I am honored to reconnect with Dave Asprey today! He is the renowned father of biohacking and a New York Times bestselling author.
Dave would like a world where we all have enough free time and peace to be at full power! In this episode, he and I have a no-nonsense conversation about his newest book, Smarter Not Harder, which is my favorite of all his books! We dive into the impact of the pandemic, the art and science of environment, the laziness principle, homeostasis, and the concept behind “slope with the curve” thinking. We discuss anti-nutrients, the biohacking pathway, REHIIT training, and various other cellular hacks, including hypoxification and specialized breathing, and how trauma pertains to becoming a more efficient human. I also ask Dave about his favorite supplements.
“What I want you to do and what I’m teaching you to do in Smarter Not Harder is to be precise about things- not perfect.”
– Dave Asprey
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN
- Why Dave chose to write his latest book now.
- How Dave’s book can help you achieve homeostasis.
- The 5 goals in Dave’s book that he recommends for people focus on, one at a time.
- A fundamental mistake that people in the world of health and fitness often make.
- How the “slope with the curve” biology works.
- How you can save energy with biohacking.
- The benefits of REHIT (Reduced Energy High-Intensity Interval Training).
- Some foods that can negatively impact our health.
- Dave shares his thoughts on dairy.
- Using hypoxification as a cellular biohack.
- Dave sheds some light on his favorite supplements.
- The role of trauma resolution.
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Connect with Dave Asprey
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To open an Upgrade Labs, go to www.ownanupgradelabs.com
Dave’s new book, Smarter Not Harder is available from most bookstores.
Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus by John Gray
Smarter Not Harder – Book info:
For over 25 years, world-renowned biohacker and New York Times bestselling author Dave Asprey has been on the cutting edge of becoming your highest-performing self. Through SMARTER NOT HARDER, Asprey offers a whole new system of targeted biohacks aimed at upgrading your metabolic, neurological, and epigenetic systems to achieve peak wellness.
During the pandemic he heard people yearning to “get back to normal” and it “sounded wrong to me every time,” he writes in his new book SMARTER NOT HARDER.
“All my life I’ve worked to improve my physical and mental resilience to become better than normal and help other people do it, too. The goal is to reach a higher baseline, make that your new normal, and then reach higher again.” But humans tend to be lazy, right? We want more benefits, with less work.
In SMARTER NOT HARDER, the proven master of biohacking exposes the surprising secrets of your body’s operating system or its “MeatOS.” That system is naturally designed to be lazy, which is why sweaty exercise routines and rigid diets produce such limited effects. Dave shows us how to hack the MeatOS and make it do what we want it to do, turning it from an obstacle into an ally. The key to achieving peak wellness, he reveals, isn’t about doing more, it’s about doing less—exercising and eating smarter, not harder, and making the body’s built-in laziness work for you.
What is the Laziness Principle:
The body automatically resists any demands that require a state of higher-than-necessary energy. If you give your body intense stress and show your lazy cells that they need to get their asses off the couch, they will. It’s just that they will do it a lot more easily and willingly if you let them get right back onto the couch afterward. The speed of new stress and the speed of your recovery are far more important than the amount of stress. Fast-on and fast-off tell your laziness systems to make you stronger and more adaptable—to give you much better results than you’d achieve if you were doing the slow grind and to do it a lot more quickly. The laziness principle allows you to reshape your body and mind radically without wasting your time.
The standard approach of pushing yourself really hard for as long as possible just sets you up in opposition to your built-in laziness. Instead of working harder, you want to work smarter. To put it simply, your body doesn’t care how much time you do something hard; it cares about how quickly you do something hard, how hard it is, and how quickly it returns to baseline.
SMARTER NOT HARDER will help you program your MeatOS to throttle on and off quickly and easily so that your system can take a big hit without losing its stability. Your system can also handle a lot more low-level, daily stressors when it is trained and ready to handle big changes.
Willpower is NOT the problem: A crucial thing to understand is that what is holding you back in life is not an issue of willpower. The only way to beat the laziness principle is to embrace it and make it work for you: give your body the right foods and nutrients; apply the right kind of short, intense stimuli; train your body to return quickly to a baseline state. You can train your laziness so that it improves your energy, calms your mind, and expands your possibilities.
Through a system of targeted biohacks aimed at upgrading your metabolic, neurological, and epigenetic systems, SMART NOT HARDER tackles:
Nutrition–exploring everything from the importance of Vitamins D, A, K & E; The Big Five Minerals (and how to get their pairings right); “anti-nutrients;” why carbs are not the enemy
Exercise–how elevating your metabolism and cardiovascular capacity to live longer using HIIT, REHIIT, Oxygen And vibrational training, breathing techniques, and more
Neurological– The importance of sleep (and how to get the highest quality of it); reducing stress through light therapy (including red light and removing junk light), using heat and cold to aid in the recovery process
Spiritual–Physical resilience is intimately connected to the spiritual resilience necessary for you to practice gratitude, forgiveness, and kindness—essential elements of a peaceful and happy life. Dave’s three-step process to harness this.
The Future of Health–explores the role of epigenetics, AI, bionics, implants, wearable devices, and much more.
Packed with practical, accessible info based on the latest research, SMARTER NOT HARDER will show readers how to achieve lasting health in less time. In an ever-changing world, SMARTER NOT HARDER is an invaluable resource to make you stronger, kinder, and happier. With the right hacks, readers will be ready for anything.
Cynthia Thurlow: Welcome to Everyday Wellness Podcast. I’m your host, Nurse Practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow. This podcast is designed to educate, empower, and inspire you to achieve your health and wellness goals. My goal and intent, is to provide you with the best content and conversations from leaders in the health and wellness industry each week and impact over a million lives.
Today, I had the honor of reconnecting with Dave Asprey. He is the renowned father of biohacking and a New York Times bestselling author. We had a no-nonsense conversation about his newest book, Smarter Not Harder, which quite honestly is, I think, my very favorite of all of his books. We dove deep into the impact of the pandemic, the art and science of environment, the role of the laziness principle as well as homeostasis, the concept of slope-of-the-curve thinking, the role of anti-nutrients including phytic acid, conventional chicken, and dairy, the biohacking pathway, the impact of REHIT, which is a specific type of exercise as well as other cellular hacks including hypoxification and specialized breathing. I did ask him about his favorite supplements and I think you’ll be surprised, as well as the role of trauma as it pertains to becoming a more efficient human. I hope you will enjoy this conversation with Dave as much as I did recording it.
So, let’s really start from the beginning. The last three years have impacted every person that’s listening to this podcast and every person that’s out there pretty profoundly. Did you get the idea to write the book during, I don’t want to say, the heyday, the pandemic, or the insanity of the pandemic, however you’d like to reframe it. What was the impetus? Why this book now is what I’m asking.
