BIOHACK TOOLS & Resources
How to Track Your Health
How do food, training, and lifestyle choices really impact your health? That’s what biohacking is all about – otherwise known as using available tools to monitor your own health.
I’ve investigated the impacts of my training, lifestyle, and nutrition choices for myself for several years now. In a recent email newsletter, I covered why being fit and looking great don’t always equal health. Just because someone is ripped and can perform at a high level does not mean they’re going to live longer (or better).
Many of you are here because you want to look good and move well. That’s what Functional Bodybuilding and my Persist training program is all about.
But what’s the point of fitness if it doesn’t help us enjoy and engage in our lives for as long as possible?
I want to be around a long time for my kids. I want to travel, hike, try new activities, and feel great in my body too.
So today I’ll put simple biohack tools in your hands to investigate internal health markers for yourself.
These aren’t all must-haves for everyone. And there’s a range of biohacking options for different budgets and how much time and effort you want to spend. Also, this is by no means comprehensive. I’ve chosen the ones I’ve prioritized for myself and my clients in a health and fitness context.
But even a few simple changes in your training, nutrition, or lifestyle can give you massive results. And if you’re going to make the effort to change a thing or two and use biohacking for yourself, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s actually working.
Areas to Biohack
Sleep & Recovery
How does screen time before bed impact your sleep? Is your training program actually getting you fitter? These are just a few of the questions biohacking your sleep and recovery can answer.
- Hours and Stages of Sleep – Investigating the total hours you are sleeping each night, not counting wake time, can help steer your behaviors. Caffeine quantity and timing, bedtime routines, alcohol, and meal timing are just a a few ways your sleep can suffer. Looking at the hours you spend in different stages of sleep can help you modify behaviors. More REM or Deep Sleep can increase cognitive function and recovery. Better rest can also improve your mood and help you make better nutrition choices. Biohacking tools I’ll link below can give thorough data and help you track the impacts of your choices.
- Heart Rate Variability – HRV scores can help you better understand if you are overreaching with your life stresses (training included). Each person has their own set point, so compare your progress to your own numbers instead of others. Long-term data on HRV can help you better understand how your fitness levels are trending. Higher is generally better.
- Electrolyte balance – The right ratio of electrolytes and ensuring that you are absorbing them from your food effectively can impact performance and energy.
How does your nutrition affect your heart health? Are you at risk overall for heart disease? Here’s what biohack tools can uncover:
Blood Pressure – This basic health marker that can be obtained easily provides a lot of insight into your cardiovascular risk profile. More pressure in your blood vessels means a greater likelihood that you could have a cardiovascular event like a stroke or heart attack.
Lipid Panels – Good old-fashioned cholesterol and blood lipid panels have come a long way. We have more insight than we used to have about what values actually correlate to higher disease risk. Looking at your ApoB levels, HDL, and Triglyceride levels can be highly informative about your dietary choices and if they are working for you.
Inflammation: Biohacking Immune Response
This is a natural response of our immune system to injury, infection, or irritation. In the short term, it’s a good thing and helps us heal. But chronic inflammation that goes on for months or years means your immune system is in overdrive and attacking healthy cells. It’s linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease. But often you can correct it through lifestyle and nutrition.
- C Reactive Protein (CRP) – If the level of CRP in your blood is high, relative to normal, you may have high inflammation. Left uncontrolled, this can initiate events for cardiovascular disease and increase your health risks.
- Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids – Omega 3’s (EPA & DHA) are anti-inflammatory. Omega 6 Fatty Acids are pro-inflammatory. You can also investigate the ratio between them as a marker of how much inflammation you may (or may not) be dealing with.
- Sex Hormones – It can be handy to get a baseline of your Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone levels that you can track over time. Knowing if your lifestyle and age are leading to declines starts with a baseline.
- Thyroid Hormones – These levels are a key to understanding your basal metabolism and if it is changing over time. Is your metabolism broken? Most likely not. But if your thyroid hormones are low and the thyroid fails to produce adequate hormones, your metabolism could be decreasing.
Diabetes Risk/Insulin Resistance/Glucose Metabolism
- Fasting Insulin – Insulin is the hormone that controls the level of sugar in our blood. It has powerful impacts on the body. We know that resistance to the effects of insulin is a precursor to diabetes. This disease path has a host of downstream health implications that we absolutely want to avoid. A fasting insulin score will tell you what your risk is. You can correct this with movement and diet.
- Hemoglobin A1C – This score is another way to see how much sugar your blood is exposed to on a consistent basis. Eating sugar isn’t inherently bad, but if our blood sugar is constantly elevated, that is problematic. Hb A1C is a marker of this.
Biohack Tools & Resources
Dive deeper into the science of longevity – my recommended reading is Outlive by Peter Attia.
Sleep & HRV Tools:
Blood Panels & Testing
Wild Health – Comprehensive testing and tele-health consultations for your health goals (special pricing at this link)
You can also check with your primary care doctor and insurance plan to see what’s covered. Be proactive with your doctor if you have any questions about your health.
Blood Pressure Cuff – I recently purchased this for my home. This iHealth Blood Pressure Cuff is inexpensive and allows you to track one of the most important cardiovascular health markers. I take my blood pressure every few days in the morning at rest. Or you can check it quarterly.
Glucose Monitor – LEVELS has an app that syncs with a Continuous Glucose Monitor. Track how food, training, and lifestyle habits impact your glucose metabolism. If you’re not already consistently eating protein, veggies, and nutritious carbs, start there first. Once you have a good foundation, you may want to investigate meal timing and how carbs affect energy levels.
Body Composition – Objective data here can also give you good insight into how your nutrition, training, and lifestyle impacts your body over time.The trusted scale is always something you can rely on to give you a crude measurement of your body weight.
Weight without composition analysis is imperfect, but it still is an accountability tool that some can use effectively without emotional turbulence. I go through phases of wanting to step on the scale and not. But the more I do it the more it becomes less emotionally triggering.
Dexa Scanner or Body Composition Analysis – an annual Dexa Scan is a very accurate way to track your body composition over time. It also gives you insight into your bone density.
These are numbers that I wish I started to track earlier. I would like to have data on them over decades to see how my lifestyle, training, and diet impact my health.
You can also look for places near you that offer InBody scans. New apps such as SPREN are also emerging to track body composition at home.
Before you start putting any biohack tool to use, ask yourself how you might use this information.
There’s no point in a fancy glucose monitor if you’re not already consistent about nutrition and ready to switch your carb to fat ratios. So don’t get shiny object syndrome here. Choose something realistic for you, or one thing you have a hunch may be the most important for your health.
What are you curious about when it comes to living longer and more fully? Is there something on this list (or elsewhere) you can use to find out? Whether you want to biohack your health or just keep an eye on general trends, there’s always more to learn.
Just like with training, I encourage you to remain a student always.