Bob is a New York City-based technology entrepreneur, biohacker, and self-quantification geek focused on the intersection of data-driven citizen science, health and wellness, human performance, longevity, and personal optimization.
“Hack, track, analyze, optimize, rinse, repeat,” comes from his background in software development, where concepts such as iterative software development and “lean startup” methodology have emerged. He seeks to not only continuously gain new insights about himself, but also challenge and reshape previously held beliefs.
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Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Hey, guys. Welcome to another episode of the Body Clock podcast. Today we have a special guest from New York, Bob Troyer, who is at the pinnacle of the self quantification movement and is also a biohacker. He’s got a background in software development and has worked as a tech entrepreneur in the digital innovation space for about two decades. He’s quite an expert on kind of running self experimentation and collecting data. He’s given a lot of important talks at various summits, including the Superhuman Summit as well as the Biohacker Summit. Someone I’ve been following recently and I find quite an enigmatic personality to follow and learn from. So I think this is gonna be a great podcast. So, hey, Bob.
Bob Troia: Hey, thanks for having me on.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: No, great that you could make it. So to start off with, obviously, you know, our podcast, Body Clock Podcast centered on circadian rhythm biology and Owaves is the app we’re developing. And it’s already available on the App Store that we continue to develop in order to help people optimize their circadian rhythms and their lifestyle to achieve optimal health. So before we start, could you go into a bit about your background?
Bob Troia: Sure. I mean, you touched on it pretty well. I’m a long time technology entrepreneur. I started my career in the early days of the web as a software developer, but kind of branched out into building some companies over the years that were actually more in the digital marketing side of things, but still heavy tech focus. And along at the same time, I’ve always just been really into understanding kind of myself in terms of whether it’s from athletic performance to just other areas of optimization, going back to even, I was like a teenager. So what was sort of happening in parallel was as the technology and tools were evolving, we’re also getting access to, you know, types of tests and other metrics that we just didn’t really have access to before on a consumer level. Maybe it was, you know, very expensive or it required various expensive lab equipment. And so I’ve always just been into data. And the fact that I have a software background was kind of allowed me to just kind of build my own things or sort of tinker a bit. And in about maybe like six years ago, I started running into people that had this sort of common interest.
I didn’t really think there were other folks like me. And there was like the quantified self movement was the new thing that was sort of starting. And this concept of bio hacking was starting. And people kind of encouraged me to start sharing some of my self experiments. And I set up a blog quantifiedbob.com where I just started documenting some of the things I was doing really just to kind of get it down for myself, so I go reference it later. But then people were finding it and saying, you know, how useful it was for them or they took my ideas and did their own experiments. And and yes, it’s been great to see that. And it’s kind of showed me that, you know, a lot of folks out there, there’s a lot of data. We have ways of tracking, collecting all this information. But there’s very little in the way of giving, giving people actionable insights.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I mean, I love the fact that you’re so data driven and data centric. And that’s almost, I think, how with so much development in technology and data being collected, how the future doctor needs to think. I mean, being medical school. So, so much for quantified. Bob, I’ve been trying to brand myself as the digital doctor. So, I mean, this is kind of a fusion of quantified Bob meets the digital doctor, is a perfect conversation. But enough doctors don’t think in a kind of data science or software engineer way, that gives you these blind spots. You can’t kind of collect, you can’t visualize all this data without it being present. So I think that’s the way health care needs to go. It’s amazing that you’ve always been into kind of tracking yourself. And now you’re applying it to the kind of wider health metrics and you’ve set up kind of your own kind of web site and you’re helping people kind of look at the cutting edge of health, which isn’t being done in the kind of formalized traditional approach. So that’s really interesting and I’m glad like this tribe of kind of self quantifiers is and biohackers is beginning and because we can really kind of leverage the latest trends.
Bob Troia: Yeah. And as I mean, it’s sort of going exponential as well in terms of new information and things that we’re discovering. And so it becomes even more difficult to sort of stay on top of everything. So you do rely on the community and the tribe to kind of bring you new ideas, new information to us. And they sort of distill it, filter through it in a way, because it because I mean, I think someone who’s just sort of diving into this world specially on the biohacking side, it can be a bit overwhelming because like one person is telling you, go carnivore diet and eat nothing but meat. And then another one person is telling you to go a certain way or another direction and you’re like what’s right and what’s wrong. And it maybe isn’t that black and white. You know, it’s all about our personal circumstances and what works for me now. So it’s a lot to sift through and it’s taken me as close to a decade in terms of resolving some pre-existing health issues I uncovered and just to get myself to a point where I’m like, OK, I don’t want to just be like feeling OK. I want to feel great.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I’m glad you touched upon that. So you’re kind of saying it’s personal. Because there’s so much information out there, when I was getting into this. I was like, can I try that? But then should I try that first. And as you said, different things work for different people. And that’s where precision medicine is going towards. So that approach, when you try something, do you look at kind of the studies behind it through like journals or would you try and see how it impacts your different metrics? What are you quantifying at the moment or what are the most important things to quantify in terms of health metrics?
Bob Troia: Well, in terms of where I get information, a lot of it comes through studies. So some might just be basic things you read about related to things like sleep or stress or some diet or interventions like that. There may be things that are a little more, I’d call them experimental or not yet really ready for the masses. And those can involve some types of, you know, whether it’s supplementation or other substances or just doing things that might put yourself potentially in a little more danger. And that requires a lot more of editing and research.
So there’s definitely times where I’ve written, you know, I’ve read the studies, everything seem potentially OK and safe, but I had to make a decision about risk reward. And was it something I’m willing to try today? Like there’s there’s there are some really promising things happening in anti aging space that, you know, I’m like, yeah, I’m really interested in that. But maybe I should wait another maybe 15 years from now, maybe. You know, I don’t necessarily. Am I going to get a benefit now at my age and my current state or is it something that might benefit when I’m or someone who’s not maybe in a different health state.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So you’re doing a cost benefit analysis and kind of real time working out what benefits you, which is quite interesting, that you kind of self analyzing, because there’s so much that can be done in this space. I mean, just reading into it, there’s so many different interventions. What would you say the most important things to quantify or examples of kind of health metrics that you’re quantifying at the moment, like blood glucose, heart rate variability?
Bob Troia: Well, exactly. I mean, I would say if I was going to tell people what are the sort of the most important things to be tracking. I mean, first of all, just have some form of a reliable wearable just to passively collect some information on you. And I’m not even going to say things like steps are accurate. But sleep, getting some sleep data, getting some some of that information kind of just captured is really valuable. Even if you have to go back, you know, you might not look at it for a long time, but if you ever need to go back, it’s there. And then you, things that require a little more intervention in terms of manually collecting data, things like blood glucose, I think understanding our trends is very, very important. I’m sure you’ve had other guests on or you’ve had other conversations about, you know, the fact that you go from being non-diabetic to all of a sudden you’re diabetic.
And that’s that’s not really how it works. You know, it’s something that it’s a lifestyle. It’s largely over time for a lot of people. And you can practically sort of be monitoring that. And so for me, understanding those just the baselines of like, you know, what’s my fasting glucose every morning? No, I’m not doing that 365 days a year. But there are periods where I may have done it for a longer period of time. And I said, OK, you did a little check. I’m pretty good at. I was looking to find the impact of, let’s say, how did different foods affect me? How did you know the acute effects of a blood sugar, I’ll track that.
That’s kind of like a next level of tracking glucose. I do think just understanding some basic, you know, trends, because when we go to like an annual checkup, you’re getting a glucose reading that’s like 1 point in time on one day of that year. And if you extrapolate that, if you actually looked at like a continuous glucose monitor throughout the entire year, it’s it’s moving around all the time. And so it’s hard to know where, you know, if you had taken that blood draw 30 minutes earlier or later, you could have actually had a pretty big difference in that reading you missed. You actually have some misinformation there. So I’d say glucose is definitely important. I look at heart rate variability as a proxy to really for both overall stress, whether that’s physical stress, emotional stress from training. And every morning I take a reading before I even get out of bed. I do a two minute HRV test and that gives me a good sign of understanding my body’s readiness for the day, whether, again, if I can train hard that day, if I start seeing it decline, it may predict I’m about to get sick. You’ll see effects, you know, if you went out, let’s say.