Dave Asprey: The ideas behind Smarter Not Harder have been percolating for actually since the start of biohacking, where the original definition when I was creating this movement, it was the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside of you so that you have full control of your own biology. And all of the things that I’m writing about in Smarter Not Harder are different ways of getting a very precise signal in your body to make it do what you want, which allows you to save a huge amount of time and energy, which goes against our societal programming, which is like, you really have to have grit and suffer and struggle. And if you just feel enough pain and overcome it with willpower, you’ll get results. It turns out that’s not really how it works. You might exercise your willpower that way, which is good.
A grit is important, but you shouldn’t waste your grit. You could use your grit on stuff that matters, instead of like, “I could have just cooked my food on the stove, but that wasn’t good enough, so I got an exercise bike and I peddled really hard to heat my food up.” Okay, if that’s your thing, but we’re doing this all the time because we just don’t know any better. Maybe not that exact example, but things almost as bad. I want a world where people have enough free time and peace to be at full power because when we’re at full power, we’re nicer to each other. The weird thing is we become very dangerous. And dangerous people I mean, who knows what they might do. They might be hard to program. They might not be just responsive to things that don’t require much energy to believe. In Smarter Not Harder, I actually talk about how we can prove using neuroscience for a third of a second.
All the time there’s something else inside of you that’s in charge of you. It’s kind of scary. If you’re 18, listening to this, it’s actually only a quarter second where it’s in charge. And if you’re an average age and average brain, it’s about 350 milliseconds. If you’re starting to get towards Alzheimer’s or dementia, it might be 400 milliseconds. So, we have this window where some other jerk is in charge and that jerk is like, “Lay on the couch. Don’t do anything hard.” And it turns out thinking about stuff is really hard. So, if you really want to ponder something, you sit down, you get out of journal, you sit in a chair, and you just might sit there for like a couple of hours and just really think through all the different things if you can do it without getting bored.
Well, it turns out your body doesn’t like that. What it likes to do is jump to conclusions because it takes less electricity to jump to conclusions and it’s so afraid, you’ll run out of electricity. And the worst your food is, the more ultra-processed, plant-based nonsense marketing food you eat, the more toxins you have, the harder it is to have enough energy to think. So, you become very programmable. So, the reason that I wanted to release the book now was that Upgrade Labs is franchising. This is my company where I’ve done eight years of work to be ready to write the book and this is now a franchise. Anyone can open a biohacking lab now. Go to ownandupgradelabs.com. We’ll talk about that some more.
But, okay, now we know how to do it, so let’s turn everyone’s power back on. And that’s also why my newest coffee company called Danger Coffee is named that. Who knows what you might do, you might ask that person out, you might get a raise, you might do something really big in the world that’s been percolating, but you didn’t have the spark to do it. Well, let’s turn the spark back on. And that’s why I wrote the book now because I think people need to read Smarter Not Harder because when you do it, you’re just going to discover, “Oh, my God, you might be ungovernable.”
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, I mean one of the things I enjoyed was that it was very much focused on empowering people, giving them good information that they could was tangible, and there’s a range of options for recommendations, which I loved as well. I love that you kind of talked about this laziness principle because it is a kind of a key theme that runs throughout the book. And for me, being married to an engineer, there’s a lot of efficiency in my life. It’s been a byproduct of being partnered with my husband for over 20 years. He’s all about efficiency. That’s a lot of what this book is kind of touching on, is there’s a more efficient way to live your life where there’s less friction, a little bit more flow, if you will.
Dave Asprey: It’s funny because the efficiency doesn’t ever push a button for anyone except engineers, probably like your husband or like me. Do you ever wake up in the morning, “Today, I want to be efficient.” No, efficiency isn’t sexy, it’s not powerful, it’s not fun. When you think about it, “Do you want to be free today? Do you want to be powerful today?” Well, the way you get those things is by moving labor out of your mind and body to other things so that you have freedom to do what you want instead of what you have to do. Efficiency, it turns out is really sexy, but it’s not branded properly, so we don’t call it that. I like to call it freedom.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think that’s a very important concept, especially given the landscape of the last three years, without getting super tied into that narrative. Now let’s shift a little bit and talk about the role of homeostasis. So, I think for a lot of my listeners, they’re familiar with the term hormesis and homeostasis, but it’s really all speaking about the health of our mitochondria and doing things that positively or negatively impact this. I think for a lot of individuals, they don’t realize that it’s not normal to be really, really tired all the time. But that has kind of been the given. More often than not, when people reach out to us on social media, they can’t get out of bed, their sleep is terrible, they’re just exhausted all the time. It’s not just for women, it’s also for men. It’s become the norm.
Dave Asprey: I’m an early adopter, so in my mid 20s, I had chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis. I weighed 300 pounds, high risk of stroke and heart attack. And I remember very much what it’s like to sit there and you feel like you’re in a car and you’re pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor, and you’re just slowing down, and you can push harder, but there’s nothing left. When you push, nothing happens. It’s this feeling of kind of desperation, of helplessness, and you hide it because we’re wired as primates to just not show weakness. There’s a huge number of people who are just barely putting one foot in front of the other, and no one knows. So, you’re not alone if that’s happening. I remember I was doing that, and I’d get home at the end of the day, I didn’t know how I drove home. I had no recollection of it.
My career is taking off in Silicon Valley, I’m a very successful person and I was just hiding it, and I would fake it. When I launched my really big company, Bulletproof, one of my board members wrote a blog post on Medium and this was one of my first investors, a good friend, and he said, “I’m a high-powered Silicon Valley VC. Every day I have crippling fatigue and I can barely make it through the day no matter what I do and I’ve been hiding it forever.” One of the reasons that they invested is, he said, “After the first 30 days of trying what Dave told me to do, yes, including butter in coffee.” He said, “For the first time in my adult life since I was 17, at the end of the day, I had energy all day long,” He said, “I got my BMW and I started crying.”
Okay, this is like a high-powered VC. It’s everybody. You can’t tell because we don’t show it, because we put on our game face. That is one of the reasons I do everything I do. I’m not going back to that. I don’t want anyone else to live through what I went through. I just think if I was 20 and I had the knowledge that’s in my books, would my life have been way different? Yeah, in a good way. So, when you read Smarter Not Harder, by now you’ve probably figured out. there’s going to be a bunch of hacks in there and there are and you don’t have to do all of them. This is the other problem. People can get almost orthorexic, which is when I have to only eat the right foods, or otherwise I’m a bad person. I have to do every bio hack on the planet or I’m a bad person. That’s just weird and it’s not healthy. If you’re doing that, you’ve got to deal with whatever kind of trauma is causing your perfection.
What I want you to do and what I’m teaching you to do in Smarter Not Harder is to be precise about things, not perfect. So precise means let’s pick a goal, like Cynthia, okay, if you woke up in the morning and you’re one of the rare people said, “I want to be healthy today,” although most people don’t say that, but if that was the top ask for the day, how would you measure it, what would healthy mean to you?
Cynthia Thurlow: Me personally?
