Adventures in Biohacking with Quantified Bob (aka Bob Troia)

Adventures in Biohacking with Quantified Bob (aka Bob Troia)

Bob Troia, aka Quantified Bob, is the ultimate biohacker, tracking everything from weight, blood pressure – the usual things to glucose, hormones, HRV, effects of light therapy, and electric stimulation and more. On his blog, you’ll find his most popular post Mimicking the Fasting Mimicking Diet – My 5-day experiment which explains how he tricks his body into reproducing the effects of fasting while still eating!  How does one go about figuring out how this works? By testing, tracking, and understanding how to become the ultimate biohacker.

Bob describes himself as entrepreneur, biohacker, and self-quantification geek focused on the intersection of data-driven citizen science, health and wellness, human performance, longevity, and personal optimization. He offers consulting as well as coaching which you can learn more about through his website. You can also follow him on  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.

For those of you already tracking your health metrics through various devices, connect them easily to Heads Up Health to help you understand how to biohack your way to health in an increasingly unhealthy world.

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This podcast is brought to you by Heads Up Health, a web app designed to help you centrally track all of your vital health data. Instantly synchronize your medical records, connect your favorite health devices and apps and use your data to optimize your health!

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial. Or, read on for more information about our latest podcast episode!

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In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • How Bob started by documenting on his site about 6 years ago what his own data was showing, and people began wanting to replicate his experiments (n=1) [4:55]
  • About his epic fails. Bob does a lot of research before doing any of his experiences but has ended up in the hospital just based on a lack of knowledge so use caution when doing your own experiments and research [10:00]
  • How he used light therapy- infrared ordered from China and shined lights (120 watts) on his head for 20 min (too long) and went to work. 30 minutes later and he blinked while reading an email and looked up to a completely garbled screen. Something was stimulated, up or down-regulated, but still not sure what exactly happened [11:03]
  • Can have minor burns etc. from some experiments with biohacking fails. One lesson learned the hard way – too much MCT oil = running to the bathroom [13:00]
  • He learned nootropics don’t work for him, but they can be highly effective for others. This is why tracking can be beneficial to figure out what works for you [13:45]
  • About the PoV device and how it works to stimulate the muscles to override what your body is doing from an injury pattern [14:15]
  • How photobiomodulation can be used for mitochondrial upcharge before a workout or as a recovery tool. There are lots of variation between devices and what the effects can be [15:45]
  • How things that stimulate mitochondrial health are top of mind right now. There currently is no test that you can easily order to check these levels; however, there are some energy tests that you can use as a proxy to check the cellular energy of the body [17:45]
  • How you can use biohacking tools to optimize energy production and health in a toxic world to thrive [19:00]
  • Why it’s important to show up and meet the world where it is to elevate your health to the best possible [19:45]
  • Top blog post on Quantified Bob’s website [20:25]
    • Fasting Mimicking Diet which walks people through the diet, including nutrient guidelines, calculations, and diet plan, as well as the results of a 5-day experiment. He tracked glucose, blood pressure, sleep, HRV, and figured out which ones were worth tracking.
      • Benefits – shifting sympathetic to parasympathetic
      • Checked immune and growth markers
      • Had a dramatic uptick in testosterone
      • Saw elevated cortisol due to the stress on the body, but overall things were still better
      • He had vivid dreams, running on ketones in therapeutic ketosis rather than nutritional ketosis
      • How water fasting for 2-3 days produces a similar effect, but it’s not enough to get to the crazy dreams
  • The top metric Quantified Bob thinks is vital for tracking-GLUCOSE! [29:40]
  • Elite HRV CorSense’s ease of use and how it’s useful to track in addition to glucose [31:05]
  • Continuous glucose monitors and how they can provide so much information, but the technology is still a ways off for non-invasive technology for the general public to utilize. They show what’s happening at night for example, that you can’t easily monitor when you’re sleeping.  The pluses and minuses of what’s currently available on the market [32:43]
  • Quantified Bob talks about some of the devices and companies he has created and launched into the world [38:00 ]

 

References

 

Our Partners:

Learn more about LEVL, a clinical-grade ketone breath meter, which measures your level of fat-burning and ketosis through a simple breath. Find out more at HeadsUpHealth.com/LEVL.

