The thin line between biohacker and broscience

The Bulletproof Diet: Lose Up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life by Dave Asprey

Dave Asprey used to be one of my role models. He got the ultimate stamp of approval from Dr. Mark Hyman, where Dr. Hyman said when he got ill he goes to Dave Asprey and not to another doctor. His wife is also a medical doctor, so it somehow gives him a little bit more credibility. So I began to follow his podcast (when it was still the Bulletproof radio) and I read 2 of his books, Head Strong and Game Changers, which were amazing.

But then Covid came. And his anti-vaccine stance bewildered me, he even opposed the mask mandate and went to his hysterical tantrum of “proving” that he cannot breathe when being forced to wear a mask, that the mask mandate was a “fear porn.” On top of this, he regularly mocks people who believe in Covid, take vaccines, and wear masks. He even teaches his followers how to “hack” covid, which resulted in FTC sending him a letter of warning about his unproven health claims. Needless to say, his credibility was tarnished in my eyes and I was done with him.

And so I thought. Here I am now just finished reading his 3rd book, as I’m looking to read another book on healthy living and biohacking. Well, I can’t think of another person when it comes to biohacking than Asprey, the guy who invented the phrase (scientific credibility or marketing genius?). And it’s available at the Audible Plus Catalog (i.e. free), hence I really had little to lose. So, what can I learn from a person that I have grown to disagree with? As it turns out, a little trip down to nostalgia lane.

The book, written in 2014, provides us with the main argument for Asprey and many biohackers ever since: that inflammation is the cause of nearly all modern diseases. It is filled with many analysis on the “technical details” about food, such as leptin, oxalates, insulin triggers, processed food, trans fat, MSG, fructose, gluten, good fat, GMO, sugar, salt, alcohol and sodas, having good bacteria, omega 3 and 6, list of good foods to eat, list of bad foods, and so much more including a long coverage on vitamins.

Asprey also addresses diet myths that are “wrong”, including caloric counting, everything in moderation, and the image that fruits are healthy. And he discusses the many different diet types and how to do it properly, from keto, to vegan, carnivore, to intermittent fasting, as well as how to cook them without turning them into a “kryptonite.”

Moreover, Asprey also mentions about sleep in the book, that, according to him, sleeping six and a half hours is better than sleeping 8 hours, or even sleeping 20 minutes every 4 hours (instead of the “conventional” 8 straight hours) is better. The book is also filled with hacks on exercise, where Asprey argued that exercises such as marathon running is harmful to the body and he instead recommended short burst of high intensity exercise, to gain the optimal benefits from the minimum effort (yes, exercises such as High Intensity Interval Training).

Mind you, they are not necessarily new information at this point, as the content of this book is similar with his 2 other books that I’ve read and his many podcast episodes that I’ve listened to. And as I have come to see Asprey in a different light the book does feel like a marketing campaign to sell his products, as accused by his many critics (my favourite got to be the label of “broscience”), with bulletproof this and bulletproof that are seemingly the only correct way when it comes to our health.

And in addition, many have since questioned and even dismissed some of Asprey’s hacks as wrong or at least partially true, like in the case of bulletproof coffee: other coffee companies are aware of mycotoxins and have the technology to deal with it, so the 4x overpriced bulletproof coffee is not unique, but Asprey hide that fact. And the deleted 3 episodes of Joe Rogan Podcast at Spotify that feature Asprey? Rogan later tested Asprey’s claims and concluded that “He used my platform in a way that isn’t totally ethical. It seems to be bullshit and I feel bad. He doesn’t have a formal education in nutrition.”

So, safe to say that now I’m taking any information from Asprey with a grain of [pink Himalayan] salt.

But overall, the book serves as a reminder of the good period of time when I had full control over my sleep, diet, exercise, and meditation. Hence, it is a good nostalgia that could kick off the familiar environment for my road back to healthy life. That in itself is enough. But man, the ego in this guy and the surprising lack of evidence to back up some of his biohacking theories. Funny how I didn’t notice this before when I was in awe of him.