Nick Engerer (Ph.D) is an Australian biohacker, researcher, entrepreneur based in Sydney, Australia. He is the co-founder and CTO of Solcast a company that provides actual and forecast solar irradiance and power data, globally, using satellites and surface measurements.
Nick Engerer documents his longevity biohacking on his personal blog.
|16:8 (16 hours fasting, 8 hours feeding)|
|2-3 days monthly, 6 - 7 days annually.|
|continuous||Sleep tracking ring|
|Onyx+ Blue blocking glasses (BluBlox)||
|Filter out blue light to improve sleep.|
|Measure fasting / non-fasting blood glucose levels.|
|Blood pressure monitoring|
|Garmin Fenix Pro 6||
|Fitness and health tracking smartwatch|
|Meditation headset tracker (EEG)|
|Red light therapy (photobiomodulation). Recovery.|
|Retinol (Face serum)||
|Anti-aging skin treatment|
|6-monthly||blood lipids, red/white blood cell counts, hormones, micronutrients)|
|1x - 2x / year||Full-body MRI diagnostic test|
|Only cold. No warm showers.|
|40 min, daily||Seated meditation|
Hello! What’s your name, your (professional) background, and what do you do?
Dr. Nick Engerer (Ph.D). I am the Chief Technology Officer at a company I founded - Solcast. My friends call me Dr. Nick!
When did you get into biohacking and longevity? What was your motivation?
Retrospectively, I have been a self-experimenter for about a decade. I developed a serious acid reflux and stomach ulcer problem when I was only 19 years old, and the failure of the traditional medical system to fix it drove me to find my own solutions (DGL Licorice with every meal, Zinc Carnosine first thing in the morning and Slippery Elm tea!).
My self-titled status as a 'biohacker' has come about in the past two years, as I've better come to understand what it means to be a biohacker. It's not about implanting gadgets in your body, it is about proactive healthcare and self-optimisation!
A biohacker respects the complexity of human biology, and given this complexity, uses a scientific approach - that means forming hypotheses, collecting data, documenting outcomes, drawing conclusions
What’s your general approach or philosophy to biohacking?
This is a wide-reaching question, so let me start with the fundamentals of what I think a biohacker is.
A biohacker respects the complexity of human biology, and given this complexity, uses a scientific approach - that means forming hypotheses, collecting data, documenting outcomes, drawing conclusions - in pursuit of deeper self-understanding and self-development.
I like to think of this process within myself as a continual optimisation of my overall ‘well-being’, where my subjective experience (how I am feeling, my levels of satisfaction, motivation, enjoyment) are as important as the hard data points (serum concentrations of a micronutrient, blood glucose, etc).
To that end, I really enjoy starting the biohacking process by collecting of a wide array of mixed data points, and looking for 1) any acute issues (e.g. low serum levels of a micronutrient) and 2) any opportunities for optimisation (e.g. driving up free testosterone). From there, I will do a very deep dive researching a particular topic, in order to draw out what is 'actionable' from the data.
I use a wide reaching array of resources for these deep dives - medical journals, youtube, podcasts and fellow biohacker experience - along with any professional medical input I can gather, to make a decision on whether the baseline data I gathered reveals any 1) acute issues to address or 2) opportunities to optimise along the well-being axis.
What are you optimizing for the most? What biometrics are you tracking and what are your targets or goals?
At present, I am using 2020 to focus on improving my Heart Rate Variability and expanding my understanding of the relationships of the endocrine and nervous systems. I've been taking HRV readings through the HRV4Training app, my Garmin Fenix 6 Pro and have an Oura ring on the way. With the data I have so far, I have observed that I am well below the median HRV value for athletic men my age - plenty of room to optimise!
On your blog, you documented your experience of doing a full body MRI scan + whole genome sequencing through Health Nucleus. Did you have any concerns about the service beforehand (data privacy, false positives)? What were your main takeaways from the test results and experience? Would you do it again?
I did not have any concerns with data privacy, as Human Longevity Inc (the parent company of the Health Nucleus) provided me with very clear documentation of the data arrangements and formal agreements to sign.
Regarding 'false positives' - there is a healthy degree of criticism for proactive MRI or CT diagnostic imagery amongst medical professionals, so I have come across this discussion many times before. There is basis for this in published medical research, and one commonly cited study is one that used CT scans to look for masses in the lung of presumably healthy individuals. In several cases, follow-up testing, including biopsies or treatment protocols were initiated for presumed tumours that were in fact benign.
This will always be the challenge any single diagnostic tool (specificity vs. sensitivity). In my view, any detection event from the full-body MRI, would need to be backed up by additional modalities - family history, genetic risk, a second scan type (e.g. CT) - before becoming actionable. In my opinion, any downsides of 'false positives' are greatly outweighed by the potential benefits, so long as you are resilient enough not to 'freak out' if something shows up on your scan.