You can learn more about the Oura ring, a state of the art ring that can track sleep cycle analysis, activity, and recovery at HeadsUpHealth.com/Oura.

Learn more about Keto-Mojo, a highly accurate and affordable device for testing blood sugar and blood ketones. Check it out at HeadsUpHealth.com/Ketomojo.

All of these amazing products are integrated with Heads Up Health.

They all allow you to quantify your health in novel and powerful ways.

Thank you to our partners!

About Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is a website designed to empower individuals who want to take a self-directed approach to managing their health. Instantly centralize your medical records, connect your favorite devices and apps (e.g., Oura, MyFitnessPal, Keto-Mojo, FitBit, Apple Health, MyMacros+, Withings and many more) and use your data to optimize your health.

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial now

START TRACKING!

 

Tracking the Oura HRV Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV)

Tracking the Oura HRV Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV)

Written by Andrew Flatt, Dave Korsunsky and Chuck Hazzard

Overview

We’ve released an experimental feature in Heads Up Health which automatically calculates the HRV coefficient of variation (CV) based on the data from your Oura ring.

Why track HRV CV?

Looking at daily HRV readings enables you to note short-term fluctuations relative to your baseline. This can be useful for observing the effects of various stressors and lifestyle factors which can help inform on behavior-modification strategies to optimize your HRV.

Due to daily fluctuations, an isolated (i.e., single time-point) HRV measure may not truly reflect an individual’s typical HRV. Thus, some researchers and practitioners are moving towards averaging a series of daily measures to better characterize one’s autonomic activity. In turn, most HRV apps are now reporting a rolling weekly average of your HRV values.

Tracking the rolling weekly average provides a better indication of whether your HRV is actually changing in a given direction. In addition, instead of reacting to an isolated change in HRV, a more conservative and convenient approach would be to react only when the rolling average starts to change. One low HRV reading may not be of much concern and would have little impact on the weekly average. However, a series of low scores will reduce the rolling average and may indicate that it’s time to do something about it.

Along with your rolling weekly HRV average, further insight can be gained by monitoring the Coefficient of Variation (CV) among the rolling HRV values. This is because the magnitude of HRV fluctuations can change from week to week, with or without out much change in the rolling average. How much your HRV fluctuates on a day-to-day basis is quite meaningful. Large fluctuations increase the CV while smaller fluctuations lower it.

Interpreting HRV Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV) values

Typical HRV CV values range from 2 – 20%. If we were to take a random sample of adults and measure their HRV for a week, we would probably find that individuals who are younger, healthier (i.e., without disease), leaner and more aerobically fit will fall on the lower end of that range and less-healthy individuals on the higher end.

Regardless of what your CV is at a given time, it’s important to know that it can and will change. Now, whether an increase or decrease in your CV should be interpreted as good or bad is entirely context-dependent. We’ll use some practical examples to explain.

Among healthy individuals, an increased CV is typically associated with greater stress, fatigue, and lower fitness. Vice versa for a lower CV. Thus, the CV is a useful value for assessing adaptation to a new fitness program or lifestyle change. For example, unfamiliar stress will typically cause greater fluctuations in HRV (i.e., increased CV). However, as you become familiar with the new routine, there should be less fluctuation (i.e., decreased CV) which is a sign of positive adaptation. What was once quite stressful to your body is no longer as stressful.

Reductions in the CV are typically good, indicative of increasing fitness, lower stress (or improved stress tolerance) and so forth. There are exceptions, however. For example, suppose your new training program or work schedule is overbearing. Accumulating stress causes an initial increase in your CV. As things continue, your healthy eating habits start to wane, your sleep deteriorates and you become rundown. In this context, your HRV readings may become chronically suppressed, failing to bounce back to baseline. Thus, your rolling average has now decreased, as has your CV.

