A listicle of tips and food hacks to improve your health, reduce your waistline, make you live longer, and make you better at sexin’ it up.
Eating has gotten to be like alchemy for me. It’s no longer just about fueling my body or finding new culinary delights. It’s about transforming matter, and in this case, the matter I’m trying to transform isn’t lead (into gold) but flesh and blood. I’m biohacking my ass off to stay lean, increase muscularity, and live as long as a bristlecone pine, only with half the wrinkles.
In my quest, I’ve read a lot. I’ve mixed up various supplements, foods, compounds, and drugs. I’ve experimented with different ways to prepare food. The price I paid was the occasional upset stomach, a periodic revolt of the bowels, or maybe the occasional murder of sleep.
However, I’ve had my successes, too. I’ve stumbled onto a lot of (and even invented a few) little biohacks that I think have shown a lot of promise in achieving the aforementioned goals. At the very least, I know they’ve improved my health, reduced my waistline, and improved my performance.
Following are a few of my favorites, along with links to articles that give more detailed descriptions:
- Add about 5 grams (around a teaspoon) of non-dutched cocoa, or better yet, cacao, to your cup of coffee. It’ll bolster coffee’s cognition-enhancing effect while ameliorating the jitteriness some people experience. Plus, the cacao will lead to increased production of the erection chemical, nitric oxide.
- Forget chondroitin and glucosamine for achy joints. Add 50 mg. of vitamin C (or more, if it’s easier, up to 500 mg.) to a scoop of collagen (in a protein shake, for instance) to increase collagen production and shore up your joints (and skin and hair). Alternately, take three to five 500-mg. glycine capsules with a vitamin C tab an hour before you work out. (Glycine is the predominant amino acid in collagen and the one thought to be the most influential in collagen synthesis.)
- Can’t find fresh fruits or vegetables because they’re out of season? No big deal. Frozen are generally better anyhow. Most of the time, they’re frozen within 48 hours of picking, which locks in flavor and, more importantly, nutrients. Contrast that with many “fresh” fruits and vegetables that might not reach your grocery store for days, weeks, or even months after harvest.
- If you’re over 40 or so (or have a history of early-onset heart disease in your family), have a glass of water before you get out of bed in the morning. Dehydration plays a prominent role in blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks, and we’re most vulnerable in the morning when our blood is thick and sludgy like a McFlurry.
- When eating salads, chew the hell out of the vegetables before you swallow. Here’s the thing: You’ve got bacteria in the back of your mouth that convert the nitrates in the fruits and vegetables to nitrite, which are then absorbed by the salivary glands and converted to NO by the body. You might assume that this is trivial, but up to 25% of the nitrate in circulation is absorbed through the salivary glands. Why should you care about NO? The chemical dilates blood vessels and improves circulatory function. It’s good for the heart and it makes possible an erection that an old friend of mine, a Biblical scholar, describes as being like “the forearm of Abraham, or a rung of Jacob’s ladder.”
- Forget about using low-fat or zero-fat salad dressings as a “healthy choice.” Instead, use about a tablespoon or two of full-fat dressing. It has to do with the absorption of the nutrients in salads, many of which, including a wide array of carotenoids and polyphenols, are fat-soluble. That means they’re best absorbed when eaten with some fat.
- Keep your bread in the freezer, regardless of how soon you plan on eating it. The act of freezingthe bread makes its starch “resistant,” in effect lowering its glycemic index by about 30%. Like to toast your bread? Good, because toasting also lowers its GI by an additional 25% or so.
- Use paper coffee filters to brew your coffee. Unfiltered coffee contains 30 times more “harmful substances” than filtered coffee, and removing these substances – via paper filters – results in reduced cholesterol and significantly fewer cardiovascular-related deaths.
- Prefer white rice to brown rice because of its advantages but still worry about the lack of fiber? Just mix in a half-teaspoon of psyllium with your white rice. I’m not talking orange or berry-flavored Metamucil, though, because that would be kind of disgusting. Instead, I’m talking about plain psyllium husk powder.
- This one comes from The Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft (1971), written by Kathryn Paulsen: “You may fascinate a woman by giving her a piece of cheese.” I have yet to try it, but it sounds plausible. Alternately, try precious gems, Krugerrands, or $500 Amazon gift cards.