Would I do it again? At the time of writing - I'm headed back there next week! I plan to do a full body MRI + follow-testing in their "CORE" program approximately every 12-24 months (as my travel from Australia allows).
I find biological age testing very exciting. With the recent development of these tools, we have highly actionable data for one's longevity strategy.
You have done a number of biological age tests, which you document also on your blog. What’s your assessment of these tools? How do they factor into your longevity strategy?
I find biological age testing very exciting. With the recent development of these tools, we have highly actionable data for one's longevity strategy. You take a baseline measurement, you conduct a series of experimental changes, and you measure again. Did you get younger/older/stay-the-same? That wasn't possible until very recently.
This type of experimentation in both the medical literature and in the biohacking sphere is in its infancy, but has already produced some very interesting results. Take the TRIMM study for example - biological age (measured by the Horvath clock) in middle aged men was reversed using a testing protocol meant to regenerate the thymus. It's early days - but nevertheless exciting!
I am currently working with a very innovative company in this space to complete a series of epigentic age clock tests, which I will cover in the Longevity Blog later this year - stay tuned. These tests look at the methylation of your DNA, and are the state-of-the-art in biological age testing. Machine learning methods (AgingAI) and blood biomarker based tests (Levine et al method) are also useful tools. However, telomere testing is one I am critical of - the results across various methods are inconsistent and the value of measuring telomere length of blood cells is limited.
Let’s talk food. What’s your approach to diet and nutrition?
OK food. So I have tried many, many diets over the years in the sprit of self-experimentation. I was vegetarian for 6 years, vegan for three and a fruitarian for nearly 2 years, and in 2018 I did a year-long keto-only diet.
However, of all those options, where I am the most optimal (based on well-being optimisation, both mentally and physically as per advanced blood tests) is the diet that I am eating now. This is whole foods focused, rich in healthy fats and purposefully modulates carb-intake based on activity level (e.g. will I do an 8km run tomorrow? Then eat more carbs! Is it a rest day? Eat less carbs).
Fasting is an amazing tool for managing your blood glucose, triglycerides and blood lipids, as well as repairing your body, slowing aging and keeping your insulin sensitivity high.
My fasting protocol is a daily 16:8 (an 8-hour eating window). I also use water only fasting regularly, doing an annual 6-7 day fast for deep autophagy and immune system repair, as well as a monthly 2-3 day fast where I aim to empty my glycogen stores, clear out my LDL cholesterol and reach ketosis, before a delicious re-feed.
Key foods in my dietary protocol are:
What’s your fitness regimen like? What about recovery and injury?
Fitness - what a recent game changer for me. I have been a regular in the weight-room since I was a teenager, but it was only in the past two years that I really got into a cardio regime (thanks to my first visit to the Health Nucleus!).
My passions are trail-running and swimming for that heart-pumping goodness, and I enjoy participating in regular 5km races. Regarding goals - at present, I am working with a chiropractor and a physiotherapist to dramatically increase my leg strength, and working my way up to running 10km races. Current goals for 2020: 1) Run a 10km race (no time target, just do it!) and 2) Run a sub-20 minute 5km race.
Currently, I am focussed on balancing zone 1 cardio and zone 2 (threshold) cardio, to increase my endurance, leg strength and muscle efficiency. As I get stronger, I will be adding in more anaerobic sessions to improve VO2max (it was 55 when I was 23 years old, its at 50 right now - so naturally I need to get it back to 55!). I am also mixing in some short swims, and slowly working up to swimming 1-2 miles/week.
This cardio routine is supported by work in the weight-room, with 2-3x 45-60 minute sessions per week focused on building and maintaining lean muscle mass, particularly in the legs. My favourite activity is definitely deadlifts! I also use an infrared sauna 2-3x per week for 30 minutes.
What else is in your biohacking stack right now?
The best biohack, by far, is meditation. The Buddha is the OG of biohacking
What’s the one biohack that has made the biggest difference for you personally?
The best biohack, by far, is meditation. The Buddha is the OG of biohacking (sorry Dave Asprey!). I have been regularly meditating for more than a decade, and it has been transformational. You can absolutely nail your exercise, nutrition, supplements - but if you live your life unconsciously believing each sequential thought, you will be driven by greed, anger and ignorance. Remember that biohacking is about optimising well-being, and that is both mental and physical, which are inherently intertwined. Blindly believing your thoughts leads to unneeded anxiousness about the future and guilt or shame about the past, both of which limit your overall well-being. Are you a biohacker? Sit your ass down and meditate!
What biohacks are you skeptical of?
