The 31 best biohacking books to improve your diet, sleep, exercise and longevity
Here are the best books to consider if you’re a biohacker or looking to optimise your health and nutrition in 2020. Many are short reads and some of them come in kindle versions which are incredibly cheap, so there’s no reason not to buy them.
Below are our top three picks, and you can scroll down further for the full list broken up into topics.
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Our top three biohacking books for 2019 (scroll down for the full list)
1. Biohacker’s Handbook
This is a great book to start with. It’s a general guide to biohacking and includes information on most topics you’ll be interested in.
2. Beyond Training
This is written by well known biohacker Ben Greenfield. It’s great value and full of tips and information to optimise your health and performance.
3. Why We Sleep
Sleep should be one of the first factors you optimise. This book explains everything you need to know about how sleep works and how to improve it.
Browse books by topic/group
- Books covering multiple biohacking topics
- Food and fasting
- Cold therapy and breathwork
- Mental performance and brain health
Books covering multiple biohacking topics
Biohacker’s Handbook by Olli Sovijärvi, Jaakko Halmetoja and Teemu Arina
Biohacker’s Handbook is a great introduction to health optimisation and biohacking. It’s written by doctor Olli Sovijärvi, nutritional expert Jaakko Halmetoja and technology expert Teemu Arina.
Each chapter explores a different aspect of biohacking including sleep, nutrition, exercise, work, mind and immunity. The pages are also beautifully laid out with illustrations, diagrams and more, so it’s one book you might want to buy physically.
Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life by Ben Greenfield
Ben Greenfield is one of the most authoritative biohackers right now, and his book reflects this. Beyond Training explores multiple topics of interest to biohackers, including:
- Improving your fitness
- Enhancing mental performance
- Upgrading your nutrition
- Measuring and improving your recovery
- Explaining which blood and saliva tests you should be taking
It’s a treasure trove of useful information if you’re a biohacker or even if you’re just interested in getting healthier.
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
The Primal Blueprint isn’t strictly a book for biohackers, but is a great read for anyone looking to improve their health. This book originally got me into biohacking in the first place, and is an excellent gift to give to family members looking to start their own journey towards getting healthier.
It’s written by well known health blogger Mark Sisson, and is based on his “10 Laws of the Primal Blueprint” which cover everything from exercise to food and sleep. The book itself also covers ancestral living, unhealthy habits to avoid and the neglected topic of play.
Lifespan: Why We Age―and Why We Don’t Have To by David A. Sinclair PhD and Matthew D. LaPlante
David Sinclair is a professor in the Genetics Department at Harvard Medical School and a co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging. When it comes to ageing, he is at the scientific forefront.
His book Lifespan discusses a number of key ideas, the biggest being that ageing is a disease which is treatable. He then explores the ways current science shows we can live longer and healthier by activating “vitality genes”.
Lifespan also explores the societal implications of living longer and what the future might hold for humanity if we apply these learnings.
Sinclair recently gave a great talk at Google about Lifespan which explores many of the book ideas too.
The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest By Dan Buettner
The Blue Zones is one of the most popular and well known books about longevity there is. It’s based on research by demographer Michel Poulain and many others who travelled with author Dan Buettner to locations around the world to find the world’s longest living populations.
They found five locations or “blue zones”: Sardinia, Okinawa, Nicoya (Costa Rica), Ikaria (Greece) and Loma Linda (USA). The book explores the habits, diets and people in each location, and then lists the 9 common lessons we can learn from these places and apply to our own life.
In addition to being packed full of science and facts, Blue Zones is also an entertaining and well written book.
Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge
If you’re a mature-age biohacker or looking for a great book for older family members, Younger Next Year is one to add to your list. Younger Next Year is all about how men over 50 (although some reviews from female readers suggests it’s helpful to them too) can reduce the negative impacts of age and reduce the possibility of illness and injury.
The book explores recent science related to ageing, and shows you how exercise, aerobics, strength training, nutrition and more factor into ageing well.
The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is a well known author and blogger when it comes to the topic of productivity and exiting the 9-5 grind, but he’s also a biohacker at heart. The Four Hour Body is an optimisation manual of sorts for a range of topics including dieting, exercise, sleep, injuries and even sex.
Food and fasting
The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey
The Bulletproof Diet is written by Dave Asprey, one of the pioneers of biohacking and the CEO of Bulletproof. The Bulletproof Diet is all about optimising your health, weight and performance through your diet. It also includes information about sleep, exercise, supplementation and even cooking.
The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore
The Complete Guide to Fasting is a comprehensive but easily understandable fasting resource. It has information on all forms of fasting, from intermittent fasts all the way up to extended fasts of multiple weeks. Along with The Longevity Diet below, these two books should prepare you adequately for your own fasts.
