How to Get Into Biohacking Today With Simple but Effective Tactics
It starts with a cup of good coffee. Learn the basic smart hacks for increased productivity and well-being.
There is a lot of confusion around the topic of biohacking. Nevertheless, it is already a megatrend in the US and becoming popular in Europe and other parts of the world, too. Even Netflix released a new series called “Biohackers” this year.
Getting started with deliberate biohacking does not have to be difficult, complicated, expensive or time-consuming at all.
On the contrary, to begin with, it is super easy. Just pick up a few ideas and get going to enhance your life, your health and your productivity.
This article will introduce you to the concept of biohacking as well as it’s core principles. It will provide easy examples that you can adapt to your everyday life.
Learn what exactly we are talking about if we are referring to biohackers or biohacking and how to get started if you aspire to join the path, whether you want to get closer to the best performing and healthiest version of yourself or are on a career hacking mission.
Do not take this article as a guide to blindly follow the perpetual path of self-optimization. It is rather about discovering your full potential and taking smart steps towards it.
What is biohacking?
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the terms biohacking or biohackers.
A lot of people still are immediately reminded of science fiction stories or think of someone like Neil Harbisson if they hear the word biohacker. But that is thinking in extremes. Neil is a so-called cyborg artist. He might be best known for being the first person with an antenna implanted in his skull.
There are crossroads connecting examples like Neil with biohacking. But he is pushing it to the extremes. And there is much more to it in between.
Biohacking relates to a whole universe of simple tactics and easy everyday hacks. And you too can explore them to enhance your life.
There is no single definition or a universally applicable term. “Biohacking” is used and understood in a wide variety of contexts.
According to Wikipedia, biohacking refers to:
- Do-it-yourself biology, a biotechnological social movement in which individuals and small organizations study biology using the same methods as traditional research institutions
- Body hacking, also known as “grinders”, people that alter their bodies by implanting do-it-yourself cybernetic devices
- Nutrigenomics, using nutrition to hack/take control of human biology
- Quantified self, measuring various biomarkers and behaviours to try to optimize health
- Self-experimentation in medicine
Though all of these directions are interesting and relevant, this article will not dive deeper into biohacking DNA or grinders self-enhancement through extreme measurements like implants, subcutaneous RFID chips or devices for stimulating brain activity.
Instead, it will introduce you to the form of biohacking that can have a practical implication of your life.
There will be overlaps with the other definitions in the following, as we are taking a close look at biohacking as a way of performance and self-optimization.
Good ideas start with brainstorming. Great ideas start with coffee.
Had a cup of coffee this morning? You might even notice that you already do certain things that are in the realms of biohacking.
Why it is worth getting curious about biohacking
Biohacking is a way to work towards becoming the best possible version of yourself. It opens you up to improve your performance and well-being.
It might take some time and experimentation, but ultimately it will help you to enhance your potential and become yourself 2.0.
“Remember the number one rule of biohacking — first remove the things that are making you weak (or old).” Quote by Dave Asprey, biohacker, founder and CEO of Bulletproof.
Pathways to tackle biohacking
You can biohack your body and mind through things you put into your body as well as by changing your actions and routines.
This form of biohacking combines what we know from a biological, biochemical and psychological point of view about the human body and mind with the ideas of hacking.
It is about getting to know your own body, biology, physical and mental reactions to outside stimuli, substances and tactics well enough to optimize.
It is about understanding concentration, sleep, or your immune system based on biochemical knowledge and personal experience.
For example, most people react in a kind of similar way to a substance like caffeine. But the range of how exactly it affects you and how efficient it works for you is varying from person to person.
How to start today
To make it more digestible, let’s subdivide biohacking into three categories and take a closer look at some basic examples for each of them:
- Habits and behaviour
- Diet and supplements
- Technical gadgets
Biohacking is something heavily individual and personal. Everyone is different, has another biochemistry up to a certain point, reacts differently, has other goals and abilities.
No one can tell you upfront on how exactly you will react to certain stimuli, what you should try or what would be the best tactics for you.
Some of the following biohacking methods can be dangerous to specific individuals. I am not giving medical advice or trying to play a doctor on the internet here. These are just information. Any action you take is under your own responsibility. If in doubt, please check in with your doctor or medical advisor before trying any of the introduced options.
Always remember: It is about your journey and ways that might help optimize whatever it is you aspire. There is no right and wrong, no shoulds, no magic, no guarantees, no pressure. Stop everything that doesn’t feel good.
The first rule of biohacking: Pay close attention to yourself, your reactions and your well-being.
Habits and behaviour
Meditation, mindfulness and awareness practices are ancient behavioural biohacking tactics. You can actively leverage the power of meditation to improve our physical, mental and emotional health by implementing it into your daily life.
The benefits this can provide are researched well. We know, for example, that meditation can help you to:
- Relief stress
- Reduce anxiety and pain
- Improve cognitive abilities and sleep
- Boost your happiness
- Lower your heart disease risk
How you meditate is up to you personally. You don’t even have to sit. You could meditate during a walk or while doing the dishes. The most important thing is actively engaging in the practice.
