It seems every few weeks there’s a new interview about how a tech bro spends their morning. We totally get wanting to mine the habits of successful people for life hacks—you’re looking at the home of How I Work, after all. But how effective are these biohacks? Here’s an opinionated rundown:
Waking up really early
Why: You need your sleep, damn it! If you’re either working or partying late into the night, don’t try to wake up at 5 or 4 or 3 AM Without a full night’s sleep, you’re just cheating yourself. Waking up early and working a ton is not productive, it’s foolish.
There is an exception to this rule: if you’re a morning person, and you always get to bed on time, you’re allowed to wake up whenever you want. Jeff Bezos says he wakes up “early” but that he also prioritises getting eight hours of sleep a night. That’s a hack.
Verdict: Can be a hack, but it depends.
Why: There’s already a word for not eating when you’re hungry, because you want the lack of food to have some effect on your body, and that is dieting. Intermittent fasting can be one way to control the number of calories you eat. In that sense, it’s a hack.
But fasting can also easily get out of hand, becoming a form of disordered eating. It’s also over-hyped for its mental benefits. As any dieter can tell you, going without food for a while can result in a focused, slightly euphoric feeling that begins to show itself somewhere in between “hungry” and “hangry.”
Been playing with fasting for some time. I do a 22 hour fast daily (dinner only), and recently did a 3 day water fast. Biggest thing I notice is how much time slows down. The day feels so much longer when not broken up by breakfast/lunch/dinner. Any one else have this experience?
— jack (@jack) January 26, 2019
Jack Dorsey also says he eats just one meal a day, which isn’t as crazy as it sounds. If you skip breakfast and delay lunch, and then eat a huge late lunch, you may not be hungry for dinner. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this — three meals a day is a convenient eating pattern, but it’s not a law of nature or anything.
Verdict: It’s not hack or wack, it’s just breakfast
Why: Coffee with butter is purported to give you energy and focus, and help you make it to lunch without hunger pangs while skipping breakfast. It probably does both of these things, but not through any special biohacking magic.
Depending on how heavy a hand you use with the butter and oil, “Bulletproof” coffee can easily contain 400+ calories. Being coffee, it’s also full of caffeine. So, can a 400-calorie caffeinated beverage keep you feeling full and awake? Duh.
Super short workouts
Verdict: Hack, but only if you have no better option
Why: Short workouts are still workouts. Jack Dorsey likes the seven-minute variety, and seven minutes a day is still better than nothing.
The most recent guidelines from health.gov suggest we all get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, or 75 minutes if the exercise is vigorous. Divide by the seven days in a week, and you’d meet the requirement with just 11 minutes a day — two seven-minute sessions per day would add up to an overachieving 98 minutes per week.
But you’ll get far better gains in the gym if you can get your butt in there for an hour a few times a week. So we can endorse short workouts as a hack for the time-crunched, but if you’re a tech CEO with money to burn, you can probably manage to get away from your desk for a little longer.