Tim Ferriss, as you most likely already know, is an author, blogger, podcaster, entrepreneur, and the list goes on, that has helped many with health, fitness, and just overall life hacking to improve their quality of living. He was just recently named No. 53 on “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness” list. So what this guy does with his own health is something to take notice of. He is also the best selling author of the 4-Hour Workweek, Tool of Titans (Read our review of Tool of Titans ) and Tribe of Mentors.
Tim’s Beginning with Smart Drugs:
One thing Tim Ferriss has used for some time is smart drugs. He has experimented with various forms from natural herbs, teas, mushrooms to compound nootropics. However, from where he started to where he is now has definitely changed. While he started with the more pharmaceutical line of smart drugs (nootropics) that are touted to stave of things like Parkinson’s and dementia, he has now moved to more herbal and ketogenic based methods to improve his brain function. Tim did begin with, but has moved on from, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), along with alternating current stimulation and direct magnetic stimulation. He definitely believes these have benefits, he just feels it’s better to wait until you are a little longer in the tooth to go down those paths. He currently believes using less aggressive methods, when it comes to his cognitive health, gives him better results. Read our Nootropics Guide.
What Tim Uses Now:
1. Creatine plus Ubiquinol
This is Tim’s No. 1 baseline. He considers this a great combo to take for anyone with Alzheimer’s or other mitochondrial based neurodegenerative diseases in their family history. He thinks it is best to take this on a daily basis.
Creatine is a molecule (creatine phosphate) that promptly yields energy (ATP) to support cellular function and is found in high levels in the skeletal muscles and the heart, and to some degree in almost every cell. Therefore, it has performance-enhancing and neuroprotective properties. Creatine has been well-researched and is remarkably safe for most people.
Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10, which is a micronutrient that improves mitochondrial health and increases energy production.
2. Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Yamabushitake):
Tim drinks Lion’s Mane as a tea combined with chaga (also a mushroom) and instant coffee. His brand of choice is Four Sigma. Although, he does opt for the decaf version now and then, which is the same combo, just minus the coffee. He claims Lion’s Mane will “light you up like a Christmas tree”. He advises starting with a half of a dose, 2-3x/week when you need to “put on the gas”. He is very sensitive to it, hence the half dosing.
Lion’s Mane is known to both improve cognition and protect against cognitive decline. It also reduces anxiety and depression, improving mood. It’s also thought to stimulate immune function and help with inflammation. Read our Mushroom Superfood Supplements Guide.
3. Yerba Mate
This tea is from a flowering tree native to South America. It has caffeine, the bioflavonoid quercetin, and saponins ursolic acid. Due to Yerba Mate’s caffeine, it is thought to burn fat, boost alertness, and suppresses appetite. The quercetin has antioxidant, anti-atherogenic, and anti-carcinogenic properties. The ursolic acid is a molecule found in apple peels, and is known as the Ayurvedic herb Holy Basil. It is thought to decrease fat accumulation and boost muscle gains when in a fed state, and encourages fat burning while maintaining muscle mass when in a fasted state.
Tim’s go to brand of Yerba Mate is Cruz de Malta. He also uses the brands Jepser Organic and Anna Park. However, whichever brand is chosen, Tim insists that proper consumption is critical. When he drinks Yerba Mate tea he has a particular method he follows. He begins by packing a gourd (a small gourd shaped cup) full of Yerba Mate leaves. He then fills the cup full of hot water and steeps the leaves for a few seconds and then slowly sips the tea through a straw. With each cup he makes he only gets a few drinks out of it. So he repeats the tea making process and drinks it for hours when he is writing. He claims it’s like having a constant IV drip of Yerba Mate. He definitely believes Yerba Mate should NOT be chugged from huge jars or cans, as it might be packaged in stores.
4. Synthetic or exogenous ketones and ketosis
Tim Ferriss has struggled with Lyme disease and suffered from dementia like symptoms in the past due to the Lyme disease. He believes one of the best methods of dealing with and treating Lyme disease is eating a ketogenic diet and supplementing with ketones. He also highly encourages hyperbaric treatment on top of that to treat the disease. He also states that the benefits of ketones include decreased oxygen requirements and when he is in deep dietary ketosis his breath hold time doubles. To reap the benefits of ketosis, Tim has formed a regimented scheduled of fasting and ketosis.
When Tim is going into ketosis he will do so by eating a ketogenic diet along with fasting, adding some MCT oils and exogenous (meaning your body isn’t making them) ketones. Supplementing with synthetic or exogenous ketones can mimic ketosis and improve brain function. When Tim supplements with exogenous ketones there are three varieties he goes to. Here is his list categorized by intensity and palatability.
KetoCaNa [Calcium and Sodium Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB)]: This is the least intense brand and the most palatable. It comes in powder form that is then mixed with water. The taste resembles Gatorade or lemonade.
Has a greater impact than KetoCaNa on your BHB Level. The taste is neutral, but may be a bit odd to some. Due to the fact that it is very alkaline, Tim adds unsweetened lemon juice to the mix when he makes it to increase the acidity. KetoForce comes in a liquid that is to be mixed with water.
1-3 butanediol and sodium and potassium BHB: Basically these are the most intense exogenous ketones offering the greatest impact, but they taste like jet fuel. So while highly effective, you may not be able to keep them down long enough for them to do their job.
To Test Is Best
Tim doesn’t just haphazardly go into ketosis or supplement with ketones. He uses a Precision Xtra Glucometer from Abbott Labs to track his glucose and ketone levels. He believes the Glucometer is better than the ketone sticks, used to test urine, or the breathalyzer method for tracking ketone levels. He does realize finger pricks and using blood, while more accurate, is not always as convenient as using urine or breath. When testing to see if he is in nutritional ketosis he looks for his serum ketones to range from 0.5 to 3.0 mM.
Psychedelics: Tim Ferriss has also explored the world of psychedelics (in micro-doses) as a smart drug. He has looked into using psychedelics in the micro-doses of 1/100 of a dose needed to create hallucinations. This small dose, while still highly illegal, does not create a “trip-like” experience or any hallucinations. Tim claims a single dose will equal a 20% reduction in anxiety or depressive tendencies for 2 days. This would be a dose in the range of 10-50 micrograms. If the dose is increased to 100-150 micrograms this would be useful for problem solving. At least this result can be found for LSD. Other psychedelics Tim referenced were Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, and Psilocybin. Tim noted that Ibogaine is more difficult to obtain than Psilocybin.
Definitely Worth Considering:
While Tim Ferriss’ list may not be as exciting or extensive as you thought it would be, it is obviously very effective for him. The regiment of smart drugs he takes works to treat his Lyme disease, boost his cognition and physical performance, and improve his overall health. While all these herbs and supplements may not be right for you, they are worth considering. Apparently, Tim is concerned with his overall health and wellbeing, and is diligent about what he puts into his body. What he has chosen to supplement with seems to work very well for him and his health and success continue to skyrocket!
- Examine.com. 2017. Examine.com, Inc.
- Ferriss, T. August 21, 2016. YouTube. Smart drugs with Tim Ferriss.
- Greenfield, B. December 11, 2016. YouTube. Tim Ferriss and His Current Smart Drugs Stack and What Biohacks He Uses.
- The Greatest List Team. February 26, 2017. The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.