more calories than usual.
- Improves hormone balance
- Improves sexual performance and boosts fertility
- Lowers blood glucose levels and improves fluid circulation
- Improves adrenal function
- Reduces inflammation and improves recovery
- And lastly gets you out of your comfort zone
How I use this biohack and you can too:
- A Cold bath with ice cubes after a longer run or endurance event.
- A warm to cold shower: starting with very hot water for a couple of minutes turning to very cold for the next couple of minutes, repeat.
2. Move More Using Wearables (Self-Quantification)
To improve your health and fitness you don’t have to run daily or spend countless hours at the gym. You can get into top shape by walking more, taking the stairs and not defaulting to shortcuts. Just stay active through natural mobility and movement.
To get even more benefit you can add a wearable device, such as Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Apple Watch etc.
A study done at Stanford University showed that people who own such a device tend to walk 1 mile more (=2000 steps) than those who do not! (Pedometers help people stay active – 2007 Stanford University). This might not sound like much, but to the majority of people, this amount of steps would present a 30% increase on their current daily movement. I can personally vouch for this hack; I walk almost twice as much as I used to now that I have a daily step goal.
3. Earth Yourself and Reduce EMFs
To some this will sound woo-woo – but you need to ground yourself with mother earth, man… No, but really.
Your body is a sponge that absorbs electromagnetic waves in the form of positive and negative ions. The former are the harmful type of electromagnetic radiation we are exposed to all of the time: via phones, computers, TV, electric wires, Wi-Fi and many other sources.
Prolonged exposure to positive ions can lead to chronic inflammation, headaches, weight fluctuations, delayed recovery, bad sleep, chronic pain and finally cancer.
Ever noticed how relieving it feels to be barefoot on grass or to walk in the woods? Either restores the natural ionic balance by reducing positive and increasing the negative ions.
There are multiple ways to use earthing to upgrade your life, but what works best for me is:
- An earthing bed sheet
- Spending as much time barefoot in nature as possible
- Touching rocks, trees and other objects to help restore ionic balance
- Swimming in open waters
4. Stand Up to Improve Your Posture
A standing desk is probably the best purchase I made in 2015. It transformed the way I work and perform in endurance events.
Originally I purchased it to improve my running performance by correcting my posture, strengthening my legs and extending hip flexors – all damaged by the sedentary work lifestyle. But the biggest improvement was the mental sharpness and productivity levels I experienced – they were and are skyrocketing.
Although standing sounds very healthy, being in any still position for prolonged time, be it standing or sitting, is going to limit your natural mobility.
The best thing you can do for your health is to alternate between sitting and standing, and to keep moving naturally. In practical terms, this could be an hour of working at your standing desk, followed by an hour of sitting, then back to the standing desk. The trick here is to move every 45 mins or so. To remind yourself to move, you can set an alarm or use the previously mentioned activity trackers / smartwatches which vibrate when you’ve been idle for a set amount of time. When it’s time to move, stand up and walk around.
5. Achieve Mental Clarity
If I would have to pick the best biohack to improve mental performance it would be meditation. Whether it’s practiced as box breathing, TM or mindfulness, high performers such as Tim Ferris, Ryan Holiday, Sam Harris, Richard Branson, Brian Rose all agree that being present and mindful leads to an upgraded performance.
I was sceptical at first. It seemed like a poor investment of time I didn’t feel I had. I didn’t know where to start either.
However this year I decided to make it a habit by starting out slow and meditating at least every other day. And I’m not alone.
More startups are focusing on helping people like you and I integrate meditation practice into their lives. Myself I use the app Calm and also practice box breathing. By using both I reduced my stress levels, improved my outlook on life and mental sharpness.
6. Step Into Better Movement Patterns
Weak foot arches, painful knees, back pain and IT band issues are a byproduct of poor movement mechanics. Your legs and more specifically your feet are asking to be hacked.
What sort of hack? Minimal, completely flat footwear.
Heeled and cushioned shoes ruined the way we move. We strike the ground with the heel sending the shock to our ligaments. This is asking for bigger mobility issues as our bodies age.
Meanwhile wearing minimal shoes will not only restore your weak and non-present arches, but it will also improve your posture, strengthen your legs and fix the issues I mentioned earlier. The best part, it will make you forget the biggest curse of active folk – runner’s knees.
There are only a few shoe brands specialising in minimal and natural footwear. My office wear recommendation is Lems (no affiliation). For activewear check out Vivobarefoot or Merrell(again, no affiliation).
7. Add Fat to Your Coffee
It might not sound appetising to add grass-fed butter or coconut oil to your coffee, however it is a whole new level of wake-up brew with a biohacking twist. By twist I mean the mental kick you will get when your liver starts to break down the fat from your coffee (medium chain triglycerides).
This is the best breakfast option if you are on a high-fat, low-carb diet plan (check out our free ebook on how to do this right). With this biohack you’ll boost mental performance and you’ll also shed the extra pounds.
When I have a fatty coffee in the morning I transform into a highly focused machine. I cross off all tasks without any energy crashes, otherwise typical of relying just on caffeine.
To take it a step further follow our ebook guide to eating high-fat and try it out for 20 days. This is a game changer.
8. Use Nootropics For an Extra Edge
I’ve tried many nootropic supplements, including Alpha Brain, Ciltep, -racetams, but none of them gave me the edge I needed to perform mentally. At least not to the extent of what high-fat (ketogenic) diet or fatty coffee would give me.
Reportedly, people find it sharpens focus and hones mental performance, so it definitely works for some. Most of these nootropics have been studied in placebo trials and were found to have positive impact too.
However the nootropics I found work for everyone and which are also easily available are the following three. I use them daily:
- Creatine Monohydrate. 5g daily in the morning to enhance blood flow into the brain and capillary function.
- Turmeric – Curcumin and Bioperine (Black Pepper) combo. An anti-inflammatory spice that also enhances mental performance. 2-3 grams daily.
- Caffeine – Coffee, Green Tea. Although not labelled as nootropic, it does enhance mental performance and focus.
9. Limit Light Exposure
Sleep experts recommend that people should taper the use of mobile phones, e-readers and other devices with screens ahead of going to sleep. They recommend this to avoid the negative impact of blue light which these devices emit.
Blue light triggers our photoreceptors just like normal sunlight would – you become more alert, productive, pro-active and ready to seize the day. Do you see how doing so in the evening can be detrimental to your sleep?
There are couple of key principles to keep your wakefulness and sleep cycles in top condition:
- Every morning expose yourself to natural sunlight to reset the biorhythms and start the day on the right note.If you live in a gloomy place like London (which I do) there are other ways to get more sunlight. For example you can get a biohacking lamp such as Lumie Bodyclock, which simulates natural sunrise, so you wake up fresh.
- A simple biohack to make sure you get quality sleep is to have a ‘no-screen zone’ in your bedroom. You can do what my better half and I do: set a rule that we can’t use any screen based devices in bed. Period. Avoiding exposure to blue light in a sleep-only area makes falling asleep easier and almost instant. It’s incredible how such a simple biohack can make all the difference.
*This article is a repost which originally appeared on the High Achiever Diet Website.