Biohacking doesn't work for everyone the same way. It’s not designed to. As individuals, we have unique biology, genetics, and lifestyles that influence how our bodies respond to various interventions. Recognizing this inherent variability is key when exploring the realm of biohacking — a practice that aims to enhance performance, well-being, and health through personalized experimentation.
Dave Asprey says that biohacking buys you resilience and flexibility.
Max Lugavere finds great value in hacking his environment to more closely resemble the kind of world in which his ancestors may have evolved.
Effective biohacking calls for endless curiosity.
Aim to biohack for progress not for perfection.
Think blue light blocking glasses, wearables, DNA tests, sun gazing, fasting, and hot and cold therapies. In this article we'll discuss how Dave Asprey and Max Lugavere use biohacking techniques for resilience.
To shed light on the diverse outcomes and approaches within biohacking, we had the privilege to interview two prominent figures in the field at the Biohacking Conference in Orlando: Dave Asprey, the founder of Danger Coffee, best-selling author and a renowned biohacker, and Max Lugavere, a science journalist and New York Times best-selling author.
Through these conversations, we gained valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of building resilience, not taking the small hacks for granted, and the importance of always being curious.
Everything is negotiable
One of the most eye-opening moments during both interviews was Asprey’s and Lugavere’s response to how they might react when life throws them a curveball, and they don’t have time for their nonnegotiable biohacks.
Biohackers can often be perceived as individuals who do everything with them being in the driver seat. After all, Asprey describes biohacking as the art and science of changing your environment to be in full control of your biology. But what happens when life gets in the way, and you are not in control?
"One of the things that biohacking buys you is resilience and flexibility. Everything is negotiable. I’ve built resilience in my life, so that I don’t have to do any biohacks in one day, and I’ll still be okay. And if I only have five minutes, I do a little biohack, a box breath for example. Those all matter."Dave Asprey
Lugavere, while admitting that he can be a bit of a control freak sometimes, says “for the most part, I feel very comfortable now to just go with the flow.” He added that there’s a health component to all that.
"I feel like I've built up my body with enough resilience that my inner battery in general is really charged up and ready for whatever life throws at me, which maybe previously I wouldn't have felt. That comes back to doing the work to allow yourself to relinquish control."Max Lugavere
Nonnegotiable on a perfect day
Getting back in the driver seat, most self-proclaimed biohackers have a list of nonnegotiable daily hacks that help them set their body up for success performing at a high level. Asprey told Healthnews that his preference is at least a 45-minute but usually two-hour routine that changes every day. “I can’t tell you what I’m going to do on any given morning,” he says, noting maybe some Upgrade Labs tech, maybe infrared sauna, maybe mindfulness or breathwork.
"It’s not about perfection. It’s about always doing something that improves you every day. It doesn’t matter big or small."Dave Asprey
Lugavere, on the other hand, says he focuses more on his environment, and he wouldn’t describe himself as a biohacker. “I consider myself somebody who's just doing whatever he can to live as long and as healthful as possible,” he says.
"Most of the hacking that I find myself doing in actuality is in a way, ‘hacking’ my environment, because the modern world has become so out of harmony with the needs of our biology. So it's not that I'm hacking my biology per se. I'm hacking the environment to more closely resemble the kind of world in which my ancestors may have evolved and whose genes I carry."Max Lugavere
He noted he prioritizes the following:
- Having adequate good quality protein in his diet every day
- Developing a healthy relationship with social media
While he says he owes a lot to social media as a way for him to reach and educate people, the topic around nutrition can be incredibly polarized because everybody has an opinion. “It can become very toxic,” he says, underscoring that “it's really important to me, and I struggle with this [not checking all the comments]. I'm not perfect, but it's important to share what I have to share and then stay out of the comments and just put it in my pocket and forget about it.”
How to bounce back and overcome challenges
A big part of biohacking and health optimization is to build a body and mind that performs at an optimal level. While we all wish we could be these high-performing super-humans all the time, it is not the case. Even biohackers have times of low energy or face mental, emotional, or physical challenges. Hence, we asked how they bounce back from them.
Breathing techniques and meditation plays a big part for both of them.
"I'm not a very active meditator, but I do think it's a great way to kind of recenter yourself. These days I try to just return my focus to my breath."Max Lugavere
As Asprey has begun to take steps to reacquire Bulletproof, the company he founded but was removed from the board of directors a few years ago, he’s facing roadblocks that he’ll need to overcome to accomplish his goal. He’ll need both emotional and mental resilience to stay in the game.