And so when I went out and had a few too many drinks, your HRV will most likely be tanked the next day. But I think really what you want, though, is that long term there is the long term understanding, two of those of HIV. And it’s when people try to compare HRV to each other, it’s not that easy because it is highly individualized. It’s more about trends and seeing where you’re going off of that baseline. And then the third thing like I like to track is so we track a lot of metrics about ourselves. And, you know, we can get into all sorts of types of blood work and all of that. But I feel like we need to pay attention to our environment, particularly our indoor environment, and within that our bedroom, because that’s where we spend basically a third of our lives. So looking at air quality and our inner sleeping area is usually important. So I do feel just having your baseline, those types of metrics, which are pretty basic. I’d say the most involved one is really just taking your measuring your blood glucose. The others are relatively passive.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah, exactly. And it’s interesting that you said about the whole kind of the values varying according to time it’s taken kind of the season because that’s what circadian rhythms kind of dictates. You know, your blood pressure changes throughout the day. So your glucose readings. So you’ve kind of you’ve you’ve greatly touched upon that. How important circadian rhythms are. That’s what we’re trying to do at Owaves. So could you explain a bit about HRV for our listeners, you know, using it for recovery? How do different kinds of lifestyle variables affect HRV?
Bob Troia: Again, it’s everything from lifestyle based factors. Just stress of everyday life and travel and work and family and relationships to exercise and poor sleep, good sleep. They all basically have an effect on the body’s resiliency. And, you know, you can you can look at someone, you know, day to day. Like I said, if I woke up this morning and I see my HRV looks like it’s trending upwards, it might be like, hey, this is a good day to actually if you’re going to work out, go go really hard today like you can really push it today. Whereas if it you know, let’s say I had worked out yesterday really hard today, it might actually show me like, hey, yeah, you definitely worked hard yesterday. You should recover today.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: You know, take it easy today.
Bob Troia: Yeah, take it easy. Do some restorative work. Yeah.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So we’re almost kind of planning according to what’s going on in real time, which is which is great insight to have.
Bob Troia: And you can use it. But HRV can also be done acutely. Like you can wear like a chest strap that measured you know the heart rate chest traffic runners wear. There’s things that work on your fingers. And you can do like more acute HRV. Like let’s say you’re a business person. You could actually be measuring your HRV, while you’re giving a presentation. You can see how nervous you are. You could see how moments that you got calm or, you know, it’s a very acute measurement. So you can record it. There are apps out there that will just start you know you say record and it starts collecting data and you’ll see your HRV trends. I use HRV a lot with.
So in terms of meditation, there are like apps like that will measure the monitoring your HRV while you’re doing these coherence breathing, they call it, where you’re trying to basically get your breath in alignment with your body’s emotional system and your heart rate variability. So it’s kind of monitoring it, and what’s nice is you can say those sessions, you go back in time and kind of see. You can’t cheat, like if your mind wanders, things go off. And so it’s interesting that you can know and I know people who are like that do traditional meditation will say like thats stupid you don’t need that. And that’s probably the case. But I don’t consider myself a good meditator. So I’m like, I like this. I have some proof at the end of the day saying what you actually did something.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That gives you some evidence. So with HRV, the higher the kind of variability, the less stressed you are. Is that correct? Is it good for you, the higher the HIV?
Bob Troia: Correct. So you know heart rate variability is that balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic systems in our body. Parasympathetic is like our rest and digest, meaning we’re relaxed, we’re calm. There’s no threat of the saber toothed tiger eating us. We were like cavemen. Whereas sympathetic is that fighter flight response, where we’re at heightened levels of alertness, we’re making sure nothing’s going to attack us.
And what ends up happening is, in the sympathetic state, our heart rate actually gets very consistent. So if you’re 60 beats a minute, it’s like one second, one second, one second. When you’re more in that rest and digest state, you’re actually heart rate variability, will the heart each beep, you know, it’ll have more of a variance to it. Basically, you might be like one point four seconds and point nine eight seconds. And that’s actually a sign that your body is very just relaxed.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: It’s interesting. So when you when you’re giving talks I guess that adrenaline is pumping and that’s why your HRV is reduced.
Bob Troia: But so it may not be a bad thing. So giving a talk. There could be nervousness, but it can also be like we talked about things like flow states. And I’ve given talks where 15 minutes goes by so fast that you don’t you’re like, what? What just happened? And because you just go through that that state. You’re not really thinking about everything else, just sort of like it’s just seems like autopilot. It just goes. Versus stress of like, you know, just being nervous about something, you know, which is it’s sort of a different thing. And I’m pretty different, I would say would be if I was in more of a flow state, I’d probably had a lower heart rate. So just heart rate and heart rate variability.
So you can have a low heart rate and low heart and high heart rate variability or the opposite. There’s even been some research that’s shown if someone has maybe someone who actually has like there’s high heart rate variability and and low heart rate can mean, you know, the FCC upset give you have low heart rate variability and low heart rate, that could mean someone’s depressed because it’s actually a sign that you’re just like, well, I don’t really care. I’m stressed. So. So you have to you know, it’s interesting to see those you know, when you compare some of those other markers together. So, you know, heart rate in itself, you like, you know, that’s just four beats per minute, which is definite. It’s a different metric than HRV. So you have to kind of look at them side by side.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Like bad stress and is that stress, which helps you reach optimum performance. Which brings me well nicely to this space of kind of longevity and human performance and optimizing your health. For you, what does this involve? Is it cognition, athletic ability, kind of happiness as a metric? What’s the end goal?
Bob Troia: It’s definitely on everything from the physical and cognitive aspects of longevity as well as things that interventions and the things I’m doing that can make sure I’m trending in that right direction. Whether that’s diet, you know, just other things I can implement. So, you know, from a from a training standpoint, we have to strike a balance because in like being if you’re doing a lot of exercise, intense, like imagine you’re an elite athlete, like an Olympic swimmer or something and you try to sustain that level or a Tour de France cyclist.
That’s like the pinnacle of like, you know, athletic performance. And that doesn’t really help longevity and not do not go together unfortunately. And so you have to strike a balance. Right? And so, there may be a time where people were like dirt, that’s it. Like me personally, I know I’m not going to be riding the Tour de France. I’m trying to strike a balance between being as fit as possible and maintain muscle mass and bone density and all that, but not tipping the scale to where it’s actually then having up regulating certain things that will adversely affect that have been shown to like impact longevity. Or speed of aging?, let’s say. It’s kind of a you know, it’s a balance you have to strike.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Which is the point. Which is like bodybuilding, for example. Like you’re gaining more muscle mass the benefits of that. But then your joints kind of, you know, deteriorating. So you almost have to look at it like a spider diagram, don’t you? So where you’re reaching kind of optimal points within kind of all the different domains and I think that’s what you’re doing.
Bob Troia: I would say the one to go where physically, you know, from a physical standpoint, you want to strike that balance. And there may be times and places where you’re like, look, I’m training for something specific. I’m going to go run a marathon. I’m gonna do something like that. I’ve a goal that’s been, you know, a near-term goal. For that period of time, you’re saying, I’m willing to make that sacrifice. It’s OK, does it? You know, we don’t know if it shaves off six months from our lifespan or but, you know, some people will say, I’ll take that trade off because I’m doing something really I love. And I’d rather do that than be because when you see these experiments they do with with fasting and trying to extend lifespan of mice and worms and other animals like the ones that live the longest are like cold and weak, but they live long. But do you want to live really, really long and be cold and weak? Or maybe you don’t live quite as long, but you’re thriving all the way till the end. And those are things you have to sort of everyone has to decide for themselves.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So it’s a lot of tradeoffs. And I guess some metrics are very quantifiable, whereas things like happiness at the moment are quite subjective. I mean, I’m sure as we do more research, we can probably work out, you know, maybe census come out for mood, you know, cortisol levels and you can correlate, but to a degree that’s quite subjective. You have to almost trade off kind of your happiness. For example, keto diet can be very hard for someone to kind of, you know, sustain. So it might be compromising their happiness. Then they have to work out their objectives and goals and work out if it’s worth it for them, even though it may improve their cognition and kind of, you know, body fat, et cetera.
