For those of you who have been following the #30DaysNoAlcohol biohack I did in conjunction with Ben Greenfield, WellnessFX and DexaFit, today is probably the day for which you have been waiting: the results!
When I took on Ben's challenge to quit alcohol cold turkey for 30 days, I did not know what to expect. While common sense would suggest eliminating the voluntary consumption of a tasty poison could yield nothing but upside, I honestly did not think it would have such a profound impact on how I felt, looked, and most notably, on the biomarkers that sustain my life--especially in such a short period of time. After all, those 30 days amount to a mere 0.2% of the total days I've been a resident on planet Earth.
If you're like most people, then regular alcohol consumption is simply something you accept as a natural part of your life. Whether it's drinks at a dinner amongst friends, drinks at home while watching some TV to unwind, or drinks at a social gathering of some kind, it is normal. And while you may get real-time feedback that you consumed too much the previous night in the form of a head-crushing hangover (isn't it funny how you feel it right when you remember what you did the previous night?), it is much easier to overlook--and perhaps underestimate--how those drinks compound on your body over the course of months or years.
But in just 30 days? When I first looked at the post-experiment results on my online WellnessFX dashboard, the extent eliminating alcohol had on several key biomarkers was so jaw-dropping that I first wondered if my blood draw could have been mixed up with somebody else's. I was blown away. And remember, we made NO CHANGE to my not-so-great diet or to my not-so-intense exercise levels.
While I must defer the in-depth analysis and photos to Ben's blog post, here are a few highlights:
- Weight Lost: 8.8lbs
- Triglycerides: dropped 71% (and no, that's not a typo!) with notable improvement across most lipid biomarkers
- TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): improved by 50%
- Vitamin D: improved by nearly 80%
- Anecdotal Observations (prior to getting post-experiment blood panel results):
- Slept better (per wife: no snoring and little tossing & turning during the night)
- Less brain fog throughout the day
- Increased motivation and energy
- My sleep is too erratic--hours of sleep/night chart looks more like an EKG
Per the last point, this experiment was also a humbling reminder on the importance tracking relevant data has on the results we get in life. I won't get preachy here, but will just say that we simply cannot understand or evaluate anything we do not measure. So if you care about something that's measurable (most things are), then TRACK DATA! If you don't like a result you're getting, then change an input to get a better output.
While as a sponsored ultra-endurance athlete who admittedly was in an off-the-wagon rut, I knew I could/would get back to top performance shape. But the more relevant questions is: why was I even off-the-wagon in the first place? Why did cycling across the USA last summer burn me out to the extent that I needed to take over a year off? Was it just some data tracking and a WellnessFX blood panel that could have saved me from becoming the worst version of myself that I have ever been? After this biohack, I think so. Moreover, after tracking and analyzing my data over the course of this experiment, I also think my time I took off to get out of the rut ironically put me deeper into the very rut I was trying to escape.
Going forward, I plan to use this as a stepping stone to get back to top shape over the next couple months. Further, I plan to drop beer from my diet and drink red wine sparingly (1-2 glasses per week).
On behalf of Ben Greenfield, WellnessFX and DexaFit, I certainly hope this enlightening experiment will provide you with the inspiration necessary to make healthy changes in your own life in 2015.