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The 30 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 2019. 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.

Note that Strive Diary is a reader supported website. If you click on the links below and purchase a product, we will earn a commission. This comes at no extra cost to readers and we only recommend products which are genuinely helpful.

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

Why we sleep book cover

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 

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

Primal Blueprint Front Cover

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.

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge

Younger Next Year Live Strong Fit and Sexy Until You're 80 and Beyond Front Cover

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

The Four Hour Body Front Cover

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 Front Cover

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 Front Cover

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 Front cover

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

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 Front Cover

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

Healthy Gut Healthy You Front Cover

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 Front Cover

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

No Grain No Pain Front Cover

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

Metabolic Autophagy Front Cover

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 Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance Front Cover

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

The Case Against Sugar Front Cover

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.

Deep Nutrition Front Cover

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.

Sleep

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD

Why We Sleep Front Cover

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

Exercise

Body by Science by John R. Little and Doug McGuff

Body by Science Front Cover

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

Good to Go What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery Front Cover

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 Front Cover

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 Front Cover

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 Front Cover

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 The Bulletproof Plan Front Cover

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

Unlimited Memory Front Cover

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.

Lifestyle

The Awakened Ape by Jevan Pradas

The Awakened Ape Front Cover

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 Front Cover

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

Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers Front Cover

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

Deskbound Front Cover

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 A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health Front Cover

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!

Want more?

A day-by-day account of what it’s like to do a 5 day water fast with exercise

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest fasting is important in increasing longevity. Dr Valter Longo’s excellent book The Longevity Diet and Dr Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore’s book The Complete Guide to Fasting both explore how fasting promotes autophagy.

Autophagy is a regular process where your cells are broken down and recycled, starting with the damaged parts first. There are many other benefits to fasting too including increased body fat loss, increased insulin sensitivity, lower blood cholesterol and more.

With all these benefits I decided to try a 5 day water fast. Before we get any further, let’s not mince words: fasting for five days was quite difficult. It wasn’t intense like lifting a very heavy weight or getting through a 3-minute sparring round, but it was a monotonous, unpleasurable and hazy five days.

By the end of the fast I definitely saw the bright side: I’m now much more grateful for the food I shovel down my mouth each day.

Note: This is a reader supported blog, so some of the links to books in this article will earn us a commission.

Table of contents

Before you do your own fast: Do plenty of research from trusted sources and speak to a health professional if unsure. I’ve included a list of videos, books and podcasts at the bottom of this page to help. Note that according to The Complete Guide to Fasting, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, children under 18, those who are severely malnourished or underweight, and people suffering from some conditions should not fast. I’m not a health professional and this is just a recount of my own experience.

Before and after results from my 5 day water fast

  • Bodyweight went from 77.4kg to 72.4 kg
  • Ketones went from 0.1mM to 3.6mM
  • Strength and endurance stayed the same
  • Mental clarity decreased during the fast
  • Mood dropped significantly during the fast

5 day water fast before and after: weight

5 day water fast before and after: ketones

How I structured my 5 day water fast

  • 5 days of zero calories
  • Unlimited water including sparkling water
  • No food or supplements including coffee, tea and bone broth
  • Zero-calorie unflavoured electrolyte sachets containing sodium, potassium and magnesium were allowed to help with workouts (I used unflavoured LMNT sachets)
  • To preserve muscle, I would attempt to workout as normal (2x weight sessions and 1x 45 minute street run)
  • Photos and weigh-in each morning after waking, ketones taken throughout the day
  • Fast started at Sunday 4pm and ended Friday 4pm

Day 0 – Pre-fast – Sunday

My pre-fast day started with some bodyweight and ketone measurements to get a control to compare against during the fast.

I ate normally until my fast began at 4pm and by 9pm I was already feeling a little hungry. Doubt started to gnaw at me and I wondered how I would fare during the crucial first 48 hours where hunger hormones rise and then plateau according to Dr Fung.

  • Morning mood: 7.5/10 – Excited, a bit anxious, and a little hungry (already!), but ready to rise to the challenge.
  • Weight: 77.4kg (170.6lbs)
  • Ketones: 0.1mM

Day 1 – Monday

I woke feeling refreshed after a great night of sleep. I’m not usually hungry in the mornings so I couldn’t tell a major difference yet.

By mid-morning the reality of the fast kicked in: time goes by slowly when you have no food or coffee to look forward to!

My coffee break was instead replaced with a morning walk watching people around the city devour fresh pastries and hot drinks. My sense of smell had already started picking out food from what seemed like a mile away.

Later in the day I started to feel a little less sharp in my reactions and a bit more sleepy, but chalked it up to the lack of caffeine.

At 4pm I realised I had completed the first 24 hour period of fasting. It was funny seeing my colleagues’ reactions to my fast, with reactions generally being supportive and amused.

By the end of the day I started to feel more tired and mentally foggy. I was easily distracted and sleepier than usual. I decided to pass on my regular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class to see how I would feel the next day.

  • Morning mood: 5/10 – Tired and unfocused, and not bothered for intense exercise.
  • Weight: 75.6kg (166.6lbs)
  • Ketones: 0.6mM

Day 2 – Tuesday

I woke up again feeling good. My morning weigh-in showed that I had lost a little more weight and my ketone levels were steadily rising.

I was already sick of only drinking water. I got some slight taste relief by drinking my morning sachet of electrolytes though.

My trusty water bottle and electrolytes.

Today was my first fasted workout. I was anxious to see if I would be able to squat or if I would just buckle. My workout went surprisingly well, and I hit my target weight and rep range. I did feel a little dull during the workout, but the results were better than I expected.

According to The Complete Guide to Fasting, growth hormone rises during a fast, which helps to preserve muscle and help with workouts.

After the workout my mood and energy improved somewhat. I felt a little bit more energised and less hungry.

The biggest realisation I had on day two was how much pleasure I derive from eating. I enjoy eating a big meal after training, buying a hot coffee on a cold winter morning, and coming home after work to cook a fresh dinner. We take these rituals for granted and this fast was reminding me of that.

  • Morning mood: 6.5/10 – Not feeling hungry, but generally feeling unsatisfied. The weights workout improved mood and energy.
  • Weight: 75.1kg (165.5lbs)
  • Ketones: 0.8mM

Day 3 – Wednesday

Today I woke up feeling drained after yesterday’s workout. My sleep was also low quality and full of tossing and turning.

On the plus side my ketone levels jumped to 2.2 millimolars (mM), which is expected on day three of a fast. This fast had put me squarely in ketosis for the first time in my life. My body had run out of fuel from the glycogen (sugar) stored in my liver and was now using my fat.

Apart from this I felt slow, mentally unfocused, dull, and more sleepy than usual. I also had a slight headache all day.

At lunch I left the office and picked probably the worst place to do some writing: a nearby food court. My mood plummeted and my feelings of weakness were made worse by the smells, sights and sounds of people eating.

My sense of gratitude for being able to eat food continued to rise. My free thoughts turned to food, especially what I was going to eat once I broke my fast!

  • Morning mood: 5/10 Almost gave up at lunch as I felt weak and cloudy.
  • Weight: 74.2kg (163.5lbs)
  • Ketones: 2.2mM

Day 4 – Thursday

I woke up on day four with even more muscle soreness from my Tuesday workout. It was interesting to see how my recovery was lagging without food.

My bodyweight had fallen by another kilogram. I now weighed 73.3kg, 4kgs lighter than what I started. My ketone levels hadn’t moved.

Today was deadlift day and I was unsure I could do it feeling so tired and dull. Surprisingly, as with Tuesday, my workout didn’t really suffer. I lifted roughly the same amount of weights for the same number of reps as usual. I felt quite slow and clumsy throughout the workout though.

After the workout my mood and energy levels improved as was the case on Tuesday.