It also includes plenty of scientific evidence and lists the various mechanisms and benefits of different fasts particularly for fat loss, diabetes, heart health and longevity. Another great feature is that it includes interviews about fasting with global health personalities and experts including Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson and Dr Bert Herring, the pioneer of intermittent fasting.
The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight by Valter Longo
The Longevity Diet is another must-read book you should buy before starting your own fasting regime. Not only does it include an excellent evidence-based examination of the benefits of longer-term fasting for autophagy and anti-aging, but it also dives into author Valter Longo’s “longevity diet”.
The longevity diet is Longo’s science-backed take on the optimal diet for a long life. It involves eating only a little meat, lots of plants, and overall reduced quantities of food.
Another reason why you should pick this book up is Longo’s research into the “fast mimicking diet” or FMD. The FMD is a reduced calorie diet which gives you most of the benefits of a 5 day water fast without you having to give up food completely.
You can also read our review of The Longevity Diet for more information before you buy it.
Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods: Save Yourself and the Ones You Love with the Hidden Healing Powers of Fruits & Vegetables by Anthony William
Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods is a simple reference guide listing fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and wild foods which can be used to improve your health and heal certain conditions.
Each chapter examines a specific food and shows you the conditions and symptoms the food helps with, and then gives you tips for preparing and consuming it.
Genius Foods by Max Lugavere
Genius Foods was initially written by science journalist Max Lugavere in response to his mother’s dementia diagnosis. It’s all about the role of food in the function, performance, optimisation and health of the brain.
The book contains information about the various “genius foods” which can increase memory, rejuvenate the brain and improve mood. It also includes recipes to incorporate these foods into your diet.
Healthy Gut, Healthy You by Dr. Michael Ruscio
The gut is of particular interest to biohackers because it has a big impact on our overall health and performance. Healthy Gut, Healthy You is a detailed explanation of:
- How the gut works
- What you should eat for optimal gut health
- Lifestyle factors that impact the gut
- How to heal your gut
It also has an eight-step plan to help you implement the takeaways from the book to get your gut health on track.
How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger M.D. FACLM and Gene Stone
How Not to Die is all about how you can use nutrition and lifestyle changes to prevent or reverse the top causes of premature death. Each chapter is devoted to showing “how not to die” from a different disease or illness including heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and more.
The book also includes a helpful list of foods you should eat every day for disease prevention which the authors call the “Daily Dozen”.
No Grain No Pain: A 30-Day Diet for Eliminating the Root Cause of Chronic Pain by Dr. Peter Osborne
According to Dr Osborne’s research, eating grains can have damaging effects on the body. These effects can include inflammation, autoimmune responses and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. No Grain No Pain dives into the science behind these findings and presents a plan to help you get off grain.
Metabolic Autophagy: Practice Intermittent Fasting and Resistance Training to Build Muscle and Promote Longevity by Siim Land
Siim Land is a well known biohacker, and his book delves into the topic of longevity and muscle building through intermittent fasting and resistance training. It also explores other relevant topics for health optimisation and longevity too including ketogenesis, sugar, circadian rhythms, supplementation, nutrition and sleep.
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Jeff S. Volek and Stephen D. Phinney
The ketogenic diet offers plenty of benefits for biohackers and those looking for more optimised health. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of good evidence-based resources for athletes looking to implement this diet.
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance is written by low carb experts Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney, and includes plenty of information and strategy relevant to athletes. The book is particularly useful if you’re worried about the possible effects the ketogenic diet may have on your performance.
The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes
Many well known health organisations, experts, nutritionists and biohackers now recommend avoiding sugar. The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes is an excellent foray into why this advice should be noted. It explores how sugar is a major cause behind obesity, diabetes and other major illnesses, and also shows sugar’s interesting role in the history of America.
Gary Taubes is a best-selling author and award-winning science writer. His other books include Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It which explores how and why people become overweight.
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food By Catherine Shanahan M.D.
Dr Shanahan’s book Deep Nutrition is all about the nutrition commonalities between the longest living human populations. Shanahan blends this information into what she calls the “Human Diet”. The Human Diet is based on the four cornerstones of fresh food, fermented and sprouted foods, meat cooked on the bone, and organ meats.
Deep Nutrition explains the mechanisms and reasoning behind these four factors, plus recipes and other information about how to implement them in your own life.
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD
Why We Sleep is an excellent introduction into the topic of sleep and how you can improve the quality of this critical bodily process. It’s an excellent summary of why sleep is important for the body, what it does, and the numerous negative effects lack of sleep can have. It’s also jam-packed with scientific evidence for each claim, although it’s written for a non-scientific audience.
After reading this book, you’ll be convinced that sleep is the original biohack and the most important factor to address when optimising health. The book ends with a practical list of the 12 things you should do to improve your own sleep which is worth buying for alone.
If you’re interested you can also read our book review of Why We Sleep.