So I think that’s a very interesting kind of line of thinking. One thing what I’ve heard in one of your talks is how so we almost kind of the fact of lifestyle medicine we hit on diet, exercise, you know, stress, sleep. And that’s what kind of given your superhuman kind of, you know, Quantified Bob, you’re thinking you’re tracking all these kind of, you know, high end metrics. But you’ve talked about socializing and how that affects HRV or how that kind of is very important. And at Owaves we’re bringing out a social timeline which is trying to foster a connection, because we’re living in an increasingly lonely world where everyone is really busy and leading to socializing and his health benefits can. Can you tell me more about that?
Bob Troia: Yeah. This is just something that I sort of saw in my data as I was going through. So my heart rate variability, actually in that data, I was noticing that I was also for a period of time, I was tracking if I had consumed any alcohol or a glass of wine or cocktail, etc. and I would see that I would assume, I would always correlate drinking alcohol like that’s going to impact your heart rate variability the next day. But there were there were days where maybe, you know, maybe I just had like one or two drinks, two glasses of wine.
And but the next day, like my heart rate variability was way up and was like, that’s really weird. And I started to kind of go to piece together what did I do that day? What would have really? It didn’t sound right. And I sort of started looking at my calendar and I realized, well, those were evenings I was out basically at a social function or out at dinner with like friends or people I haven’t seen for a while or family members. And so the actual emotional benefit of being around people, you know, those social bonds outweighed the one or two glasses of wine. And so it actually, you know, you feel good. Like you go out and you see some old friends and you feel really good the next day.
Like you’re like, wow, that was such a fun, you know, great to catch up with those people. And, you know, you feel like a part of something. You know, you’re connected to people. And but and so that was a really interesting insight that I came across. But it doesn’t like mean that you can drink so much as you want. Like there actually was like a bell curve to the head. So I think it was like, you know, after two it, that’s where it’s like, no, after two it goes bad. So basically, it just tells me, like, if you’re out and you have, you know, go out with friends and have one glass of wine or two glasses of wine, it’s actually not going to have this, you know, acute. I could actually maybe help you. You know, it’s also, you know, having a glass or two of wine for me is actually somewhat relaxing.
So as you know, from a stress perspective, you’re actually like a little more relaxed, too. So, yeah. So I think those are. So I think the idea of really looking at, you know, social connections, I mean, that’s been shown in all do these studies on blue zones where, you know, they found where people live longest around the world. There’s always a tight sense of community and social bonds. And that’s I mean, that’s the you know, we can eat the best diet in the world and whatever. We’re sitting by ourselves at our computer and eating it in five minutes without really giving, chewing it slowly and, you know, it’s not really helping us as much. You know, we would like to pay attention to the emotional pieces.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So maybe there might be a case for like a social prescription where almost there might be an optimum number of times you may need human interaction or interaction to people, a tribe or a community or like-minded individuals or kind of an experience where you have this human connection where you enjoy yourself. That would be very interesting to run that experiment, actually. What do you think?
Bob Troia: I’ve set up experiments like that in the past where I was trying to make manage like just keep track of all my interaction? I mean, not not just any person or any stranger, but meaning like I pick like the close circle, let’s say 20 friends. And I was just trying to figure out when was I engaging with them. And to me, like, you know, I’m trying to be like non-digital, like, you know. So when reading someone’s Facebook status update is to me is not the same as, you know, meeting up for a coffee. You know, that that sort of thing. And you realize part of it is you realize, wow, I really you feel like I have all these friends, but they’re all very loose connections.
Like it’s all about it, you know. And so it’s obviously yes, if we’re if there’s a large distance between us that we can’t physically be in the same place and we can, you know, go on Skype or something like that, it’s better than nothing. You’re still interacting. But, you know. But it’s the face to face in-person interactions. You know, getting togethers with people, having a lunch or dinner, you know, especially when you can piece together people from your, if you find your tribe of folks. And definitely meeting new people is, you know, adding to that circle is just as important.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yes. So fostering relationships. Anything that can even technologies such as we’re working with Owaves, trying to accelerate that human to human interaction and making new friends helps, is good for your health and that’s been proven, like you said. Before we move on, HRV – what are you using to track it? Because I use the HRV for training and the ordering. What do you use?
Bob Troia: I use both as well. And they’re actually two different. The data does not necessarily correlate because for HRV for training, what I’m doing is I’m taking a reading as soon as I wake up before I even get out of bed as a spot check. So it’s kind of like a morning readiness. This work aura is looking at your HRV throughout your entire sleep and just giving you the average. So if you started off the evening, really, you know, let’s say you had a really low starting HRV when you just fell asleep and when you woke up, that was really, really high. It’s going to tell you, though, your average was still pretty low, but maybe you woke up and you actually were like, I am pretty recovered. I feel really good.
So I have to look at both of those numbers and really understand, again, the trends and see where that goes. So with HRV for training the app, you know, when I started using it, what I liked about it was it can actually pull a heart signal off of your finger using the camera and the camera flash. But I recently just got another device. There’s another app out there that. They make a device called CorSense that it fits on your finger. And what’s nice is you can you know, I feel like I get slightly better readings off that, but it works. We did yoga for training, so you just tell it like instead of using the camera pair it up with this device and it just basically, you know, gives you a reading and I use that also for like spot check. Some people don’t want to wear like a chest strap. Like often like if I’m working with somebody face to face or in a certain setting in public or in a restaurant, I can’t just put a chest strap on. You know I’ve done it, but inconvenient. Yeah. But you put the finger thing on and it’s really easy.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I guess you can get away with it if you’re Quantified Bob. But for the normal person, you know.
Bob Troia: The other app is called Elite HRV. They make the courses. But so, you know, what’s nice about Elite HRV is that you can do the spot tests, like I can say, start recording now and save those sessions, whereas. HRV for training is really great at that morning assessment, like right when you wake up and then Aura is giving you this like overnight average metric.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s an interesting use case also for circadian rhythms because I was using HRV for training during my night shifts in the hospital and I found my heart rate – I was a lot more stressed than my heart rate variability reflected then. And it took me a few days to recover and get back to my baseline. So I think the more we discover about HRV and kind of disrupting your circadian rhythm, there’s a lot to be learned, especially in the increasing kind of nowadays with a gig-based economy. A lot of people are disrupting their circadian rhythms with jet lag, you know, staying up later. So could you tell the listeners about your routine? How do you kind of live your day to day routine? What time do you wake up, when you exercise, eat, etc.?
Bob Troia: Sure. Again, yeah, I think like most people, when we say what’s our regular routine, it’s never totally regular. I mean, it’s life it’s very dynamic and so a few things for me. I try to wake up around the same time everyday. I don’t use an alarm clock. So my body naturally wants to get up somewhere I would say between 7 and 7:30 in the morning. I’m sure there’s some seasonality to it in terms of, you know, private. Earlier in the summer, because there’s more light out, you know, I had like blackout curtains in my room, but I just feel like maybe the temperature and things get me going. Wake up. First thing I do is I’ll check my heart rate variability, get those metrics in place. So my phone is not next to my head, but it’s in a room and it’s on airplane mode. I’ll grab it and I’ll just do the HRV check. I get up. I usually wait about 30 minutes before I do like body composition. I’ll just go on the scale – do my body weight, body fat, etc. I like to be up and standing for a little while before I do that, just to kind of let my lymphatic system all kind of move around and not just everything settled in.
I’m usually just, you know, while that’s going on, I’m pulling data off the aura and I usually wear a second device, usually like a Fitbit or something, because I also like to have second opinions on my data because, you know, one night, for example, like the ordering on me, sometimes it might, you know, I might lose some data as it spun around while sleeping. So the sensors got off out of whack, whereas, you know, and sometimes that happens on the Fitbit. So it is good to have the computers and or some battery dies or something like that. You know, my morning sort of routine in terms of like, you know, coffee and supplementation. I do basically what you would call bulletproof coffee. So high quality coffee beans with some grass fed butter. Sometimes I add some MCT type oil. Sometimes I don’t. What I’ve been doing lately is I’m trying to basically bring down my quarters all after I wake up a bit. So I actually use some CBD oil, which for me it seems to work well in the morning, has a nice little add on, but I also make my own sugar mushroom tea. So I make a crock pot every week full.