I ended the day relieved that I’d come this far. All that was separating me from completing my fast was one night’s sleep, a full day of work and my normal morning run.

  • Morning mood: 6.5/10 My mood is lifting now that I’m almost done! But still feeling very tired.
  • Weight: 73.3kg (161.5lbs)
  • Ketones: 2.2mM

Day 5 – End of fast day! – Friday

I woke up feeling somewhat energised and fresh with the promise of food later.

My morning weigh-in showed that I’d now lost 5kg (11lbs) since starting the fast five days ago. My ketone levels had also jumped higher to 3.6mM. Overall though I was feeling tired and sluggish. I had never walked so slowly in my life.

My final weigh-in

I reluctantly started my usual friday morning run. It was more difficult than usual and I had to mentally push myself to even finish it. Somehow I only ended up being a minute or so slower than usual.

At about lunchtime I was painfully close to throwing in the towel early. The office lunch of burritos looked amazing and I still had another four hours to go!

30 minutes before I reached the 4pm finish line I prepared my first meal. Taking the instructions in The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr Fung and Jimmy Moore on board, I chose a small bag of plain macadamia nuts to break my fast. I put the bag on my desk as I waited for the time to tick by. The book also recommends drinking a tall glass of water before you eat, so I also got this ready.

I mentally limped through to the 4pm finish line. I drunk my water and thrust my hand into the bag of nuts and greedily munched down a handful with a huge grin. The book says to chew thoroughly, which I tried at first but quickly forgot. The macadamias tasted so great.

Following the instructions in the book, I waited 30 minutes to make sure my stomach was feeling okay and then basically ran to get a sashimi salad.

The delicious sashimi salad

It was one of the best tasting meals I’d ever eaten in my life. Every little texture and flavour was magnified, from the bursting roe to the crunch of toasted shallots.

I felt so happy to finally be eating again. Once again this fast drove home the importance of food in my life and the gratitude I have to be able to eat whenever I want to.

By the end of the night after a huge tapas dinner I was already feeling like myself again.

  • Morning mood: 7/10Feeling happier since I’m on the home stretch, but quite tired
  • Weight: 72.4kg (159.6lbs)
  • Ketones: 3.6mM

What would I do differently next?

For my next fast I will:

  • Be more careful with my transition back to normal eating. I will follow Valter Longo’s suggestions of eating predominately complex carbs and minimal fats and proteins – I was visiting the bathroom numerous times after breaking my fast!
  • Get into nutritional ketosis prior to beginning a fast to help reduce the brain clouding effects
  • Try a fasting mimicking diet (FMD), which allows you to eat a small amount of food each day for five days, getting you many of the benefits of a 5 day water fast but without the strain of not being able to eat. This also means I can drink coffee!
  • Collect more data (unfortunately my replacement Oura ring was still in transit at the time of this fast) including:
    • Sleep
    • HRV
    • Resting heart rate
    • Blood pressure
    • Blood glucose
    • Body fat percentage before and after the fast
  • Think about ways to maximise the effects of my fast. Leading UK biohacker Tim Gray offered me the advice of consuming proteolytic enzymes, and there are also other foods and fluids like apple cider vinegar which may help lower blood sugar.

5 day water fast resources and information

I did a lot of reading and listening to podcasts before I fasted. Here are some great resources which you should work your way through before attempting your own water fast:

Books

Videos / Podcasts

Closing thoughts: My 5 day water fast results

Measuring autophagy is impossible, so I can only hope and assume this fast got me the benefits that come with this cell cleaning process.

I didn’t realise I would lose so much weight during my 5 day water fast, but my worries decreased after I saw my weight steadily rising each day after.

The fast was a rewarding experience and something I will definitely do again, albeit with either a period of ketosis prior to fasting or using a fasting mimicking diet.

Have you done a 5 day (or even longer) water fast yourself? Tell me about your experience below!

Luck has played a major role in some of the biggest successes in history

Luck is a key ingredient in success which we’ve already delved into deeply on this blog. There are also some experts such as Professor Richard Wiseman who believe you can even increase your luck in four steps. Regardless, luck is a force that’s behind much of our success.

Here are a few high profile examples of luck to ponder. They’re mostly based on information from three great books about luck: The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman, Success and Luck by Robert H. Frank and The Success Equation by Michael J. Mauboussin.

1. Bill Gates and Microsoft

Bill Gates’ benefited from a healthy dose of luck in his early years.

First off, he went to a private school which gave students access to computer programming terminals where you could build computer programs and get them running in real time. Others had to go through convoluted processes which added days and weeks to what could take Gates hours to complete. Gates himself estimated that there might have been 50 other students in the world who could have done the same thing at that time.

Gates’ mugshot after allegedly running a stop sign in his early 20s

Next, Gates and his partner Paul Allen were able to acquire the precursor to MS-DOS for $50,000 and then organise a rare and lucky deal to get paid royalties for every IBM computer MS-DOS was installed on.

At the time IBM had a pessimistic forecast for PC sales, which helped Gates seal this lucrative deal. Because Microsoft retained rights to their new operating system, when IBM’s huge success selling their PC caused other companies to start selling PCs, Gates was able to sell even more software.

2. The Mona Lisa

Another example from Success and Luck is the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci. This was a relatively obscure and ignored Da Vinci painting until an Italian maintenance worker stole it from the Louvre in 1911 and tried to sell it to an Italian art gallery.

The resulting global news outrage included countless reproductions of the painting, catapulting it to fame.

3. Al Pacino

One of my favourite examples of the impact of luck is the good fortune Al Pacino had early in his career.

When The Godfather was being made, director Francis Ford Coppola was adamant that the actor who played Michael Corleone should be unknown and look Sicilian. The executives had other plans and wanted to hire someone like Robert Redford. Coppola threatened to leave the project unless the executives followed his request and Al Pacino was cast as Michael.

This was a good turn of events for Pacino, who was a relatively new actor with only two small roles under his belt.

Adding to Pacino’s luck was the fact that Coppola’s adaptation of the Godfather book by Mario Puzo focused on Michael Corleone’s story instead of his brother Sonny Corleone.

The film was a huge success and this pushed the obviously talented Pacino into the spotlight.

4. Bryan Cranston

I loved Bryan Cranston in Malcolm in the Middle, but it was his role as Walter White in Breaking Bad which catapulted him into the spotlight. Cranston’s story is also told by Frank in Success and Luck, and was the definition of a lucky break.

Cranston was originally suggested to play the part of Walter White by the producer of the show, Vince Gilligan. His idea was rejected by studio executives in favour of John Cusack and Matthew Broderick who in turn both rejected the role. Cranston was subsequently accepted and the rest is history.  

5. Scott Adams / Dilbert

The success of the hit comic strip Dilbert is a testament to the power of luck. According to its creator Scott Adams, the comic strip was extraordinarily lucky to be picked up and syndicated across the USA and the world. Some examples of luck include:

  • Adams’ first comics editor was married to an engineer who was a “real life Dilbert” so she instantly connected with the comic and pushed hard for it within her company against heavy objections from colleagues.
  • One day an employee at the Boston Globe went on a road trip holiday with her husband. She was driving and her husband was bored, so he picked Dilbert up from the sales packet she had left in her car. He thought it was funny, and because of her husband’s response the Boston Globe picked it up.
  • The Dilbert comic came to prominence during the mid-1990s when news was dominated with stories of corporate downsizing, technology and the dot com bubble. Dilbert happened to be about the same subject matter which resonated with audiences.
How to fail at almost anything and still win big Book Cover

This story is from Adam’s excellent book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big which delves into his story, and includes some simple but effective tips for success.

6. Penicillin

Another great story from The Luck Factor is the origin story behind penicillin. Sir Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin in the 1920s after coming back from holidays and noticing a petri dish of bacteria he was testing was accidentally left uncovered.

Sir Alexander Fleming immortalised in stamp form.

