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225: 39 Biohacks For Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Stress, and Happiness (That Actually Work)

Have you ever discovered a life hack just when you needed to hear it?

The timing and the solution was just so perfect that you acted immediately and it has stuck with you ever since? You’ve also probably seen biohacks that involved expensive equipment that is only for the most hardcore biohackers.

Today, I’ve got an interesting episode on Biohacks that actually work.

Based on my own experiments and experience I’ve created 39 actionable biohacks that YOU can start doing today! The best part? They don’t involve super expensive equipment or things that aren’t exactly backed by solid science.

Okay, so why I am talking about Biohacking?

I watched a funny video by JP Sears Biohacking Secrets – Ultra Spiritual Life where he’s making fun of Biohacking Secrets. It’s hilarious, check it out.

jp-hacking

There are way too many people out there taking the biohacking concept and making fools of themselves trying to be cool or cutting edge.

But I actually like the term Biohacking. I look at biohackers as a group of people who didn’t fit into the “bro” fitness scene but they are still interested in performing their best physically and mentally. It’s easy to see how all this health hacking talk could come off as complete quackery like the JP Sear video. But it’s also true that biohacking can greatly improve your mental and physical health–if you choose the right science-based strategies.

So, what is Biohacking?

It’s the art and science of controlling your biology and different parts of your body, influencing physiology in different ways to get the desired result.  In a nutshell, being the best you can be — Life Optimization!

And who doesn’t aspire to become a better version of themselves? That’s why you’re reading this blog, right?

That’s exactly why I’m not against Biohacking.

Biohacking can be the tool to help you grow and reach our maximum potential. It can also be used to close those gaps in your life.

Many of you have success financially but are struggling with your health or relationships. Or you’re physically fit but you struggle with financial or communication issues.

Whatever it is— I want you to think about optimizing your life and strive to be fit in all areas of your life with these 39 practical biohacking tips.

Let’s start with:

 

6 Fitness Hacks

1. Maximize your gains

If you want to maximize the amount of muscle that you’re building make sure you alternate every month between strength zone reps, 4-6 reps then the following month you would use 8-12 reps for your major exercises. So, alternate between a month of strength training and a month of hypertrophy training. And here’s the major exercises that you should do: bench presses, deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, pull ups, overhead presses, squats, Bulgarian split squats, etc.

2. Gymnastic strength training

There is a lot of power in using gymnastic strength training. Incorporate these type of exercises into your workout to improve your strength, power, and body control. You’ll notice that these moves make you focus in a way sitting that on a machine or even doing a bench press does not, as there is more skill involved.  Think L-sits, ring dips, muscle ups, Jefferson curls, back bridges, planches, front levers, dragon flags and more. Check out my episode on gymnastic strength training with Christopher Sommer, click here!

Incidentally, Tim Ferris wrote about Christopher Sommer’s approach to gymnastic strength training in his new book Tools Of Titans. I’ve been a student of gymnastic strength training for the past 2 years now and credit it with helping me get back in shape after a car accident herniated 3 of my cervical discs.

3. Eccentric isometrics

This is a great way to get more out of your exercises. It enhances the quality of movement, thereby increasing performance and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. This is one of the most effective techniques for increasing strength and hypertrophy.

Something I’ve been experimenting with is using eccentric isometrics to get better at gymnastic strength training exercises. I’ll be doing videos of how to do those soon. In the meantime, I did two interviews with Dr. Joel Seedman, where we went deep into this topic. Check out my interviews now! 

4. Isometric holds

You may already be doing this with planks but you can do isometric holds in other exercises such as chin-up, bicep curls, just to name a few. Start using them in your workouts and during reps. It’s going to help you get stronger and build more muscle and it also takes a tremendous amount of control to hold a position.

