- Biohacking doesn’t necessarily mean getting stem cell injections or hopping in a cryotherapy chamber.
- Anything you do that helps you take control of your biology qualifies as biohacking.
- That includes affordable upgrades like improving your sleep quality, reducing stress, and moving more.
- I plan to live to 180. Yeah, I’m using advanced anti-aging methods to make that goal a reality, but you don’t have to break the bank to improve your quality of life.
Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you, and inside of you, so you have full control of your own biology. It doesn’t necessarily mean getting stem cell injections or hopping in a cryotherapy chamber.
In fact, anything you do that helps you kick more ass and experience a state of high performance is a biohack — even if it’s as simple as putting away your phone or skipping the occasional meal.
Below, you’ll find 7 of my favorite affordable upgrades you can start today.
1. Change Your Bedtime Routine
This is one of the most important upgrades you can make, which is why I’m listing it first.
When it comes to biohacking, sleep is king. In order to improve brain function, promote muscle repair, balance your hormones, and boost your mood, go the heck to sleep (and do everything you can to make that sleep as deep as possible).
The best part of sleep hacking is that it costs virtually nothing to improve your sleep quality:
- Don’t drink coffee 8 hours before bedtime. Coffee is great for you. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help you get rid of free radicals so you can feel great all day, it keeps you alert, and it tastes good. But it also keeps you awake. Switch to decaf after 2 p.m. or at least 8 hours before bedtime, whichever comes first. Don’t worry — high-quality decaf coffee is still a superfood.
- Limit blue and bright light. Blue light, aka the light from screens like your laptop, phone, and TV, keeps you awake and messes with your circadian rhythm[*]. Put your phone away after dark. If you have to look at screens, use a free blue light filtering software like f.lux or turn on “Night Shift” mode on your phone or laptop. Bonus points if you schedule the filter to turn on automatically after sundown — talk about seamless upgrades.
- Sleep in a cave. By that, I mean your room should be as cold and as pitch-black as possible. You’ll have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep if you keep your bedroom around 68 degrees Fahrenheit[*]. Turn off electronics in the bedroom to avoid blue light exposure, and draw the blinds so you don’t get any ambient light through your window.
Learn more about sleep upgrades with the Bulletproof 14-Day Sleep Challenge
2. Take a Cold Shower
Here’s the deal: cold showers suck –– but they get easier with time, and if you can withstand a few moments of cold, your reward is a massive upgrade to your biology. You may hate me for this one at first, but I promise you’ll thank me later.
When you’re exposed to intense cold, your body responds by increasing your metabolism to keep you warm. You burn fat through a process called cold thermogenesis, which also reduces inflammation and increases blood circulation.
Research shows that exposing yourself to cold until you’re shivering increases the calories you burn by 31%[*]. That shouldn’t take long under a cold shower.
At the end of your next shower, stand under the faucet so the water hits you directly in the forehead. A ton of your cold receptors are on your forehead and chest. Then, turn the heat off and force yourself to stand under the cold water for 10 seconds. Do it every morning, gradually building up the time as your cold tolerance increases.
This is one of the simplest metabolic hacks you can do, and it pays off in a big way after just a few days of cold exposure.
3. Experiment with Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is simple: eat less frequently.
When you intentionally limit your eating window, you give your body time to digest your food, repair your cells, and avoid blood sugar crashes that sap your energy and make you weak. You don’t even have to eat less food to get the benefits of fasting — just eat less frequently.
If you follow the Bulletproof Diet, you’re probably familiar with Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting. I developed this style of eating as an approachable way to kickstart cellular repair, boost your energy, and enjoy laser-sharp focus all day long, without feeling hangry.
You start each morning with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, which contains good sources of healthy fats that will keep you full until lunch.
Here’s a guide to a few popular styles of intermittent fasting. Like all biohacks, it’s important to experiment and discover what works best for your schedule, your biology, and your personal preferences. You might enjoy the one-meal-a-day (OMAD) diet, or you might prefer to stop eating after sundown. Do what works for you.
Learn more about how to optimize your fast with the 14-Day Fasting Challenge
4. Eliminate Foods that Make You Weak
I’m holding out hope that organic, non-GMO, wild-caught, grass-fed food will become more widely available (and cheaper) in the near future.