Body by Science by John R. Little and Doug McGuff
Body by Science explores the concept of only working out once for 12 minutes per week in order to optimally build muscle and minimise injury risk. You’ll find great value in this book even if you’re happy with your current training regime. It has plenty of good science-backed information and questions much of the status quo about exercise. This includes the myth that health equals fitness and vice versa, and that athletes are the healthiest of us all (hint: they’re often not).
Body by Science could be a great book for you if you want the benefits of exercise without the large weekly time investment current popular thinking tells us is necessary.
Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery by Christie Aschwanden
If you’re a biohacking veteran Good to Go might be confronting. It challenges much of the sports recovery trends seen in the biohacking and health optimisation space right now. Regardless, it’s a great examination of the science surrounding many of the sacred cows of the sports recovery industry including hydration, supplements, icing, infrared saunas, massage, float tanks, sleep and much more.
I highly recommend you read this book if you are interested in sports recovery. It could save you plenty of time and money on recovery modalities which require more science.
Cold therapy and breathwork
What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney
What Doesn’t Kill Us is a great introduction to the icy world of Wim Hoff and his cold exposure and breath program. It’s an entertaining look into Wim’s unique story, how his system works and the benefits it comes with.
The great thing about What Doesn’t Kill Us is that it’s written by investigative journalist Scott Carney. Carney actually met Wim multiple times and learned the system from him directly. You’ll find this book to be not only entertaining and easy to read, but also honest and full of the science behind Wim’s program.
The Healing Power of the Breath by Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg
The Healing Power of the Breath is a short book which lists different breathing techniques and explains how optimal breathing can improve your physical and mental health. The included techniques can be used to help with a variety of issues including depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress to great effect. It also comes with a CD full of timed tracks to practice along to.
The Oxygen Advantage By Patrick McKeown
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown is all about fixing your breathing to improve your performance, health and weight loss. It explains how you can utilise different techniques such as nose breathing, light breathing and breath holds to improve your health and performance.
The book also explores the Body Oxygen Level Test (BOLT) which you can take to measure your improvements. The system outlined by McKweon is both similar and different to that of Wim Hoff, and you can read more about the differences in McKeown’s article on the Oxygen Advantage website.
Mental performance and brain health
Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan by Dave Asprey
Head Strong is the second book written by biohacking authority Dave Asprey. It focuses on how to increase brain performance through food, supplements, avoiding toxins, meditating and much more.
Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley
Enhancing mental performance and memory is a key pursuit for many biohackers. This can help you accomplish more work or output with your time. Unlimited Memory is an interesting, concise and cheap read about how to improve your memory using various techniques from memory champion Kevin Horsley. Some of the techniques are ingenious, such as using your car or body to remember lists.
The Awakened Ape by Jevan Pradas
The Awakened Ape is akin to a biohacking guide for your spirit. It’s a mixture of techniques and tips from ancestral lifestyles and buddhist meditation practices.
It includes a range of chapters devoted to how you can enjoy life more. These include topics like meditation, the optimal diet, how to improve your attention span, how to reduce negative thinking habits and how to adopt the beneficial aspects of living like a caveman in the modern world.
The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs: How to Fix Our Stupid Use of Technology by Nicolas Pineault
The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs is a refreshing take on the impact that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from wireless technologies and electricity have on the human body. It doesn’t take a ‘scare tactics’ approach of the topic but talks about the current science around the risks these technologies might come with. It then arms you with knowledge and solutions to reduce your exposure.
This is a great starting point for research into the topic, but fair warning: it may make you want to live on a farm well away from the nearest mobile phone antenna or heavy power line. It’s also a short read that I was mostly able to get through in one sitting.
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky
If you’ve ever wondered how stress works and how it impacts the body and mind, this book is for you. Author and neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky dives into stress and its role alongside various states and processes including pain, memory, sleep, immunity and more.
While not strictly a self-help book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is an interesting read for addressing the problems associated with stress using analogies and parallels from the animal world.
Deskbound by Dr. Kelly Starret with Glen Cordoza
Following on from his excellent book Becoming a Supple Leopard, Starret’s more recent book Deskbound is all about the health problems associated with sitting for long periods of time and how to avoid them.
This book is excellent if you work a 9 – 5 desk job. It includes explanations of the problems associated with sitting for long periods of time and also:
- How to have good posture when sitting
- Guidelines for creating a healthy standing desk setup
- How you can maintain your body after long periods of sitting
- Mobility guidelines for the different body parts
Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health By Ben Lynch
Dirty Genes is all about how genes play a role in many health issues. We can either be born with these “dirty” genes, or genes can respond to unfavourable conditions provoked by our environment, nutrition and other factors to cause health problems.
The book starts by identifying various “dirty genes” and then explores tactics and plans for reducing the symptoms of dirty genes and improving health.
Are there any great books for biohackers or health optimisation that you think should be on the list? Let us know below and we’ll add them to the list!