I get charcoal mushrooms and I slow cook them and then I make a big tea – like a gallon of it and I drink some of that every morning. I actually can mix it 50-50 with coffee. And it’s a powerful adapter gin. So again, for my body to sort of get into a good state and bring down any cortisol levels with that. And then usually like the first part of the morning for me is so we don’t know what circadian rhythm. So one of the things I realize is there are certain times of the day where I personally feel most productive at doing certain things. So for me, the morning is my favorite time for if I had to consume any content like information. So whether it’s reading the news, read a bunch of emails I do that in the morning; whereas writing, so like my blog and writing all that, is actually early evening. So probably you like a few hours for dinner or an hour for dinner. I just think it’s when the sun starts to set, I get into this and it’s maybe from being a programmer, like there’s no distractions.
Things get dark outside. I keep my head down and get into that flow state. And, you know, and so for me, the writing tends to happen then, whereas doing any kind of software development for me, there’s actually like two times a day – there’s the early afternoon and late like late evening if I really want to work on something. And I’ve just noticed that myself, if I want to get to those states, those flow states for those different tasks, those seem to be the best times. For training, I’ve really experimented a lot with different training times. I’m not the person who’s going to go to a six o’clock in the morning cross fit.
We’re Catholic. That’s not me. I like the idea of working out, fasted in the morning and then having our first meal after that. But what I tend to do – my workouts are mostly, I’d say in the early afternoon, early to mid afternoon. So like I just find that’s where I guess my nervous system and everything seems to be in the best state. Maybe I’ve eaten something maybe just a little prior. So I’ve got more fuel reserves. I’m going to do strength training. But I can also work out at like the early evening as well. But I think ideally I would do that, you know, early mid afternoon. And meal wise, I typically just have two meals a day. So I’ll have a meal. And then it’s usually within an eating window somewhere between six and eight hours. So I’ll have some lunch and then dinner. I mean, it’s basically like a paleo type diet. So in terms of, you know, caloric – choose a macros of nutrients, I don’t eat like super high protein every day. On training days, I may scale that up. On days where I’m not, you know, I’ll cut it down. There’s days where I’ll eat nothing. I’ll just eat vegetables all day. There’s days where I’ll fast. So I mix it up. I keep my body kind of guessing.
And there are days where my body goes, hey, you know, I don’t proclaim to be like keto. And I mean, I’m keto adapted in terms of being the ship fuel sources. But there’s days where my body’s just like, hey, you need to have some you need some carbohydrates. You know, maybe it’s like one day a week, I’ll just kind of do that refit. But that’s just what works for me. That doesn’t mean, you know, for anyone else, it will do the same. You know, the work days, being an entrepreneur and all of that, you know, it’s hard to define what a work day is because you’re kind of always doing something. So but I try to you know, break it up into – I find for me breaking up the day into several work phases. And so that’s why I like the fact that I can do certain things better at certain times of the day.
So I’ll schedule around that, if I have to be, basically coding or writing or consulting or, you know, or training, et cetera. So I kind of feel, you know, from a circadian perspective, I mean, I’ve seen the diagrams that have been put together and showing the body and the optimal times for everything. And I think that fits a large, you know, general population. But I do know my personal kind of benefits, you know, ways to kind of organize those things. And even if you said like, what’s my perfect day, the reality is – How often are we really going to have it? Like things come up every day, your schedule, you have meetings, you just have to get as close as you can to it. Don’t get upset if you’re like, you know, I only got 75 percent there.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: You have to be agile as an entrepreneur.
Bob Troia: Yeah. Definitely. You know, and I think that’s just the nature of it. I mean, you’re you’re an entrepreneur, as always. It’s not about, you know, punching in the time card at 9 a.m. and then leaving within the 5 p.m.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: But you’re trying your best to kind of restart peak performance by kind of the fundamentals and the principles you’re trying to apply as much as you can. And so do you think it’s worth going for those 1 percent or just kind of doing the high grade approach where you get the maximum benefit from kind of the easiest things you can do? Is it worth reaching that ninety five percent? We’d like to take three things, then kind of using 100 things to reach a hundred percent. It takes a lot of time, time efficiency as well, you know, quantifying yourselves, analyzing yourself, trying experiments.
Bob Troia: Exactly. So there’s an element of to gain some optimization or that extra 1 percent or 2 percent. You may require a large time investment upfront to put in the systems to get there. So you have to decide if like is that, you know, let’s say I had to spend 20 hours of my time to put in something that gets me that extra 1 percent, but maybe that 1 percent over one year or five years adds up to many hours. That’s to me – Is that worth it? Then you have to sort of move it and then it works the other way as well. You got to kind of take a step back every now and then go – I’m doing all this stuff. And it’s like, you know, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Is there something here I can cut out that I’m you know, not going to be yet, you know, if I lose 2 percent, I’m happy with that. It’s freed up a lot of my time or just my psychological well-being or anything like that.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So it seems like you also use kind of time restrictive feeding and fasting and kind of all the principles of wellness to kind of enhance your kind of performance and optimize your health. What about recovery? Do you use kind of infrared saunas or what kinds of concepts for recovery?
Bob Troia: Oh, yeah, I’ve got all sorts of devices and tools. So from general recovery, you know, I’m a huge fan of infrared sauna, both from recovery, detoxification, et cetera. It’s something that I like. I just love just being in the heat. You know, even though it’s not as hot as a regular traditional sauna, it’s going to be kind of like heating you from the inside out. I use infrared saunas. I have light therapy devices from like full body panels to smaller devices that you can put more acutely on the body in certain areas. I have compression boots that I sit on like warm unwinding in the evening. I’ll slip these boots on.
They inflate really tight, almost like blood pressure cuffs, but all the way up and down your legs, your ankle, up to the top of your thigh. And they go through a cycle of pressurizing different chambers and it basically pumps out all the lactic acid and fluids from your leg. So I usually do that on recovery days. That would be like one of my nice little go tos. I’m a fan of getting, you know, things like massage. There are devices out there that do the therapy. Like if they’re gone in hyper space, They look like little power tools, but they just hit all your muscles and they can kind of really, it’s like giving yourself a really awesome Swedish massage.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That sounds really nice, actually.
Bob Troia: And then for things like if there’s any like if I play sports, let’s say I’ve got some bumps and bruises and things like that. I have some pulsed electromagnetic frequency devices that will help speed up the healing process, which are great. So that’s like another tool in my tool kit. And then there’s just like from a recovery, from just like a relaxation standpoint, I use things like light and sound therapy that can train me and like in 20 minutes it puts you into like a basically a certain brain state and you don’t really like fall asleep, but you go into that state. And when you come out of it, you’re kind of you don’t realize like 20 minutes had just gone by. And it’s using a combination of my neural beats and with a mask that you wear that has flashing lights that will train your mind.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That sounds quite cutting edge. But obviously you’re at the end of the curve where you’re completely kind of biohacking. So could you explain to us the difference between self quantification and bio hacking and where you stand between the two movements?
Bob Troia: Sure. Obviously, they’re very related. I think a lot of people, though, will just assume that they’re the same thing and I always tell people that they’re not quite the same. So if you made one of those venn diagrams, we take two circles and they kind of overlap. I think you’ve got a certain population of people that will fit like they’re in that middle area. I put myself there as well. But there’s a lot of people who are on the biohacking side where they’re going to try all these tactics and interventions and use these different tools to see like – they might go I feel better. I feel. I think it’s working. I don’t necessarily need to isolate what’s going on.