A specific type of mould called Penicillium notatum had fallen into the dish and killed the bacteria, leading to the eventual discovery of the antibiotic which has saved millions of lives.

7. Warren Buffett

Buffett was famously rejected from Harvard, which led him to consider other education options, one of which was Columbia. At Colombia he was able to study under Benjamin Graham, one of the fathers of value investing and the person who taught Buffett the famous two rules of investing.

Warren Buffett has a great short interview on Forbes alongside Jay-Z about the role luck has played in his life.

8. Jay-Z

Jay-Z was gifted in music during his formative years, which led to him travelling to London to help his mentor Jaz-O record an album. During the two month trip, Jay-Z’s close friend was caught in a sting operation and jailed for 13 years, and Jay-Z says the only reason he wasn’t with this friend was because he was in London at the time.

9. Lost

The show Lost was originally pitched as a cross between the reality TV series Survivor and the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks. Michael Eisner, the CEO of Disney at the time rated the pitch for Lost at a 2 out of 10 and later called it terrible. But because it was already in production Lost was still released, and was a surprising hit which spanned six series.

10. Joseph Pulitzer

The famous reporter, newspaper owner, congressman and namesake of the Pulitzer Prize came to the USA from Hungary in 1864 at the age of 17. He had no money, bad eyesight and no job prospects.

To pass the time he played chess at a local library in St Louis, until one day he met the editor of a local German-language newspaper. The editor gave him his first job , and Pulitzer eventually ended up owning part of the newspaper.

11. Evelyn Marie Williams and Donald Smith

What list about luck would be complete without some incredible lottery stories?

Evelyn Marie Williams won $4 million in 1985 in the New Jersey Lottery, and then four months later won another $1.5 million.

Donald Smith was even luckier and won the Wisconsin State Lottery three times! He won it in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and won a total of $750,000.

Both of these stories are also from Richard Wiseman’s book The Luck Factor.

12. John Woods

While not a success story, a great story from The Luck Factor is that of John Woods. Woods was a senior partner at the Thacher, Proffitt & Woods legal firm. He survived not one but three potentially deadly occurrences.

He was originally booked on the ill-fated Pan Am flight that was bombed over Lockerbie, but cancelled his ticket shortly before the flight so he could attend a Christmas party.

Next, he was working on the 39th floor in the World Trade Centre in New York during the 1993 bombing and escaped unharmed through the fire escape.

Finally in 2001 he narrowly avoided being in the second World Trade Centre tower during the September 11 attack. He left the tower seconds before it was attacked.

13. Leicester City winning the 2016 Premier League Championship

In 2016, English Premier League football team Leicester City had 5000-1 odds of winning the championship. The team was underfunded compared to many of the other teams, and the closest it had come to ever winning was coming second in the 1928-29 season. Even with these odds, Leicester City somehow won the championship in what the BBC called “One of the greatest sporting stories of all time”.

As Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh explain in the book How Luck Happens, after the championship many pundits suddenly had various explanations for why the team won. These included coaching and the analytics used to find players, the poor performance of the top four teams and more.

Closing thoughts about good luck in history

Luck is an interesting and important feature in our daily lives. It’s had a measurable impact on some of the biggest success stories in the 100 or so years this article has covered, and undoubtedly much further back. If you’re interested in learning more about how luck actually works read the following two guides we have:

Do you have a good story about how luck has had a big impact on your own life? Share it below!

The podcasts you need to listen to in 2019 if you’re serious about improving your life

Podcasts are great, but it’s easy to use them as a replacement for TV and mindless radio chatter. The real value of a podcast is to make use of time you would usually spend doing activities like chopping vegetables, driving or stretching to learn and improve your life.

Self-improvement is a broad topic, so for the purposes of this article I’ve included podcasts from categories including health and fitness, meditation, mindset, biohacking, brain health and general podcasts which cover a combination of these categories.

Without further ado, here are the best self-help podcasts to listen to in 2019:

Happier with Gretchin Rubin

Happier with Gretchin Rubin Cover

Topics covered: Happiness, habits, mindset

Seeking happiness is the reason we pursue self-help in the first place. The Happier with Gretchin Rubin podcast is full of sage advice to be happier in our daily lives. Regular episodes are 40 – 50 minutes long, and there are also “Little Happier” episodes which are much shorter nuggets of wisdom.

It’s hosted by Gretchin Rubin, a best-selling author; and her sister Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer. Their banter and conversation is warm, genuine and honest, and the episodes are filled with the right mix of practical tips and humour.

Great episodes to start with:

The Jordan Harbinger Show

The Jordan Harbinger Show

Topics covered: Human behaviour, relationships, life, business, mindset, success

Jordan Harbinger was a lawyer before he became a successful podcast host, and this shows in his great ability to talk to guests and to get to the point during conversations. Jordan adds a relaxed and humorous atmosphere to his conversations, and relates the messages his guests share to his own life to make it easier for the audience to understand.

His podcast episodes are generally interviews with well known guests, with the aim being to share their strategies and tactics for success. He also regularly publishes Feedback Friday episodes, which are listener-led AMAs with Jordan and his producer Jason DeFillippo. Topics in these episodes can cover relationships, travel, learning languages and everything in between.

Great episodes to start with:

The Art of Manliness

The Art of Manliness Podcast

Topics covered: History, mindset, health and fitness, famous men, sports, personal finance

The Art of Manliness is a great general self-help podcast which delves into fitness, historical figures, human performance, personal finance and even smaller topics like conversation skills. There’s also a large number of general interest episodes where you’ll be sure to learn something. These can include episodes about famous US presidents and well known personalities.

Each episode is usually structured as an interview between Art of Manliness founder and host Brett McKay and a guest, with guests usually being well known authors.

Great episodes to start with:

Kwik Brain

Kwik Brain

Topics covered: Brain health, memory, mental performance

If you want to improve your memory, focus and everything else relating to your mental performance, Jim Kwik’s podcast Kwik Brain is for you.

Kwik explores concepts such as improving your learning abilities, recalling numbers more easily, foods for brain health and how to read faster. Episodes are short at 10 – 20 minutes, so it’s perfect for a short drive or run.

Great episodes to start with:

The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss Show

Topics covered: Business, entrepreneurship, startups, learning, performance, health and fitness, biohacking, technology

What list of self-help podcasts wouldn’t be complete without a tip of the hat to the Tim Ferriss show? Tim Ferriss is the best-selling author of The Four Hour Workweek, which is one of the best selling self-help books of all time. The book and podcast centers on improving your life in many ways, including health, wealth, performance, learning, optimisation, business and much more.

Most of Tim’s episodes include a guest, all of whom are world-class performers in their fields. Past guests have included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, retired SEAL Jocko Willink, marketing-guru Seth Godin, chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin and self-help stalwart Tony Robbins.

He also has a number of solo episodes where he deep dives into a specific topic and answers it using a combination of his own knowledge, advice from friends or mentors, useful books and more.

Great episodes to start with:

The School of Greatness

The School Of Greatness Podcast

Topics covered: Mindset, happiness, business, entrepreneurship, success

Lewis Howes was a pro-athlete whose dreams of playing in the NFL were dashed by a broken wrist. Since then he’s built and sold a number of businesses, is a New York Times bestselling author and runs the successful School of Greatness podcast. Howes is committed to helping 100 million people to realise their dreams and earn a full time income while making an impact.

The School of Greatness podcast focuses on general self-improvement including topics as diverse as the abundance mindset, nutrition, building a business, masculinity, success habits, meditation and more.

There’s a good variety of episodes, from shorter “5 Minute Friday” episodes to longer episodes with Howes talking at length on a topic. There are also interviews and in depth conversations with big names including Kobe Bryant, LeAnn Rimes, Ben Shapiro, Charlamagne The God, Jordan Peterson and Aubrey Marcus.

