Whether it’s intermittent fasting, red light therapy, blue light therapy, or even high intensity interval training (HIIT), you may already be biohacking your mood, mind, and life without even knowing it.
Here at LifeVantage we define Biohacking as, “the desire to understand the body and mind you’ve been given and using everything at your disposal – cutting-edge technology, tools, and science – to become the best version of yourself.”
By biohacking yourself, you begin to biohack your stress, recovery, and can actually physically transform your body so you feel more energized, more productive and, overall, the best possible version of yourself.
Everything we put into our bodies — our foods, our thoughts, our physical movement — affects how we behave.
Biohacking is simple at its core, and can come from anywhere. They can be internal, that is to say “behavioral” changes like implementing a new diet i.e. skipping breakfast, or alternate day fasting. Or they could be external behaviors and prompts, as simple as using a foam roller consistently after each workout.
Even wearing a fitbit to monitor your heart rate and steps can be a simple move towards your biohacker journey. Here are six ways you can delve deeper into your Biohacking Journey, and start improving your mood, and changing your life.
Red Light Therapy
While Red Light Therapy (RLT) goes by a myriad of names its effects are widely known and used in modern medicine. Back in the 90’s it was studied for its application to helping grow plants in space. Red LED’s mimicking suns rays promoted high photosynthesis production in plants. Such rapid growth and success in the study led to its potential medicinal application in humans and studies began thereafter.
A study released by Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery noted the mitochondria absorb these particles easier than others. When they consume more of these particles, they create more adenosine triphosphate, which is the cells energy source. This increase of energy helps cells respond better to:
- damage and growth in the body
- reducing inflammation and pain
- decreasing healing periods
- boosting tissue and cellular repair
- promoting weight loss
- and even helping reduce side effects of seasonal affective disorder.
The medical community is torn between the implementation of Red Light Therapy. This biohack doesn’t have nearly enough clinical research to back its psychological purposes and mental health benefits. However, the effects of RLT can be almost instantly noticeable for many popular cosmetic applications. Research shows that RLT has been proven to:
- smooth and reduce fine lines and wrinkles
- boost collagen production
- help with acne scarring
- aide in sun damage recovery
RLT comes in many forms from infrared saunas, to standing booths, to RLT face masks. However you use them, this is an incredible way to begin your biohacking journey to a healthier, happier you.
When attempting to biohack your diet, there’s a lot of discussion revolving around Intermittent Fasting (IF), how to do it, why you do it, is it as effective as other diets? From skipping breakfast, dedicated fasting hours; IF is about when to eat, not necessarily what to eat.
IF splits even further and can be broken into different kinds of fasting templates. There are variants, but the two most popular are the 5:2 and the 16/8. The 5:2 method wants you to consume 500-600 calories on two different days of the week (as long as they’re not back to back). You can eat regularly the other 5 days. The 16/8, or Leangains, has you skip breakfast and only eat for 8 hours, and then fast for 16 hours.
These methods aren’t limiting the amount of meals a day you eat, just the windows that you eat inside of. And that can make a huge difference. In a recent study conducted by the University of Alabama on obese men with prediabetes, they found tightening their window of consumption dramatically lowered their insulin levels, and blood pressure, and significantly improved insulin sensitivity.
The biggest take away they found was, tighter windows meant decreased appetite. While the initial study didn’t see immediate weight loss (five weeks), the long term effects were smaller portions, better food choices, and more active recovery in their eating habits.
The greatest upside to meditation is that when you biohack your mind, it’s free. Unlike red light beds or nootropics and meal plans, meditation is a simple, free biohacking method that anyone can participate in.
Meditation is about the whole well being, all aspects of you. It dates back thousands of years in every civilization. Every continent, dinasty, empire, religion, and race has some form of native meditation that it has implemented or relied on.
There are immense varieties of meditation. It can be as simple as a coloring book, or as complex as an hour of hot yoga a day. Simple practices like steady breathing has even been proven to hack the Vagus Nerve and act as a quick meditative response.
There are several techniques and methods:
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Mala Beads
- Om (a spiritual and powerful symbol in Hindu referring to ultimate reality of the soul)
Emotional and psychological benefits can include:
- New and clear perspectives
- Increased self-awareness
- Reduction or loss of negative emotions
- Control of temperament
- Stress management
Physical and Illness based benefits include noticeable management and improvement with:
- High Blood Pressure
- Tension Headaches
- Sleep Deprivation
Most techniques are about loss of self, thinking outside the immediate and being one with everything around you. When approached appropriately, meditation practices are healing, calming, and act as powerful passive recovery. Meditation is powerful, yet simple. Seek out a class or instructor near you to find out more on how you can begin the journey to biohacking your mind and soul.