And for that emotional and physiological resilience he says neurofeedback is his go-to biohack. Practices like neurofeedback help you to learn how to not allow the thing or a person to set off an emotional trigger inside of you. “You actually find something you’re grateful for and find a way to forgive the person or the thing, without saying it was okay,” he says referring to his experience as to how venture capitalists treat entrepreneurs. “I can still set down the grudge and take action in a way I want without putting a lot of emotional energy and baggage into it.”
When it comes to overcoming physical burnout, Asprey says that sometimes finding the right expert is very helpful. However, he points out that recovery should be just as important for everyone as exercise. “We’re all good at going to the gym, but most people are overtrained and under-recovered.”
There was one thing both Lugavere and Asprey underscored as one of the most important for building emotional, mental and physical resilience: sleep. Asprey noted “If you don’t sleep well, almost nothing works.”
Small biohack, big impact
Biohacking is often associated with expensive gadgets and costly health interventions — think full body stem cell makeover or hyperbaric oxygen therapy — but the more hacks one tries, the more they learn how the most simple things may have the biggest impact on their health.
One of the things that caught Lugavere by surprise in terms of its benefits was walking. “It sounds very mundane,” he says, adding that people tend to think of walking as just an ambulatory necessity, nothing more.
"But from a health standpoint and from a lymphatic flow standpoint, it's so beneficial. It's like magic. I thought that my exercise needs could be furnished solely by resistance training, but I've started to actually make a concerted effort to walk more on the treadmill, and I’ve seen so many great health benefits from it."Max Lugavere
From an evolutionary standpoint, walking has always been a big part of humans’ lives, but with modern conveniences like cars and electric bikes, walking took a back seat. We must make a conscious effort to walk more.
According to the results of a comprehensive population-based prospective cohort study involving 78,500 individuals, engaging in up to 10,000 steps per day could potentially be linked to a reduced risk of mortality, as well as lower incidences of cancer and cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
Another study found that even as much as 8,000 steps one or two days a week could substantially lower all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk.
The one thing that Asprey pointed out was light. Studies have shown that our biology is heavily influenced by light in regulating our circadian rhythm. Research has demonstrated that exposure to nocturnal light can disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep patterns in humans. Conversely, light can also serve as a valuable noninvasive therapeutic tool with minimal side effects, offering potential benefits in terms of enhancing sleep quality, mood regulation, and overall well-being.
One way to hack our exposure to light at night is through blue light blocking glasses, which Asprey found to be a game-changer over the years. He said he knew that blue light blocking glasses made a difference, but their magnitude still surprises him.
"I don’t get jet lag anywhere on the planet. It’s a much bigger difference even than food when it comes to my sleep. The power of light over our biology still stuns me today. It’s so much bigger than people think."Dave Asprey
Science continues to advance on a daily basis, and whether you are a biohacker or not, it’s worth seeking out opinions and perspectives that may be opposing views to yours. Since social media, Google, and everything that we consume online tends to confirm our bias that we're already looking at, we must be intentionally curious.
"I 100% actively seek out opinions that are different from my own and ideas and data that challenge my viewpoints on things. It's really important to be able to change your mind."Max Lugavere
Lugavere emphasized that he does have a point of view, which he stands by, especially when it comes to nutrition. But, he always keeps an open mind for other viewpoints, noting he has evolved when it comes to nutrition over the past decade, particularly around fat and carbohydrate ratios.
Asprey doubles down on this notion to be curious. He says even real scientists are never sure of one thing. They have a current leading hypothesis, but they know it will continue to change over time.
“I have friends who are not biohackers and do different stuff,” he says. “The most interesting people are probably ones who are not like you. It’s the curiosity that’s been the most powerful for me.”
Biohack for progress not for perfection
Since biohacking has entered the mainstream world, it has continued to evolve from a lifestyle that’s stereotypically only for wealthy, Caucasian males to showing up in the lives of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Although there is still a long way to go to make it more accessible to everyone.
Turns out, however, that biohacking doesn’t have to be all about gadgets and gizmos. Simple and free actions such as watching the sunrise and sunset, taking cold showers, going for walks and taking conscious control over our breath may have some of the most profound health and longevity benefits for anyone.
And while both Lugavere and Asprey have plans to try new things, such as full body MRI for Lugavere or gene editing for Asprey, they don’t biohack for perfection but to become a little better every day.
It’s about being able to connect the dots as to how your actions impact your body and mind without developing a judgment around it, Asprey explains, adding that “identifying with perfection is a guaranteed path to being unhappy. I don’t care if I don’t biohack perfectly. I just want to be more resilient than I used to be.”
- Somnologie. Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood.
- JAMA Internal Medicine. Prospective associations of daily step counts and intensity with cancer and cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality and all-cause mortality.
- JAMA. Association of daily step patterns with mortality in US adults.