Good episodes to start with include:

Tony Robbins Podcast

Tony Robbins Podcast

Topics covered: Business, careers, mindset, health and fitness, finance

Tony Robbins doesn’t need much of an introduction in the self-help world. His best selling books, world renowned coaching, and life changing live events are some of the reasons why he’s so synonymous with self-improvement. His advice covers many topics including business, happiness, mindset, performance and more.

Robbins’ podcast is a great source of self-help content, and episodes vary from interviews to recordings from live events, usually running an hour long. Guests have included Russell Brand and Pitbull.

Great episodes to start with:

London Real

London Real

Topics covered: Health and fitness, mindset, business

London Real is a video show and podcast hosted by Brian Rose, a mechanical engineer turned investment banker turned podcast host.

This podcast has a higher production value than many others, and has minimal fluff and filler. Rose’s interview style is to ask the very best questions and to let the guest do the talking, so you’ll really get a lot of value from each episode. The lineup of guests on this show is amazing, with singer Wyclef Jean, doctor and author Gabor Mate, ex-bodybuilder Dorian Yates and author and psychologist Jordan Peterson to name a few.

Note that early access to episodes of London Real plus extra content from guests are available for those who are members of the London Real Tribe. This requires a monthly/annual subscription.

Great episodes to start with:

The Minimalists

The Minimalists

Topics covered: Minimalism, decluttering (both mentally and physically), consumerism, entrepreneurship, life, relationships

The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, rose to fame with their website and later their documentary Minimalism. Their philosophy and podcast focuses on living a simple but meaningful life, and as a result there are episodes about most aspects of life. Episode topics include discussing minimalism with your parents, creating a side hustle, minimalism and its impact on a healthy diet and budgeting and wealth to name a few.

Many of the episodes are in a Q&A format where the Josh and Ryan play questions submitted from listeners around a specific topic and then answer them. There are also many interview episodes with well known personalities, podcasters and authors such as Jordan Harbinger.

Great episodes to start with:

10% Happier Podcast

10% Happier Podcast

Topics covered: Meditation, mental health, mindset, mindfulness

10% Happier is a podcast hosted by Dan Harris, an ABC news anchor and journalist, author and skeptical meditator. Like most of the podcasts on this list, 10% Happier is an interview style show.

Dan has lengthy conversations with authors and leaders in the meditation and mindfulness space, including big names like Michael Kabat-Zinn, one of the fathers of mindfulness; and Sam Harris, a well known neuroscientist and author.

Each episode also includes listener questions, so when combined with the big picture ideas in the interviews, there’s lots of mental health wisdom on offer.

Great episodes to start with:

Ben Greenfield Fitness

BenGreenfield Fitness

Topics covered: anti-aging, biohacking, health and fitness, nutrition, lifestyle

If you’re trying to improve your health and performance, Ben Greenfield’s podcast is full of tips and tricks to help you. Ben is a biohacker, blogger, triathlete, personal trainer, author and CEO of Kion, a company that sells everything from coffee to skin care and supplements.

Ben’s podcast delves into a huge variety of issues to help you improve your health and performance, from different diets including the carnivore and ketogenic diets, to anti-aging, fitness trackers and blood and genetic testing.

Great episodes to start with:

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn

Smart Passive Income Podcast

Topics covered: entrepreneurship, startups, business, marketing, branding, side hustles

Smart Passive Income is a high quality blog by Pat Flynn around the topic of making a passive income largely from online businesses.

The Smart Passive Income podcast is an extension of this blog, with a mix of solo episodes where Pat explains a topic in depth, and interview episodes where Pat talks with a guest about a case study or to tap their expertise. Topics range from building a profitable blog, to nurturing a YouTube channel and tend to be 45 – 60 minutes long.

Great episodes to start with:

The Art of Charm

The Art of Charm

Topics covered: Relationships, happiness, goal setting, habits, mindset

The Art of Charm is a self-improvement podcast focusing on building confidence, conversation skills and worthwhile relationships. Other topics include happiness, building habits, setting goals and building a strong mindset.

The podcast is hosted by Art of Charm co-founders AJ Harbinger and Johnny Dzubak, and is a great combination of Johnny’s down-to-earth personality and AJ’s more scientific focus. Some episodes feature AJ and Johnny talking about a topic in-depth, and others include interviews with authors and other guests.

Great episodes to start with:

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

Topics covered: Mindset, health and fitness, nutrition, relationships

Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu is similar to London Real in that it’s actually a video show, but differs in that it usually has an audience watching the conversation. Tom Bilyeu is an entrepreneur and one of the co-founders of Quest Nutrition, makers of the delicious Quest protein bar and one of America’s fastest growing companies in 2014.

Impact Theory episodes are generally interviews between Tom and his guests, who can range from Ketogenic diet experts like Dom D’Agostino to mindset masters like David Goggins.

There are also more intimate AMA episodes where Tom answers listener questions, and these can provide a wealth of self-improvement wisdom too.

Great episodes to start with:

Bulletproof Radio

Bulletproof Radio

Topics covered: Anti-aging, health and fitness, nutrition, mindset, success

Bulletproof Radio is a podcast hosted by Dave Asprey, one of the fathers of biohacking and the CEO of Bulletproof.

Bulletproof Radio is mostly an interview show, with Dave selecting guests known for their ideas in health, fitness, anti-aging and performance. He also speaks to leaders in many other fields, including well known business leaders like Peter Diamandis, and military leaders like Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.The podcast is a trove of good self-help ideas from a wide range of areas of study.

Great episodes to start with:

The Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan Experience

Topics covered: Comedy, anti-aging, martial arts, health and fitness, science, culture

The Joe Rogan Experience is not a self-help podcast, but features so many varied guests, many who provide great tips for improving your life. It’s hosted by Joe Rogan, a successful stand up comedian, UFC commentator and martial artist.

Joe has guests from varied backgrounds such as Dom D’Agostino talking about the ketogenic diet, David Sinclair talking about cutting edge anti-aging research, astrophysicists such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and famous sports people and musicians including Mike Tyson and Steven Tyler. He also has many authors on his podcast, including Jordan Peterson, Dan Harris and Sam Harris, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Another reason why this podcast is useful for anyone trying to improve their life is because Joe practises what he preaches and actively follows suggestions from guests. He believes in other useful practices such as embracing extreme challenge and struggle to grow, and is fairly balanced when he has a guest he doesn’t necessarily agree with. The improvements I’ve made to my own life after listening to the podcast for a few years now have been immeasurable.

Great episodes to start with:


What’s your favourite self-help podcast? Let me know below and I’ll add it to the list.

A pricey but effective wearable which excels in sleep tracking

Verdict: 9 out of 10 stars

★★★★★★★★★☆
What I liked:
  • Sturdy enough for heavy weights workouts including deadlifts
  • Looks great and has a range of finishes
  • Solid battery life with fast charging
  • Free sizing kit is great

What I didn’t like:
  • Manually logging activities could be optimised
  • Expensive

The new Oura Ring has been eagerly anticipated by biohackers, quantified self geeks and the health-conscious public for quite some time. For those who pre-ordered the ring, it has been a long wait filled with inevitable delays. I personally ordered my ring in January 2018 and didn’t see it until mid-October. Still, when the package finally arrived my excitement was palpable. It’s not hard to see why. The Oura Ring fits neatly into the wearable market with a product that is unobtrusive, attractive and actually useful.

Oura has built a very Apple-esque product with the new ring. Even the box reminds me of a Steve Jobs creation, with minimal fluff or padding to obstruct the beautiful ring centerpiece.

Oura Ring 2 Review outline

The ring is attractive and no bigger than other rings I’ve worn in the past. It looks modern and elegant. I chose the Balance model in Black, but there’s also rose, silver, and a silver model embedded with diamonds. There’s also the Heritage model, which has a slightly flatter design than the mild point in the Balance model.

