What Are Examples of Biohacking?

By April Dupee, MS, RDN, LDN, April 5, 2023

Woman wearing headphones eating lunch and looking at her phone

Many people are now hacking their way to better health. This DIY biology involves making small, incremental changes to diet, lifestyle, and supplementation to optimize health, maximize physical and mental performance, and live healthier longer. Biohackers self-experiment with techniques and collect data on the human body to determine what works best for them. 

There are many examples of biohacking—some supported by the latest scientific findings while others are lacking research to back them up. But biohackers are putting these interventions to the test. And with the help of wearable devices and blood testing, they can track physiological changes and blood biomarkers that reflect physical fitness, disease risk, and longevity. InsideTracker’s health analysis consolidates bloodwork and sleep and heart rate making it easy to track these vital health metrics.  

Read on for nine examples of biohacks that science supports to have a measurable impact on health status. 


Intermitten Fasting Social_FB 1_1200x628_07.22-2-min


1. Optimize sleep for longevity

The health benefits of adequate sleep are numerous, as research shows getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep is key for: [1-5]

  • Optimizing muscle growth and repair
  • Keeping your brain sharp
  • Improving blood sugar control
  • Enhancing longevity

A meta-analysis of 16 prospective cohort studies with a combined 1.3 million participants found that sleeping less than six hours per day was associated with a 12% greater risk of premature death. [6]


How to measure this biohack

To reap the benefits of quality shut-eye, you can assess and optimize your sleep with wearable devices like Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin smartwatches, WHOOP, and Oura Ring, which track sleep duration and quality. 

Sleep also impacts blood biomarkers and vice versa: suboptimal sleep can result in unoptimized biomarkers and suboptimal biomarkers can result in poor sleep. InsideTracker tracks and analyzes several of these blood biomarkers, including vitamin D, magnesium, and cortisol. InsideTracker also syncs with Apple Watch, Garmin smartwatches and Fitbit, providing you with personalized feedback for optimizing your sleep.


Key takeaway

Sufficient and quality sleep is key for disease prevention and longevity. Optimize your sleep by aiming for 7-9 hours per night and healthy blood levels of biomarkers such as vitamin D, magnesium, and cortisol. 


A graph showing ow much sleep to get for optimal health



2. Consider intermittent fasting for metabolic health

Periods of fasting promote adaptive stress, a type of physiological stress that has beneficial effects, such as the production of antioxidants, DNA repair, autophagy (removal of damaged or dead cells), and decreased inflammation. [7]

This adaptive stress is the rationale behind the many health benefits associated with intermittent fasting including improvements in [8]

  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Insulin resistance
  • Inflammation

The authors in a 2019 review of clinical trials concluded that intermittent fasting can have positive effects on many age-related health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurologic disorders. [9]

There are multiple ways you can practice intermittent fasting, but all versions involve a routine schedule of fasting and non-fasting periods. If you want to give this popular biohack a try, consider selecting a version that works best for your lifestyle.

  • Time-restricted feeding (TRF): Eating is limited to a specific time window (i.e., 10 am-6 pm) followed by an overnight extended fast.
  • Circadian rhythm fasting: This is a specific form of time-restricted feeding that requires a minimum of a 12-hour overnight fast and an earlier eating window during the day to align with the body’s natural circadian rhythms
  • Alternate day fasting (ADF): Fasting or a restricted caloric intake (~<20%) occurs every other day.
  • 5:2 intermittent fasting: Fasting takes place two days of the week while regular food intake happens on the other five.

How to measure this biohack

You can track the effects of intermittent fasting by monitoring blood pressure, weight, and blood levels of glucose, cholesterol, and high-sensitivity c-reactive protein. 


Key takeaway

Intermittent fasting may be a beneficial hack to improve measures of metabolic and heart health. It’s important to note that these changes may also be due to the caloric restriction that often accompanies a fasting regimen, which is associated with the same health outcomes. Contraindications to fasting include pregnancy and a history of eating disorders/disordered eating.