How we calculate Oura HRV CV

At the time of this post, Oura currently does not report the HRV CV in their app. Thus we are calculating this in Heads Up Health using the average HRV value during the sleep cycle as reported by the Oura app:

Oura HRV Coefficient of Variance (CV)

Figure 1: Oura HRV Average

Using these average HRV values we then calculate the Oura Coefficient of Variation (HRV CV) as follows:

  • Calculate the natural logarithm (ln) value of the nightly HRV average as reported by the Oura app (figure 1)
  • Calculate the mean and standard deviation from the prior 7-day HRV values
  • Divide the standard deviation by the mean
  • Show as a percentage

Note: Some experts in the field have suggested a more accurate method would be to look at the Oura HRV readings from the deep (slow wave) sleep states or by looking at the HRV readings just prior to waking. We are open to changing our approach here based on feedback from users. Feel free to send us your comments.

Tracking Oura CV in Heads Up Health

You can now add the Oura CV metric onto your Heads Up Health dashboard:

Add the Oura HRV CV to your dashboard

Figure 2: Add the Oura HRV CV to your dashboard

You can also graph this marker on the Analyzer next to any other health metric to explore your own correlations:

Compare your Oura HRV CV metrics on the Analyzer

Figure 3: Compare your Oura HRV CV metrics on the Analyzer

Moving the needle

Why would these numbers increase or decrease? The CV reflects the fluctuation in your day-to-day HRV over the last 7 days. High or low HRV readings relative to your baseline will, therefore, contribute to a higher CV whereas more consistent or stable HRV readings will contribute to a lower CV.

Why is lower better?

When the rolling average is stable or increasing, a lower CV reflects less disturbance in autonomic homeostasis. This may mean that you are experiencing less stress or simply coping with it better.

The CV must always be interpreted in context. For example, a night of high-quality sleep may increase HRV well-above baseline, contributing to a higher CV. In a situation like this, the elevated CV is obviously not reflecting higher stress. In addition, stress is important as it stimulates adaptation. Therefore, an increased CV is a normal response to a greater or novel stimulus. However, repeated exposure and adaptation to the stimulus should provoke smaller HRV fluctuations over time and therefore a lower CV. Here, the reduced CV reflects an improved ability to tolerate and recover from the stressor and thus a capacity for greater stress.

Important lifestyle factors which can affect HRV CV

Any factor that alters HRV from baseline contributes to an increased CV. Common factors that affect HRV include:

  • Travel/jet lag
  • Physical stress such as high-intensity exercise
  • Mental and emotional stress
  • Over-training / injury
  • Sleep quality and quantity
  • Illness
  • Drastic changes to daily routines
  • Pain
  • Blood sugar fluctuations
  • Hydration

Heads Up Health can help you holistically track these other lifestyle factors to help identify areas that need attention.

Summary

The HRV CV is another powerful biomarker we can use to further understand how we are managing the stressors in our daily lives. Heads Up Health now supports this metric. This is an initial implementation and we will further refine this feature as required.

Ready to start tracking your Oura HRV CV? Start your free trial using the button below!

START TRACKING!

References and Recommended Reading on the CV

Flatt, A.A. Improving HRV Data Interpretation with the Coefficient of Variation https://elitehrv.com/improving-hrv-data-interpretation-coefficient-variation

Buchheit, M., Mendez-Villanueva, A., Quod, M. J., Poulos, N., & Bourdon, P. (2010). Determinants of the variability of heart rate measures during a competitive period in young soccer players. European journal of applied physiology, 109(5), 869-878.

Flatt, A. A., & Howells, D. (2019). Effects of varying training load on heart rate variability and running performance among an olympic rugby sevens team. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 22(2), 222-226.

Flatt, A. A., Esco, M. R., Allen, J. R., Robinson, J. B., Earley, R. L., Fedewa, M. V., … & Wingo, J. E. (2018). Heart rate variability and training load among national collegiate athletic association division 1 college football players throughout spring camp. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 32(11), 3127-3134.

Flatt, A. A., & Esco, M. R. (2016). Evaluating individual training adaptation with smartphone-derived heart rate variability in a collegiate female soccer team. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 30(2), 378-385.