Dave Asprey: Yeah.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think for me, because I very much love my Oura Ring. So, one of the first things I do in the morning is I check my data, how much REM, how much deep sleep, how do I feel because sometimes they don’t correlate. But for me, that’s the first thing I’m thinking about. But it’s also exercise, it’s connection to nature, it’s hydration. I mean, really basic things. It’s fasting, all of which kind of fit into my healthy bucket. But, much to your point, I’m definitely one of those people. I don’t have to do all those things every single day. I mean, that’s just a starting point.
Dave Asprey: It’s a starting point. Most listeners, though, “Yes, I want healthy but I don’t want it with a burning desire to want it more than I want a cheeseburger or sex or a raise.” Let’s just face it, those are the things that our bodies tell us to think about before healthy. But what you can do when you read Smarter Not Harder, is you realize that there’s five main components that people are really asking for in different ratios. There’s a recipe for you. And I learned this because eight years ago, underneath Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Office in Santa Monica, I opened Upgrade Labs. This was where I would take a million dollars’ worth of gear that I’ve used to upgrade my own biology to learn all these principles and made it available to the public and it spun the creation of the biohacking lab industry. There’s a bunch of kind of small mom and pops who are looking to do something similar.
But after eight years of doing this and spending more than $10 million on R&D, we got to the point where I understand it now, and I can run it as a business that helps people and actually, as a profitable business. And that’s why it’s a franchise now. You can literally open one anywhere. This year we have dozens of them opening across the country or at least in the process of opening, I can’t tell you the exact dates because of regulatory stuff, but basically, it’s happening.
So, you should be able to go out and go to a facility and get some help with this, but if you don’t, everything in the book is organized by what’s your goal. And I’ll tell you the five goals in a sec. And then if this is your top goal, what’s your second goal, because let’s focus on those instead of trying to do everything all the time. The worst thing you could ever do is say, “I want to put on muscle mass and run a marathon.” Those don’t go together. You could put a huge amount of willpower in and just get overtrained and injured, but not build muscle or even much cardiovascular, because you’re working against yourself.
So, here’re the five things that people ask for in some amount and there’s going to be one top goal for you. I’m working on a quiz that will go up on daveasprey.com to help you identify this because it’s very hard. Some people, they want muscle, pretty straightforward. I want to have whatever guns or I want abs or I want to add 3 pounds of muscle or something. That’s an actual fitness goal. Not necessarily even a health goal, but it’s a good one because it’s anti-aging and it’s pro-metabolic and all the reasons. Other people are going to say, “Actually, I want my cardio. I get tired all the time when I’m walking upstairs.” It’s a different thing. If you go to the gym and lift, you’re not going to fix your cardio problems. You can have muscles and not go up the stairs. This is a real thing. But if you don’t know which one is most important to you, how are you going to fix it.
And then the third thing people say that they want is they want their brain to work better. This is a health goal that you really don’t solve in the gym, although that helps a little bit. For me, this was one of my top goals because I had such bad brain fog in my 20s. My career was taken off. So, fixing your brain is just different. And from there, we say, “Okay, what about energy?” A huge number of people say, “I want to get my energy back.” And they’re the same people usually who say, I want to lose weight. Those are actually the same process. To get your energy back, stop putting electrons into fat storage and put them into your brain, and then all of a sudden, your energy comes back. It’s amazing how that works.
So, the final one, though, is the one that’s probably least likely for people to guess for the first time ever since we started doing surveys, not me, this isn’t my survey, but since humans have done surveys, people have asked for the ability to manage stress and anxiety more than weight loss. This is how stressed we are. We’re stressed in part because of social media, but we’re mostly stressed because of who run governments in every country. I don’t care where you live. There has been abuse of power around the world and I don’t care which side of whatever you’re on, we just don’t force people to do things against their will unless they’re in prison.
So, people are really stressed about that and lack of human connection and all the other stuff that we could talk about. People are saying, I don’t know how to handle this, and that’s okay because you’re not alone in that. When you’re stressed, of course you lose your energy, of course you get brain fog, of course you get fat, of course you lose muscle, of course you lose cardio, so you have to pick one. So how do you know. Did I want my brain to work, or did I want my energy back, or did I want the muffin tops go away, or did I want muscles. It’s actually a hard thing.
In Smart Not Harder, I teach you how to just pick the top one, and then, okay, now you’ve got a goal. Let’s get serious. I’m going to assume that you have things to do. Maybe you have kids like I do. Maybe you have eight companies, like I do, [laughs] or New York Times bestsellers, and hundreds of millions of downloads of your podcast whatever. I have a lot going on because I’m so lazy and it doesn’t make sense, we’ll talk about laziness in a minute.
But because of all that stuff, every minute, I think, actually matters. If you’re listening to this, every minute of your life matters too. So, if you are going to take care of yourself by dedicating 60 minutes per week, how do you get your goals met. And what would happen if you did such a good job of that it only took 20 minutes and you took the other 40 minutes and met your second goal, and that as soon as you did that for only four weeks or six weeks, you had so much improvement there that all of a sudden you just felt better. You could put that extra energy and the same amount of time into another goal. And all of a sudden you’ve brought yourself back. In fact, maybe it’s not even bringing yourself back, maybe it’s just upgrading yourself, maybe you’ve never felt this way and I know what that’s like.
I didn’t know you’re supposed to walk without it hurting. I was always in pain. My body literally hurt all the time. And brain fog, that’s just something everybody gets. And I just didn’t know because these were factors of my life since I was a little kid growing up in a toxic mold basement. So, the fact that my brain can work now dozens of times a day, I do not have to look for a word. I do not have to open the refrigerator and wonder why I opened it. None of that. If I lose one word, I stop and go, what did I do to cause that. And there’s always a reason and I know why, and I don’t worry about it, but I just take note of it. This is what’s possible.
It’s a level of vibrancy you would never expect. But the way you get there is what’s in Smarter not Harder, where pick the first one that’s most important, like the shining thing on a hill, and you go take that. Instead of walking up the hill and pushing against mud, take the helicopter. It’s just easier, and you deserve that, and it’s okay, and you don’t have to struggle and suffer, and those don’t make you a better person. You must be able to struggle and suffer when it’s necessary. It’s just not necessary most of the time when you think it is. That’s why I wrote the book.
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, I think it’s a really important message because I think you and I both see on social media people that are, it’s a grind, and they call it the hustle, it’s the grind. And I remind people that it really should be a whole lot easier than that. I’m not at all suggesting that hard work isn’t worth it. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But for your focus of having one thing to focus on at a time allows people to simplify.
Dave Asprey: I’m sorry, but hard work means that you’re bad at your job. That’s what it means, [laughs] because if you’re good at your job, it wouldn’t be hard. It means you need to improve. But to intentionally do hard work all the time as a means of improving that’s because our brains are lazy and they’re trying to save electricity in our thinking. So, here’s the fundamental mistake we’ve made in the world of health and fitness, and it’s something that I just tackle head on in Smarter Not Harder. And I call it, this is a really sexy term that your husband will like. It’s called “Slope of the curve biology.” And I thought about calling it “The Spike” and being all fancy about it, but whatever. So, here’s what it is.