3. Add in sauna sessions for heart health

Saunas—small rooms heated with hot air or steam—are not only for relaxing. Exposure to high temperatures in saunas can have cardiovascular health benefits similar to those produced by aerobic exercise. When exposed to high temperatures, the body works to cool down by increasing heart rate, blood flow, and cardiac output and decreasing blood pressure. This can lead to benefits for cardiovascular health and longevity. [10] 

For example, a prospective cohort study revealed that long-term, frequent sauna use (over 20 years of four to seven times a week) was associated with a reduced risk of several heart issues, including sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. [11]

For best results from this biohack, choose a temperature between 175-195F (80-90C) with 10-20% humidity for 30 minutes at least three times a week. 


How to measure this biohack

You can track various parameters of heart health—like cholesterol levels and blood pressure—to assess if sauna use is working for you.


Key takeaway

Regular sauna use may provide significant cardiovascular and longevity health benefits.


4. Train in zone 2 for improved endurance

Biohackers looking to optimize their endurance performance can consider zone 2 training. Scientists have identified five heart rate zones and what energy source—carbohydrates, protein, or fat—that the body uses for fuel in each zone. Zone 2 is the second to lowest aerobic zone on a scale ranging from one to five and can encompass any activity that puts you at about 60-70 percent of your max heart rate, such as steadily walking or cycling, power walking, or rowing. The body mostly uses fat (and oxygen) as its energy source when in a zone 2 state, as opposed to carbohydrates. 

Research suggests that training in zone 2 improves your aerobic capacity, or VO2 max, which reflects how efficiently your body can consume oxygen and convert it to energy. [12] A better aerobic capacity means being able to work out more frequently and at higher intensities with more ease.


How to measure is biohack?

You can try the talk test as a simple yet effective method to know if you are training in zone 2. If you can have a conversation without getting out of breath, then you are likely in zone 2. You can use wearable devices that track parameters like heart rate and heart rate variability to estimate and assess your aerobic capacity. 


Key takeaway

Participating in zone 2 exercises can improve your aerobic fitness, thereby improving your endurance and ability to complete higher-intensity exercises with more ease. 


5. Incorporate strength training for healthy aging

Strength training is a form of exercise that builds muscle through resistance with free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, and/or bodyweight exercises. [13] The health and longevity benefits of strength training are countless. Research has linked strength training with improved body composition, strength, power, endurance, and flexibility. [14-18] It also can reduce chronic disease risk by promoting cognition, better heart health, improved blood glucose regulation, and less chronic inflammation. [19-22] 

Incorporating strength training into your weekly exercise routine can be a great way to ward off age-related conditions and maintain physical health and independence for as long as possible. The ideal training plan will depend on your unique goals and baseline fitness level. 


How to measure this biohack?

Certain blood biomarkers—including creatine kinase, ALT, and hsCRP—are good indicators for how you recover from physical activity like strength training. Proper recovery is essential to keeping with the rigor and progression of your strength training routine, whereas poor recovery puts you at risk of injury. 

You can measure strength gains by tracking your one-repetition maximum or grip strength. And you can look at markers like blood pressure, blood sugar, and body composition (like percent lean mass). 


Key takeaway

Strength training benefits both athletic performance and muscle and bone health as you age.




6. Make time for meditation to de-stress

Chronic stress can lead to many negative health effects, including inflammation, weakened immune function, heart disease, depression, and altered digestive function. [23] Fortunately, meditation is a simple biohack you can implement to combat the effects of stress. 

Meditation is a practice that involves focusing or clearing the mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques to achieve an emotionally calm and stable state. [24] Research shows that meditation does not simply help you feel more relaxed, but it can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and make you more resilient to stressful situations. [25-27] Some studies suggest that meditation may have brain and heart health benefits too. [28,29]

You can try this simple yet effective biohack by sitting down, closing your eyes, and focusing on a single point of reference for five minutes. You can also say a mantra or add some relaxing background music. Over time, you can work up to 15-20 minutes of meditation per day for the best results. 


How to measure this biohack?

You can measure blood pressure and blood levels of cortisol, white blood cells, and cholesterol to assess if meditation is an effective biohack for your physical and mental health. You can also track when you’re feeling stress to either identify if meditation is also improving your perceived stress or identify what may be contributing to your stress 

Key takeaway

Meditation is a simple way you can combat the negative health effects associated with chronic stress.


