9 min read

16 April 2021: Free Fatty Friday #20

For this week's episode, I want to make a rant. And I'm going to make fun of Silicon Valley biohackers. Now you might be hearing or watching this and say, Hey, Geoff, aren't you a Silicon Valley biohacker? Why are you making fun of yourself or people like you? Well, one, we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. This is all tongue and cheek and in good fun, but two, I've been really fortunate and had the honor to work with world class experts across a number of disciplines and backgrounds, ranging from world expert physiologists, and academics who are in the lab, pushing the edge of our understanding of human performance to elite athletes who are world champions or gold medalists in their sport, to clinicians, sports and conditioning coaches who are applying and testing all of these things in the field.

So in some sense, I have experienced across all of these spectrums ranging from academia, in field, in the clinic, as well as starting from my background and route to the Silicon Valley bio hacker. So in that sense, I have a plenty of anecdotes to make fun of and pick from. And let's have fun with this

So when you think of a Silicon Valley biohacker, one you might say, what is that word even talking about, but to if you've been in that longevity space for human performance space, this term Silicon Valley bio hacker probably generates imagery of very expensive gadgets and widgets, things that track biomarkers, or very fancy exercise equipment that cost thousands of dollars. And these crazy rich people are doing all these fancy things to get a little bit of an edge. Or you're thinking about an imagery of some executive or investor who has these crazily expensive and or intricate morning rituals where they seem like they have three hours in the morning to do a saltwater bath the hot sauna, stretching exercise, a Wim Hof breathing exercise, and then some meditation, of course, gonna have a kitchen snack or breakfast, and then do all this kind of fancy stuff. Or you have a connotation of the rumors of billionaires getting injections of young blood to extend longevity are these secret anti-aging, longevity drugs. And there is some truth to all of that. I mean, I think there is some truth to those stereotypes and stories. So for this episode, I'm going to break down where Silicon Valley biohackers have jumped the shark and break it down amongst three different pillars that we all have to do every single day, the nutrition side, what we eat, how we eat, the exercise, or lack of exercise, and in our sleep, how we sleep, how should we sleep and where Silicon Valley biohackers sometimes jump the shark on these three core pillars of what I consider to be really the core foundations for a life well lived in terms of health and wellness and human performance.

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So let's dive into it. Let's talk about exercise first because I think this is the fun one to talk about. You see all of these Gizmo gadget companies raising hundreds of millions of dollars to do things like peloton or variations of peloton where there's a smart camera that measures your workout and analyzes you. And especially during the pandemic where gyms are shut down, these things have grown and people are spending a lot of money on these things. And of course, some of these technologies can be useful. But I think it's really funny when I meet Silicon Valley people, they have all this fancy equipment. They look super weak. I mean, they can look like they can barely bench their body weight, they can probably not even squat their weight. They might not even be able to run a mile or two. So the funny thing here is that exercise is free. I can get a rock from a park and use that as a great body like weight. I can do bodyweight exercise, I can find a bar and do muscle ups and calisthenics. So where we should really focus on It's not about the gadgets or widgets, right? Like kettlebells are $50. And a well-trained athlete or serious, quote unquote, human performance enthusiasts can do much more with a kettlebell than someone who has more money to spend, but won't spend the time or thought or energy using their fancy digital exercise equipment correctly. So, from an exercise perspective, yes, people can take expensive classes, I think there's definitely It feels like some stream of, of humble brag about how much they spent at a Barry's boot camp, or how many classes they've taken. But line me up with a soldier or a serious college athlete with no money to spend. And I'll back that athlete over some Silicon Valley biohacker in terms of performance. Exercise, done right with good technique, with volume with consistency, with an earnestness, earnestness and sincerity of actually improving a skill set. Much, much better than some gamified class or a device where you need to play EDM, hip hop music, and little badges and little score points and little bio-metrics to encourage you to work out. Let me just get someone who's serious, who's putting their mind to their body, and using that to get fit. So that's a fun thing, an easy thing to make fun of. I know I've met so many biohackers in person, or people that claim to be biohackers over the years, especially now in Miami for like, Oh, I'm super into bio hacking. I love the podcast, love the content. But it kind of making fun of you. Because sometimes some of you look pretty soft, pretty weak. And it's like, don't worry so much about the equipment, just put some time with some weights, get out and do a beach run. Run five miles for me, as opposed to bragging about the latest greatest equipment that you have.