- Don’t use NSAIDS (e.g., Advil, Aleve) after a workout or minor injury because they can inhibit muscle growth. Instead, use paracetamol (Tylenol), which isn’t an NSAID and has only weak anti-inflammatory properties. Alternately, and perhaps preferably, use nutraceuticals like Micellar Curcumin or concentrated fish oil like Flameout®.
- If you’re taking drugs or supplements to help you sleep or relieve pain and need them to kick in fast, take them and then lie on your right side for 10 minutes or so. That allows the pills to enter the duodenum and go to work much faster than they would if you laid on your left side (around 100 minutes) or your back (around 23 minutes).
- Eat a medium-sized carrot (around 70 grams) every day to reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 50%.
- Want to lower your LDL cholesterol but don’t like the idea of taking statins? Take psyllium, either the relatively unprocessed stuff or Metamucil. It traps bile, of which cholesterol is a component. This is pretty cool because bile is usually recycled several times in a single meal, but when the bile is trapped by fiber and eliminated in the stool, the liver has to produce more bile. So, by forcing the liver to make more bile, a de facto reduction of cholesterol occurs. LDL cholesterol goes down without affecting HDL cholesterol.One teaspoon taken twice a day, roughly an hour before meals, can reduce LDL cholesterol by an average of 13 mg/dl. (Taking a third dose before bedtime might increase it even further).
- If you eat a lot of tuna, canned or fresh, wash it down with green tea to reduce the bioavailability of most of the mercury. Alternately, eat your tuna in a wheat bread or oat bread sandwich as the wheat and oat bran works almost as well as the green tea in reducing bioavailability.
- To change the molecular structure of rice and thereby reduce the calories by around 50% (make it more “resistant”), do the following:
- Boil water.
- Add one teaspoon of coconut oil.
- Add 1 cup of rice.
- Cook rice for approximately 20 minutes.
- Let rice cool in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
- Reheat and serve.
- When sautéing or frying, choose extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). The oil has shown itself to be the most stable oil when heated, followed closely by coconut oil and other virgin oils such as avocado.
- Going out to dinner with a potential sex partner and worried about eating a bunch of carbs but don’t want to come off as prissy (e.g., a ballerina or bodybuilder) by shoving all your mashed potatoes to one side of the plate like Randy in “A Christmas Story”? Take 3 capsules of Indigo-3G® a half hour before you eat. It’ll act like the insulin sensitivity drug Metformin and promote efficient fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism via AMPK regulation. In other words, it allows you to eat your mashed potatoes or other carbs with impunity.
- Take your fish oil capsules with your highest-fat meal of the day. A few solid studies have found that the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids is three to five times greater when ingested with a fat-rich meal.
- Work a scoop of protein powder into two tablespoons of apple sauce before you go to bed. That way, you assure yourself of continued protein synthesis throughout the night without having to drink a lot of fluid and wake up when the bell strikes one, then again at two, once more at three, and so on. It’ll take a little work to get the apple sauce to swallow up all the protein powder, but it’s quite doable.
- Take your vitamin D supplement with your fattiest meal of the day and make sure you’re supplementing with magnesium, too. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble getting your blood levels of the vitamin to budge. Fat, however, helps the body assimilate the vitamin D, while the magnesium is necessary for the vitamin D to do its immune-protective duties. Unfortunately, the standard U.S. diet only contains about 50% of the conservatively estimated RDA for magnesium. Add to that the fact that it leeches out of the body through sweat, so much so that a tough workout might reduce levels below RDA for up to 18 days. Taking 400 mg. a day should do the trick with most people.
- Eat “kaiseki” style. It’s a Japanese word that, while having various manifestations, essentially involves starting a meal with vegetables and following them up with protein and then carbohydrate. The kaiseki style of eating improves insulin sensitivity and ameliorates an age-accelerating process called glycation, which, together, make it easier to get lean while also improving your chances of living long.
- Add canned pumpkin to your protein shakes to stabilize bowel movements. Too loose? Pumpkin firms things up. Nothing happening down there as you channel constipated Elvis Presley? Again, pumpkin to the rescue. Not only that, but pumpkin also contains multiple polyphenols, some of which have been known to sabotage glucose uptake by fat cells and protect muscle proteins from being broken down during intense exercise.