Here are 5 of my favorite isometric exercises:

5. Build Stronger Toes, Feet and Ankles

Strong and flexible feet, ankles, and calves provide a base for stable movement and are essential for performing your daily activities without pain or strain.
Dr. Joe Seedman has revolutionized my thinking on this topic and I started doing his toe foot and ankle exercises and I’ve been getting great results. What do I mean? Better balance, fewer knee issues, stronger calf muscles and toes that actually move.

Here are a few exercises for you to try:

6. Go barefoot (or use barefoot shoes)

Going barefoot strengthens the stabilizing muscles of the foot and ankle and makes them stronger and also helps to improves muscle alignment. This all means a stronger body, less joint pain, better posture, more mobility, greater health, and greater freedom. Just make sure you perform the toe, foot and ankle exercises above or your feet may not be ready for barefoot workouts.

If workout at a gym and you can’t go barefoot then I suggest using these recommended barefoot shoes.

  1. Nike Free 1.0 Cross Bionic (take the insole out and order 1/2 size smaller)
  2. Merrell Vapor Glove
  3. Pedestal Footwear

 

7 Nutrition, Digestion and Detoxification Hacks

1. Chew your food slowly

Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested. This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through. You also release a digestive enzyme called salivary amylase that starts to break down starch in your mouth. If you’re not consciously chewing your food you’re missing out on something that is free and something that really improves your digestive health. Another bonus is that you’ll be less likely to over eat by giving your body time to register fullness.

2. Eat mostly whole foods

We’re starting to learn that the quality of what we eat is so important and we’re much better off eating whole foods. None of us are perfect and we live in the modern world, so obviously every meal and snack you have will not be made up of whole foods unless you’re super strict. However, if you aim to eat whole foods for most of your meals for most of the week it will go a long way.

Whole foods also make it harder to digest all the calories contained in them versus processed foods. And whole foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals and more.

3. Take glutamine for gas, bloating, loose stools, etc.

If you’re experiencing excessive flatulence with a foul smell, it’s usually a sign of an unhealthy digestive system. I would recommend that you try to use trans-analyl glutamine for gas, bloating or any other digestive problem to see if it helps.

Glutamine is one of the 20 naturally occurring amino acids in dietary protein. It is considered a conditionally essential amino acid (being elevated to essential during periods of disease and muscle wasting). Glutamine is known to help the immune system as well as the gastrointestinal tract. I’ve personally used it when I was suffering some digestive issues and it helped clear them up. Try it!

*My pick: Metabolic Nutrition T.A.G.

4. Take digestive enzymes for digesting food problems

If you have trouble digesting your food you can also take digestive enzymes. We all have Hydrochloric acid in our stomach and that helps digest the proteins and the harder to digest foods. However, some of us have low levels and I used to have a hard time digesting steak and chicken and taking Betaine HCL has helped to improve that.

However, there are many other enzymes (technically HCl is an acid and not a true enzyme) that help to digest fats and starches. These other enzymes can help if there’s an issue digesting the other foods. That’s why I recommend the supplement below. It contains HCl as well as many other enzymes that will help you improve your digestion and to get the most from your food.

*My pick: NOW Foods Super Enzymes, 180 Capsules

5. Use organic body care products and toiletries

Here’s something I want you to do when you’re home. Look at your shampoo bottle and read all the ingredients and a rule of thumb if it doesn’t sound like something you would eat, don’t put it on your scalp or body. Why? Because our skin is actually an organ and it lets things through. Things like the chemicals that can disrupt your hormones. While not as important as the big three (exercise, nutrition and sleep) I’ve read enough to motivate me to take exposure to potentially deleterious man-made chemicals seriously. Using organic toiletries minimizes your exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. An added bonus is that these toiletries tend to be better quality and easier on your skin.

Here are a few of my favorite toxin-free toiletries for you to try:

6. Use glass containers to store food

Whether you’re on a quest to prevent food waste or you simply want to store prepared food, reusable containers can do the job. But some food containers are safer than others when it comes to personal and environmental health. Glass is overall a safer choice for food storage than plastic for the same reason as using organic toiletries–it cuts down on endocrine-disrupting chemicals in your life.