Flatt, A. A., Hornikel, B., & Esco, M. R. (2017). Heart rate variability and psychometric responses to overload and tapering in collegiate sprint-swimmers. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 20(6), 606-610.

Flatt, A. A., Esco, M. R., Nakamura, F. Y., & Plews, D. J. (2017). Interpreting daily heart rate variability changes in collegiate female soccer players. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness, 57, 907-915.

Flatt, A. A., & Esco, M. R. (2015). Smartphone-derived heart-rate variability and training load in a women’s soccer team. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 10(8), 994-1000.

Nakamura, F. Y., Pereira, L. A., Rabelo, F. N., Flatt, A. A., Esco, M. R., Bertollo, M., & Loturco, I. (2016). Monitoring weekly heart rate variability in futsal players during the preseason: the importance of maintaining high vagal activity. Journal of sports sciences, 34(24), 2262-2268.

Plews, D. J., Laursen, P. B., Kilding, A. E., & Buchheit, M. (2012). Heart rate variability in elite triathletes, is variation in variability the key to effective training? A case comparison. European journal of applied physiology, 112(11), 3729-3741.

Tonello, L., Reichert, F. F., Oliveira-Silva, I., Del Rosso, S., Leicht, A. S., & Boullosa, D. A. (2016). Correlates of heart rate measures with incidental physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in overweight female workers. Frontiers in physiology, 6, 405.

Product updates

Oura Temperature Deviation (3/16/18):

We’ve added support for tracking core temperature deviation from the Oura ring. You can now add this metric to your dashboard and see how it correlates with other biomarkers:

Oura temperature deviation

Oura temperature deviation

Personalizing the Keto Diet Based on Your Genetics | Sarah Morgan “The Gene Queen”

Personalizing the Keto Diet Based on Your Genetics | Sarah Morgan “The Gene Queen”

Have you tried the keto diet and struggled with getting your ketones high enough? Did you feel terrible eating a lot of fats, or tired and sluggish? Did you suffer from hypoglycemia, while trying to fix your high blood sugar problems?  Or just feel like your body needed more vegetables? These are all common issues that can be avoided by understanding nutrigenomics and how your body responds to different foods. Grab your Nutrition Genome (or another genetic SNP test) results and follow along as Sarah Morgan takes you through the top 11 SNPs you’ll want to know about for personalizing the keto diet based on your genes.

Pairing Nutrition Genome testing with functional lab bio-marker testing and tracking it all within Heads Up Health, can help you monitor your health and see how your diet is working for you or against you. It’s true, your genes don’t change, but don’t assume there’s nothing you can do to avoid disease. How you live your life and what you eat is directly responsible for switching your genes for a disease on or off. 

Dave Korsunsky, Founder of Heads Up Health interviews Sarah Morgan, aka “The Gene Queen”, on the top 11 genetic SNP’s that affect how you may react to a ketogenic diet, and what to do if you do have those SNP’s.

This episode is packed full of useful information, especially for those of you who have not achieved the results you wanted with a ketogenic diet.  It may just need a bit more personalization for you, which is where genome testing for nutrition comes in.

Make sure to check out our podcast with Alex Swanson of Nutrition Genome on how to obtain your own test kit and what information you’ll find within the results.

Sarah Morgan, aka “The Gene Queen” has worked in the field of genetics for the last 13 years, connecting the dots on how your genes interact with your diet and lifestyle. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. She holds a Master of Science in Functional Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport. Currently, she runs several companies after taking a step back from her clinical practice. Her new company Even Health (coming soon) creates supplements to help replenish the nutritional cost of the medications you may have to take, such as birth control pills, and even statins. She has also written a children’s book Buddies in My Belly to help kids understand the importance of a healthy gut microbiome.

Listen in iTunes!

This podcast is brought to you by Heads Up Health, a web app designed to help you centrally track all of your vital health data. Instantly synchronize your medical records, connect your favorite health devices and apps and use your data to optimize your health!

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial. Or, read on for more information about our latest podcast episode!

START TRACKING!