They’re not constructing experiments. They’re just saying, I’m going to throw everything at it and see, you know, even if like 19 of the 20 things really aren’t doing much, they’re like, well, I know I’m getting a benefit. Whereas the quantified self people are much more about looking at the data aspects of things and what’s moving the needle, what’s not moving the needle. And quantified self isn’t all about health, right? There’s people who are quantifying things that aren’t like – you can track your location throughout the year, you can track stuff on your vehicle. So I think, you know, there’s this middle ground there. But I do think they’re viewed as somewhat different.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So you continue relying on feedback as a quantified self or in bio hacker, you’re kind of experimenting with all these interventions. So it’s perfect to be,.
Bob Troia: Well, but even experimenting a bio hacker is not necessarily constructing experiments. They’re just trying things. They’re gonna try 20 things. And how do you isolate what’s really working. Like when you’re doing single subject experimental design, you have to be a little more cut. You’re setting it up. You know, here’s the data I’m collecting. Here’s what I’m going to do, whether I’m going to do an AB test or an ABA test and figure out what variables are there and then looking for those correlations. Or the opposite would be – I just have all this data. Let me see what insights I can pull out of there that I may not have even realized.
So really, it’s more of the approach of, you know, the experiment design and really tracking those metrics. Whereas, you know, I do think a lot of people that are biohackers, I mean, they’re better trying stuff out, but they’re not necessarily structuring like, you know, experiments in the same way or isolating any variables. And maybe they don’t need to. Maybe they’re like, look, I’m doing all this, I feel it’s working. Whatever I’m doing is working. So I’m cool with that. But to me, bio hacking is about not just optimization of yourself, but it’s about efficiency. So for me, I approach it from well, if I don’t have to do all those 20 things, if I have to do only like ten of them and I can get almost the same benefit, let me figure out if I can isolate what those are for me. I’m all for that because that does create more efficiencies in my life.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: It is all about being time efficient as well. And that’s what we’re hoping to do with kind of circadian rhythm optimization and kind of planning your day more smartly, augmenting your decisions. So you talked on the external environment actually earlier in terms of air and water and with sleep, I’m guessing you probably use the blue light blocking glasses. What else in the external environment can be controlled?
Bob Troia: So, well, blue blocking glasses are more of like a tactic I would use in the evening, right, to sort of get my body to start going through its natural process of freezing melatonin and blocking out some of the artificial light that might be coming from an ambient light or from your laptop or computer. So, you know, there’s a whole process before bed of kind of tuning off for a while before, you know, don’t bring your devices to bed and be checking them right till the second you go to sleep. But in terms of my bedroom, I’ll do things like I’ve installed blackout curtains so I can basically close these over my windows, in my bedroom. So I can’t see my hand in front of my face, like it’s that dark. You can control for things like temperature. You know, some people actually sleep much better when the air temperature is colder.
Even if they can get under the blankets and still be you know, you still get really warm. But just the fact that that air temperatures colder will improve sleep for some people. If you have a good air quality monitor, you can start looking at things like, you know, if you close the door to your bedroom, you might realize that that impacts, you know, the air quality because you’re exhaling carbon dioxide throughout the evening. And, you know, just basically less oxygen in the room if you have all the doors closed. And so you might realize, OK, well, that’s affecting my sleep. But then if you open the door as I introduce other variables, is that bringing noise or other issues?
So, you know, I think for me, I try to largely avoid any like a supplementation. I mean, I will occasionally have a couple of like mushroom tea. Like maybe some racy or some CBD oil or something like that. But I don’t really personally have a problem falling asleep. It’s not an issue for me. For me, it was more detecting like small disruptions throughout the evening overnight. So even if you’re in bed and say, oh, I got eight hours of sleep last night, you’re like, well no, you didn’t. You were in bed for eight hours, but you were basically tossing and turning all night. You don’t even realize it. Actually another tactic I use was mouth taping. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of that before. And if you’ve heard of that before.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: OK, is that to kind of encourage breathing through your nose?
Bob Troia: Exactly. So I realized I don’t have like a sleep apnea per say, but I’d feel these little tiny disruptions in my sleep data, which I know you’re not going to remember them or anything. But what was happening was if you kind of fall asleep and your mouth is open and you’re breathing through your mouth, eventually, you basically your tongue will slide back in and you kind of feel like, oh, gasp for breath. And your body will kind of wake up and go, you have to breathe. So this tactic called mouth taping where you get this very inexpensive tape, medical tape, it doesn’t hurt your lips or anything like that. You tape over it and it seems scary and everything.
But honestly, if you freak out, the tape will just come off. So it’s not a huge issue, but it’s training your body to breathe through your nose more during the evening. And that for me. Great. That was a huge instant boost to my sleep quality. And not only that, when I wake up in the morning, I previously would sometimes have a little bit congestion in my nose because I was breathing through my nose all night, it seemed to keep those nasal passages clear. So I’d wake up and say, well, well, there’s no. You said it’s or whatever it was that was creating that state. So that’s something I was playing around with. And I found, you know, that’s a low tech, high reward, low cost hack from me.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And that’s something a lot of people can do without spending any money. Well, much money.
Bob Troia: I mean, you go search for 3M micropore tape. I think you buy a roll of it for a pound.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Ok, that’s a good thing. Affordable for most people. And with water filters – do you use them?
Bob Troia: I do. So in particular from drinking water, so I live in York City and in an apartment. So I ideally would have installed a whole home water filtration system to take what’s coming in. Run it through basically a bunch of filters that will rip out all the chemicals and things that are in our water supply. And then before you drink it. So instead, I have a high quality it’s like a pitcher form of a filter, but it basically will take all the dissolved solids out of that water.
And it actually comes with a little meter that you can test it to show that like once the water is filtered, it’s zero. It’s basically got nothing in it. Now, the problem is that’s all great from a filtration standpoint, but that’s pretty much dead water versus like spring water, mineral water which is going down a stream. So but at least it’s filtered. Like if I need to make some coffee or something it’s fine. Normally during the day, I’m drinking a higher quality source of water. One area that people overlook. I mean, they might be drinking like they’re going to drink all this great water and filtering it.
But they don’t filter the shower water and the shower – you’re basically breathing in all that water vapor. So if you’re so, you’re probably you know, I don’t know how much you would be inhaling during one shower. I’m sure it’s pretty significant. So, you know, we’re trying to filter out for like fluoride and chlorine and all these other chemicals. You’re going to be breathing it in. So you might want to look into investing in a good shower filter. They fit right over the existing shower head like you just unscrew it, screw that one on and it removes a lot of all those sorts of chemicals. The same way the pitcher works. It does it with the water coming through the shower.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So how often do you track your kind of biomarkers and blood results and kind of, you know, the levels of?
Bob Troia: I would say at a minimum every six months, but it’s usually more often in terms of if I’m doing other experiments, I may just be running some panels on like subsets of things just because of you know that I need to focus on just I do think – the average person probably gets sort of one. They go to their annual dot net checkup. But I do think a little more. Anyones taking a more proactive approach to their their wellness probably wants to do it more than that.
And I don’t think you have to initially get the works done every year. That can be very, very expensive, especially if these tests are not covered by insurance, etc. So I think you do need to get some of those baselines done. And then if anything in there, it looks out of whack, you can start figuring out, do I need to now focus on kind of like go a little deeper and do some other tests or do some more frequent follow ups on just those specific markers?
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And in terms of enhancement – Have you tried things like VM and ketone stuff?
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I have. Not theirs. I mean it’s all beta hydroxide, beta 8. I’ve experimented with another. There’s another brand out there called KetoneAid, that similar concept where it’s kind of like if you’ve never tasted key investors before, a pure totally beta hydroxide, it doesn’t taste good. I mean, we call it rocket fuel because basically it’s the closest I think you could get of a good taste to rocket fuel. I mean, there’s really just no way to make it taste good. The only hack I learned with it was – you basically have to just swallow this. Let’s say you’re taking like 30 milliliters.
If you want like a bigger dose of it, you chase it with some carbonated mineral water, because it seems to kill the taste off much faster because it’s pretty, pretty intense. But I did some experiments around both cognitive performance with the testers and strength performance with testers. And I saw pretty dramatic improvements in cognitive scores doing it, using pure ketone testers. Now, granted, the costs is probably not. It’s not something that someone’s gonna be taking like at that level. The amount of those Esther’s every day, you know, these are like maybe with like a Tour de France cyclist who wants to like get an edge up on like one of their runs. Look it up.
