Ben Greenfield on biohacking: the new training that can’t be ignored
- 13 Ironman triathlons
- 6 appearances at the Ironman World Championships
- 6,000 miles of endurance racing logged
- Best-selling Author
Sounds superhuman, right? Not for Ben Greenfield. He notes these achievements as just some on the list of his impressive roster of feats.
You’ve probably heard of him, he’s a big deal in the fitness world. Not just for his raft of accomplishments, but for taking fitness, energy and nutrition to an elevated level.
And if you haven’t, check out his website, but prepare to get lost in hundreds of articles and experiments on health and excelled performance.
Ben credits his humble homeschooling for driving ‘lone wolf thinking’ and feeding his voracious curiosity and desire to learn. In pursuit of becoming superhuman, he regularly tests and experiments with his own body. Including the regular ingestion of tapeworms to test Helminthic Therapy and it’s immune-boosting benefits.
All in the name of improved health…
Starting out his career as a personal trainer, he worked tirelessly on sculpting his own body with long sessions in the gym and stacks of protein. So it’s surprising to hear that while Ben was on top of his game, he was suffering at the same time.
“Although I was healthy on the outside, I wasn’t on the inside. My thyroid was suffering, I had rampant inflammation and pre type two diabetes,” he reveals.
But now he takes a different approach to his health, a whole-body take on shaping himself that views our internal processes as whole entities.
To do this, he went beyond training, beyond eating healthy, and into the relatively unknown science of self-quantification and biohacking.
Because Ben, like many of us, is intrigued by what’s out there. We’re intrinsically built to better our play and seek out new experiences.
And now a new kind of training is taking hold.
WELCOME TO BIOHACKING
Let’s break it down.
In simple terms, biohacking is self-improvement through thinking about the individual systems in our own biology. It allows us to energise and enhance the body by changing our chemistry, using science and self-experimentation in the process.
Ben was able to physically reverse his biological age by 17 years through biohacking. Now aged 37, Ben has the biological age of a 20-year old.
He explains, “Biohacking is something I became interested in when I started to delve into self quantifying myself, here I was able to determine how one could be healthy, prolong life, and have a long sporting career.”
Biohacking lies somewhere between modern technology and ancestral knowledge. Data pulled from internal systems like DNA, blood and saliva informs a bespoke program for your individual needs, i.e. which diets will work better for you and what supplements you should take.
Something he’s able to do for his clients with great precision.
“I use a scientific approach and customise the program for each client based on what that person actually needs,” he says.
Further to the internal data, biohacking can ramp up performance using minor electric shocks, magnets and healing acoustics. The end result? Ben feels a decreased perception of pain, improved hand-eye coordination, and blasts through tough workouts.
Tipped as the next big trend in peak performance, the search results speak for the growth in biohacking.
Biohacking is the result of relentless self-quantification. Which is the act of taking into account all the hidden variables that can impact physical health. Things that often slip under the radar like artificial light, water quality, electricity, and even the wifi signals bouncing around.
Professional sports teams like the Golden State Warriors have jumped on various biohacks such as drinking hydrogen-rich water and filtering the air through their changing rooms. The results are self-evident. They’ve been NBA league champions 3 times in the last 5 years.
But what does that mean for everyday athletes who don’t have access to leading coaches?
Ben explains that performance coaching is quickly heading towards our ability to take on self-quantification without expensive tools. Apps, wearable tech, sensors and websites mean that self-tracking is ridiculously easy. In fact, you’re probably already doing it – MyFitnessPal, Strava, and Fitbit are just some of the advances in life-logging. Ben speaks highly of the Oura ring, check it out here.
“It would have been inaccessible to most folks years ago. But modern science means we can take advantage of sleep tracking, micronutrient levels, blood analysis, hormones, and neurotransmitters all in our own homes.”
He floats the idea of Machine Learning (ML) which could create a whole new field of Health Intelligence. “ML can process huge volumes of data, predict patterns and build a truly personalised profile for the user, and then pair the findings with actionable insights.”
When you combine this with data drawn from internal systems, you can pinpoint what’s dragging down performance, and how to change it.
“You can customise exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and biohacking protocols based on that self-quantified data so that one can set up their environment with sharp precision rather than painting with a broad brush,” explains Ben.
It’s clear that science and technology can provide precise insights into our biology for optimum performance. But, let’s take a step back and consider our ancestral roots.
Alongside data-driven training, Ben advocates spiritual discipline. “Deep lasting fulfilment comes from feeding your soul through prayer, meditation, gratitude and engagement.”
We’ve become accustomed to evolutionary mismatches: blue light, artificial sweeteners and air pollution (to name a few). They cause havoc with our brains and body. The antidote is as simple as getting enough time outside.
Ben explains “I’m trying to get rid of some of those evolutionary mismatches, or at least lower them, while at the same time introducing as much natural ancestral exposure to the outdoors as possible.”
A combined view of mind, body and spirit.
That’s the next step for ultimate performance training.
“What’s next for me is steering my platform toward uplifting people spiritually. Spreading positive psychology messages and knowing that ultimate energy fulfilment comes from feeding one’s soul.”
“Training the spiritual muscles is equally as important as the physical and mental muscles, it’s how lasting happiness can really kick in.”
Ultimate ironman turned spiritual guide, Ben Greenfield grasped what underpins us and understands how altering our physiology can enhance performance.
It’s simple. Modern technology and ancestral wisdom, in equal measure.
Check out more information about bio-hacking and self-quantification in Ben’s new book, Boundless.