In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • When the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003 we thought we’d find at least 50,000 genes but we found only 20,000-25,000 [2:40]
  • That the microbiome has genes also and can impact our human genome expression [3:10]
  • SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms) sometimes don’t do anything, but other times they affect things like detox, how we handle inflammation and what types of diets we tolerate best. These are not inborn errors that children are sometimes born with [4:30]
  • Your genes and genome are always going to be the same, but your genetic expression is changing all the time based on the inputs you give your body – diet, stress, water, sleep etc. [6:25]
  • How tracking your data through HUH you can figure out what inputs (diet, stress, sleep) are connected to health for you [8:20]

  • #1 – PEMT gene (located in the methylation section) allows you to make choline which is crucial for liver function. The liver converts your fats to ketones, so this is important for a ketogenic diet [12:40]
    • Normal- usual presentation, heterozygous – one copy of the gene, homozygous – two copies of the gene [14:50]
    • Choline is really important for gallbladder function which helps break down fats for our body to use them [15:20 ]
  • # 2 – FADS-2 (located in the digestion section) [20:35]
    • Has to do with metabolic or neurologic issues on a keto diet. These are omega 3 status indicators.
    • This gene has to do with taking shorter chain omega 3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid) like flaxseed and walnuts and converting it to the longer chain fatty acids like EPA and DHA which are found in higher amounts in fish.
    • You can check your blood levels of EPA and DHA levels and cross-reference how these genes are working for you in your body [23:15]
  • # 3 – FUT2 (located in the digestion section) How well you feed your microbiome [23:35]
    • The microbiome plays a part in how well you absorb your fats based on the type of bacteria living in your small intestines.
    • The more dysbiosis (bad bugs) bacteria you have living in your gut, you can have more of an inflammatory response to an increase in fats.
    • If you have heterozygous or homozygous, you should emphasize your prebiotics (food for gut bugs) because if you have changes in this gene you’re not actually feeding your microbiome as well and can have more issues with lower levels of bifidobacteria (anti-inflammatory bacteria that also makes B vitamins like B12 and folate).
    • Needs a good variety of diverse plant fibers in the diet. 25 different plant species per week (this can be hard in a traditional keto diet -carnivore would not be a good option for someone with this gene).
    • CAUTION- very extreme restricted diets can be detrimental so use caution if you don’t have all of the information on how it will affect you before beginning a very restricted diet if you don’t know what you’re doing. Test, don’t guess. 
  •  #4 – ACAT (located in the digestion section) How your body converts protein and fat to cellular energy [30:04]
    • We make our body weight in ATP (cellular energy) every day! We want to make sure someone has the ability to get good energy from protein and fat and has to do with cholesterol balance in the cell if eating a high fat/protein diet.
    • Example of symptoms:
      • Someone who is homozygous may go on a higher fat diet and consume more protein and have their cholesterol go up.
      • Eating more fat and you feel exhausted. You never feel good, because it’s lowering your ability to make energy due to your lack of ability to properly use fat and protein for fuel
      • Watch your cholesterol and liver enzymes when doing a high-fat diet as they can go up if your liver can’t handle all the fat processing (see PEMT gene info).
  • #5 -ADIPOQ The Red Meat Gene – Adiponectin (located in the digestion section) [33:50]
    • This is a hormone released in the intestinal tract when we eat foods and it has to do with how much insulin is secreted- affecting blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, etc. These are people that are predisposed to metabolic disease.
    • Things that help this function better
      • Exercise
      • Intermittent Fasting
      • Omega 3’s to increase adiponectin secretion
      • Turmeric
      • Berries
      • Ginger
    • People that are low secreters are at a higher risk for insulin resistance, heart disease, and colon cancer – especially important to know before doing a high meat keto diet with a lot of red meats
    • Homozygous- make sure you exercise and check body composition. Insulin resistance starts in the muscle -so get your muscles moving and lift some heavy stuff!