Besides the telomere testing I mentioned earlier - I don't have any other biohacks that I've written off. Perhaps it would be useful to share a principle I hope others will recognise: A 'bad' biohack is one that does one or more of the following: 1) makes sweeping claims of being right for everyone (BESIDES meditation, LOL!), 2) whose effects cannot be scientifically measured in some way (e.g. gas discharge visualisation) or 3) has the potential to do irrevocable harm (CRISPR-ing yourself)
Do you have a specific longevity goal?
I have both a personal longevity goal (1) and a longevity oriented transformative purpose (2). First (1), I personally intend to reach longevity escape velocity (which I believe will arrive in the latter half of this century). Secondly (2), I am dedicated to spreading information that will help others increase their healthspan and lifespan to as many people as possible (which is why I started the Longevity Blog!).
What are you most excited for in the biohacking and longevity space? What biohacks are currently on your radar?
I am very excited by the rapid growth of investment flowing into the longevity biotechnology space. Capital is now flowing into companies which are treating age-related diseases with senolytics, stem cells, genetic therapies, hormones and many other approaches, which means a growing number of resources are quickly becoming available for longevity biohackers to extend their healthspan and lifespan.
What’s one biohacking product or service you wish existed today?
I have a long list, but one item at the top is - the need for science to develop a biomarker for measuring autophagy and for a bio-technology company to develop it into a product offering.
Where can people go to learn more about you?
Please go subscribe to my Longevity Blog!
I am regularly adding new content, which I send out 2-3x a week in an email. I am also active on Twitter (@nickengerer) and Instagram (@nickengerer), and would love to interact with fellow biohackers through those channels.
|Trans- Resveratrol||400mg||Mid-morning (with fat via heavy cream in coffee)||Sirtuin activator, DNA repair|
|Ubiquinol CoQ10||100mg||Mid-morning||Cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure|
|Vitamin K2/D3||100mcg K2||Mid-morning||Transport of calcium out of the arteries|
|Vitamin D3||5000IU||Mid-morning, alternate days||Reach 80mg/dl serum levels, then reduce to maintain|
|Vitamin K1||100mcg||Mid-morning||Micronutrient test showed low levels|
|Lion’s Mane||1800mg||Mid-morning||Adaptogen; Energising & ability to sustain focus and drive|
|Glutamine||5g||Immediately after morning run/walk||Micronutrient test showed low levels|
|Fish Oil||2500mg (1400mg EPA, 520 mg DHA)||Mid-morning||Support healthy Omega6:Omega 6 ratio + assist with absorption AM supplements|
|Thorne Basic B- complex||See product||Mid-afternoon||B-vitamins are fundamental to many bodily processes|
|Milk thistle||500mg||Mid-afternoon||Testorone and live support|
|Ashwaghanda||500mg||Mid-afternoon||Adaptogen (Hormone regulation)|
|Rhodiola||350mg-700mg||Mid-afternoon||Adaptogen (Helps maintain focus in late afternoon)|
|Biotin||800mcg||Mid-afternoon||Hair, nails, skin support|
|Vitamin C (time- release)||1000mg||Mid-afternoon||Immunity, Collagen support|
|Berberine-HCL||500mg||Lunchtime||Reduce the gylcemic response to lunch|
|L-theanine||200mg||15-20 minutes prior to morning coffee||I am a slow caffeine metaboliser and this helps me manage the jitters/anxiety, but still get the focus of caffeine|
|Creatine||5mg||30-60 minutes pre and post afternoon strength workout (2.5g in each dose)||Brain & focus support, muscle performance and recovery|
|Phoshatidyl-Choline||500mg||Bedtime||Increase flux of fat out of the liver, improve quality of cell membranes, aging support for skin and nervous system|
|Chromium Piccolinate||500mcg||Bedtime||Micronutrient test revealed low levels|
|Magnesium Citrate||400mg||Bedtime||Replenish electrolytes, lower blood pressure, improve sleep|
|Zinc Picconlinate||22mg||Bedtime||Improved healing, immune system support|
|Copper (Amino acid chelate)||2mg||Bedtime||Necessary pairing with Zinc to maintain ratio; this combination of 22/2 has worked well for me (micronutrient testing)|
|Valerian Root||1g||Bedtime||Experimental; testing impacts on sleep duration, REM|
|CBD oil||Varies||Bedtime||Experimental; testing impacts on deep sleep|
|Glucosamine Sulfate||1.5g||Bedtime||Blood glucose support; joint health and repair|
|Chondroitin||1.1g||Bedtime||Joint and cartilage support|
|Fish Oil||1250mg (700mg EPA, 260mg DHA)||PM dose||Support healthy Omega6:Omega6 ratio; will skip it if I have fish for dinner|
Are you a thought leader in aging, longevity, or biohacking? Want to be featured on Biohack Stack Interviews? Contact me at nathan (at) biohackstack.com