Biohacking 101: What Athletes Do to Go Fast

Biohacking has become a popular trend among athletes, with practices such as ice baths, sauna therapies, and vitamin drips aimed at enhancing performance and well-being.


Ice baths, sauna, oxygen treatment, vitamin drips, and a host of quirky-sounding supplements like Lion’s Mane, Shilajit, Tongkat Ali, etc. Biohacking, anyone?

According to Medical News Today, biohacking is a term used to describe do-it-yourself biology. It involves someone making incremental changes to their body, diet, and lifestyle to improve their health and well-being.

In this day and age of longevity and wellness gurus, biohacking has become a thing, especially for athletes. Runners are no exception.

It has become de rigueur for runners, especially those preparing for a race, to do one or more of the hundred and one protocols that are now widely available. No thanks to guys like Andrew Huberman and Peter Attia, men of science who have made it fashionable to obsess about athletic performance and healthspan.


In fairness, many of the practices have scientifically established benefits. For instance, sauna therapies, according to numerous randomized controlled trials, improve cardiovascular function. Ice baths, on the other hand, are said to hasten muscle recovery and increase beneficial brown fats.

However, there is a fine line that separates these beneficial hacks from those considered “illegal” performance-enhancing practices some athletes have been caught doing. These practices are prohibited by various anti-doping organizations for competitive athletes due to the undue or unnatural advantage they can provide.

For instance, only a certain volume of IV drips is allowed for in-competition athletes. Supplements are even trickier, especially those containing growth hormone enhancers, etc., because these are outrightly prohibited. Steroids? One need not even ask.

For those interested, one may refer to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s PROHIBITED LIST that is constantly updated and downloadable on their website

Of course, for non-elite runners who will never be tested for doping, this issue may not be a concern. Still, how far down that rabbit hole do we want to go?

How far down that rabbit hole do we want to go?

“The concern with the prevalence of these supposedly performance-enhancing practices is that many runners, or athletes in general, do so without consulting a duly licensed health professional first. For instance, a lot of people now have access to vitamin drips, but many of those who administer it do not have the proper license to do so, and the source of the drips themselves may be doubtful,” said Dra. Rachel Maderazo of the Center for Advanced Aesthetics in Quezon City.

Dra. Maderazo disclosed that their clinic provides a program for athletes, but they make sure that the person goes through a battery of tests first, not just to ascertain their specific needs, such as what vitamins or minerals the person is lacking in, but also to ensure that there are no pre-existing health conditions that may be impacted by the treatment. The clinic also checks the condition of the athlete’s kidney and liver before starting them on any program.

It bears pointing out too that under Republic Act No. 9711, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the distribution and use of supplements. Under the law, the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of health products without the proper authorization is prohibited. To verify if a health product is registered, one may check the FDA portal

Indeed, there may be no magic pill that can make an athlete faster or stronger—only consistent hard work and training can do that. However, optimizing health, recovery, and performance is a reasonable goal. One just has to be careful and make sure that the treatment, protocol, or procedure is safe, authorized, and administered by licensed healthcare providers.

We run primarily for health after all, not to put our health in peril.


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