Because our brains like to take thinking shortcuts to save us time and energy, which is a good thing, I’m happy my brain does that because that works pretty well to keep me alive. Otherwise, I’d sit around at the stoplight going, “Should I go?” And I’m just thinking it would turn red by the time I could think my way through every possible thing, like, it goes off automatically. You don’t have to think about it. But slope of the curve thinking means, all right, if I want to be good at doing something like, say, lifting heavy things, my job is to lift heavy things for an hour because that’s more struggling, more suffering. I’m going to lift a whole lot of stuff until I’m completely blown out and I’m exhausted and I’m sweating all over the place. I’ve got my social media, my shirt dripped through and all that kind of stuff. And I know I’m going to improve because I do that. You go take a shower and you’re satisfied. Now, that’s worthy in terms of working hard and showing yourself you can do it.
But if your goal was to actually put on muscle instead of to work hard, maybe there was a way to put on a lot more muscle, like three to five times faster. And if you go to the chapter of Smarter Not Harder, where I talk about all the things we know about putting on muscle, there’re a whole lot of hacks including free ones, things that cost like 50 bucks, or things that might if you were to go buy the gear, it’s going to cost you 50 grand or you can come to an Upgrade Labs and do it. The way I structure Smarter Not Harder is the free version, the highly affordable version, and the crazy billionaire version. And I concentrate as much crazy billionaire stuff at Upgrade Labs as I possibly can so you don’t have to go buy all the stuff and invent how to use it. The differentiator, the thing that’s really special about Upgrade Labs that allowed me to write this book is that I’ve seen enough people come through more than anyone else over time, come through and now I know. Do this, then this, then this for you.
So, we measure your state when you walk in the door. We measure how you’re performing in all the gear, and we measure your state the next time. So, we’ve got the data that no one on earth has, so anyone can come in. Actually, imagine this, you go to a restaurant, but you had a bakery, and on the menu there’s water, there’s flour, there’s yeast, and there’s salt. And then like, “Oh, you want bread. Okay, just tell us how much each you want.” You’re like, “I just wanted some bread.” When you go to a typical place like this, “What do you want to do? You want to do like a red light or whatever?” I don’t know. I want to do the right thing for me based on me and based on my goal. And that was the big challenge.
That’s why I waited to write the book. That’s why I waited to franchise Upgrade Labs until I thought I could help someone who walks in the door because, Cynthia, if you walk in the door and I walk in the door, we have a few differences. And I know there are probably some people who would argue we have no differences whatsoever, but those are mentally ill people, because it turns out from a biochemical perspective, there are differences. So, we would honor those differences and account for them based on your biology, your age, whether you’re tired or not, whether you’re inflamed or not, where you are in your cycle, possibly, and what your goal is. And if your goal was to get ripped and my goal was to have more energy, maybe we would do different things. So, we have to account for all of that. It’s hard, and that was why it was worth writing a book about.
But what slope of the curve biology shows us is that I’m going to lift all that stuff what the body will respond to with these hacks is a tiny fraction, maybe 20% of the amount of work that our sweaty guy did. And that’ll put on the same muscle or more. And of course, you got the extra 40 minutes back. Actually, it’s 48 minutes if we do our math right. So, [chuckles] what are you going to do with that. What I’m going to do if you’re at Upgrade Labs, I’m going to plug your brain in to our proprietary neurofeedback device that I’ve been working on also for eight years that has seven patents backing it, because we could also say, “Hurry, meditate faster.” And then what? Yes, you can do that as well. The way the slope of the curve biology works is that, if you push a system, any system in your body, right to the edge of failure and your audience knows that homeostasis is when the body can handle its stuff.
So, you push it right to the edge of where it’s about to lose homeostasis or it’s going to be destabilized. It might take you a couple of days or even a couple of months to recover from that. You take it right to the edge, but you take it there so quickly, maybe faster than mother nature ever even imagined could be done. And then and this is a big trick. You take it back to calm as fast as humanly possible. So, what the body wants to see is, “Oh, I almost died,” because that’s what it thinks when you sprint, literally it’s dumb. It’s a distributed consciousness of just about trillions of mitochondria. They don’t know what’s going on. They’re dumb bacteria. There’s just a whole lot of them. They all kind of votewith each other to feel like, “Is a tiger chasing us? Oh, shit, there is one.” And when that happens, if you stop and you drop and you lay on your back and you take deep breaths and you think about puppies or whatever it is that makes you chill or chocolate or guacamole, just not kale because it’s gross. So, you think about any of these things and you calm down. It’s the speed that you calmed down that tells the body to change because from the body’s perspective, remember, it’s very fast. It’s doing this before you can think, and it’s invisible to you. What it’s doing is it’s saying, “Oh, a tiger almost ate me, but now I’m safe and I have adequate nutrients including minerals, including protein, and including electricity because my systems work reasonably well. That means I have enough capacity right now to improve.” But if instead you do what we always do in spin classes and in bodybuilding and all these things is, “Well, the tiger is still there because I climbed the hill when the instructor is yelling at me.” And with Britney Spears playing in the background and you’re pedaling really fast.
And then instead of stopping and resting like a sane primate, what we do is like, “Oh, look, let’s go cruise for a little while and then do another hill and cruise because more work is better,” but the body is like, “No, I was going to fix myself, but since I’m still being hunted oh, and there’s a famine because you fed me a freaking kale salad before this class, not real food. It’s like, I’m not going to improve.” The difference for one of the many different technologies that I cover in Smarter Not Harder is around doing that for cardio. Two studies at the University of Colorado show that five minutes of exercise which includes 20 seconds of hard stuff, no sweating whatsoever, gives you a 12% improvement in your cardiovascular fitness, your VO2 max it’s called. Five minutes a day, three times a week for six or eight weeks, you got a 12% improvement. 12% improvement equals two years more lifespan in those kinds of aging studies.
So, you could also go for an hour a day, five days a week to spin class. That’s 5 hours versus 15 minutes every week and you would get a 2% improvement. You got 6 times better results in 15 minutes a week instead of 5 hours a week. What are you going to do with the other. Oh, and you didn’t have to shower afterwards either because you didn’t sweat. So, what are you going to do with all the time you saved? Are you going to be a better parent? Are you going to meditate? Are you going to write a book? That’s a lot of time. Five hours a week, we can have a side gig for that. You do whatever you want. It’s that kind of a thing that kind of just pisses me off. And it’s not like we’re dumb. All of us know this. Do you know, Cynthia, how much money is spent every year in the US on Ghost gym memberships?
Cynthia Thurlow: I don’t know, I better [crosstalk]
Dave Asprey: $400 million a year people spend on gym memberships that they know they should want to use, but they don’t want to use because the return on investment isn’t there. So, you pay your $29 a month or whatever it is and you never go. But you know you should go. Even worse, you are taught to feel shame because you don’t want to go. And there’s a lot of freedom in Smarter Not Harder, because your meat, your hardware, it is wired by Mother Nature or God or whoever the heck you think evolved our systems the way they are. It’s wired to save energy. Your body, which controls everything you see in here and feel, it wants to be lazy because it knows a famine could be coming. Why would you waste any energy when you don’t have to.