Are you going to drop fat like you’re a contestant on the Biggest Loser? No. But it’s another small step in the right direction on optimizing your health. And you won’t get that funky plastic smell in your food.

*Here’s my pick: Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set

7. Use an air purifier or air purifying plants

Every day our bodies are exposed to small amounts of toxins, carcinogens, and organic pollutants, and over the course of our lives, this can have a very harmful effect. Air quality easily ranks as among the most influential factors on our health. Having an air purifier with a HEPA filter can easily help to the reduction of these effects.

If you’re like me and are interest in getting an air purifying plants check out this list of air purifying plants.

 

10 Sleep Optimization Hacks

1. Sleep ritual

Bedtime rituals can make or break your success. The last few things you do before bed tend to have a significant impact on your mood and energy level the next day, as they often determine how well and how much you sleep. Having a sleep ritual is a great way to set up your environment for optimal sleep. Try these three steps before going to bed.

i. Turn down the lights an hour before bedtime.

By dimming your lights (or turning most of your lights off) you cut down on the ubiquitous melatonin disrupting blue light that keeps us from sinking into deep sleep.

ii. Turn down the temperature an hour before bedtime. (I’m currently doing 69 degrees)

Sleep is though to be triggered by a lowering of temperature. In fact, there was a study done with insomniacs who used a cooling cap before bed and it basically got rid of their insomnia. No need to put on a funny cap. Just turn down your thermostat and hour before bed to ensure that overheating won’t keep you from falling asleep.

iii. Stay away from the computer and other devices an hour before bedtime.

This has to do with the melatonin disrupting blue light coming from your computer and devices. Of course, sometimes we’re required to work late on our computers. If that’s the case, make sure you download F.lux for your computer. Or consider buying some blue-light blocking glasses like these.

2. Sleep mask

One of the simplest and most effective ways of achieving darkness when you want to sleep is with a sleep mask. But not all sleep masks are created equally.

*My pick: SLEEP MASTER DELUXE tm Sleep Mask

3. Ear plugs

When you block out both noise and light, your chances of falling asleep are improved. In case you live in a noisy area or you have trouble sleeping when it is noisy. Use superior foam ear plugs it’s a great way to solve that issue without putting stress on your ears (some ear plugs can cause your ears to ache when worn for hours).

*My pick: Mack’s Ear Care Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs

4. Breathe Right Extra strong nasal strips

Nighttime nasal congestion is commonly caused by a cold, allergies, or a deviated septum. You may have tried common cold treatments or allergy products to relieve your nighttime nasal congestion, but those may not provide the relief you are looking for, and many people prefer a drug-free option. This is what is working for my nighttime breathing trouble.

*My pick: Breathe Right Extra Tan Nasal Strips

5. Bed

You spend at least 1/3 of your “day” at bed, sleeping. This 1/3 is usually taken for granted because you’re most active during the other 16 hours and that’s what you think about and care for. But rarely do you ponder about the bed you sleep on. So, this hack is a little more of the pricier side but you really can’t put a price tag on a good night’s sleep. If your mattress if old and you wake up with stiffness, numbness, or aches and pains consider changing your bed.

*UPDATE: After sleeping on the Sealy Optimum for a number of nights, I have to recommend the Tempurpedic TEMPUR Breeze line. The Sealy has lost its firmness in just a few weeks of sleeping on it. If soft beds are your thing then go for it. But if you have back issues, too soft a bed can make them worse.

*My pick: Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Contour Elite Breeze

Although I don’t have this mattress, I’ve slept on tempurpedic beds and they’re amazing. So adding cooling gel is just an improvement over an already stellar product.

6. Blackout blinds

Research has shown that cutting out all light sources while we sleep can halt interruptions to our body clocks. Simply put, learning to love the dark prevents changes to our internal rhythm. It turns out we need exposure to ‘good’ darkness at night for quality sleep. So, blackout blinds are a perfect solution to better sleep.

