Biohacking 101 and Simple Biohacking Practices
What is Biohacking?
Biohacking is the practice of biological self-experimentation with the goal of optimizing health, productivity, and feelings of well-being. Although “hacking” can have a negative connotation (such as in computer hacking or basketball), let me make it abundantly clear that biohacking is intended to be a good thing. You don’t always strike gold when you experiment with biohacking, but it’s a voluntary practice with the intention of enhancing performance.
You can think of biohacking as looking for shortcuts. In other words, biohacking helps you get “there” faster. Even more, biohacking helps you stay “there,” and when I say “there,” understand that I’m referring to a heightened level of performance in some domain. But that’s only one way to think about biohacking.
If you ever thought about how you can achieve peak performance—and do so regularly—biohacking may be the answer. Even though the old colloquialism that humans only use about 10% of their brains is a myth and not based on science, the fact of the matter is that most people walking the earth are underachieving, never achieving their full potential. That, my friend, is the very essence of biohacking.
The truth is that biohacking isn’t really anything “new” per se. The most successful people in all walks have life have been thinking outside the box for performance-enhancing strategies throughout human history.
Having said that, the “quantified self” movement has become popularized within the last decade, characterized by individuals self-tracking aspects of their daily lives in order to enhance productivity and performance.1 Some refer to biohacking as “do-it-yourself” biology, and I think that’s a pretty interesting way to look at it, especially since it highlights the two important factors of biohacking: 1. The internal drive for human optimization; and 2. Biohacking is all about self-experimentation.
The quantified self movement, and biohacking in general, involves very minute tracking of one’s daily life. In other words, being a biohacker means being very self-aware—or, as some people might call you, “anal.” In order to tell if something (a biohacking strategy, which would be an independent variable) is “working,” you have to be measuring outcomes (e.g., dependent variables). Simply put, biohacking is the ultimate “n = 1” experiment.
How Do You Incorporate Biohacking?
Think about biohacking practices as a set of tools in a toolbox, and along those lines, you have to customize your toolbox with the strategies that are relevant to and effective for you. In other words, not all biohacking practices work the same for everyone. That’s right, just like exercise, nutrition, business plans, etc., you have to find what works for YOU.
And that’s another awesome aspect of biohacking—it’s all about self-experimentation in the name of self-improvement. Biohacking is the ultimate “n = 1” study in self-optimization. While you’ll definitely want to pay attention to what other biohackers are doing, the most important thing you can do is tune into how you and your body are responding to strategies you’re practicing.
Notice that I keep using the word “practice” when I’m talking about biohacking. Whether you’re looking to optimize performance in sports, business, or life in general, keep in mind that performing at your peak potential and achieving greatness takes practice.
There are many practices that fall under the umbrella of biohacking, and I tend to categorize them as: 1. Electronics and Devices, 2. Supplements and Medications, or 3. Lifestyle Strategies. Here are several examples in each category.
Electronics and Devices:
- Brain games
- Cold laser
- Blue light in the morning
- Blue-light-blocking glasses in the evening
- Blue-light-modifying apps for electronic devices
- Fitness trackers
- Productivity apps
- Sleep tracking apps
Supplements and Medications
- Stimulants (e.g., Caffeine, Theacrine)
- Nootropics (e.g., Noopept, Provigil)
- Adaptogens (e.g., Rhodiola rosea, Ashwagandha)
- Orthomolecular doses of vitamins (e.g., Methylcobalamin)
- Hormone replacement therapy (e.g., Testosterone)
- Drugs (e.g., LSD, Metformin)
- Diet (e.g., Fasting Mimicking Diet)
- Exercise (e.g., HIIT)
- Sleep hygiene
- Circadian rhythms
The limits to biohacking are as boundless as human potential itself. If you’re interested in getting more out of life…check that, if you’re interested in getting the MOST out of life, experiment with biohacking. You can start with some of the practices I listed above, which we’ll be exploring in more depth in our Zone Halo resources. So, make sure you follow us on social media and here on the blog. Let’s push the boundaries together!
- Wexler A. The Social Context of “Do-It-Yourself” Brain Stimulation: Neurohackers, Biohackers, and Lifehackers. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017;11. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00224.