If you are a total beginner, you might be best off by sitting every morning for at least 10 minutes, using an app to guide you through your first phase of meditation practice.
Restful sleep is the foundation for your health and performance. Sleep hygiene and optimization starts with a healthy diet, individually tailored schedules and sufficient exercise. Unfortunately, lots of people are struggling with getting proper sleep as our modern life interrupts the natural order and inherent biological patterns.
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. So many biohackers try to increase their melatonin intake trough food like spirulina or chickpeas or supplement melatonin or even L-tryptophan directly to help you fall asleep better.
Light hacking is another popular approach.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, how busy you are, or how much money you have. Sleep is the ultimate tool to sharpen every skill and add more quality years to your life. So get better at it.” Quote by Dave Asprey.
Exposure to cold
Another biohacking practice is deliberately using how the body deals with strong external stimuli such as cold and heat.
Therefore even a cold shower in the morning could be your first step towards biohacking. Cold showers are known to help you wake up in the morning, reduce muscle soreness after intense workouts, increase circulation, calm itchy skin and may even help with weight loss.
More experienced biohackers also swear on the power of extended cold, as can be provided by getting into cryo-therapy were the body is exposed to extreme colds for a couple of minutes on a regular base.
Another practice is the immersion in ice baths, which are believed by some athletes to speed up physical recovery reducing muscle damage and discomfort.
Diet and supplements
You can positively influence your health and well-being through your diet. Specific types like paleo or keto diets can be related to as biohacking, depending on how and why you are doing it.
Another widely spread tactic is intermittent fasting, an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating, depending on your goals.
Supplementation of important micronutrients
Biohackers often use supplements to optimize their organism’ and to make sure that they have all their bases covered. Supplementation goes from taking a multivitamin to supplementing specific nutrients from turmeric, over Vitamin D to Omega 3 fatty acids or exogen ketones.
It is a science of its own and the opinions if you should supplement at all differ widely. There is no shortcut here to generalizable recommendations. Everyone has to think it over for themselves and listen to their body.
Biohackers often go a step further and optimize their concentration and stress-adaptation abilities through something called nootropics.
Nootropics or “smart drugs” are substances that boost cognitive functioning like your ability to think, act, make decisions, and be productive. Even caffeine is considered a nootropic by some standards.
The “smart drug” business has grown exponentially, and your options are manifold. Don’t trust everything that is being advertised (unless you want to rely on the power of the placebo effect).
Taking the wrong nootropics might be contra-productive, maybe even dangerous and on top of that pretty expensive or even a real waste of money.
Don’t overdo it, take it slow if you consider this at all, and learn to listen to your body and biochemical responses first.
Think about what you would like to enhance first and study the nootropics that claim to offer a solution. Check reviews. Check more reviews. Check if they offer a free return if it doesn’t do good for you.
Be aware that certain substances are allowed in some countries but forbidden in other parts of the world, and there might be a good reason for that.
If you take something: Monitor your reactions over a few weeks. Some changes might not happen instantly. If you show any adverse reactions, stop immediately and contact your doctor or medical adviser.
Fitness and sleep trackers
Using a fitness tracker is a great way to level up your abilities to listen to your body. By combining what you can learn via tracking and what you experience, you can develop a significantly better understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t.
“You cannot improve what you cannot measure.”
There are a lot of fitness trackers out there for every budget.
If you want to take it even a step further use a designated health or sleep tracker like the Oura ring, a proclaimed “smart sleep optimization ring”. These smart devices deliver lots of data. Therefore they can deepen your understanding of what happens to your body during sleep.
If you monitor yourself closely, you can combine your observations with the provided data to determine what effect your diet, alcohol consumption, physical activity and other actions have on you.
Blue light filter glasses
Another easy but for some immensely powerful biohacking tip: put on blue light filter glasses in the evening so as not to disturb your melatonin production.
Blue light is known to disrupt your circadian rhythms and therefore have a negative influence on your sleep.
Biohacking is not as alien as some might think. It is something everyone can start to enhance life, productivity and well-being.
The first deliberate steps can be as simple as starting a meditation practice, taking specific supplements to make up for micro nutritional deficits, using some performance-enhancing nootropics or monitoring yourself by wearing a fitness tracker.
The nice thing about exploring the world with a biohackers mindset is that you can playfully discover how your capabilities expand. It drives you to create the best version of yourself by leveraging our accumulated knowledge about our bodies and psychology: every single action, every single change in your habits and routines counts.
You are in the driver’s seat, and you experience the positive developments first hand.
Applying some of the beginner’s tips mentioned above, you might soon realize that you have more energy, feel better and produce more output.
So get curious: Think of approaching biohacking like a serial experimenter or like a scientist: Full-heartedly observe and experience its effect on your body, mind and well-being. You might encounter lots of interesting facts about yourself and change the fundamental aspects of your life for the better.