It’s a great way to keep alive and it works for turtles, it works for zebras, it works for trees. Don’t waste energy. So, here you are going, I want to go waste energy at the gym. Cognitively, you want to. Your body is like, “Screw you, buddy. There’s a pizza, there’s a couch, there’s Netflix.” And that is biologically attractive. The same way we look at someone who’s physically attractive, like, “Wow, look at those legs.” Your body has the same response to the couch, but we feel shame about looking at the couch. How could I want to do that, because you come from a long line of two billion years of life that has survived by not wasting energy. So, you have to acknowledge it’s not you, it’s not bad, it’s your body, it’s your hardware, and it’s for survival. And then you have to trick your body and that’s why it’s called biohacking.
Cynthia Thurlow: I love that and I think it’s very affirming to know that we are programmed to behave that way. I think, as you said, appropriately stated, the shameful kind of feeling that many people evoke because they’ve got this gym membership, they do want to go to the gym, they don’t want to go to the gym. They have all these conflicting feelings that make it more challenging for them to commit to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. No, in the book, there’s a new term I have to be completely transparent. I’m very familiarized with HIIT, but REHIT, I think, is again going back to this efficiency principle, let’s talk about that because that really had me rethinking the HIIT that I was doing once or twice a week. I was hmm this makes a lot of sense.
Dave Asprey: It’s called reduced exertion high intensity training and it’s not really even intervals. So, and there’re some graphs in the book that are real interesting to look at and very easy to understand. It’s not an engineering textbook by longshot. This is a “How do you do it” book, because that’s the only kind I write. Like, it has to be actionable. But if we were to do that normal exercise we talked about where you might go for a half hour, 45 minutes, maybe you’re on the stairstep or whatever you’re doing, like the hill climb and then flat and then hill climb, and well, that’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of time. About 10, 12 years ago, I started talking about high intensity interval training when the research was coming out, which said, okay, instead you’re going to take maybe 15 minutes instead of a half hour, 45 minutes.
You’re going to warm up a bit, sprint like crazy for 30 seconds or a minute, and then you’re going to jog a little while and sprint again. You’re going to do it three times. You’re going to really feel exhausted when you’re done. And then you actually got more benefits than doing the long class. This was the first step towards understanding slope of the curve and how important it is. And then new research started coming out on what is the actual correct pattern for this. What they found was what I described before, the body wants to get the signal and then recover. That’s it. So, what we were doing is we’re getting too much signal in. And I wrote a little about this in one of my previous books after an interview with John Gray, who helped to inspire me. This is the women are from a planet and men are from the other planet, the Mars and Venus. I forget who’s from what planet. Do you remember?
Cynthia Thurlow: Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.
Dave Asprey: Sorry, John, I love your books. I just can’t remember what planet I’m from. The whole situation with John is he said, “You know Dave, I noticed during high intensity interval training, if I lay down on my back between intervals, I do better.” I’m like, “Aha, there’s a little crumb of truth in that. And then when I found the research from the University of Colorado, it was like, “Oh, okay, we can use this at Upgrade Labs.” That’s what we do with a custom-modified bike that’s tied into our information systems to program you the right way. What you do then if you don’t have access to an Upgrade Labs, is you go to the park and you act like you’ve eaten two THC gummies.
So, you walk really slowly, you must be on something because it has to be way slower, like as calm and as peaceful as you can be. Think calm thoughts, really chill, and then set an alarm on your phone or something. Something has to just be the trigger. And then you run like you’re going to die. And it has to be really fast, all out. Even better yet, you have some weight in your backpack. I mean, like literally dump all of your energy in 20 seconds because there is a predator behind you. Maybe because you’re running, maybe it’s 30 seconds because you don’t have the bike with an AI control system we do at Labs. And then after that, stop and drop. Like I said, they’re going to think you’re on drugs. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. If anyone tries to give you mouth to mouth, tell them to go away.
Really deep breaths and just calm, peaceful. When you feel like you’ve got your heart rate most of the way down, get up and really gently walk again. Do that twice. And that is going to be so much better than running in circles around the park, breaking your knees and hips. It actually works better. And so, yes, it looks funny. Who cares. I mean, have you ever been to any class where people are all wearing a bunch of tight clothes, sweating on each other. They all look funny. It’s okay. You’re supposed to look funny at the gym, so do that. That’s just one example, but the reduced exertion there, how do we push the body to the edge of equilibrium.
Well, when I have the ability to measure how much output you’re putting on pedals and I have your heart rate, I can do that really well with technology, which is why Upgrade Labs is so much more effective. And just if your listeners going, “What?” Yes, ownanupgradelabs.com is where you would go if you wanted to open one in your city, and there may already be one opening in your city, so my goal is that there will be thousands of these across the US and Canada to start, and maybe we’ll do some other country deals. I’m talking with a couple of international places.
But the idea here is you just want to get it done. And you didn’t want to waste one minute of your precious life doing stuff, slogging it out in the gym. You went there and we gave you a prescription for what technologies to use, in what order, and you went in and you did it. You left feeling better than when you came in. And you improved rapidly. You’d have to believe you improved because we give you the numbers like thousands of measures that tell you, “Okay, are you stronger? Are you not stronger? Is your system working better? Did your inflammation that you can’t see with your eyes go down or did it go up?” You can have so much control over your body so that instead of feeling like you’re a servant to your body you realize that your body is something that will respond to what you tell it to do.
It doesn’t respond because you think about it. That is possible. You have to go into very advanced meditation states like the 40 years of Zen neurofeedback or do like heavy duty holotropic breathing. There are ways to interface with your body, but it’s super mystical spiritual stuff, and it’s hard to dial in. So, assuming you’re not going to do that, your body is not listening to you. It might if you’re thinking you’re really stressed about something, you’re probably feeling stressed in the body and then making up a story about it. It’s also possible to make up stress in your head and feed that into your body, but that’s not that common. Quite often it’s the body feeling stress and telling you it must be something around you, and then you believe that or maybe it’s just the government, but that’s different.
So that’s how it all works. I feel like there’s so much capacity we have as humans to just do better.
Cynthia Thurlow: It’s really exciting. And I would really be remiss, a lot of the questions that I received from listeners that knew were connecting today were surrounding because they follow you on social media, they want Dave’s input on nutrition. And there are some specific areas, obviously our both shared dislike for kale for multiple reasons. But I start thinking about things in our nutrition or in our diet paradigm that are really the antithesis of health and really the antithesis of supporting our bodies. And I’ll give you an example. I think a lot of people, if they’ve listened to the podcast I’ve done and you’ve done with Teri Cochrane talking about amyloid and the role with chicken, I think people just assume chicken is completely fine and benign.
Dave Asprey: It’s not a good food.
Cynthia Thurlow: Let’s talk about some of probably the less common things people may not associate that have some structural or contributory problems that can impact our health negatively.
