Like many people, I discovered Dave Asprey through his Bulletproof coffee. I soon learned that the coffee was the tip of the Bulletproof Iceberg. There’s the Bulletproof Diet, Bulletproof Radio, the books, the blog, the forums, the supplements, the subscription box, the accessories, the fitness gear, the annual conference, the meditation retreat… an endless rabbit hole from the self-anointed king of the Biohackers.
I like a lot of what Dave Asprey preaches. Nutrition that utilizes intermittent fasting and low carbs, a diet big on coffee and healthy fats. The mindset that your body is a system that can be hacked. That if you can measure something, you can optimize it. It’s all generally good stuff.
Then why did I feel so dirty leaving the event?
Standing in line, everyone was amazed with his new Vibe device ($1,495.00). A shaking platform that is supposed to give you a full body workout in just 15 minutes. It seemed like everyone but me owned one. I’m the one sucker still peeling my ass out of bed to get into the gym before work.
Maybe it was the Venue.
Gramercy Theater is great for burlesque dancers, underground rappers and dive bar Metal Bands. It’s not the first place you think of when you hear the words, clean or healthy. Certainly not for Dave Asprey, who warns of toxins and pollution in even the most sterile environments.
At least I had a good seat. ($90.00)
The event is a string of live lectures/podcast recordings to promote his new book, Headstrong ($27.95). The basis of the book is how to reach peak mental performance by tweaking dietary and environmental factors. He focuses heavily on the role that mitochondria plays in human health, especially the brain.
I’m halfway through the book, and there’s a lot of good information. The role of chronic inflammation on brain performance and longevity, how nutrition effects hormones, the value of cholesterol in keeping neurons healthy. But something still doesn’t sit well. Like his suggestion to walk barefoot on soil to absorb the electrical charges from mother earth. Or the secret fourth phase of water – Solid, Liquid, Gas and “EZ Water” – the latter only generated with appropriate UV light exposure. Maybe it’s all true, but it does sound like a stretch.
Waiting for the event to start, there was a cult-y air to the crowd.
“Have you tried his snack bars?” ($34.95 for 12)
“Do you add his Collagen Protein to your Bulletproof coffee?” ($39.95)
These people are die hard Bulletproof followers. You’d expect a room full of Ubermensch disciples. Instead, it was like any other American audience – 70% obese, sickly, tired. I’m not saying that this is a failure of the diet, but if these people can’t get it right…
Even Dave looked a little…fluffy.
When the lecture started, Mr. Asprey seemed visibly nervous. Then again, you can’t fault the guy with so many people in front of him (or can you? More on that later). He talked about his new Blue Blocker Glasses ($99.00), his fitness tracking Oura ring ($299.00) and his fancy glucose monitor ($885.00).
He brought out a spiritual guru named Emily Fletcher of Ziva Meditation to lead a guided meditation (sign up for her retreat, 4 days just $2,250.00). I love meditation, and preach the value to anyone who will listen. But this was awkward. She made us do a strange breathing exercise that had us alternately closing our nostrils with the thumb and ring finger, inhaling and exhaling to the point of hyperventilation “to get get oxygen to both hemispheres of your brain so they work in unison.” Nostril gymnastics aside, I don’t think this is how breathing works. But any new meditation is fun to try once.
Now for the live podcast recording.
It was pretty good! Asprey’s guest was Morgan Spurlock of Supersize Me fame. Spurlock is entertaining, and added a much-needed comedy touch to the program. Ironically, during the interview, Spurlock talked about how he feels better when he cuts down on coffee, and fat in his diet – two core pillars of Asprey’s Bulletproof world. Spurlock made it a fun interview. He talked about the hidden toxins in our homes, his experience living off of McDonald’s for 30 days, and the long process of recovering from the experiment.
Next Dave asked the audience what they thought about the show. Before anyone could answer, he went off on a rant about how he loves receiving negative feedback, that his brainhacking has made him immune to everyday fears. “Did I seem nervous at all on stage?” Yes Dave, you did. He moved on before anyone could provide feedback.
To close off, he briefly went over a few points from the book (nothing actionable), plugged his new supplement ($55.95), his conference ($799.00) and his Zen Meditation retreat ($15,000.00). You may have noticed that the whole experience felt like a giant upsell. He even promised to give a discount on supplements being sold downstairs “because I can.” Then when the cult of followers got to the merch tables, there was no discount, his crew arguing that everyone misunderstood. We’re not Headstrong enough to understand. Or rich enough, apparently.
There are times in his podcasts and books when it seems like he’s talking down to people. Like the world around him isn’t smart enough to keep up. This same hubris came out at the event.
One of the highest forms of human intelligence is Emotional Intelligence. Pro-social behavior is a mark of advanced thought, and many of the most successful people are acutely self aware. It’s sad, because someone who prides himself on hacking intelligence lacks that awareness. This doesn’t discredit his work, but it certainly left me feeling a little skeeved out.