High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT as it’s more commonly referred to as, is all the buzz in gym meta right now. We’ve all heard about it, but do we know what it is, and why it’s useful? Biohacking your workout, HIIT exercises focus on bursts of intensity across all fitness categories, with low-intensity recovery over short periods.
These high activity, low recovery ratios help keep your workout sessions focused and fun, perfect for those that get bored at the gym or who are starting to lose interest in their daily routines. It carries with it a portion of total body workout, touching on aspects of arms, legs, core, and cardio, keeping your heart rate at a steady state. This makes it arguably the most time-efficient way to burn fat, work up your sweat, and build muscle.
While it’s not a bulker’s dream, it is a lean cutter’s paradise. Some researchers have found that HIIT increases metabolism for hours after exercise even more than jogging and weight training. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC, informally called afterburn), a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity. Which means less burning of carbs and protein, and more shredding of fats and lipids during and post workout.
It doesn’t just lean out and promote total body workout, it also improves overall health. A summary of 50 different studies found that HIIT reduces blood sugar levels. Further research shows it can reduce resting heart rate and blood pressure in overweight and obese individuals.
A few popular HIIT workouts include:
- Standard Sprint Intervals
- Bodyweight Tabata Circuits
- Bike Sprints
- Battle Rope Blitz
- Intense Rowing Ab Blasts
HIIT isn’t limited to just workouts, but entire routines as well. If you want to get creative and shred at the same time, check out Men’s Health with a list of routine ideas that are sure to shake up your daily grind. If you ever have questions or concerns, always look out for a NASM CPT (National Academy of Sports Medicine, Certified Personal Trainer) who can help tailor specific workouts to your body and fitness goal needs.
If HIIT workouts aren’t inside your capabilities, check for a local HIGH Fitness class. A mix of High-Intensity-Interval-Training and classic aerobics. Think Old School Aerobics meets HIIT training. LMFAO meets Jane Fonda with a side of Richard Simmons. All mashed up into a one-hour, total body workout. You’ll be immersed and engaged, see real results both physically and mentally, and leave this class wanting more. Check here to see if a class is coming to you.
When you finally reach your days off, and you feel itchy to do something: enter active recovery. Active recovery isn’t about doing more workouts (it’s your rest day, duh!), but simply keeping your muscles warm, and your body going. You can biohack your recovery even on your off days, and it fits everyone regardless of fitness level.
The difference between active and passive recovery is that one continues to promote muscle growth, while the other ceases all activity. And while active recovery is healthy, you shouldn’t avoid a passive recovery day if your body says that you need one. Passive recovery, or the complete cessation of physical activity, may be appropriate if you’ve experienced a sports injury or are at risk of one. Taking a day or two off won’t hurt you and may even help prevent burnout if you have been overtraining.
Active recovery days help maintain blood flow and promote healthy muscle and bone recovery after intense workouts and strong work days. It can also reduce the buildup of lactic acid on muscles, minimizing post workout stiffness, pooling, and discomfort. Since your metabolic rate is already boosted for hours after a HIIT, active recovery ensures that you sustain that healthy metabolic rate for an even further prolonged amount of time.
Make sure that your active recovery activities are aerobic in nature. Since most of your workouts have been highly anaerobic, reducing your MHR (maximum heart rate) to below 80 percent returns you to an aerobic state and helps to move the lactic acids from the muscles to the bloodstream more effectively.
Excellent and easy forms of active recovery include:
- A brisk walk or jog
- Roller blading
- Low intensity cycling
We mentioned nootropics in the meditation section, but we didn’t talk about their function or purpose.
Nootropic supplements act as “smart drugs.” People find wild success with nootropic supplements to aid them in everyday life, and clinical research has shown that nutrigenomic biohacking has been proven to improve daily activity, improve memory, and overall life. They refer to anything from brain productivity enhancers and stimulants, to focus and attention improvers or even mood, cognitive enhancement supplements – all of these are related to the term nootropics. Something as simple as caffeine, taurine, guarana or ginseng are considered nootropics, but they can be as complex as L-theanine, choline, and L-carnitine.
Nootropics come in the form of drinks or a variety of supplements, but are there to help you biohack your best efforts to improve an already powerful, active lifestyle.
Remember, Biohacking is “the desire to understand the body and mind… and using everything at your disposal … to become the best version of yourself.” That means, like all lifestyle changes, it takes work. Remember to stay dedicated, and consistent. Biohacking doesn’t happen overnight, but is well worth the effort. You’ll find yourself happier, healthier, and operating with a more free and clear mind. Your Biohacking journey is just one decision away.