7. Supplement with l-theanine to help relax

L-theanine supplements have received attention for their stress reduction potential. [30] L-theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green and black tea and some mushrooms, but it is also available in pill or tablet form. [31] L-theanine is thought to work by decreasing excitatory brain chemicals that contribute to stress and anxiety while increasing brain chemicals that promote the feeling of relaxation. [32] 

Current research on the stress-reducing effects of l-theanine is limited, but preliminary findings are promising. Small human studies have found significant improvements in stress, relaxation, and cognition with l-theanine supplementation. [30,33] 

Studies show a dose between 200-400 mg a day is often safe and efficacious. [33] L-theanine is most helpful when taken around a stressful event, rather than on a long-term basis. To assess whether l-theanine supplementation is working for you, you can track blood biomarkers such as cortisol, the stress hormone. 


How to measure this biohack?

Since l-theanine is used for acute situations around stress, take note of how you feel in a situation when you do supplement versus when you don’t.   


Key takeaway

Short-term use of l-theanine supplements in periods of stress may help boost relaxation and cognition. 


8. Include caffeine in your day to support cognition

Biohack your brain with some of your favorite caffeinated beverages. Coffee and tea have been linked to several health benefits including improved cognitive performance. Research shows that short-term coffee intake can improve performance on cognitive tests, as well as increase focus and alertness. [34] Scientists believe the brain-boosting benefits of coffee are due to two main active ingredients: 

  • Caffeine, which acts as a brain stimulant
  • Chlorogenic acid, which is a type of polyphenol with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties 

Long-term coffee consumption may also reduce the risk of cognitive decline, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Similarly, research shows that black tea, which contains caffeine and l-theanine, can help improve cognitive function by boosting attention, alertness, and focus. [34]


How to measure this biohack

You can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine, which is around four, eight-ounce cups of coffee daily to biohack your brain power. [34] Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others, and you by no means have to drink that much to see a benefit. Set up experiments to see if your attention or focus changes depending on whether you drink coffee, tea, or solely water during the workday. Then experiment with the amounts and timing of the beverages. 


Key takeaway

Coffee and black tea contain caffeine and other bioactive compounds that can boost attention, alertness, and focus.


9. Try cold water therapy for improved recovery

If you want to improve your athletic recovery, then you might want to try cold water therapy. This trendy biohack involves immersing your body in cold water, such as an ice bath, shower, or a cold, natural body of water. This is typically completed following exercise to quicken recovery, ease muscle joint or pain, or speed healing after an injury. Research supports this biohack, suggesting decreasing body temperature after exercise through cold water immersion can reduce muscular fatigue and improve recovery and relaxation. [35-37]. 

For best results, try immersing your whole body (up to your neck) in water between 41 and 59F (5 to 15C) for 20-second to 10-minute counts. 


How to measure

You can assess the effectiveness of cold water therapy by monitoring the frequency and intensity with which you can complete workouts.  


Key takeaway

Cold water therapy may speed up recovery post-exercise exercise, and help you take on the next workout in prime condition. 


Put these biohacks into practice

Your goals and current health state should inform your biohacking. InsideTracker analyzes your up to 44 blood biomarkers and physiomarker data, and the A.I.-powered platform generates a custom set of actionable recommendations and insights based on your focus areas and unoptimized markers. No more guessing on what hacks to try. All your personal data stays in one place so you can track changes to your health and well-being over time. 



[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25315456/ 

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21532950/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22151079/ 

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21835655/ 

[5] https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20469800/ 

[7] https://www.gwern.net/docs/longevity/2019-decabo.pdf

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27810402/ 

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31881139/ 

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2759081/ 

[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25705824/ 

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35682065/

[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21694556/ 

[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35191588/ 

[15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34536199/ 

[16] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19204579/ 

[17] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21362056/

[18] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33917036/ 

[19] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21778224/ 

[20] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20083961/ 

[21] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32599643/ 

[22] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21896934/ 

[23] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28900385/ 

[24] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16594839/  

[25] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23696104/ 

[26] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24767264/ 

[27] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23724462/ 

[28] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20670413/ 

[29] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25436436/ 

[30] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31758301/

[31] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21735448/ 

[32] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17182482/ 

[33] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31623400/

[34] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26677204/  

[35] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31008862/ 

[36] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36045743/ 

[37] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35157264/ 

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