Below are the unedited notes from the event:
1828 – first impressions. There’s a cult-like air with some of the followers. The new Vibe. It’s borderline weird, but I guess I’m part of the cult.
Too early to tell, actual event hasn’t started yet.
1845 – still Nada. Will probably start at 7. Still glad I got here early, seats are excellent.
1902 – kind of ironic that a beacon of healthy living holds an event at one of the filthiest venues in the city. I could smell the mycotoxins in the air.
1913 – event starts.
Dave seemed a little nervous.
Emily from Ziva Meditation started with guided meditation. “Top hundred women in wellness to watch” – New York Times
Meditation is more than getting rid of the stress in the now, and in the past.
Podcast with Morgan Spurlock of Supersize Me.
Talked about the origin and experience of Supersize Me.
Dave Asprey – Eat clean to reduce BO. Inflammation and disease triggers unhealthy odors.
MS – Took over a year to lose the weight back.
MS – The truth behind toxins – they’re everywhere. Food, water, cleaners, shampoos, chemicals everywhere that shouldn’t have been approved by Congress in the 70’s.
DA – flame retardants in mattresses. Including baby mattresses nationally. They’re toxic. In couches. Everywhere. It’s so expensive to detoxify your home.
MS – cta for moms to assemble.
When In a hotel, immediately take the bed spread off. Don’t walk barefoot on the carpeting. In airplanes wear long pants and long sleeves. Try to sit towards the front bc the fresher air is there.
DA – when the airplane backs up there’s backdraft from the jet fuel that gets absorbed into the cabin. Potent neurotoxin.
MS – besides avoiding toxins, critical to eat well. Avoid processed. Narita sushi in airports probably your best option.
DA – even the big chains make different purchasing decisions. Even McDonald’s moving in the right direction.
MS – Wal Mart sells more organic in America than anyone else.
DA – coffee, even decaf to increase polyphenols.
Three things to perform better –
1) be honest with yourself
2) be honest with everyone else
3) eat lots of veggies
We need to subsidize the healthy foods. We need to include nutrition in core school curriculum.
Lecture time – what isn’t in the book
We are conditioned to not want negative feedback. Fear of failure is fear of death.
We come into the world with just emotion. Delta and some Theta waves. No rationality, just learning.
The part of toy measuring the environment around you comes down to the mitochondria. You are programmed by the environment around you.
Our Labrador brain says:
This is true of all life forms, even bacteria.
Not in the book – with enough energy there’s a fourth thing – you build a community. Steven Wolfrom – A New Kind of Math – computer simulations
Light, temperature, vibration, heat, pressure, darkness, emf’s. Your cells sense this. Hormonal and magnetic stress from your heart.
Over half of people have early onset mitochondrial Dysfunction. When properly fueled, we begin to build a community.
These are not things that we have control over. It’s pre-thought. Highest content of mitochondria in heart and brain, and most of these are pre impulse.
Light – food is the most important thing. Junk light is right after that. We need full spectrum environment. Exposing cells to spectrums of light out of order throws you off. Throws off circadian rhythm. Your sleep, blood sugar, anxiety go up.
EMF – keep your phone away from your sensitive parts. Junk, heart.
Timing – timing matters for what you do, and when.
Temperature – timing for cold and heat.
Gravity – jumping might be a good thing! Piezo electric effect to help bone density. Hanging upside down.
Pressure – pressure on the cells helps shrink the distance cells have to travel.
Food – calories to make energy.
Water – fourth phase of water – EZ water. Clean water matters.
Air – is your air clean? Consider an air filter.
Why this stuff matters –
“every day use your energy, not waste it.” Set up your environment to waste less energy. Gratitude and mindfulness the best hacks. Working on yourself makes the world a better place. Start at the lowest level – your cellular level.
“the goal of life is not to accumulate power, but to radiate it.” – Henry Miller
Q – Intuition – does mitochondria effect it?
Yes, but there research isn’t there yet. Mitochondria the likely source of intuition.
Q – what is the glucose monitor on your arm?
Freestyle Libre – illegal in the US. See immediate spikes in blood sugar.
Q – role of nootropics?
Took modafinil for 8 years. Fourbose, unfair advantage, aniracetam.
Q – sleep hacking.
Blue blockers help. The true dark helps dramatically. Cyclical ketosis helps. Raw honey before bed can help. Light – red glasses help. Will revolutionize sleep. Sleep masks and long sleeves to hide from light.
Q – what do you prioritize in the Bulletproof ecosystem on a budget?
#1 BP diet roadmap. Avoid kryptonight foods. Suspect foods are guilty for some, okay for others. Measure by your bloating. Bulletproof foods are handled by most people well. Start by trying that for two weeks.
Q – how to make a bigger soldier
Heartrate variability. Read On Combat and On Killing by Grossman. In combat you act, not think. It’s driven by your mitochondria.
Also published on Medium.