Another consideration is that installing new blinds can be expensive. And not worth doing if you’re just renting. That’s why I recommend these.

*My pick: Original Blackout Pleated Paper Shade Black

7. Sleep meditation

As you probably already know though, thinking leads to worrying and can be a significant cause of sleeplessness. So practicing relaxation techniques to calm your overactive mind and unwind from a busy day can be an effective way to overcome insomnia. I’ve started meditating every day now and it has a powerful impact on stress and boosting mood.

*My pick: Headspace App

8. Yoga poses & deep breathing

If meditation is not your thing and maybe your body is a bit achy, try doing some yoga moves and deep breathing. This can help bring the stress levels down so that you get back in bed and sleep effortlessly. This is a tried-and-true strategy that I’ve used for years when I have trouble sleeping.

9. Magnesium before bed

If you want to get into deep sleep faster, I suggest trying Magnesium before bed to see if it works out for you. I’ve experimented with various forms and dosages and I recommend threonate, glycinate, taurate, chloride. Stay away from the cheap form like magnesium oxide.

In fact, I personally use Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion and recommend it to all my clients who have trouble sleeping. I also give you an oral alternative ( Natural Stacks Magtech) that I like a lot as well. I highly recommend you try the lotion first.

*My picks:

 Natural Stacks Magtech

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion

10. Melatonin before bed during nights of troubled sleep or jet lag

Melatonin is a very popular sleep aid. It’s naturally produced in your body. You don’t need a prescription for it and can buy it in gummy form or in a fruit drink. When used correctly Melatonin is a safe supplement to take when you are having trouble sleeping. If you are planning to take Melatonin check out my top pick here:

*My pick: Source Naturals Melatonin 1mg, Sublingual Tablets

Most melatonin supplements come in doses that are too high. MIT discovered the best dosage to be .3 mg (or 300 mcg). Make sure you break the tablet in half or even less. And read the articles about the proper way to use melatonin.

Learn more about Melatonin:

Scientists pinpoint dosage of melatonin for insomnia

MIT study confirms melatonin’s value as sleep aid

Get your complete Sleep Guide here!

 

6 Supplement Hacks

1. Collagen protein for arthritis

The claim that collagen can stimulate the growth of new cartilage in joints is worn out by recent medical studies which say that patients with arthritic or damaged joints showed improvement in mobility and pain relief when taking the supplement. If you have any inflammation going on in your joints, try taking collagen protein and see if it makes a difference for you.

*My pick: Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate

2-Whey protein for building muscle

Whey is a powerful muscle builder. It digests quickly and has the most leucine (the most important branched chain amino acid for muscle growth) of any food. Please, check out my article about the 6 best supplements for building muscle, sleep, stress reduction and better health. I go into detail about whey as well as many other supplements.

*My pick: Natural Stacks Natural Whey Protein

Although it’s a combination of whey and collagen, I was impressed with the quality. And my knees started feeling better! I even did a video review of this product. Watch the review here.

3-Creatine Monohydrate for strength training and mental performance

Creatine monohydrate is the most researched performance supplement on the market. It also can help with mental performance and depression. Read more about creatine.

*My pick: Natural Stacks Biocreatine

4Beta-alanine for lactic acid/glycolytic training

I wrote about beta-alanine and the reasons for using it here.

*My pick: Natural Stacks BCCAs + Beta-Alanine

I know, I know. It’s got more than just Beta-alanine in it. The reason I think this formula is superior is because 1) I tried it and liked it and 2) high levels of beta-alanine give you the tingles. This combo will help you push hard during your workouts without the tingling feeling that high-doses of beta-alanine cause.

5-Magnesium during times of stress

These are the same products mentioned in the sleep section. The only point here is that you can use them during times of high stress. No need to wait until bedtime.

