What Is Biohacking And Is It Worth The Risks?

Hacking your way to optimum health can either be clever and affordable or a high-risk path to a serious dent in your wallet. Here’s what you need to know about biohacking.

Erin Fisher Author Image
Erin Fisher

July 3, 2024 - Updated July 3, 2024

Woman relaxing on yoga mat

If you could follow a workout program that would make you fitter and stronger with the least amount of time or effort, you’d do it, right? The same goes for smarter sleeping habits, energising supplements, muscle recovery and nutritional secrets. If you knew what steps to take to unlock the healthiest, happiest version of you, of course you would give them a go.

Welcome to the world of biohacking.

What is biohacking and what are the benefits?

Biohacking is a term used to refer to a myriad of do-it-yourself tricks, tips and health habits that are used with the intention of optimising your health, wellbeing, physical performance and even your lifespan.

For some people, trying a particular hack may be in an effort to lose weight, get fit, feel more energised, have improved focus, sleep better, reduce pain and inflammation, boost immunity, longevity, or a combination! You might be curious about clever ways to prioritise your wellbeing or it can also be a fun way to experiment with new health habits and feel empowered to better understand your own body.

Kayla Itsines even spotlighted this topic on the Sweat Daily podcast, interviewing doctor and productivity expert Ali Abdaal and Dr. Simon Baarbé about how to biohack your way to better health while steering clear of pseudoscience.

What are some examples of biohacking?

Biohacking might sound fancy or out of reach if you’re unfamiliar with the term, but you definitely would have heard of at least a few biohacking techniques or perhaps even tried them yourself!

Biohacking tricks can cover a variety of categories such as nutrition, fitness, sleep, mental health, brain function, skin health, recovery and immunity. Some popular examples include:

Woman doing red light therapy

Is biohacking backed by science?

It really depends on what the hack is. Newer trends - especially some of those that have quickly skyrocketed in popularity thanks to social media - often lack research, data and human studies to support their effectiveness. Seeing thousands of TikToks about a particular hack might be alluring and convincing, but just because a topic is trending doesn’t mean it's evidence-backed. If you’re looking for data, always do your own research that goes beyond social media or consult a healthcare professional for advice.

While biohacking is a relatively new term and many biohacking trends have social media to thank for their popularity, that doesn’t mean it’s all fluff. Some hacks have been around for a long time and there is plenty of research to support their benefits.

Take zone 2 cardio for example, where you’re exercising at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate - zone 2 in a 5-zone system. Although zone 2 cardio has spiked in popularity as a training technique and fundamental part of a good fitness routine, it’s nothing new and the benefits have been backed by science for yonks.

The same goes for creatine supplements, meditation and breathwork. When you dive into the research, it’s very clear that there’s a reason these hacks are popular. They’ve all been around for a long time (in fact, breathwork has its roots in ancient yogic practices), plenty of research and human studies have been conducted, and there is significant data that supports their efficacy.

Of course, the same can’t be said about every biohack, so doing your research and being aware of pseudoscience is key.

Does biohacking come with risks?

Any time you try a new health habit, there’s always the chance of an unexpected outcome and the more obscure or new the hack is, often the higher the risk as you’re generally treating yourself like a guinea pig.

Biohacks can be incredible ways to enhance your health and wellbeing, but our advice is to ensure they’re backed by science, endorsed by your healthcare provider, or pose no serious risk to your health before you give them a go.

Besides potential health risks, being a fan of biohacking can mean a new level of risk for your bank account. While practicing breathwork on your couch won’t cost you a cent, stocking up your cupboard with supplements, purchasing memberships to luxurious wellness facilities (hyperbaric chamber, anyone?), or investing in top-of-the-line fitness wearables to track every aspect of your health can rack up a rather large bill.

We know that following a nutritious diet isn’t always cheap and even a basic fitness routine can come with a small price tag, but rest assured there are plenty of ways to keep yourself healthy that won’t break the bank.

As Dr. Simon Baarbé says on the Sweat Daily podcast, you don’t need to be a billionaire to prioritise your health. Fundamentals such as sleep, exercise, nutrition and dental hygiene can be free or low-cost and you should consider these the heavy lifters in your health routine. Although they might not sound as sexy as the latest wellness fad, they do make the biggest difference.

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Hack your way to good health

While some health hacks are incredibly simple, powerful and backed by years of research, leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to involve anything drastic or expensive. Find what works for you, do your research, and try to focus on building a lifestyle and routine that you can sustain for life.

Erin Fisher Author Image
Erin Fisher

Erin is a writer and editor at Sweat with years of experience in women's publishing, media and tech. She's passionate about the power of movement, and you can often find her on a yoga mat, a hike, a dance floor, in the ocean or the gym.

Self Care
Healthy Habits

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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