A Beginner’s Guide to Biohacking
Biohacking. It’s a word you’ve probably heard thrown around, but what does it actually mean?
And how can it help you achieve your health and wellness goals?
That’s what you’re about to find out in this comprehensive biohacking guide.
I’m Nolwen Cameron, and I’ve spent countless hours sifting through the latest research and findings on biohacking… AND experimenting on myself, my clients, and my family members all to save you the trouble.
Stick with me through this article, and I promise that you’ll walk away with practical, actionable steps to jumpstart your own biohacking journey.
So, let’s get started and delve into the fascinating world of biohacking.
So, what exactly is this buzzword ‘biohacking’?
Well, in its simplest form, biohacking is the practice of changing our chemistry and physiology through science and self-experimentation to energize and enhance our body. It’s about making your body function better – by means best described as both art and science.
But here’s the kicker…
Biohacking goes beyond the realm of self-improvement. Its philosophy is rooted in the idea that we can control our bodies and brains to achieve a desired state of being.
And this isn’t just pie-in-the-sky thinking.
It’s backed by real science, including nutrition, physiology, and neurology, just to name t a few.
Have you ever heard of blue-light-blocking glasses or intermittent fasting?
Then, my friend, you’ve already been exposed to the vast world of biohacking.
Biohacking for Beginners
Now, you may be thinking, “All this science and self-experimentation sounds daunting. Where do I start?”
I hear you.
And I’ve got good news: Biohacking is a vast field, and there are plenty of easy, entry-level biohacks that anyone can (and should) try.
First, consider your sleep. We all recognize that quality sleep is so important.
Simple adjustments, like maintaining a dark, cool bedroom or going to bed at the same time every night, can have a significant impact.
Or, think about your diet. Food plays such a huge role in overall health.
Experiment with eliminating certain inflammatory foods, like processed sugars, and observe how your body responds.
Yep, that’s biohacking too.
We all recognize that we should exercise. Hiking with a weighted vest to take a hike to the next level.
You got it. That’s also biohacking.
Remember, the idea here is to improve your health while listening to your body, observing the changes, and making adjustments accordingly.
And trust me, once you start, you’ll be hooked.
So, ready to dive in?
Unveiling the Biohackers’ Weight Loss Secrets
Here’s where things get interesting. There is a huge field of biohacking for weight loss. It is reported that 50% of all adults have tried to lose weight within the past 12 months, so let’s start here!
You’re probably wondering, “How can biohacking help with weight loss?”
First off, biohacking isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
The beauty of it is that it’s highly individualized.
You see, the traditional weight loss approaches often overlook the fact that we’re all unique, with different body types, genetics, and lifestyles.
It’s all about understanding and working with YOUR body.
It could be optimizing your sleep, tweaking your diet, or adjusting your workout routines based on how your body responds.
And the results can be incredible.
Based on my experience, weight loss and ultimately basic health requires 3 basic components. You may know what they are since I eluded to them earlier…1. Sleep 2. Diet and 3. Exercise.
I’ll give you my # 1 biohack for each, and it WILL help you lose weight.
Here is my number #1 weight loss biohack for sleeping:
- Avoid screens after it is dark outside. Using a screen after sundown alters your circadian rhythm which has a direct impact on your quality of sleep, hormones, hunger, and more. (If you must, use blue-light-blocking glasses.)
Here is my # 1 weight loss biohack for dieting:
- Make 80% of your diet real, whole foods. If your food is easily recognizable, and you can tell by looking at it what is in it, it is probably a whole food! I promise, if you do this, it will be so much harder to overeat!
Here is my # 1 weight loss biohack for exercising:
- Focus on strength training. You can exercise with weights or use your own body weight, but building muscle should be your priority. Muscles burn WAY more calories than fat. Grow muscles and reduce cardio. (For my ladies, I promise that you won’t get bulky.)
Now, let’s explore more in-depth the best general diet and nutrition biohacks. Let’s go!
Biohacked Nutrition & Diets
Nutrition Biohack #1: Intermittent Fasting
First up, we have intermittent fasting (IF).
This isn’t about what you eat but when you eat.
The idea here is to have specific periods of time for eating and fasting.
For example, the beginner, basic model is the 16/8 method which involves fasting for 16 hours a day and eating within an 8-hour-a-day window. This means that you finish dinner at 6 pm and fast (consume no calories) until 10 am the following morning. Your eating window would be 10 am to 6 pm. Depending on your goals, you could eat a few or several meals during that time.
You’d be surprised how your body can benefit from simply giving it a break from constant digestion.
Research indicates that IF can lead to weight loss, improved metabolic health, and even a longer lifespan. Don’t take my word for it, check out this 2016 study by Patterson et al (1)
Nutrition Biohack #2: Try the Elimination Diet
Next, is the elimination diet.
This involves removing certain foods from your diet for three to four weeks, then slowly reintroducing them to see how your body reacts.
Common culprits that people tend to react to include gluten, dairy, and processed sugar. Reactions can include digestive distress, congestion, or skin issues. Most people are sensitive to one or more of these food groups, and they have lived with unrecognized and/or undiagnosed symptoms their whole life. While these symptoms seem benign, they can cause other more serious health challenges later.
Why is this a biohack?
Because it helps you identify food sensitivities and/or allergies. Once you recognize your trigger foods, you can remove them from your diet while you work to resolve the issue either via avoidance or by healing your gut.