My ring looks slightly closer to a gunmetal grey than pure black (it could just be how lighting interacts with it), but it looks great whether you’re wearing a suit or gym clothes. The ring has a mirror finish, and while it’s attractive, fogs up easily. This meant I was constantly polishing it with my shirt so it looked extra purty, but I didn’t mind. Overall the ring looks sleek and drew compliments from colleagues.

Wearing the new Oura Ring
Wearing the new Oura Ring

It’s amazing how light the ring is. The Oura Ring is made from scratch-resistant titanium, one of the hardest metals available, but feels so light it seems like I could break it with my hands. Oura doesn’t recommend wearing it during heavy strength training, but I’ve used it doing twice weekly deadlifts, squats and bench pressing and it was fine (more on that below).

My ring came 70% charged out of the box, so it was able to be worn straight away. Oura doesn’t provide instructions to start using the ring other than “download the app”, so I whisked off to the Google Play store.

You’ll need to create an account, add your personal information to the app and then link the ring by putting it on the charger and connecting via Bluetooth. After a few seconds, the ring was connected and a firmware update immediately came through.

Setting up the Oura app

Using the ring: logging workouts and sleep tracking

The Oura Ring tracks your sleep, activity and exercise readiness. Each of these utilise a range of the ring’s sensors to give you scores in each category which you can then use to tailor your various inputs throughout the day.

Is your readiness score a bit low? Do some stretching or active recovery instead of a gruelling 14km run, and make sure you sleep early tonight. Sleep quality dropping off? Head to bed early tonight and put away the caffeine and alcohol. Not moving around enough? Head outside for a quick walk or go to a cafe a bit further away today.

While this sounds good in theory, the key with wearables is always how the data you receive will actually change your habits.

The readiness score was one of the key features I bought the ring for. It’s calculated using a surprising amount of data collected with the ring, so I found myself listening to it when my score was low. When combined with other data points like those from the sleep tracking sensors in the ring, it was very effective in shaping my daily activities.

One night I had an intense Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. I stayed late after the class ended to do extra rounds, and ate a full meal when I got home at about 10 pm. Because of this I went to bed later than usual and got poorer sleep afterward. The next morning, my readiness score reflected it, with low amounts of deep sleep and multiple wakeups registered.

My exercise readiness score after hard training and poor sleep the night before.

As you can see from the screenshot, the ring and app work together to give you a convincing reason why you shouldn’t train too hard that day. Heeding the advice, I resigned myself to a moderate intensity workout and went to bed early the next day. The next morning I felt ready to train hard again. It’s scenarios like this that confirm why I bought this ring in the first place.

Using the new oura ring while lifting weights
Using the new Oura Ring while working out

During workouts, the ring performed admirably. It was comfortable whether I was doing a heavy strength workout or a run, although it did move a little bit during my runs once things got sweaty.

One word of caution to those using this for strength workouts: Oura officially doesn’t recommend users wear the ring during heavy strength training. I chose to disregard this warning but was mindful of the ring during the whole workout, and I personally felt fine. The ring itself held up well, but the barbell did scratch the underside a little bit.

New oura ring scratches after lifting weights
Scratches after wearing the ring over three weeks, including six weights sessions.

The sleep tracking itself is very useful. The Oura Ring tracks your Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is the dreaming portions of your sleep, and your Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which refers to the deep sleep you get towards the beginning half of the night.

It also logs any periods that you’re awake and assigns you a sleep efficiency score based on how long you slept for. You can also see when you fell asleep, how many times you woke up and your resting heart rate:

After about a week my app started to tell me my optimal bedtime:

The app will also send you inactivity alerts if you don’t move enough during the day, and I found these very effective. They reminded me to keep moving during my work hours and go for a walk, even if it was just to the bathroom.

Wearing the new Oura Ring every day

This wearable is designed to be worn 24/7. I’ve been wearing this ring every day for three weeks with no problems at the time of writing.

So what’s it like to actually wear this ring around the clock? If you’re not used to wearing a ring every day and night like me, it’s a tiny adjustment at first, but it was never uncomfortable. You will still have to remove the ring a few times over the course of your day. Activities like chopping up raw chicken and putting on hair products are good examples.

Overall I would rate the intrusion of wearing the ring every day and night at a 2 out of 10. Not everyone will want to wear a tracking device every single day and night, so the Oura will obviously not appeal to these types of users.

I highly recommend also ordering the optional free sizing kit to make sure your ring fits well. I wore my plastic ring over one 24 hour period to make sure it felt right during workouts and sleep.

Oura Ring Sizing Kit
The Oura Ring Sizing Kit

You can even bring the ring into a sauna, pool, or shower. Showering and washing your hair with a ring on is a bit weird at first but I got used to it quite fast. Overall this added versatility means you’re wearing the ring for longer, and therefore collecting more data.

The ring also has an airplane mode which is useful if you don’t want the ring transmitting while you sleep. It has enough onboard memory to hold six weeks worth of data before needing to connect to the cloud. I traveled overseas with the ring and found it to be no hassle turning the airplane mode on and off.

The new Oura Ring battery

True to Oura’s claims, the new ring has about one week of battery life. The charging itself is easy, with a sleek wireless charger that can charge the ring very fast. In under 20 minutes, I was able to add about 20% to my battery life, so it’s great if you need some extra juice in a pinch.

Oura Ring Charger
The new Oura Ring with charger.

The charger uses a USB-A cable, meaning you’ll need to find the right adapter if your laptop or device doesn’t have a USB A slot.

The Oura Ring app

The Oura app itself is simple and clean. The dashboard shows you your current readiness score as well as your sleep, activity for the day and your optimal bedtime.

Oura app dashboard
The Oura app dashboard

You can add notes and log activities with the plus icon, and there’s a number of activities to choose from.

There’s also a small settings section where you can do things like backup your data, control whether or not you want to receive inactivity alerts and battery level alerts.

In the top right of the screen you can easily see your battery level, and by pressing it you can switch airplane mode, as well as see what ring and firmware you’re connected to.

Activity logging is the weakest link with the new Oura Ring. For anything other than step-related activity or activity with lots of hand movement, Oura recommends logging the activity.

Unfortunately, this overrides the activity intensity that the ring itself logs during your workout, and replaces it with an intensity taken from the profile of the activity in the Oura app. For example, I had a strength training workout and wore my ring, hence recording the intensity for the workout. Once done, I noticed the app was showing my activity level for the day at 0. I jumped back into the app, logged the activity, picked the ‘moderate’ intensity level and the app overrided the activity data it had just collected. While the difference is not huge, it would be nice if the app allowed you to specify that you wore the ring during the logged activity.

Before logging an activity
After activity logging
After logging an activity

If you can’t wear the ring at all and your activity isn’t listed, you can add it manually. Unfortunately, this adds an amount of guesswork to an otherwise precise product. For example, I couldn’t wear my ring during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for fear of injury, so I logged the activity after class. I entered in the duration, start time and then struggled when it came to logging the intensity of the class. Some parts of a BJJ class are different to others. The drilling part of BJJ can be a lower intensity than the rolling (sparring) component. I eventually had to log two separate activities for each part of the class.

It would be awesome to be able to use the ring to “profile” an activity, and then use this profile again if you can’t wear the ring during subsequent workouts. You could then carefully wear the ring once during an activity like a BJJ class, and then apply that same “profile” for other classes to at least get a more accurate reading.

Another slight issue with the activity tracking presented itself on two occasions when I lay down to watch some Netflix. The app marked this down as ‘rest’, whereas other times when I did the exact same thing it did not. At this stage, I’m not sure how useful this feature is in its current state.

A final issue with activity logging is that you can’t retroactively log an activity for a day once it’s over. I can understand this will throw out previous days of data if you go back into the start of the week and make changes, but surely Oura could let you enter in yesterday’s activities if you wake up and realise you’ve forgotten to enter in last night’s exercise session (which I did).