  •   #6 – SLC22A5 Fat Taxi Cab Gene – (located in the digestion section) [40:20]
    • Picks up our fats and shuttles them to mitochondria to be burned as an energy source. Fat goes through the digestive tract and is absorbed across the gut barrier and then L-carnitine shuttles to the mitochondria.
    • Low levels of L-carnitine could compromise your ability to shuttle fat to your mitochondria and contribute to lowered energy in your mitochondria which can have neurological implications.
    • You can consume L-carnitine in red meat, but your body also makes it.
    • Vitamin C is very helpful and making sure you’re methylating well as L-carnitine is a byproduct of methylation.
  • #7 PPAR Alpha – Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Alpha (located in the digestion section) [42:20]
    • This is the “ketone gene” – especially if homozygous this can make it difficult to get into ketosis.
    • This plays a role in fatty acid metabolism – how our fats are actually utilized in ketosis.
    • Symptoms:
      • Changes in cholesterol panel like triglycerides, HDL, LDL in people that are poor responders.
      • May not feel as well when trying to go into ketosis and feel poorly on a keto diet.
      • They could potentially have ketogenic hypoglycemia because their ketone production is low and they’re not bringing in enough carbs to keep blood sugar normal – they essentially have no fuel to run on.  
    • Needs exogenous ketones to stay keto since your body can’t make them well.
    • If you’re homozygous and taking exogenous ketones, you need to really watch your cholesterol well.
  • #8 – ACSL1– How well you metabolize saturated fats from animals – bacon, fat bombs from dairy, etc. (located in the digestion section) [44:25]
    • These people will have higher issues with higher fasting glucose and insulin resistance. If homozygous or even heterozygous -focus from getting your fats from plant sources rather than animal sources. More Mediterranean keto diet. Coconut is okay.
  • #9 – APOA2– Eat fat, get fat gene (located in the digestion section) [44:25]
    • An enzyme that regulates appetite. People who eat more fat tend to be more hungry and tend to consume more calories in a day. You can mitigate this through movement. Don’t have a desk job where you sit 8 hours a day, especially if you eat a lot of fat.
  • #10 FTO – The Hangry Gene (newly added to report in last 6 months or so -located in the digestion section) [47:00]
    • Has to do with the hunger hormone ghrelin.
    • People who have this, especially homozygous, are the people that are just hungry all the time.
    • Balance blood sugars.  Don’t consume high glycemic foods (you’re already doing that if on keto).
    • Pay attention to hunger signals as well even if not eating high glycemic foods regularly.
  • # 11 TCF7L2 – The carb Gene (located in the digestion section) [49:40]
    • Incretin hormone that has to do with insulin sensitivity.  
    • The biggest indicator of type 2 diabetes, across the board in terms of studies.
    • If heterozygous – be careful with your carbs, homozygous be REALLY careful with your carbs.  
      • Symptoms:
        • weight gain
        • dysregulated insulin
        • carb cravings
    • Wild type can have more metabolic flexibility of being able to use carbohydrates and not have negative consequences. Beta cells in pancreas very sensitive for these people. Ancestrally they probably ate more carbs and are more efficient at it.  

References

EVEN Health Supplement Company
Buddies In My Belly
Gene Queen
Nutrition Genome

Our Partners:

Learn more about LEVL, a clinical-grade ketone breath meter, which measures your level of fat-burning and ketosis through a simple breath. Find out more at HeadsUpHealth.com/LEVL.

You can learn more about the Oura ring, a state of the art ring that can track sleep cycle analysis, activity, and recovery at HeadsUpHealth.com/Oura.

Learn more about Keto-Mojo, a highly accurate and affordable device for testing blood sugar and blood ketones. Check it out at HeadsUpHealth.com/Ketomojo.

All of these amazing products are integrated with Heads Up Health.

They all allow you to quantify your health in novel and powerful ways.

Thank you to our partners!

About Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is a website designed to empower individuals who want to take a self-directed approach to managing their health. Instantly centralize your medical records, connect your favorite devices and apps (e.g., Oura, MyFitnessPal, Keto-Mojo, FitBit, Apple Health, MyMacros+, Withings and many more) and use your data to optimize your health.

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial now!

START TRACKING!