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Personal Biohacking Experiment

Over the last few months (and years in some instances) I’ve been collecting personal body and fitness data so that I can understand and analyze where I can make improvements. Everything from blood biomarkers to sleep to happiness, I’ve collected personal data using both new digital health devices and traditional means (i.e. pen and paper, spreadsheets etc) and over the next six months I’m going to begin implementing changes to my lifestyle to see if I can improve these variables.

Biohacking is like peeling an onion and there are many layers one can delve in to optimize health. I’ve chosen to hack variables that are specific to my needs including sleep, fitness, nutrition, strength, appearance and heart and respiratory which are listed below. I’ll be mixing the old with the new and using a combination of digital health devices and apps plus old school devices (a tape measure, for example) to track and analyze progress.

I don’t expect it to be a smooth ride and of course as work and life commitments will no doubt get in the way as they often do, but I’m hoping that with sufficient planning I’ll be able to reach most of the target goals.

Exercise

My exercise routine throughout the six months will consist of three different elements:

Compound weight lifting: Over the last few years I’ve spent little time lifting weights so I intend to go back to basics on this one and start with compound weight lifting exercises including squats, deadlift, bench press and pull ups. I’ll add other weight exercises in to the mix but priority will be placed on the compound exercises as these are the most important for strength.

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training is a great way of building fitness and losing fat. I’ll perform this twice weekly either on the treadmill or boxing training.

Aerobic exercises: I’m running the Great North Run in September and it will require some time to train for it. Training will consist of running mainly but I’ll incorporate cycling and swimming to vary it a little.

Nutrition

I will mainly follow Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Exec Diet which is similar to the paleo diet of low carbs and organic meats and veg. I’ve followed Dave’s Bulletproof Coffee concoction of high grade coffee, unsalted grassfed butter (yes, really) and MCT oil and found it is great for making you feel full with energy on a morning. Dave doesn’t exercise (or does very little) so it will be necessary for me to consume additional foods as well as the coffee.

I’ll be tracking calorie consumption using the MyFitnessPal app and calories burnt using the Bodymedia Link band which, unlike Fitbit and other activity trackers, calculates calories burned while lifting weights and doing other exercises while stationary.

Tracking Variables

Below are tables of different body data measurements that I intend to track and ultimately improve. Everything from my bodyweight to my running personal bests to the volume of vitamin D in my body are being tracked. The program is a personalized to my needs and I may tweak and change as I progress through it. I still have some variables to measure which I’ll do in due course.

[table caption=”

Body Measurements

” width=”600″ colwidth=”20|100|50″ colalign=”left|left|center|left|right”]
Variable,Date,Current,Target,Achieved by August 2013
Weight,Mar 23,180.2lbs, 175lbs,
BF %, Mar 23, 15.7%, 10%,
Chest,Mar 23,40.5″,41″,
Bicep (relaxed),Mar 23,13″, Keep the same,
Bicep (tensed),Mar 23, 14.5″, Keep the same,
Waist, Mar 23, 33″, 31″,
Thigh, Mar 23, 22.5″, 24″,
Calf, Mar 23, 15″, 15.5″,
[/table]

 

[table caption=”

Heart, Respiratory & Metabolism

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Variable,Date,Current,Target,Achieved by August 2013
RHR,Mar 23,53bpm (avg), 50bpm (avg),
Blood Pressure, Mar 23, Insert, Insert,
Sp02, Mar 23, 99% – 100%, Keep the same,
VO2 Max,Mar 23,Insert,Insert,
[/table]

[table caption=”

Sleep Time & Quality

” width=”600″ colwidth=”20|100|50″ colalign=”left|left|center|left|right”]
Variable,Date,Current,Target,Achieved by August 2013
Total Sleep,Mar 23, 6.1hrs (avg), 7.5hrs (avg),
Deep Sleep, Mar 23, 1.7hrs, 2.5hrs,
REM Sleep,Mar 23,1.12hrs,2hrs,
[/table]

The data above was calculated from 47 days of sleep analysis using the (sadly now defunct) Zeo Sleep Analyzer. Through the analysis I’ve found that my REM sleep has been consistently low at around 10% of total sleep when it should be around 25% and since December I’ve been trying to improve it using a number of techniques and supplements. It seems Vitamin D, the often-touted saviour for improving REM sleep, doesn’t work. For me at least, anyway.