While farmer’s markets and subscription services like ButcherBox make it easier to eat food that’s actually good for you, there are a few cost-effective swaps you can make to limit your exposure to low-quality foods that make you feel like crap:
- Eat less industrial meat. Yeah, industrial meat is cheap, but that doesn’t mean you should buy bottom-shelf chuck by the bucket. It’s so loaded with antibiotics and pesticides that you’ll end up paying a price down the line in terms of how you feel. Buy grass-fed, wild-caught food as often as possible, but eat less of it to save money. In its place, load your plate with organic produce, healthy fats like grass-fed butter and coconut oil, and the occasional nutrient-dense carb (sweet potatoes, squash, and so on).
- Ditch gluten, excess sugar, and most dairy. Among other issues, grain-fed dairy is inflammatory, gluten makes you fat, and excess sugar wrecks your gut bacteria. The cost-effective solution? Don’t buy these foods, or at least eat them less frequently.
5. Pay Attention to Your Gut
Did you know that your gut bacteria control your mind? Your gut is in constant communication with your brain via a nerve pathway called the gut-brain axis. It controls way more than you think — like your mood, stress levels, sleep, weight, and your digestion[*].
You, as a budding biohacker, have the power to understand what’s happening in your gut and use that data to tweak your diet. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your poop. It’s free, it happens every day (or it should), and it’s an easy, albeit slightly gross, way to understand what’s happening in your digestive system. Check out this poop chart for more info.
Can’t poop? Drink more water and eat high-fat foods. Dealing with frequent diarrhea? Eat prebiotic-rich foods like sweet potato and carrots. Pooping three or more times a day? Load up on fiber-rich vegetables. Every time you change something in your diet, take a look at your poop — it’ll help you understand if you’re moving your digestion in the right direction.
6. Manage Your Stress
This is another biohack that is incredibly effective, but doesn’t have to cost a single penny. A little bit of stress is good for you, but too much weakens your immune system, wrecks your sleep, makes you fat, and shortens your lifespan[*]. No thanks.
Use these simple biohacks to manage your stress levels and upgrade your day-to-day performance:
- Practice gratitude. It literally rewires your brain and it’s super easy to do any time of day. Every night before we go to sleep, I ask my kids to share three gratitudes. Some people do this right when they wake up in a journal, or right before they go to bed. Schedule time for gratitude and reflect on the things in your life for which you’re thankful. You’ll like the way it reframes even the most frustrating parts of your day.
- Meditate. Meditation has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol –– your body’s main stress hormone[*]. It’s easy to start — just check out this simple guide to meditation.
- Reduce decision fatigue. Making too many decisions throughout the day saps your willpower and mental energy. Excessive decision making will stress you out, whether you’re a high-powered CEO or a busy parent (or both). Create a schedule that gives structure to your workweek and set aside an hour each day to answer emails. That way you’re not constantly making small, distracting decisions throughout the work day.
7. Move More, Especially in the Sun
Your body was made to move –– not to sit behind a desk, in a car, or on the couch for most of the day. Exercise improves your brain function[*], makes you more resilient to stress[*], and helps you sleep better[*]. Those are all key benefits to maintain your longevity and brain health.
Not sure how to sneak more movement into your day? Alternate between 1 minute of burpees and 1 minute of rest while watching TV. Walk around while you take your phone calls at work. Stretch as soon as you wake up. Little bouts of movement add up over time.
Oh, and take a walk outside in the sun. Sunlight drives your body to produce vitamin D, testosterone, endorphins, and dopamine[*]. Plus, warm sunlight feels good on your skin, and you probably aren’t getting enough of it.
Look, I plan on living until I’m 180. Yeah, I’ve used advanced anti-aging techniques to make my goal a reality. But honestly, you can make massive improvements to your biology with nothing but a low-toxin diet, sunshine, good sleep, and regular physical activity.
Biohacking doesn’t have to be some big, complicated endeavor that involves beeping machines and expensive supplements. It can be as simple as taking a walk in the sunshine and skipping a meal from time to time. Give these hacks a try; I suspect you’ll notice a big difference in how you feel.