With this minor issue being said, I still found the ring to be a very capable product and one that I will continue to wear.

Pricing and where to buy the new Oura Ring

The new Oura Ring starts at $299 USD (Approx. $415 AUD) for the basic Balance and Heritage rings in black or silver. The price rises to $399 USD (Approx. $555 AUD) if you choose the rose gold or stealth model, and tops out at $999 USD (Approx. $1390 AUD) if you want the Balance ring with diamonds. Note: discount codes are available around the internet so be sure to search for these.

This is pricey especially given that the competing Motiv ring which lacks some of the sensors and features starts at $199 USD. Other wearables like the Fitbit Charge 2 are hovering around the $170 AUD mark. This price puts the ring just shy of devices like the Apple Watch too.

While the new Oura Ring isn’t exactly comparable with these devices in both design and technology, you should think about exactly what you want to track before putting down the cash for this product.

At the time of writing the Oura Ring is only available direct from the Oura website and had a shipping time of between 8 – 12 weeks.

Verdict: 9 out of 10 stars

The Oura Ring is an excellent but expensive wearable for anyone looking for an easy way of collecting data to improve their health. The sleep tracker and exercise readiness scores were the two outputs I most found useful. The activity tracker should be useful for most users but needs a few tweaks to become more accurate for those doing activities not listed as an option. The battery life is solid at one week of real use, and the durability of the ring means it can be worn virtually anywhere you go, including saunas and swims. Finally, the ring looks amazing and drew compliments and questions from curious friends.

All this is a long way of me saying that you won’t be disappointed with the new Oura Ring. It looks great, collects and presents some useful data, and is easy to use and charge. I highly recommend it.

Specs

  • Material: Scratch-resistant titanium
  • Price: $299 USD – $999 USD
  • Weight: 4 – 6 grams
  • Water resistant: 100m / 328 ft
  • Dimensions: 7.9 mm wide (0.31 inches), 2.55 mm thick (0.1 inches)
  • Battery life: 1 week
  • Charge time: 20 – 80 mins depending on charging frequency
  • Charger: Wireless charger with USB-A connection
  • Sensors: Proprietary pulse sensors and infrared PPG sensors, body temperature sensors, 3D accelerometer and gyroscope

The New Oura Ring VS Motiv VS Whoop

The Oura Ring isn’t the only cutting edge wearable in town. In fact, it’s not even the only wearable ring available. Below I’ve compared two similar competitors, the Motiv ring and the Whoop strap.

Oura RingMotivWhoop Strap
Sleep stage tracking?YesNoYes
Sleep duration tracking?YesYesYes
Heart Rate Variability tracking?YesNoYes
Resting heart rate tracking?YesYesYes
Exercise tracking?YesYesYes
Recovery tracking?YesNoYes
Temperature tracking?YesNoYes
Acceleratometer? YesYes (3-axis)Yes (3-axis)
Onboard memory6 weeks3 days3 days
Weight4 – 6 grams18 grams
Battery life1 week3 days30 hours
ChargerWireless chargingUSB chargingBattery pack w/ micro-USB charger
Charging time20–80 minutes90 minutes90-120 minutes
Warranty?2 years1 year1 year
MaterialTitanium and diamond-like carbon coatingTitaniumWoven polyster or nylon bands
Waterproof?YesYesYes
Display?NoNoNo
Form factorRingRingSmart match
ConnectivityBluetoothBluetoothBluetooth
AppsAndroid / Apple StoreAndroid / Apple StoreAndroid / Apple Store
Free sizing kit?YesNo – $19.99 USDN/A
PriceFrom $299 USD$199.99 USDFrom $18 USD per month for 18 months ($324 USD to begin)

2019 update of my Oura Ring Review

At the time of writing, I’ve been consistently using the Oura ring for 8 months and am still finding it to be very useful. The two metrics I pay attention to each day are my readiness and sleep quality scores. I use these to decide how intense I’ll exercise, how much rest I need and if I need to sleep earlier on a given day.

Also of note is that my original ring suffered from a faulty battery 6 months in, which Oura replaced about three weeks after I messaged them through Facebook. This issue seems to have affected a number of other users, with most accounts generally saying the ring was replaced a number of weeks after informing Oura.

Biohacking refers to the pursuit of human optimisation by improving your nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress management, environment and other factors.

Biohackers will often use technology to help collect data about their biology so they can measure the impacts of the various “hacks” used. Examples of this include heart rate variability monitors, sleep trackers, mood apps and auditory stimulation.

Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof blog and Bulletproof Coffee, defined biohacking in a 2014 TedX talk as “The art of controlling your biology and performance by changing the environment inside and outside your body.”

The main difference between general self-improvement and biohacking is that it’s a systems-based approach. This treats the body as a system with inputs such as food, sleep and exercise and outputs such as mental performance, physical performance. Biohackers improve the inputs to get better outputs.

Why would you become a biohacker? Goals can include things like better memory, increased focus, better physical performance in sports or longevity.

For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be referring to biohacking in the ‘wellness’ sense as mentioned above. There’s also a growing subset of biohackers known as “grinders” who use implants and chemicals to change their bodies. Examples of this include implantable RFID chips. This guide will not yet delve into this side of the definition.

Where to start with biohacking diagram

The beginner’s guide to biohacking: start here

What is the “quantified self” and how does it relate to biohacking?

Self quantification is the tracking of different personal metrics in order to obtain knowledge about yourself. You can then use this information to improve yourself.

Metrics can include your heart rate, mood, weight, hours slept, food and anything else you can measure about yourself or your environment. The quantified self movement often utilises technology to help capture these metrics, with popular examples including wearables such as the Oura ring and Fitbit, and apps like Daylio and Sleep Cycle to record mood and sleep respectively.

Self quantification is often used by biohackers to monitor the inputs and outputs of their human ‘system’ to see how they can improve themselves.

For example, a biohacker may log their mood and activities each day for a month, and then use this to find out what activities are making them unhappy, and what activities are making them happy. They could then (hopefully) remove the activities dragging them down, and do more of the activities that make them happy.

More information: The term ‘Quantified Self’ was actually coined by two journalists: Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly. They now run Quantified Self Labs, a company that runs conferences and other meetings for the quantified self community.

Where do I start with biohacking?

Biohacking and self-quantification can be tough for some to begin because the human body is so complex.

The easiest way to narrow it down is to first ask yourself what your goal is. For example, my own biohacking goals are to be more focused at work, perform better in my favourite sports, and finally increase my overall health and longevity.

Once you decide on this, you can look at some popular hacks in each area to begin with. As mentioned above, self-quantification is an important activity in this space because it can help biohackers learn how their hacks are actually impacting their body.

Because of this, before trying out a new change, some biohackers will take baseline measurements of the outputs they wish to improve and obtain more general information about their body. This is usually in the form of a DNA test like those offered from 23 and Me, Ancestry or MyHeritage, and/or blood tests from a medical professional or services like i-screen (Australia), or WellnessFX (USA).

Here’s a roundup of some popular hacks to conduct further research on, as well as some tools and apps to help with measuring the impact they have.

You can also start by attending a good biohacking conference or reading a great biohacking book.

Important: Some of the biohacking suggestions below and on the web in general for supplements, products, gadgets, foods and practices do not have large amounts of supporting research or evidence behind them. Be safe! Consult medical professionals before trying anything that could have an impact on your health, and be skeptical when evaluating the marketing claims of products which sound too good to be true. You don’t want to end up hurting yourself or wasting a lot of money on worthless products.