Dave Asprey: So, if you go back about a dozen years when I first published The Bulletproof Diet, and people have lost a couple of million pounds on the diet, it’s transformed a lot of the way we talk about some of the nutritional things. I went back and I reread it and I talked about amyloids as a problem with cooking. So, when you char and grill meat, you form amyloids. That’s one of the things that creates inflammation. And you fast forward to my anti-aging book, which is called Super Human. I wrote about amyloids as cellular gunk or build up, and it’s one of the seven pillars of aging that I teach people about in that book. And what Teri has discovered is that chicken in addition to the other problems that we can talk about, that it also forms more amyloids than other animals, which means that if you go back in time, humans were pretty smart.
If you were absolutely a peasant, you would eat whole grains, brown rice, and gruel also known as oatmeal. That was basically what they would feed to people who didn’t have a choice about their diet, like gladiators who were actually slaves. They were called barley men for a reason because they wouldn’t let them eat meat, even though it was better for them. And you go up from there and if you were a peasant who was doing kind of okay, you’d have a couple of chickens because you’d at least have eggs, and you could eat a chicken occasionally. And that was a big improvement. From there, the next lowest quality animal is a pig because a pig will eat almost anything and so will a chicken by the way. Chickens are carnivores. They’ll eat all meat if you let them in a little bit of scratch, they’re not vegans by a long shot.
I’ve lived for years on a regenerative agriculture farm where we’re rebuilding soil, and we have chickens, pigs, sheep, and cows. But if you’re rich enough to have a pig, maybe you sold some of the pig now. Oh, my God if you have some land, you can have a sheep or goat, red meat. Finally, the proper fat that fuels humans, higher quality and nutrition. If you’re really, really, rich, you have a cow because now you got milk and you have red meat. But a cow takes the most acres to make the cow, but it’s the highest quality food. And so, chickens are one step above peasant food, but they’re better than peasant food. Right now, we have an organized campaign of highly traumatized and misguided at best or maybe sociopathic human beings who are trying to use the dark power of marketing to convince you that eating peasant food is good for you. And the only proper response to that is, say, “I had my Danger Coffee, my minerals are back so I can think for myself. You eat the gruel, I’ll eat the steak.” By the way, I grounded your private jet.
Cynthia Thurlow: It’s interesting having had immigrant grandparents who had gardens and cooked veal and I mean everything you can imagine, organ meats. My mom cooked organ meats. She was way ahead of the curve in the 1970s and early 80s doing that. I think a lot of people are surprised to understand that there is this hierarchy of poultry and fish and other things that you talk about in the book, microplastics, and there’s also this confounding narrative that’s really encouraging people to feel guilty and to feel badly about eating the animal-based protein. I’d be the first person to say that I think that it’s kind of a dangerous territory in terms of really looking at the science and really understanding how these different macronutrients impact our metabolic health in particular. What are your thoughts on dairy? I know you talk about A1 and A2 milk in particular.
Dave Asprey: Dairy is an interesting thing and I had to treat it separately and it stood the test of time. If you go to daveasprey.com/roadmap, that’s kind of The Bulletproof Diet on a one-page free thing you just put on your fridge. And in it, I look at dairy separately from other animal proteins and I tell you, this is the best, the next best. It’s all stack ranked. I don’t want you to be perfect. I just want you to know where you are on the sliding scale. So, if you’re thinking that tofu is the healthiest option, chicken would have been healthier than tofu, but beef would have been healthier than chicken. So now you have a guide. And there’s science backing up all the stuff I say in there. Maybe you agree with it, maybe you don’t, but whatever. You want my opinion, that’s it in one page that took like thousands of hours to make.
So, you’re asking about some part of that which was milk. So, when it comes to milk, if you tolerate milk, which many, many people don’t. Some of us have a problem with lactose. You can get around that with enzymes. It’s not a big deal. You just have to take enzymes religiously. But many of us have a problem with the proteins in milk called casein. With casein, A1 cows, the cows that eat corn and soy and grain because they make the most milk, they make a protein that’s actually pretty bad for most humans. But it’s better than no protein. It’s better than brown rice protein, unless you’re allergic or like me.
If I eat that kind of dairy, it turns into a morphine-like substance in my body and no amount of coffee or even prescription smart drugs will wake me up from that. I’m a zombie. And then I have really bad gas. So, it’s not compatible with me. You don’t even want to be around me because I’m boring and I smell bad. So, you may be one of those. But what most people, not most, 70% of people probably will tolerate raw grass-fed A2 milk. So, if you tolerate it, that’s great. But many, many, many people don’t do very well on it. For the purposes of just education, after A1 being the worst, raw A2 is kind of the next lower on the list. Above that that works for more people is goat. The most compatible with humans that’s commonly available is sheep because very few people respond to that. It’s got more protein and it’s got more of the good fats.
But then after that, the very most compatible from the animal kingdom is camel milk. And I was actually an advisor to the largest camel milk company in the US, before the FDA shut them down, because the FDA hates raw milk, because when they can make people eat powdered milk, apparently they need more prescription drugs. I think that’s why they’re against it. I don’t know why, but there’s been a huge war on small farmers over the past 25 years over something as basic as milk. The bottom line is that no government on the planet has a right to tell you anything you choose to put in your body. When they try to do that that is not in the Constitution, that is not in any government’s power, they are simply acting like your owners. Since you have Smarter Not Harder, you are now a dangerous person who can see the bullshit and you can stop it.
Cynthia Thurlow: It’s really interesting and I agree with you wholeheartedly that a lot of people don’t. They’re not even in a position where they’re thinking beyond the obvious. They assume everything in the grocery store is healthy.
Dave Asprey: Or even food. [laughs]
Cynthia Thurlow: Right, a lot of food like substances. Sometimes when I’m having conversations with patients, it’s with the understanding that 90% probably 80% of what’s in a grocery store is probably a food-like substance and seed oils and non-nutritive sweeteners and things that we could talk about for days. But I do want to make sure we carve out enough time to talk about cell hacks and neuro hacks and sleep hacks and all these amazing things that are in the book. In particular, I was loving the whole section that you have on vibration plates and breathing, hypoxic breathing, which I found fascinating. I’m sure you’ve had James Nestor on the podcast and his book Breath is a book I’ve read multiple times, just really completely shifted my perception about breathing. So, let’s talk a little bit about cellular hacks, because this in particular, just as a kind of a nerdy person, I found even more interesting than other areas of the book, which was all good.
Dave Asprey: Which one did you find most interesting? Let’s talk about that one.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think the induced hypoxia, the hypoxification, if anyone that is listening, , I don’t understand what that is or what that represents, but it’s actually something that normal people can actually do.
Dave Asprey: I’ll talk about that. You can exercise your cells the same way you exercise the whole system of your body. So, if you exercise your whole body, you’re exercising the cells in unison sort of like think of a sheep dog moving like a herd of sheep, kind of shaping it so they all go in this direction. That’s a system. But you can also take an individual sheep and work it out. You can also work out specific features in your body. From a cellular perspective, your cell’s main job, at least one of them, is to take about 30 pounds of air and some amount of food and turn them into electricity and or fat and or protein, and to make stuff including sex hormones and melatonin and all the things that they do.