They’ll get that window of a performance enhancement. But on the strength training side, I was experimenting with a much smaller dose where I would take it about 20 minutes before a workout. And the way I sort of compared my workouts, was I did two baseline workouts like a barbell bench press. I calculated 65 percent of what my 1 rep max, the most I could bench one time was and I just said, OK, let me see how many times can I lift it. And I did two sets of that, like two different workouts. So I had some baseline data and then I did it workout with the Esther’s 20 minutes before. I did a little warm ups like walked out on a treadmill just to kind of get the ketones into my body and my bloodstream. And then I went and did it, and I gained several reps on that same attempt. So it did equate to something like a 12 percent increase. So essentially a five dollar seven dollars worth of these testers gave me.
You know, it’s not like taking Esther’s makes you permanently stronger, but it’s a short term performance enhancer. So it gives you the ability to lift more weight, which then in turn would help you actually gain more muscle. I’m also doing some experiments with them around sleep right now because there’s some research showing that taking semesters prior to bed can actually boost up deep sleep and so I’m kind of in the middle of that right now trying to see what and I think it’s one of those things where it’s gonna be a bell curve and highly individualized, because I think there might be too little or too much can disrupt sleep.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s quite cool. Sounds like a lot happening there. So you mentioned cognition. Is there any kind of gadgets? Or kind of apps or kind of tests that you use or, you know of to kind of track cognitive performance or cognitive ability or even with that tracking the other side of the brain, tracking mood?
Bob Troia: So for me, from a brain training, I mean, there’s tools that you can use like something called Dual N-Back training, where it’s more of like it’s trying to get your mind to sort of you’re being shown symbols and information and you have to kind of remember what was happening two steps back or three steps back. And it’s something that over time just get better and better at. But I did the brain training, like there’s apps like Ramos’s me and there’s some debate over whether they actually make you smarter.
I use it only as an assessment tool. So what I did was I just kept taking these tests over and over again. And that was tracking my performance until it flattened because then I just kind of as a learning factor to get better at it just by doing it more. So you understand how the games work and you understand how. So I waited. I kept playing them until like I was like, OK, I can’t I’m not getting any better now. And that’s when I did teach an experiment. It was like instantaneously, like a giant bump. And I isolated out the fact that there was a bit of learning. But for brain information, there’s sites out there. There’s there’s a free. It’s actually a web based tool called Quantified Mind that you can go through a whole battery of tests to do some assessments. And you can practice and test on things. I have a device that can assess brain health, just using essentially your index and middle fingers.
This device called Brain Gauge that it looks like a computer mouse and you put your hand on it like a computer mouse and has two little buttons. And what they’re doing is they figured out that the tips of your middle finger and your index finger could basically map your sensory system. So by having you do certain tests where you’re trying to figure out which button buzzed harder or which one buzz first or duration, it’ll map certain parts of the brain, you get an assessment that can actually detect if you’ve had head trauma. So it’s being used now, in a lot of sports teams. So it’s like you can literally test alarms on the spot and it takes like 10 minutes. You can assess whether they’ve got any acute issues or longer term issues. And it’s really cool to see, like how it’s non-invasive. And there’s like a ton of studies that have come out that have validated it. And it’s being used by sports teams and military things around any kind of any sort of nerve degenerative conditions like using as a spot check tool.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That seems to add a lot of value.
Bob Troia: Yes. So it’s something that I mean, I carry it around with me often because somebody will ask me about it and I’ll say, hey, let’s do it right now and I’ll just hook it to my computer. And it takes upto 10 minutes on the test. They can do it from anywhere. And you get an assessment. And it kind of shows, you know, where you know, certain parts. And some of it will change. So like I will see that if I do an assessment, if I do a test later in the day, there’s a fatigue metric. My fatigue metric will go a lot more fatigue. It’s actually later in the day. Your mental willpower is probably worn down a bit. It’s been doing stuff all day versus the morning. But some of the other metrics are more kind of showing where, you know, if your time perceptions off, those could be signs of some other conditions that you may have had going on.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Is there anything that can track mood?
Bob Troia: I mean, there’s a ton of apps out there for mood. I’m personally not a mood guy. I don’t really. It’s just something for me. I never. That’s just one of the things I just don’t spend a lot of time on, the subjective sort of thing. So there are I mean. In terms of recommending any sort of app or tool, I mean, I just know if you search like the App Stores. There’s a million of them and most of them are just as subjective, right? On a scale of 1 to 5, how do you feel today? And that’s fine. I mean, I think it’s for a lot of people, it’s pretty valuable. Because they want to go back in time and go, oh yeah, look, on that day, I had a bad day. But also it’s subjective.
The trick is subjective measurement, though, is the more you do it, the more accurate, the more representative those values will be. So like if I told you today, like, I’m going to start tracking my mood, I’m like, I’m going to say today is a three, alright kind of an average day. Tomorrow is a great day. I’ll say it’s a five. But the day after that, it’s been a better day. But I already gave something a five. Now I have to recalibrate what my five is and what my three was. And so over time, you kind of that precision gets, you get better and better and then, you know. So it takes time.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: It’s a you vs you. It’s not a percentile curve where you can kind of compare yourself in a population because it is so subjective. And talking about gadgets. So what gadgets do you use or are using? I’m sure there’s a long list or upcoming gadgets you’re thinking of using.
Bob Troia: For what? For tracking?
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Generally, for everything. What kind of gadgets do you recommend and which one do you use?
Bob Troia: Oh, I hate the word gadget.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Just a wearable.
Bob Troia: So I’ve got sensors and it’s having tools in your tool box with you. So in terms of things I use, you know. So from the light therapy perspective, if I’m doing some travel, like across many time zones or international travel, there’s a device called HumanCharger which shines bright white light through your ears. Basically, it hits your brain stem. So it’s a way by dosing it at certain times of the day based on where you’re going to be traveling to. It gets your body in tune with the like high noon will be and your circadian rhythm can be adjusted in advance of your travels. And the same with the return flight. So it’s cool as they have.
The device itself isn’t connected to anything, just the battery and you turn it on. But there is an app that when if you give it your itinerary, you’ll get an alert on your phone saying start dose now. And sometimes it’ll you, like I’ll be on the plane and they’ll be like, dose now and I’ll put there here. Looks like a little earbuds. Like headphones. You put them in for like a session, which is like 12 minutes and you just follow the instructions in it. It’s pretty interesting for that. In terms of other devices, other gadgets? I’ve been playing around with this device called HUSO.
It’s a sound vibration therapy device. And what it does is you wear, it constructs all these tones that can have different programs. Some calm, grounding, some alert ones and you just lay down in a comfortable position. You put these little wristbands that have speakers in them on over your wrist and on your ankles. Basically, they’re hitting acupuncture points and the vibrations. You also wear headphones that are playing sounds and the vibrations and everything are very like it’s almost like a vagus nerve stimulation. It’s somehow resonating in your body. The vibrations of the chanting and humming or whatever sounds there are just put you into this really, really crazy, relaxed state. And so, like, I will you do it. I think the session is about 30 minutes. And some people have some pretty profound experiences.
They’re so just relaxed and they kind of come out of it like, wow what just happened. So that’s a cool, a cool little tool. You know, on the sort of wearable side, I mean, you know, there’s new stuff coming all the time. I’m often like you have companies that are coming out with new products. I’m helping beta testing them or giving some feedback on them, you know, things that I can always talk about. Yeah. Or that are not ready for prime time yet. But yeah, I’m sure you know, I think for me the whole thing with wearables are, you know, if it’s something that’s if it’s garbage in, its garbage out, right? So if someone goes a cool tool, but if the data is not reliable it’s collecting, then, you know, just to say, you know, like anything, you’ve probably had something you wore for a long time that was going to track my activity. And in retrospect, you’re like, wait, that year of data was just wrong. Completely wrong.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And the Fitbit seems quite good with the heart rate. Is that correct?