Biohacking cognitive abilities e.g focus, memory

How to measure:

  • Productive hours. You could measure this with RescueTime, which is an app and browser extension which categorises the time spent on your devices. It’ll give you a basic reading of the time you’ve spent on entertainment sites, social media etc. Hopefully a successful focus hack will see the number of productive hours increase while unproductive time spent decreases.
  • Mood. You can use Daylio if you use an Android, or Moodnotes or Reporter if you use an iPhone. This will help you log your mood and activities each day to evaluate later. You can then track your mood and activities after implementing a new hack.
  • Brain response. You can use brain training apps to see the before and after results of your biohacks. For example you could measure the time spent to complete an activity, or the score obtained.

Biohacks to consider:

  • Auditory stimulation. BrainFM is an app and web application that you can use to boost your focus, sleep quality or meditation (hence why it’s repeated below). According to the BrainFM website, they’re in the process of producing peer-reviewed studies about its effectiveness, but their pilot study claims it can increase attention and reduce mind wandering.
  • Nootropics. Nootropics, otherwise known as ‘smart drugs’, are substances that specifically work to increase mental function. These can be natural or synthetic, and can be either over-the-counter supplements or perscription drugs. The most widely known include caffeine and creatine, all the way through to Modafinil and Adderall. The Get Hapi blog has a great infographic talking about what makes a good nootropic, listing the properties of a good nootropic including: having at least three double-blind placebo-controlled studies showing safety and efficacy, and having few side effects or toxicity. Joe Rogan’s famed ‘Alpha Brain’ supplement from his company Onnit is an example of a nootropic. Other popular examples include Mind Lab Pro and Qualia Mind.
  • Meditation. You’ll see this repeated a few times on this list, but the benefits of meditation have been verified in many scientific studies. Some have shown that it reduces memory loss in older adults and can increase your attention span. There are many different ways to meditate. My favourite and one of the easiest for me personally is mindfulness meditation, where you simply become aware of your breath and then gently remind your mind to refocus on it whenever it wanders.
Biohacks image

Biohacking sleep

How to measure:

  • Sleep Cycle. Sleep Cycle is an app for both Android and Apple which tracks your sleep quality using your phone. You turn the app on and it then records your sleep quality and wakes you up at a period in your sleep cycle which is your lightest.
  • Oura ring. The Oura ring is an amazing piece of technology (at the time of writing I’m eagerly waiting for my ring to get here!) which tracks your sleep, resting heart rate, HRV and body temperature. It then stores this information and uploads it to the cloud where you can analyse it. What most excites me about the Oura ring is that it’s much smaller than many other wearables, and you can wear it while working out as it’s made from titanium and is water resistant.
  • Beddit. Beddit is a sleep monitor strap which you fit to your bed. It then records data such as your heart rate, snoring, breaths per minute and sleep quality. It was acquired by Apple in May 2017, so is now available through the Apple store.

Biohacks to consider:

  • Blue blocking glasses and Flux. Lighting has a big impact on the brain. Blue light in particular can disrupt melatonin production which stops our body from receiving the usual signal that it’s time to go to bed. Blue blocking glasses, as the name suggests, removes blue from entering your eyes. Flux is a free app which you can install on your phone, tablet or computer which removes the blue light from your devices after a certain time (mine is set to activate at about 7pm). New phones and tablets today will also include a ‘night shift’ setting which does the same.
  • BrainFM. As mentioned above, BrainFM has a sleep mode which they claim in their pilot study increases slow-wave sleep (SWS) activity by 24-29%. SWS is the sleep which move your daily memories into long term memories.
  • Cutting down on caffeine. After listening to Matthew Walker’s podcast with Kevin Rose about sleep, I realised just how much of an impact caffeine has on sleep quality. It has a half-life of five to seven hours, meaning that even if you have a coffee in the late morning or afternoon, a good portion of the caffeine could still be in your system come sleep time!  At the time of writing I’ve been caffeine-free for almost two weeks, and have felt a massive jump in my alertness and restfulness.

Biohacking your diet

How to measure:

  • Bodyfat percentage. There are a number of ways to measure body fat. Calipers can be a cheap and easy way to get your body fast tested, although they rely on the skill of the person using them. A more accurate method is a DEXA scan, which can cost between $40 – $100 depending on where you go.
  • Blood work. Companies like i-screen and iMEDICAL (Australia) and WelllnessFX (USA) offer a range of blood tests to help monitor the success of any dieting biohacks. With these services, you carry out your test at a regular blood collection center and then get the results sent to you.
  • Calorie counters and food logs. MyFitnessPal allows you to enter in the foods you eat each day to get a calorie amount.

Biohacks to consider:

  • Cut out sugar. Some research is starting to show that sugar has many negative effects on the body, including inflammation, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, less energy, and maybe even links to dementia and cancer. I have personally limited sugary drinks in my diet to one per week, and limit my desserts or sugary treats to once or twice per week (usually on the weekend).
  • Ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. This in turn forces your body to start using fat as its main food source instead of carbs. Some studies have found ketogenic diets to have positive benefits on losing weight and some diseases. It’s a big change, so be sure to do plenty of research before trying it.
  • Intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is simply when you fast for a certain interval. There are many different splits and ways to do intermittent fasting, such as the 16/8 fast, where you don’t eat for 16 hours and restrict your eating to the remaining 8 hours. In the past I’ve done this by having my last meal at around 9pm and then eating again at around lunchtime the next day. Intermittent fasting has been shown to have some benefits such as stabilising blood sugar, helping you to lose weight, reducing oxidative stress and more. As I mentioned above though, seek medical advice and conduct your own thorough research before making a change like this.

Biohacking your recovery after sports

How to measure:

  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV) monitor. Heart rate variability is the difference in the time interval between your heart beats. Contrary to what you would assume, it’s healthy to have irregular intervals between heart beats. Research has also shown that more regular time intervals can signal stress, while a healthy irregularity in intervals can signal a more relaxed state. A HRV monitor can take the form of a phone app, wearable like the Oura or Fitbit, or even a finger or earlobe monitor. By measuring your HRV every morning you can tailor the intensity of your daily activities to your state. If your HRV shows you’re in a stressed state for the day, it might be better to preference relaxing or low intensity activities for example.
  • Sleep monitor. As mentioned above, sleep monitoring could show you the quality of your sleep and whether or not you’re getting enough deep restorative sleep. You can then implement changes to improve it.
  • Mood logs. A mood log with one of the apps mentioned above could be useful to track how you feel each day to note whether or not you’re feeling recovered.
  • Exercise/activity logs. A simple spreadsheet could be used to track your performance in your chosen sport or activity to plot how you’re performing.

Biohacks to consider:

  • Recovery training. Trainers like Joel Jamieson also use active recovery methods like Tempo training, where you do 10 seconds of work at a moderate intensity (about 70% maximum intensity and speed) and then 60 seconds active rest period. Joel actually has a ‘rebound’ protocol for helping with recovery including recovery breathing and then going into other phases including the active recovery above.
  • Sauna. Joel Jamieson also recommends athletes with a HRV score above their regular baseline can use sauna treatments to help with recovery. Dr Rhonda Patrick’s sauna report has a great collection of research showing that sauna use is also beneficial for muscle growth.
  • BrainFM. BrainFM also has a setting for calm and meditation.
  • Meditation. World-renowned trainer Joel Jamieson recommends athletes with a HRV score below their baseline average can use relaxation strategies like meditation or even floating to help prevent overtraining.

Other biohacks to consider

Standing desks

One biohack I’m a huge fan of is using a standing desk. This is common news to many in the wellness space, but to quickly summarise, constant sitting has been linked to many health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and more. Alternating between sitting and standing can reduce this. I now have a standing desk both at home and at work. Recent research in Australia has even estimated it could save $84 million in healthcare costs by reducing the risk of certain diseases.

Standing desk biohacks
Unless you’re on a strict budget, I highly recommend getting an affordable motorised standing desk like the IKEA Bekkant. This cost me just over $600 AUD and about an hour to put together.

