Hungry for another diet fad? It’s time to try bio-hacking
All the skinny on Silicon Valley’s latest: a mixture of fasting, liquid food gunk and ‘raw’ water
Many of us have probably at one time or another been on diet. Maybe it was Weight Watchers or Atkins. Maybe you’re a Banter, or an intermittent faster. Blood group diet perhaps? Or you could just be a good old fashioned-calorie counter. Whatever you are, it is likely that dieting has been a part of your life as a way to control your waistline.
But a new school of dieting is emerging, less interested in mastering weight and very interested in mastering the mind. This new trend has emerged from Silicon Valley. Devotees gather under the banner of “bio-hacking”, under which all manner of dubious diet practices have devotees on a quest to optimise their productivity. Here are the weirdest diet hacks currently ruling the ranks:
Semi-permanent fastingThe poster boy for this method of fasting is Phil Libin, the former CEO of Evernote, who currently heads an AI lab, All Turtle. In an interview with Business Insider Libin explained that he was melancholy for a long time, unmotivated, uninterested in work and overweight. Until he eventually pinpointed the source. “It was the carbs,” he said. Now the tech executive foregoes food for between two to eight days in a row, drinking only water, coffee and tea.
He also chairs an “intermittent fasting group” to help train other fasters. Libin swears that fasts improve his concentration and give him focus; he even claims to happily attend meals at restaurants with friends and colleagues, all the while just sipping water. One of his devotees has even produced an app, called Zero, to help other fasters track their progress. “People think it’s torture but it’s actually really pleasant.”Equally troubling is Geoff Woo, who heads up WeFast, a nootropics and biohacking company, who advises fasting for between 16 and 60 hours at a time. The company also produces a ketonic drink which is prescribed for between fasts. It supposedly mimics the “fat burning and energy increasing” effects of fasting. So you’re mimicking fasting while actually fasting.Soylent
Soylent is a meal in liquid form. Available pre-mixed, or in a powder, it is theoretically possible to live off Soylent exclusively as it provides enough calories and nutrition for a person to survive.There are going to be advocates and haters of this. In Silicon Valley, where optimising your time is a priority, the time it takes to shop and cook a meal is seen as a burden. Many people would relish not being responsible for supporting their own nutrition. (I find no appeal in drinking a soggy cardboard milkshake because eating is one of life’s great pleasures.) Further concerns emerge when you consider that it is illegal in Canada. Soylent has also had to withdraw its food bars and remix its formula when customers started vomiting in the early stages of the product.
Raw waterThis one is beyond me. A company called Live Water supplies water collected directly from springs and streams without any intervening treatment despite the danger that water from areas in which both humans and animals reside can contain animal faeces, E.coli, parasites like giardia and cryptosporidium, hepatitis A and cholera.