Bob Troia: Well, the Fitbit so there’s I mean, there’s different you know, they’ve got a whole lot of products. I mean, the reason I just realized that it is they have such a huge dataset of users that their algorithms are just going to be, you know, this because of the fact now, whereas they can’t do HRV like ordering, you know, that because or a sampling at a much higher samples at a much higher rate. But their sleep data will detect minute by minute disruptions and sleep. So instead of just saying five minutes every five minutes and, you know, things might get missed. And I just found that if I needed a second opinion, like for me, I used to wear my favorite device ever was one called Basis.
It was one of the early wearables. And it was doing it had sensors to do, it was doing a heart rate and activity and knew if you were running or biking or cycling. It had galvanic skin response sensors. It could measure stress response. So it was like, it was a cool, cool like thing. And they got bought by Intel and then shut down. But, you know, they kind of like it was one of those things like the early they were the early mover. And they kind of built like still to this day is one of the best things that was ever built. But they just got you know, there wasn’t a big enough consumer market for it because it was for like the people that wanted like the expert mode.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: The extra mile. I guess ingestibles are probably the next thing where you can kind of measure. Microbiome is already being tested. Do you test your microbiome?
Bob Troia: I do. So, you know, it’s pretty interesting to see what we can get sequencing from the microbiome now. I mean, the challenges. It’s kind of the wild wild west still. And we have all this data, but we don’t quite know yet what to make of it. So it’s one thing that I can see breakdowns of different what bacteria and what things in my body are where I’m lacking. But we don’t know yet, like the correlations of some of that with, you know, our personal metabolism. And, you know, there’s companies that are trying to equate this a poor diet and in other areas, you know. So there’s a microbiome work. Then there’s also on the genetic side, there’s companies that are now coming out with testing to do epigenetic testing.
So not just like 23andme that says here’s your DNA, your Sergey snips and you have a higher likelihood of Type 2 diabetes. You don’t know which genes are turned on and off. With epigenetics, it’s about the effect of our lifestyle on turning those genes on and off. And there’s some now consumer level tests coming out. There’s actually a company here in Cambridge that just came out with the first consumer epigenetics test that I got. I gave them my saliva at a conference and hopefully within the next month or so I should have my results. And they’re trying to equate it to biological age as well.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Oh, that’s quite exciting. I think I need to try that company because epigenetics is where you know you can do something about it. You know how to turn a gene on and off. It’s more actionable.
Bob Troia: Yeah. Super, super exciting. You know, that space. And then and then with like wearables, I mean, the idea of continuous glucose monitors now are more accessible. And you’ve had them in Europe for a few years now with like the freestyle Libra, which is basically just a double sensor that goes in the back of your arm. And for two weeks it’s collecting data. They just made them available now in the United States. So, you know, the idea of, you know, seeing what happens. Understanding my glucose, I go, I’m sleeping. That’s something you just can never do before. Like, you know, even if you were pricking your finger every hour, you can’t do it while sleeping. So now you get more insights and I can see what happens while I’m exercising. I can see what happens you know, based on which foods I eat.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah, there are so many kind of wearables and even gadgets that are coming out, ones that I’ve backed actually on Kickstarter recently. I don’t know if you’ve come across the wearable gym resistance bands that kind of change the kind of resistance that should be coming out this year.
Bob Troia: It’s cool.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah.
Bob Troia: I’m actually helping. So there’s a new training and recovery facility here in New York City that I’m helping start up selling it for about a month or a month and a half now and it’s all data driven, training, efficient exercise.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: What’s it called?
Bob Troia: It’s called HACKD Fitness. But too, along the lines of what you just said with these dynamically adjusted resistance. So that we have equipment with one that’s called ARX, which is Adaptive Resistance Exercise, which means it’s computerized and you see your force curves and your outputs on, let’s say like a leg press or a chest press. But what you realize is your muscles were a like. Let’s say you’re gonna bench press and let’s say my maximum bench press is 200 pounds. Well, I can actually resist a lot more weight than 200 pounds coming down against gravity. It’s just that we’re always stronger. You know, we have our eccentric versus concentric. So these machines work on the premise of your body has a dynamic force curve.
And we want to put it under the most load it can take at any given time. So we’re stronger. It’s giving you more resistance where you’re weaker. It’ll bring it down. And so it also avoids minimizes the risk of injury, because if I let up my resistance on it, like weight won’t fall on me. There’s no risk of that happening. And the idea that it’s all data driven, you can look at your previous workouts and see how you compared with your gaining strength or you’re gaining; you’re able to sustain more effort over a longer period of time. And that’s so like one type of thing.
There’s other tools more for cardiovascular fitness, efficiency, things that involve oxygen training, things that involve A.I. driven basically like a spin bike that is giving you the equivalent of a forty five minute steady state cycling workout in just 10 minutes. So it’s all about efficiency. And then there’s diagnostic assessment tools like 3D body scanning, all that. So it’s all about gathering data on someone based on their goals, tailoring programs to them that are using these different tools that to be efficient and not to be like cool gadget, cool gadget, cool gadget. They’re actually they’re all. It’s very like intentional in terms of what they’re being used for.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s very innovative. And I guess we’re having that systems one systems to thinking where we’re looking at the human body, more of its like a computer system. And that’s what the data is, kind of the inputs, except try to optimize health. And to other kinds of wearables on a factory from me, Keyto being one where it tells you kind of a level of ketosis. I’m Folk II, which is a wearable on your breathing, kind of correlates to kind of your stress level. So I’m looking forward to getting them. I don’t know if you’ve come across them on Kickstarter.
Bob Troia: Oh yeah, I’ve seen them. So with Keyto, I’ve had another product called Ki Tonics for a number of years, which is basically tenacity. It’s a breath ketone meter. So similar I guess, but it was using its biscuits and acetone sensor. So congrats on the breath. And that’s how it’s correlating. But breath ketones don’t correlate with blood ketones. It’s like you have to look at them in isolation. I mean, you can get in. There’s urinary ketones. So like you, they all mean different things. So that’s why whenever I do my fasting and other experiments, I use blood as my main one. But the other stuff is useful. And on the other one that you mentioned, you said it was a breath. So if you look at the the Muse headband it’s like an EMT. So that the new muse is able because it’s looking at your heart rate. And so you can look at you can pick out breathing from the heart rate pattern, right.
So I think you’re actually now in a new version of it can show you your breath. Your breathing rate pulled and sort of cadence along with all the other data. So it’s interesting to see like because there used to be a company called Spire and maybe they’re still around, I don’t know. Spire had a wearable that was for basically the first one was kind of breathing. You clip it on your belt and it was like an accelerometer or kind of was just sensing when your body breathing, inhale, exhale. And so you could like do a meditation session with a breath pace. So, yeah, it’s always interesting to see, you know, all these these folks out there. I mean, the biggest challenge is always like there’s some really awesome technologies out there. But what gets mass consumer adoption? That’s the challenge.
That’s a challenge because I’ve seen so many products come out. They’re just superb. They’re awesome, but they just fold up because it means great technology. Awesome idea. Either they’re too early or it’s a very niche. You know, it makes a very small group of people really happy. It’s massive. So that’s kind of sad. I wish that wasn’t the case. But I understand making, you know, you’re interested in making hardware. That’s so many times more complicated than just building like an app. Because like I think software, you can be more of that iterative. You can scale quicker. Yeah. You can like make a push out updates on the fly; like you can’t do that with hardware. Like you have to build and redesign it.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Wellness tech is evolving, obviously. But now neurotech, as we mentioned, and beauty tech even at CES this year, is also kind of hitting the market. These companies are viewing the kind of value in these things. But yeah, it’s that the wide user adoption, like you mentioned. So do you think eventually we’ll be like, an avenger? You know, I mean, I imagine you being Quantified Bob, with all these wearables everywhere. Are we kind of needing if you need a. Is this a good tracker for so many different variables that are body, the physiological metrics? We’ll have to be wearing, you know, small clothes, exoskeletons, you know, Nike’s come out with that new shoe this week, which laces up in itself. I mean, is that where we’re going?
