03 Mar Biohacking To Optimize Your Bike Ride
Taylor A Ritz
“Hacking” is a term for finding a unique solution or workaround for a problem. It seems like there’s a hack for everything these days, so why not hack your bike ride? When it comes to physical activities, a new technique to get the most out of your physical activities has been dubbed “biohacking.”
What Is Biohacking?
Biohacking sounds like some science-fiction technology Dr. Frankenstein might be particularly interested in, but it’s actually much simpler than some mad scientist’s experiment. Biohacking is simply the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body. The purpose of biohacking is to optimize your life, leaving you and your body feeling and performing your best.
Types of Biohacking
Biohacking can encompass several types of lifestyle changes. Here are just a few:
Diet is probably the most impactful and important part of biohacking. Remember, you are what you eat. Biohacking your diet can encompass eating healthier, eliminating inflammatory foods, addressing potential allergies, or even fasting.
Being well-rested is essential for everyone, especially those looking to advance their fitness level. Both our bodies and brains need time to reset each night. In addition to how many hours you sleep, which hours you sleep may impact you. Some do better with an “early to bed and early to rise” mentality, while others perform ideally with a later sleep schedule. This can tie into the next category: when to exercise.
Biohacking your exercise routine can involve how, when, and where you train. Did you know that what time of day you choose to train can affect your fitness gains? Try exercising at different times of the day and note any differences in how you feel.
Environmental stimuli can also impact your body and mind each day. Conditions such as temperature, light, and external pressure can all impact our ability to perform.
All of the above types of biohacking fall under the category of “nutrigenomics.” Another category is called “nootropics” and includes supplements you can take to improve cognitive function. Where nutrigenomics involves small changes to your diet, sleep, and exercise regimens, nootropics focuses on adding supplements to alter your mood, productivity, and focus.
Examples of nootropics include:
An obvious addition, but caffeine does improve cognitive function.
Vitamins and Minerals
Supplementary antioxidants and vitamins can help your recovery process when added to a healthy diet. Antioxidants help counter muscle damage caused by free radicals your body produces during exercise. Calcium is one example of a beneficial mineral, especially for those experiencing bone density decline (a common issue for women).
Even if your diet includes adequate amounts of protein, you might consider adding a protein supplement. Protein feeds your muscles the energy they need before and after a strenuous workout or bike ride.
Various juices have been associated with the recovery stage of physical activity. Cherry juice is high in antioxidants and has been known to reduce muscle pain and loss of strength. Beetroot juice can boost stamina due to the high levels of nitrates it contains.
Tips to Biohack Yourself
Before Your Ride: Biohacking Your Diet
Eating “better” can be a complicated concept. There are innumerable trains of thought when it comes to the perfect diet. Here are just a few recommendations for cyclists looking to improve their performance.
Cut Out Sugar
Kicking sugar out of your diet is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall health. It’s also one of the most difficult tasks to undertake. This doesn’t mean cutting out sugar from natural sources such as fruits and dairy products, but rather abstaining from products with added sugar. Processed foods, candy, and soft drinks are obvious sources of added sugar, but you might also want to avoid condiments, flavored yogurt, and energy drinks as well. If you aren’t sure just how much sugar is in a food item, be sure to check the labels. Sugar increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, increases inflammation in your body, and lowers your energy levels.
Change When you Eat
Biohacking isn’t just about changing what you eat, it can also be beneficial to change when you eat. Some tout intermittent fasting as a way to regulate the hormones in your body related to digestion. Fasting can regulate levels of ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that tell you when you’re hungry and full, respectively. This method has also been linked to normalizing insulin sensitivity, thus lowering your likelihood to develop type 2 diabetes. Fasting does not have to entail starving yourself either. Intermittent fasting can mean that a few days a week you simply ingest fewer calories than normal; for example, two days a week eating 25% of the number of calories you normally would.
If fasting doesn’t sound like your type of dietary schedule, you could try time-restricted eating. With this method, you only eat during certain hours of the day. Eating dinner earlier and breakfast later can lead to increased energy and decreased inflammation, with more regular digestion.
During Your Ride: When To Train
Biohacking your bicycle ride for fitness gains has a science to it. What time of day you train can have an effect on the efficacy of your overall training. If you want to get the most out of your training ride, you’ll follow this advice.
The Best Time of Day To Train
Your fitness gains can be affected by body temperature, hormone cycles, and our natural circadian rhythm. Body temperature affects the enzyme reactions in our bodies. A slight rise in body temperature increases enzyme activity, which is responsible for assisting in feeding our muscles. Body temperature spikes slightly in the early evening. The evening is also the time when our testosterone to cortisol ratio is at its highest. Testosterone is responsible for building and repairing muscles, whereas cortisol breaks down tissues to use as energy in emergency situations. Training in the evening means you produce more testosterone to build muscle while producing less cortisol that might break them down.
Based on these factors, the best time of day to train (for someone who works a 9 to 5 job) is somewhere between 2:30 pm and 8:30 pm. If you work odd hours, plan to train at least 6 hours after you wake up.
Training In the Morning
If mornings are the only time you can possibly fit in a bike ride, you can still optimize your workout. Try taking a pre-workout supplement that contains caffeine. Be aware though, that caffeine decreases the testosterone to cortisol ratio and can create a dependence with as little as 50 mg per day. In addition to caffeine, try taking a long, hot shower to raise your core body temperature before you train. If you must train in the morning, make sure you do so consistently. The more you stick to a routine, the better your circadian rhythm can adjust to your schedule.
After Your Ride
The recovery phase of training is arguably the most important part. You should continue any dietary and lifestyle biohacks that work for you but also add in a few changes that will help you recover quicker. Eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep are both vital to helping your muscles recover from their daily efforts. In addition, you can utilize compression clothing, hot/cold therapy, and recovery drinks or supplements.
Does Biohacking Help a Cyclist?
The most important takeaway about biohacking is that all bodies are different. This process will allow you to discover what works for your body, specifically. Don’t be frustrated if something that works wonders for your friend has less of an impact on your own body. Be patient and find what works for you.