Nutrition Biohack #3: Cut Out Sugar
Sugar, especially the refined and processed kind, is another item that can negatively impact your health.
High sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, among other health problems.
In the biohacking world, sugar is often reduced and/or replaced with healthier alternatives like natural sweeteners (think honey or stevia).. By biohacking your body, you can determine if your body tolerates sugar, how much it can tolerate, and which kinds it can tolerate.
Remember, biohacking is about working WITH your body, not against it.
And this isn’t just biohacker mumbo-jumbo.
A comprehensive study in 2014 by Yang et al (2) showed the dangers of excessive refined sugar intake.
Nutrition Biohack #4: Add More Fiber
And now, fiber.
The unsung hero of good digestion.
Dietary fiber, found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, aids in maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
But there’s more.
Did you know that a high-fiber diet can feed the good bacteria in your gut microbiota? That means that it improves your gut health!
That’s right, your gut bacteria love munching on fiber, and a happy gut flora translates to improved overall health; however, not everyone can tolerate all sources of fiber even if it is healthy. For example, some people can tolerate beans, some people can’t. This is where biohacking comes in. Listen to your body!
Add as much healthy fiber as your body will successfully digest.
In a study by Reynolds et al (3), a higher intake of dietary fiber was linked to lower risks of non-communicable diseases. Who doesn’t want that?
Nutrition Biohack #5: Optimizing Vitamin D Absorption & Vitamin D Supplementation
Finally, let’s talk about vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”.
Your body can produce it when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
It’s crucial for bone health, immune function, and yes, even mood.
Biohacking into this might be a good idea: many people are deficient in vitamin D, especially in places with less sunshine.
I’m going to say something super controversial. I recommend using less sunscreen. You obviously never want to get a sunburn, but I encourage 10-15 minutes a day of direct sun exposure on most of the body. I live in Arizona, and my sons rarely wear sunscreen.
You can also eat vitamin D rich foods. I suggest whole food sources of vitamin D like cod liver oil, fish, and eggs.
Supplementation can also help, but did you know that optimizing absorption is just as important?
Factors like taking it with a meal, especially a fatty one, and monitoring your magnesium levels can make a huge difference.
In a 2015 review by Pludowski et al (4), Vitamin D status and supplementation were found to be important factors in numerous health outcomes.
Nutrition Biohack #6: Biohacking using Natural Supplements
Stepping into the world of natural supplements, we can supercharge our health and well-being in ways we never thought possible. From cognitive enhancement to a better stress response, there are supplements that can take our biohacking efforts to the next level.
Let’s talk about a few of these biohacker favorites:
Mushrooms aren’t just for stir-fries anymore. In the biohacking world, they’re recognized for their potent medicinal properties.
You’ve got Lion’s Mane for cognitive function, Reishi for immunity, Cordyceps for energy, and more. Each variety has unique benefits, which we’ve discussed extensively in our guide to the Top 4 Mushroom Coffee to Boost Energy & Focus Without The Jittery Side Effects.
Maca, a root vegetable native to the Andes, is another biohacker’s favorite. It’s often consumed in powder form and is known for its ability to enhance energy, mood, and even libido. You can explore more in our Complete Guide on Maca for Men and our roundup of the Best Maca Powders for Women.
Lastly, we have Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb that’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
It’s believed to help your body manage stress better, among many other health benefits.
Making Biohacking a Lifestyle: Tips for Sustained Health and Fitness
First, listen to your body. Each person’s biology is unique, so what works for others may not work for you.
Experimentation is key.
Second, consistency is king. While it’s exciting to try different hacks, sticking to a few that work for you is crucial for long-term success.
Finally, don’t forget to balance biohacking with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, like good sleep hygiene, regular exercise, and stress management. We have discussed some of these here. You should do the basics well.
Biohacking is about improving overall well-being, not just optimizing one area.
Be cautious, though.
While biohacking is a fascinating field, it’s also ripe with misinformation and overly hyped claims.
Wrapping It Up
And there you have it – a comprehensive guide on biohacking, from understanding the basics to implementing advanced nutrition hacks.
By leveraging these techniques, you can effectively steer your health journey in a direction of your choosing.
Remember, the purpose of biohacking is to understand and harness your body’s natural processes for optimal health and performance.
While it might seem intimidating at first, these strategies are designed to be user-friendly and adaptable to your lifestyle.
With that said, I encourage you to dive into this world of self-optimization with an open yet discerning mind.
Biohacking is a potent tool when used responsibly.
I hope this guide helps you make informed, safe, and effective biohacking decisions.
Remember, it’s your health, and you have the power to shape it.
- Patterson, R. E., Laughlin, G. A., LaCroix, A. Z., Hartman, S. J., Natarajan, L., Senger, C. M., … & Gallo, L. C. (2015). Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1203–1212. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4516560/
- Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E. W., Flanders, W. D., Merritt, R., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(4), 516. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24493081/
- Reynolds, A., Mann, J., Cummings, J., Winter, N., Mete, E., & Te Morenga, L. (2019). Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The Lancet, 393(10170), 434-445. https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(18)31809-9/fulltext
- Pludowski, P., Holick, M. F., Pilz, S., Wagner, C. L., Hollis, B. W., Grant, W. B., … & Soni, M. (2013). Vitamin D effects on musculoskeletal health, immunity, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, fertility, pregnancy, dementia and mortality—A review of recent evidence. Autoimmunity Reviews, 12(10), 976-989.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23542507/