So, what would happen if you just turn down the amount of air, instead of 30 pounds of air there’s only 28 pounds of air. Would it make less electricity. Yeah, it would. What would happen though if it didn’t do a good job of making electricity when it had 30 pounds of air. It turns out that’s most of our cells, that’s metabolic slowness, that’s the very beginnings of diabetes or cancer, is when the cells stop doing what they’re supposed to do with air and food. So, one of the cell hacks I talked about and something that we do at Upgrade Labs is you can say, well, spend time at high altitude or have a lot of people learned about blood oxygen levels because of the last three years and all of that. Well, if your blood oxygen levels are low chronically, it’s incredibly bad for you. If you walk around and instead of being 99% saturated with oxygen, your blood stays 90% saturated, you’re going to feel really crappy. Your brain won’t work. You can’t make energy, the stairs look incredibly tall, and it’s not a good situation. So, how do we fix it.
Well, slope of the curve biology, always being out of oxygen is really bad for you, but if you could very briefly go from full oxygen down to, say, 87% oxygen just in the course of one minute, yeah, you could do that. The body would go, “Oh my God, I’m going to die.” But then immediately you go back to full oxygen, slope of the curve biology, it’s just another bio hack based on this principle. Now the body goes, “Oh, I guess I should be really good at managing oxygen in case that happens again.” But if instead we put you at 90% and had you sit there all day, we’d have to put you in the ICU. So, it’s just a brief exposure followed by a recovery period.
What we’re doing in Upgrade Labs is a whole bunch of different recovery technologies. We want you to walk out feeling relaxed, because a relaxed body will improve, a stressed body will not improve. If your goal was to improve your energy, we might use this bio hack on you and afterwards say, you know what, let’s put you on our red bed, which is a custom made red and other color light thing that does some stuff that’s not commonly available. When you do that now, you’re like, just, “Wow, it feels so really good.” But your body is like, “Okay, I have to be ready next time there’s no oxygen because I didn’t reach the point where I broke my homeostasis. I just got to the edge of it, but then we brought you back real quick.”
So, this is something that if you don’t have all that tech, the breath exercises that you learn about from holotropic breathing, which I did with actually the guy who invented it at an event I put on years ago, that’ll do it. You get hypoxia for brief periods of time from rapid deep breathing. You could do Wim Hof breathing, which is related to that and similar. You could do the stuff James Nestor describes. All of these are cellular bio hacks and they actually work better than running circles around the park for metabolism also, and you won’t hurt your knees doing that.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think it’s really exciting and certainly for me, going through your book and learning some new things, I’m curious. You do a really great job of this kind of multi-tiered approach to different ways to support the body, challenge the body. You mentioned quite a bit of supplements. Do you have a favorite set of supplements? I mean there’s a bunch that you mentioned in there. Several of my favorites are in there, but I was curious of Dave’s favorites.
Dave Asprey: There’re two that I wanted to shed light on. This will be likely my fifth New York Times bestseller. Assuming the bestseller whatever deities smile upon me. So, I’ve read a lot about supplements. There’s anti-aging book, there’s a cognitive enhancement book. There’s the metabolism weight loss book. Each of those I talk about the supportive supplements. So, what I wanted to do here was the feeling behind Smarter Not Harder, is that every minute of your time counts, every ounce of energy counts, and every dollar counts. How do we squeeze it down so the most people can do it. And then that’s a different lens on supplements. So now it’s, which supplements help everything. The two that rise to the top or maybe we’ll call it three are not sexy supplements. They’re actually boring, but they’re the ones most of us are missing. So, the first one is minerals. You can take all the exotic nootropics and anti-aging pills you want, which I do, I take all of those.
But if you are out of your minerals, then nothing works. The bio hacks don’t work, your thoughts don’t work, your meditation doesn’t work. Your body feels a state of anxiety, an impending doom, and then you feel that and then you’re anxious and depressed because you’re out of copper or zinc or you’re low on magnesium. So, a multimineral supplement, there are many companies who make them. This is foundational, and you want to do that before you spend your money on other supplements. Of course, yes, I have one for Upgrade Labs that I think might come out with a book launch. I’m not trying to sell you my supplement there. What I’m trying to do is say this is one that many companies make. My job is to curate awesome stuff, I find worthy things and talk about it.
While multimineral supplement is so critically important, it’s going to take at least three pills. You cannot fit it in one pill. And from there we get into trace minerals. This is even a bigger problem because Frankenfood, plant-based foods, grains even like paleo nuts and seeds and oats in particular, and corn and soy, they contain an anti-nutrient called phytic acid. It’s as important as lectins or oxalic acid. All three of those are in chapter one of The Bulletproof Diet from 12 years ago. I’ve been focusing on this, but I missed how important phytic acid was until the last, maybe four or five years of going deeper.
What phytic acid does is, it strips minerals out of your body, it steals your calcium, it steals your zinc. So, even if you take a supplement, even if you eat some dumb plant that you heard was high in minerals, even though the minerals are bound up so you can’t get them, you’re not going to survive on that. And I was a raw vegan and I was a regular vegan, and I’ve eaten plenty of nuts and seeds. What I did was I cracked my teeth because I demineralized myself. So, Danger Coffee, my newest coffee company, has re-mineralized coffee and I wrote a patent on a process to introduce dozens of ionic trace minerals into the coffee. So, when you drink your coffee, your body’s like, “Why do I feel so good?” It’s like, because it has electrolytes and minerals that were lacking and your body’s starving for this stuff, so you get it in your coffee, dangercoffee.com is what that’s called. Regardless, you need to get your macro minerals that’s three or more pills a day from a good manufacturer. You get your trace minerals. I do like Danger Coffee for that. But you can get trace minerals somewhere. Now you’ve got minerals in the body and the only other supplement you need is vitamin DAKE, D-A-K-E.
I wish there was a vitamin V because then I could say vitamin DAVE, and then it would be funny. But vitamin DAKE is good because vitamin D3, we all know by now, jeez, that appears to reduce respiratory risk for almost everyone, no matter what the government says in your country, it doesn’t matter. This is actually a fact. We just realized that sometimes facts aren’t what’s driving things. So, we all know that, but what you don’t know is if you take vitamin D without the A, K, and E, it’ll put calcium where you don’t want it. So, you get calcium in your arteries and things like that. So, what you want to do is take vitamin K with it. You want to take vitamin A because it controls how other minerals are deposited and even vitamin E helps to control iodine.