*My picks:

Natural Stacks Magtech

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion

6-Theanine during times of stress

L-theanine can also be taken to balance out the effects of too much coffee, high stress or before bed. I put it in this section because I’m a bigger fan of L-theanine during the day. L-theanine is also found in green tea. Be sure to get matcha green tea if you decide to go the natural route.

*My pick: Now Foods, L-Theanine 200 Mg, Veg-Capsules

 

10 Mental Fitness and Stress Reduction Hacks

1- Meditation

It’s something I find to be super powerful. We go to the gym to work our muscles but we also need to work out our minds and our brains. I want you to try the Headspace App. I have used it and I really enjoy it and I feel the difference.

If you’re thinking meditation is not your “thing”, download the Headspace App and do the 10 days of 10 minutes and make a call based on that.

I know I already mentioned meditation in the sleep section. But it’s a biohack that has proven benefits, reduces stress and is cheap to implement. I think supplements are great but things like meditation are greatly underappreciated.

2- Power naps (20-90 minutes)

They are free and great to take. I recommend taking from 20 to 90 minutes but be careful with the longer naps. You can wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle and feel awful from a nap but if you keep it to around 20 minutes you can wake up feeling calm and recharged. If you feel burnt out, take a quick nap!

3- Travel

How often are you traveling? Traveling is an amazingly underrated investment in yourself it opens you to new insights which often gives people a new purpose for their lives. If you are unable to travel outside of the country go on a staycation.  It’s amazing how a short trip can re-energize and reinvigorate you.

4- Spending time with family and friends

We all get caught up in our daily routine that we don’t get a chance to see our extended family and friends as often as we would like. Make it a point to go spend time with them as this will give you a boost of positivity and happiness through the release of the neurotransmitter oxytocin.

5- Spend time in nature

This is another thing many of us don’t get to do very often, especially if you live in the city.  Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Make sure you spend some time in nature.

6- Get sun

Sun directly to your skin creates vitamin D and if you get it into your eyes it boosts serotonin production. So those are two critical things for optimal health. In fact, if you’ve been lacking in motivation lately and you’ve noticed that you haven’t been outside as much or it has been a little bit gloomy outside that can be as a result of your serotonin levels. So, get out and get some sun and did I mention — it’s FREE.

7- Improv acting classes

This was an amazing experience for me and new information is coming out on how improv acting can reduce anxiety and boost your communication skills.In fact, there are some psychologists who are using Improv Acting to treat anxiety.

It can help also you be more empathetic to understand people by becoming a better listener. If you haven’t done an improv acting class you’re not serious about living your best life.

If you’re in the South Florida area you can check out Just The Funny. If not, just do a search for improv acting classes in your area.

8- Toastmasters

Similar to improv acting but less expensive, it’s a great way to boost your confidence and communication skills. And you’ll meet other like-minded people looking to get ahead in life. Find a toastmasters near you.

9- Conferences

Attending conferences is a great way to be re-energized and inspired while connecting with like-minded people. If you’re one those people who suffer from anxiety this is exactly what you need to do as a cognitive challenge for yourself to help you overcome.

Learn more here.

10-Sex

I don’t talk about it a lot on this podcast but sex does more than makes us feel connected to our partner. It releases oxytocin that reduces stress and will also boost your testosterone levels. This is good for both men and women, by the way.

I would put sex as a pillar of health. If we’re not getting enough or you’re not enjoying sex with your partner(s) that’s something you should look into changing. Having sex is healthy and a sign that your hormones and reproductive organs are still working– and that’s a good thing!

There you have it my 39 Biohacks That Actually Work. My goal is to impact your entire life with these practical tips and resources.  However, it is up to you to take action and implement the strategies to see that difference that you need your life.

 

Now, it’s your turn. Pick one: Fitness, Nutrition, Detoxification, Sleep, Stress, Supplement. Try itCommit to it for 7 days. Then, make it failure-proof. 

 

Download the PDF Guide and start take action to eat, move and sleep better.

 

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to the ASK TED section.

Until next time!

Ted

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