[table caption=”

Biomarkers

” width=”600″ colwidth=”20|100|50″ colalign=”left|left|center|left|right”]
Variable,Date,Current,Target,Achieved by August 2013
Total Cholesterol,Dec 21 2012, 204.6 mg/dl, 190mg/dl,
Vitamin B12, Dec 21 2012, 207 pg/ml, 350 pg/ml,
Hemoglobin, Dec 21 2012, 14.4 g/dl,14 g/dl,
Vitamin D, Dec 21 2012, 36.1 ng/ml,45 ng/ml,
Testosterone, Dec 21 2012, 520 ng/dl, 630 ng/dl
[/table]

In December 2012 I used InsideTracker to analyze sixteen different biomarkers in my blood. While a high proportion of these biomarkers analyzed are in their optimized zone (according to InsideTracker) four of the five – excluding testosterone – in the table above were reported to be out of range. I’ve included testosterone in this analysis because, despite being in its optimized zone, it was at the lower end of the scale and it’s claimed that men tend to gradually lose testosterone as they age so improving its levels should, in theory, continue to keep me in the optimized zone as the inevitability of age takes place.

[table caption=”

Exercise & Weights

” width=”600″ colwidth=”20|100|50″ colalign=”left|left|center|left|right”]
Variable,Date,Personal Best,Target,Achieved by August 2013
Run 6 miles,Nov 15, 39m 32s, 38m 30s,
Run 10 miles, To do, To do, To do,
Great North Run, To do, To do, 1hr 35m,
London Triathlon,Aug 2010,3:02:34,2:45:00,
Incline bench press, Oct 2011, 65kg (10 reps), 70kg (10 reps),
Decline bench press, Oct 2011, 70kg (10 reps), 75kg (10 reps),
Squats, INSERT DATE, INSERT WEIGHT, INSERT WEIGHT,
Dead lifts, INSERT DATE, INSERT WEIGHT, INSERT WEIGHT,
Assisted pull ups, Oct 2011, 55lbs (8 reps), 30lbs (10 reps),
Straight barbell curls, Oct 2011, 40kg (10 reps), 45kg (10 reps),
Standing alternating dumbbell curls, Oct 2011, 20kg (8 reps), 20kg (10 reps),

[/table]

So that’s it. Any suggestions/criticisms welcome. I’m going to shift the tables above to an individual page so I can use it as a way to track my progress and, of course, continue to remind myself of the job in hand.

5 Comments

  1. Why u no care glucose and hemoglobin A1C? Cortisol levels?
    Not overweight?Not diabetic?No family history of same? …not the issue.

    prevent any type or hint of creep towards metabolic syndrome…before it happens…seeing as one’s actual Age is not a variable one can manage ,carbohydrate tolerance WILL change over time and cannot be consistently sustainably “managed” by relying on hard training physically.

  2. I 2nd that re: blood glucose. Fasting and post-prandial glucose are very easy biomarkers to measure on your own, and very important to monitor changes in. IMO every adult should take this data, at least once a year. Metabolic syndrome and diabetes are avoidable, and early detection helps a ton.

  3. In most conditions, anaerobic exercise is accompanied by aerobic exercises because the less efficient anaerobic metabolism must supplement the aerobic system due to energy demands that exceed the aerobic system’s capacity. What is generally called aerobic exercise might be better termed “solely aerobic”, because it is designed to be low-intensity enough not to generate lactate via pyruvate fermentation, so that all carbohydrate is aerobically turned into energy.

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