Bulletproof/Butter coffee

Bulletproof or butter coffee is coffee with added butter and MCT oil. It’s claimed by Dave Asprey that the butter and MCT oil can provide a great source of ketones, which gives you sustained energy when compared to glucose. I love the taste of butter coffee and find it gives me a nice burst of energy, but it should be noted that many of the claimed benefits associated with it aren’t accepted by all. There’s a great analysis on Gizmodo about the claims which have been made about it.

Where are the biohacking communities on the internet?

Biohacking communities

There are quite a few thriving biohacking communities on the web if you’d like to get started. Below is a list of active communities depending on your platform of choice:

Facebook:

Reddit subreddits:

Forums:

What are some good biohacking blogs, social profiles and podcasts to pay attention to?

Below are some good places to start to get into biohacking. You can also read our guide to the best biohacking podcasts for more.

Tim Ferriss. Tim’s blog The 4-Hour Work Week has many tips and tricks for biohackers. Many of his books also have plenty of tips, primarily The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef.

Ben Greenfield Fitness. Ben Greenfield is a biohacker I found out about from his appearances on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast (1069 and 1120). He experiments with many crazy methods for increasing performance or health, but he also writes extremely detailed guides to important key areas such as sleep, anti-aging, self quantification and more.

Quantified Bob. Bob Troia is an entrepreneur, biohacker and quantified self proponent. Bob runs many experiments on himself to test hypotheses. He even offers API access to his data!

The Quantified Body. The Quantified Body podcast explores the use of data and technology to improve your health. It’s a great podcast and includes guests such as Ben Greenfield, Dom D’Agostino and Aubrey De Grey. Topics range from the ketogenic diet, fasting and meditation, to heart rate variability and wearables.

Smart Drug Smarts. This podcast primarily approaches biohacking from a nootropics perspective, but actually has great episodes on all facets of human optimisation. It’s also a high quality show, nicely produced and edited to cut out filler.

Kevin Rose. Kevin Rose is an entrepreneur most well known for creating Digg. He now also runs an awesome newsletter and podcast which is full of ideas for biohackers to explore. Notable guests include Dr Valter Longo on longevity, Tim Ferriss and Ben Greenfield.

Dr Rhonda Patrick. Dr Rhonda’s Found My Fitness blog is the headquarters for her podcast and genetic reports. It’s also where you can find her awesome reports on topics such as sauna use.

Bulletproof Blog. Dave Asprey has made plenty of contributions to the biohacking space, and his Bulletproof blog continues to give helpful tips for topics including diet, exercise and more.

Robb Wolf. A personal favourite author and blogger of mine because of his realistic applications of biohacking concepts, particularly relating to diet. Robb Wolf is a biochemist-turned blogger who is also a powerlifting champion, amateur kickboxer and BJJ purple belt. His blog and podcast covers many topics: paleo and keto diets; anti-inflammatory lifestyle tips; and fitness and sleep.

Chris Kresser. Chris Kresser is an author, acupuncturist and health blogger with years of experience. His popular blog cover topics including the paleo diet, ancestral health, gut health, low carb diets and much more. He also has some great books about alternative medicine and the paleo diet.

Healthline and Examine.com. When trying to evaluate the benefits of different supplements, foods and more I’ve found Healthline and Examine.com very helpful. Each site delves into the science and links to papers to help you dig deeper.

Mark’s Daily Apple. Mark Sisson, the creator of Mark’s Daily Apple, is one of the most respected members of the ancestral eating community. His blog offers clear explanations about the latest studies relating to health, and he’s my first port of call when wondering whether or not a food is actually healthy. His book The Primal Blueprint has a great outline of how to live healthily according to our ancestral roots.

Peter Attia. Dr Peter Attia focuses on longevity, and has a great blog and podcast with numerous in-depth articles covering topics including keto diets, exercise, metabolism and more. He also has a great podcast with Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan which is where I learned about him.

The best biohacking books to read first

We’ve written a full list of the best biohacking books covering food, fasting, cold therapy, sleep, exercise and more, but to get you started here are our top three books to begin with:

Biohacker’s Handbook by Olli Sovijärvi, Jaakko Halmetoja and Teemu Arina

Biohacker’s Handbook is an excellent book for beginners and includes chapters on all of the key areas you should look into to optimise your health.

Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield

Beyond Training is written by Ben Greenfield, a well known biohacker and athlete with a very interesting history. It includes information and tips for improving your fitness, recovery, brain health, nutrition and lifestyle. 

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD

Why we sleep book cover

Sleep is one of the most important ways to improve your health and performance. Why We Sleep explains what sleep does, why it’s important, and finally how you can improve your sleep, all using cutting-edge science as evidence.

What are some wearables to consider when starting in biohacking?

If you’re jumping into biohacking or evidence-based self improvement in 2018 and beyond, you’re lucky. There are a number of great wearables to help gather data at the time of writing. Here are two of the most popular and versatile picks:

Oura ring. The first version of the Oura ring was actually the result of a successful kickstarter campaign in 2015. The latest 2018 version of the ring is smaller than the original, and squeezes in the ability to monitor your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep quality and body temperature. It’s also claimed to have a week-long battery life, is water resistant and scratch proof, and the small size makes it useful for constant wear. At the time of writing I’m still waiting on my ring, so stay tuned for the review.

Oura ring
The new Oura Ring

Garmin Vivofit. The Garmin Vivofit came first in The Wirecutter’s roundup of best wearables for a reason. They liked this fitness tracker because it has an accurate continuous heart rate monitor, allows you to monitor heart rate variability and allows sleep tracking. According to The Wirecutter’s tests, it had up to seven days of battery life when its GPS function was turned off, and it’s also waterproof.

What are some apps to consider when starting to biohack?

Reporter. Reporter is a paid iPhone app which asks you questions throughout the day to record how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. You can customise the questions it asks, and questions can range from who you’re with to how many coffees you had today. The information can then be exported and combined with other data.

Daylio. Daylio is a free alternative to Reporter which is available for android users too. It allows you to log your mood and your daily activities. You can create custom activities too.

BrainFM. I’ve mentioned BrainFM a number of times above, and for good reason (I listened to it while I wrote this guide). It’s an app and browser application which allows you to select from three modes: focus, calm and sleep. It then uses algorithms to build a music track which is claimed to bring about cognitive states, such as focus. For example, in the focus setting, frequencies in the 12 – 18 Hz range are used. I personally find it useful for keeping me productive during tasks such as writing or researching.

Sleep Cycle. Sleep Cycle is an iPhone and Android app which turns your phone into a sleep tracker. It uses your phone’s accelerometer or microphone to analyse your sleep and track your natural cycles. You can then analyse the data to find out your sleep quality, including the time spent in deep sleep vs awake periods or periods of restlessness. It also has an alarm function where it wakes you up when you’re not in deep sleep to make your wakeup as smooth as possible. It’s available as a free app and has premium features too.

HRV4Training. This app uses your phone camera or compatible heart rate monitor to measure your HRV score. I used the phone camera method each morning for over a year, which basically requires you to put your finger on your camera for a short time to analyse. It requires a very dark room, so I would simply put the phone under the covers of my bed and analyse my HRV before I got out of bed. I am now replacing this with the Oura Ring.

Meditation apps. I personally don’t find guided meditation apps useful because I find the instructions to distract me from the act of meditating, but I’ve used Headspace in the past and found it somewhat useful when getting started. Kevin Rose also has a meditation app called Oak which seems great because the team is proactively looking to link the app with wearables such as the Oura ring. Unfortunately it’s only available on iOS currently.

Where to next?

If you’re interested in starting on your own biohacking journey, consider joining one of the communities above, or start following one of the personalities mentioned. Whatever your reason for jumping into the biohacking scene is, realise that you’re changing your body, so research any changes you’re considering to implement to make sure they’re safe and worth the money.

Did I miss anything?

Let me know in the comments section of this post if I should add anything in, or if you want to share parts of your own biohacking journey that’s cool too!