Let's go back in order now to nutrition. Nutrition is another one of those fun things. And I want to broaden out to not just nutrition and food, but just all of supplementation and smart drugs and anti-aging drugs, all sorts of things, or exotic chemicals or compounds that one can consume for the different goals. And, again, you can spend a fortune on like, intermittent fasting kit that is super expensive. I'm calling out prolong. But fasting is free, you can just not eat and not pay hundreds of dollars for some very, very cheap looking processed foods. If you just look at, you know, products out there. I think they're really just scams. And I think oftentimes people like the fashion, they want the material of healthy nutrition or healthy living, they don't understand the principles. And I think the fact is, is that healthy eating can be quite affordable, you just need to build the building blocks in a correct way. I mean, that's one of the core founding philosophies of H.V.M.N., we wanted to make products that were very fairly priced, but the highest quality, but you can have our products but you can also just go to the grocery store and buy whole foods. Not the brand, but like actual meat actual vegetables, probably reduced or refined carbohydrate intake, but you can get ground beef relatively affordably. And that's my point here, which is that there's so much emphasis on the supplementation, or the longevity drugs, things like Metformin or rapamycin. And yet these people oftentimes will have alcohol, maybe dabble in recreational drugs, maybe go out and do fancy dinners all the time. And my point here with these folks is Look, if you just don't do all the stupid stuff, that would likely be much more beneficial to your health span and longevity than any of the any of the fancy stuff. In fact, if you actually look at how Metformin and rapamycin works. It's essentially the other side of the coin of not doing dumb behavior. So you can just skip all the exogenous stuff by just eating healthfully doing a little bit of fasting, right? How does Metformin work? Well, it seems like it triggers and PK reduces em tour. Well, what else does that fasting hits those two metabolic pathways for free. a ketogenic diet hits those two metabolic pathways for free. And of course, you know, there's no free lunch. I mean, these drugs, these therapeutics are fairly dirty targets, meaning that you're not just hitting mTOR and AMPK, you're also hitting a lot of side effects.

So, when I hear about people that are so obsessed with longevity drugs, I think they just need to understand the pharmacology for oftentimes, these molecules are not perfect targets. Nor do I think aging and metabolism is so easy, where you have one or two targets, and it just magically makes things more efficient. So from a nutritional perspective, fasting, intermittent fasting, literally free, eating more ketogenic, a lot of healthy options out there like healthy and modern nutrition, H.V.M.N.. products. Or you can cobble together to plenty of online guides of how to eat keto, for relatively cheaply, so many researchers on YouTube. This doesn't need to be advanced rocket science where you have to have all these fancy designer drugs or therapeutics and work with a concierge doctor might be helpful on the margin. But you get the basics right of time restriction, and macro restriction, a.k.a low carbohydrate, you can get pretty damn far. And again, I'm just reminded of some of these pudgy soft looking biohackers we have plenty of money, talk about how smart they are about biohacking yet they look so soft. I'm making fun of you, I'm not gonna call any names by name, but hopefully people out there that are listening, that are self-aware can look at themselves and be like, hey, maybe I need to talk less about how healthy I am, and actually put in the effort.

And then lastly, sleep. A lot of sleep hype out there from sleep measurements to sleep mattresses, I'm a tiny investor in 8 sleep, I love their product. But I'm gonna just have to say probably the best thing I ever got was when I was camping, when I'm out in nature, where it's just animal noises and a little bit of relaxation, being able to unplug from society and social stress and business stress and relationship stress, a little bit of wilderness solitude in nature. That has been much. And I didn't need any sleeping devices telling me you could just feel refreshed, waking up, that's free. That's in nature. You don't need a fancy smart mattress, or a fancy sleep measuring device that tell you intuitively when you've slept well. And, of course, I love my aura ring, I love my eight sleep and you probably on the margin want that kind of equipment. When you're in a busy city, you're stressed out got a lot of work to do a lot of bills to pay. But just don't ever jump the shark and realize that oftentimes, the bed wood of asleep is actually being relaxed, actually being out be able to unplug a little bit. Yes, these are good tools and band aids and things that like maybe capture it and ameliorate some of the downsides of modernity. But oftentimes, just going back into nature, going back into a little bit of peace does more than any interview intervention or device.

So the whole point of this rant is that whether you're a Silicon Valley biohacker, or you're an elite athlete, or you're an academic PhD student, grad student listening in, I think we all are people that want to live healthier, want to live longer. And just on a serious note, I think it's all coming from good heart and good intention. Obviously, when people are spending their hard-earned dollars towards these advices or these interventions, it's absolutely coming from a good place. The goal of this rant or this little episode here is not to make fun of that intent, which I think is a very noble intent, we should maximize our health be more resilient as a people stronger, more productive as a society. Just more happy as a culture. I just want to remind people that a lot of these things don't require performance, they don't require a lot of money. You can get the majority of the benefit by just simple lifestyle. You don't need to be a billionaire to tap into the benefits of true biohacking, which is just a thoughtful, systematic approach to engineering and constructing a lifestyle that reaches your goals. Right? That's my definition of biohacking. It's Not about gizmos, not about gadgets not about the ability to spend money. It's about a system, understanding of how to structure, your sleep, your exercise your nutrition in a way that allows you to optimize toward your personal goals.

So, hopefully, I didn't piss off too many people with this rant. You know, I love you, Silicon Valley biohackers. I count myself amongst you. And, but I know there's just like, the stereotypes are a little bit true. I think there's a little bit of truth here. You know, don't be too performance on the dressings of human performance. Actually put in the time. It's oftentimes more discipline and time and effort more than money. That's where the true fruit is. And we'll leave it at that. I hope you guys all have a great weekend. It's been fun getting a lot of good feedback. I'm going to get back into answering questions soon. I already have a lot of questions queued up.

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