Bob Troia: I’m actually coming at it from the opposite way. I don’t want to where. I’d like to make the fact that makes up with jewelry. I don’t want to wear anything. I want to be invisible. Give like a temporary tattoo or something to swallow. I want the data, but I don’t want it to be imposing. Like I don’t want to have a million things on you. It’s really just about, you know. I’m well, I’m putting up with it now, realizing that the form factors of these things are shrinking down year by year. But, you know, at the same time, the idea of the wearable side of it, but whether it turns into a Band-Aid or some kind of patch you just wear. And then I’m sure like eventually we’ll have it. I mean, there’s companies already developing these things off the mass spectrometry where I basically think like a smart toilet or something. Yeah, you could go to bed in the morning and it’s going to analyze what’s going on. Make it your full fridge. Yeah. It’s you know, I mean that stuff’s you know, it’s all coming down the pipeline there. In terms of us, things like exoskeletons and you know, that’s the other side of bio hackers.
There’s the other definition of biohacking and people who are trying to gain new senses and use technology to merge it with their, you know, sort of the human side or the sort of robotic side, whether it’s, you know, people putting little magnets in their fingers or RFID chips in their hands. You know, there’s people who’ve been planted sensors in their chests that buzz them whenever they’re facing to the north, just like because they won the game. It’s a sense right? So that’s all happening now. But it’s a different kind of biohacking than I approach it from the more the sort of wellness optimization kind of thing.
Bob Troia: You’re setting up a lab called Optimal Lab, is that correct? Well, Optimal is my that’s my business. Yeah, that sort of holds my ventures under under Optimal. And so the lab I’ve got, New York is Optimal, its called Optimal Labs. But all the projects I’m working on tend to fall under under Optimal.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Ok, that’s exciting. And where can listeners find out more about how to follow you? And you’ve got a website – Is that Quantified Bob?
Bob Troia: Yeah. So the easiest place would be quantifiedbob.com. Or there’s a lot more sort of real time, day to day stuff going on Instagram. So just Quantified Bob on Instagram. But if you go there, you’ll find all my other sort of touch points whether it’s social media or connect with me on LinkedIn, etc.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And what would be kind of a top book you would recommend for listeners?
Bob Troia: Top book, I mean. Well, I would say, you know, when I first got into this space, I mean, it’s a dated book now, but like for everybody. But Tim Ferriss was kind of a hugely influential book because I was like, wow, that’s kind of for sure. And the other people were kind of into this stuff. But if you take it for what’s in the book today, some of the technologies and things that are mentioned, it’s just naturally going to get dated, some of it’s just not relevant anymore. But I would say, if you want to deep into the biohacking side down to like quantum biology, there’s a book called Life on the Edge. It’s like called Life on the Edge – The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. It’s this awesome book that really talks about deep, deep, deep on how our body works. If you think about our bodies in terms of what food we put in, you got to think about what that food becomes all the way down to the molecular level, subatomic level. And it’s a book that’s written in a very accessible way. So it’s not being super technical, but, you know, anyone can really pick it up. And it’s not a difficult read. I just thought it was a cool book.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I mean, you’re definitely an innovator kind of combining all these disciplines and being a tech entrepreneur in this space. And it’s amazing all what you’re doing and kind of continue trying to advance kind of health optimization, but also in a manageable, implementable way. And I really think this podcast will add a lot of value. So thanks for being on the podcast. But before I let you go, I need to also ask you, so would be your top – I would limit it to three tips for kind of because we are focusing on students as well and how they can optimize their health and build those habits. Kind of high yield habits or things they should quantify for them to kind of improve their health and performance.
Bob Troia: Sure. I mean, from a student perspective, and if I think back to when I was a student, I wasn’t the best model for that. But, you know, I would definitely say, you know. I think some understanding of sleep because it’s going to show behavior in terms of not even beyond just like how much deep sleep or REM sleep you’re getting, but understanding like are people going to bed at crazy times? Is it consistent? I’m sure there’s probably some people, you know, weekends are very different than the weekdays. And or you may find out that you’ve got a really early class and that just isn’t in your body. It’s not really suited. And it’s you know, it’s hard to figure all that out. You know, I do think for the average person, I think having some understanding of their blood glucose is important. So I think, you know, it just reveals it’s a proxy the same way heart rate variability is a proxy to a lot of things.
It’s just like it’s a simple metric. It’s one number. It’s not like you have to know a whole lot of stuff under the hood. I mean HRV has some stuff under the hood in terms of the raw data. But you don’t necessarily have to go that far. So I would say, yeah, like again blood sugar and glucose, sleep tracking. You know, if I was a student, probably like I mean, you’re probably worrying more about it as an adult. But that’s just like the emotional side of things. I would say, you know, but but not so much like the emotional from a social perspective, but the emotional like some people, it could be like financial, like you may know that the starving college student, like you may be like, you know, ending on what your situation is. You can create, you know, some stressors.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: The mindsets important in setting goals.
Bob Troia: Yeah, I mean, I think back to, you know, when I was in college, university, and, you know, I’m like trying to think was I the best student? No. I mean, I was I did what I was able to do, because I was an engineering student. It was all they fostered this idea of collaboration among people. So like we work on a project together yet, you know, you’d always be working five or six people or there’d be homework and people would be kind of, you know, cut. You know, you take that question, I’ll take this question. And everyone got the same question wrong. The teacher knew that everyone copied off each other, but then they were like, oh we all worked together. So the idea of building those bonds, I think it’s important.
I mean, you know, not so much just go out and partying every every night in college. But I think, you know, whether you’re that group of people like you may have natural groups based on an interest on, you know, I kind of went through it from – I was an athlete and I was a musician. So through the circles, like you just build, you know, they were kind of like communities. You kind of just dropped yourself right into those communities. You kind of already like, oh, you’re already a part of it. Whereas if you’re trying to like you show up somewhere new and you’re like, I don’t know anybody and I don’t know what common interests I have with these folks, you know? I think it probably depends on, you know, like the size of your school, you know. But I think everyone can find their tribe.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s a brilliant point. Are you an advocate of coaching as well? I know you do a bit of coaching as well.
Bob Troia: I’m a huge advocate of coaching. I mean, even when I say coaching, it could be, you know, just different levels or just sometimes, you know, you just want to you want to pick someone’s brain a little bit or get a little bit of feedback. And, you know, and probably a big mistake I made once I got into the professional world was, you know, your ego gets in the way and you don’t want to take you don’t give a coach. If you’re like a CEO of a company, you run a business, right? I don’t need to be coached. And then your ego gets in the way there. And then you realize years later, like, I really wish I had more mentors. I wish I had, you know, just people, like, really leaned on, you know, and coaching, you know, whether it’s wellness coaching or just life coaching others. I think there is tremendous value in it. You have to find the person or people that you resonate with. Sometimes even peer coaching is great. Like I have friends that have like very awesome skill sets in one area that I don’t. And so I rely on them for that coaching. And in exchange, I help them where I can. And so it becomes a mutual benefit.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s very nicely articulated. The kind of human side of all this. We’re talking about data engineering, all of that, but at the basis of it, how the human factor of coaching and finding tribes and community is so important. And I think the listeners, as you said, people resonate with each other and the listeners will really resonate with that. And it’s been incredible having you on this podcast. And I hope to bump into you sometime in New York or any conference. It’s good to put a voice behind Quantified Bob and I always imagined you as an avenger/superman, continuously experimenting with, you know, biohacking and kind of measuring all these variables you kind of see in sci-fi movies. But good to hear the kind of very human side as well.
Bob Troia: I have my little mad scientist lab, you know. I mean, you know, I got to be more like Clark Kent when I’m out in public.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Yeah, the identity card. You can’t give it away. And good luck with all endeavors. And I’m looking forward to getting your O out. So I’ll send you the form and so listeners can see how you run your life. So thanks for being on the podcast. And we hope to follow you up quite soon.
Bob Troia: All right. Thanks again.
Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Thank you.
Dr. Haroon Kazem: Thanks for listening to another episode of the Body Clock Podcast by Owaves. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a five star rating on your podcast app. Please also remember to download the Free Owaves app on the Apple App Store. Please tell your friends and your family it’s a great tool to help you optimize your life into effectively planning your day. Thanks as always for listening and I hope you join us again next time.