So, all it is the fat-soluble vitamins that only come from eating animal fats. They don’t come from eating plant fats. No matter how much you wish it worked, it doesn’t. So, if you get those and you get enough minerals, which you can’t get from plants because the plants won’t let them go because the plants are trying to kill you, they just can’t do that because they have no arms. So, then they just coat their minerals and stuff so you can’t use them. You got to get these in your body and you got to tell them where to go. Minerals, trace minerals, vitamin DAKE. None of those is even slightly sexy except maybe Danger Coffee. None of those is a trending nootropic. None of those has a whole book written about it that’s hit the mainstream press because they’re boring. It’s just if you don’t have those, the really cool stuff doesn’t work, so start there. If you have $40 to spend this month that’s where you spend it, is on minerals and vitamin DAKE.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think that’s really helpful because it’s a foundational principle to improving your health. Now, before we finish today, one of the things that I appreciated that you included in the book was talking about the role of trauma and just very briefly, the impact of how this can impact all these other things in our lives, the stored, unprocessed emotions. And so, just kind of ending our conversation today because trauma has been a discussion that has really come up quite a bit over the last year with multiple guests, not just people like Gabor Maté, but individuals that are just talking about that’s been their journey, their process. For you personally, having a business, being this very successful biohacker, how has trauma impacted the work that you’ve done, not just personally but also professionally when you’re working with individuals that are trying to improve the quality of their health?
Dave Asprey: Well, as a computer science– 300-pound computer hacker, I would have said, “What trauma? I don’t have any trauma, look at me. I made $6 million when I was 26.” Of course, I lost them when I was 28. That was traumatic. I don’t really have any trauma except I had birth trauma, which is a real thing. And I would have said it was complete BS until I looked into it and actually did it. I’ve done a variety of trauma healing things in my early 30s. It’s just part of my journey of moving from being a stupidly successful in my 20s entrepreneur who was running away from failure, towards being an even more successful entrepreneur, towards my late 30s and early 40s. And I did that by going towards something that I thought mattered. The difference is letting go of trauma along the way.
I’ve also opened 40 Years of Zen about eight years ago and 40 Years of Zen is a neuroscience company that now has seven patents on the technology. And what we do is we hook electrodes up to your brain, show your brain what it’s doing, and run you through what I call the reset process. In the final two chapters of Smarter Not Harder, I teach this to you as best I can without electrodes.
Cynthia, the reason I can sit here and do what I can do, in addition to shamanic training, going to the Himalayas and Andes and all the spiritual stuff that I’ve learned, I have spent six months of my life, literally six months where I had electrodes glued to my head for hours every day, looking at my brainwaves and learning how to get control of my brain. That’s how I can have multiple companies and the books and have kids and have relationships and friendships and do a really successful podcast. There’re more than 1000 episodes and not burn out and not be tired and hate my life all the time. It’s because I dealt with the vast majority of my trauma and I have helped 1500 entrepreneurs come through my program for five days. I don’t really talk about it that way, probably too much, but of course you have to get rid of trauma because what trauma does is it turns on notifications in your brain, like on your phone.
You try and use your phone, and if you let everything turn on notifications, like boing, boing, boing. If you’re driving and your nervous system notifications like boing, boing, boing and you’re worrying about what your boss thinks and what your partner thinks, and you have this voice in your head that’s mean, and someone cuts you off in traffic, and they did it because you’re not worthy. That’s all trauma. And it feels real. And I talk in Smarter Not Harder, why that’s happening. It’s because your body has a third of a second to make up feelings without your brain involved. And then it hands you those feelings. And if you don’t understand that when those feelings come through, they feel real. You actually think your boss was mean to you, but in reality, your boss was just busy. But the story, you made up a story because you felt something. That’s the role of trauma resolution.
So, I talk about that in the heart of the chapter on meditation, because a lot of meditations actually, when you get there, it helps you with dealing with trauma. So, I go through, here’s the stuff if meditation is what you want to do, here’s the stuff that works better than just sitting in a cave, because that’s what we’ve always done. And if you really boil it down, there’re three things we’ve done to improve ourselves as humans throughout all of recorded time. Pick up rocks, run away from tigers, or sit in a cave, maybe dancing is a fourth one. You could probably count that. But that’s what we do. Maybe we can do a better job of sitting in a cave using all the stuff we know. And that’s what I did.
In fact, every five days of 40 years of Zen will put you in the same brain state that takes usually 20, 30 years of daily meditation to get to in five days. So, I’ve done that six months, 12 times. That’s why I can do what I do, because I dealt with my trauma and then I learned how to get to other states. But you won’t access your states of high performance, your states of divine love, the states of human connection, the kind of maternal or paternal feelings you can have towards your children or your partner, or towards the world. Whatever your thing is, if you’re out of your minerals and vitamins, it’s very hard to do that. And if you’re traumatized, it’s hard to do that.
So, the whole point of Smarter Not Harder, is do one of these things that’s going to make those states more accessible. And then the chapter on meditation, this is what works better than sitting in a cave because I’m actually offended when I weighed 300 pounds, when losing weight was the most important thing in my life, I spent 702 hours over 18 months going to the gym. Literally 90 minutes a day, half weights, half cardio, six days a week, even if I was sick, even if I had a date, even if whatever it was, it didn’t matter. That was my first thing. I would wake up and I’d sleep two hours if I had to so I could make sure I had time to go to the gym. Willpower, discipline, struggle, suffering, grit, at the end of that I still had a 46-inch waist, I still weighed 300 pounds.
And you can do the same thing with meditation. Like, “I’ve been meditating for five years and I’m still angry at my mom.” Dude, it’s not working. Like, you got to change something. I just don’t want us to waste time anymore because we have a choice right now. Either we improve ourselves as a species system wide or we go away. And I’m not talking about carbon dioxide. I’m talking about spraying glyphosate and atrazine and all the other poisons that we are knowingly spraying on ourselves and our children that are destroying the soil. That’re creating systemic stress in the world and in humans. We can stop all that stuff and it starts with getting our systems working and putting energy into resolving trauma. When we do that that’s really what biohacking is all about.
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, Dave, it is always a pleasure to have you on as a guest. I could listen to you forever. Please let listeners know how to connect with you, how to purchase your new book, which I know will be your fifth New York Times bestseller.
Dave Asprey: Oh, thank you.
Cynthia Thurlow: And how to connect with your podcast as well as connecting with you on social media.
Dave Asprey: Oh, thanks, Cynthia. Because I’m at daveasprey.com and of course I’m on social all over the place, lots of followers, so it should be easy to find in the algorithms. The biggest thing you could do right now, if this interview was valuable, is say thanks by picking up the book. Even if you’re going to read it next month, when you pick up the book right now, it concentrates the sales and it makes all the algorithms happy, which means other people find the book.
And if there’s a voice in your head that says, “Dave’s trying to sell me the book,” I would make more money employing myself pulling shots of espresso at my coffee shop than I would writing books. It is the least profitable thing I do. It takes thousands and thousands of focused hours, staying up late at night to write the book. I write books because you’re worth it and for no other reason. This is not part of my business endeavors. This is part of my teaching endeavors. So, if you found this conversation useful, buy Smarter Not Harder. Just go onto your app right now and order it or go to your local bookstore and read it because you’ll have it around. That makes a huge difference to help other people figure out they can do what they are here to do with less work.
Cynthia Thurlow: I love the efficiency. Thanks, Dave.
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