in: Health, Health & Fitness, Podcast

• Last updated: September 27, 2021

Art of Manliness Podcast #93: Total Human Optimization With Aubrey Marcus

Today I talk with the founder and CEO of Onnit, an unconventional health and fitness company, about what it means to strive for “Total Human Optimization.” Aubrey Marcus and I discuss everything from nootropics to Hindu warrior maces to traditional South American rituals to the warrior spirit. One of our most varied and interesting podcasts!

Show Highlights

  • What Total Human Optimization means
  • Supplements for your brain called nootropics
  • The best supplements to help ease anxiety (and the nootropic stack that I use for mine)
  • Aubrey’s experience taking part in a traditional South American rite of passage
  • How a 2,000 year old Hindu exercise mace can help you become stronger
  • What Aubrey has learned about masculinity from rubbing shoulders with some of the best MMA fighters in the world
  • The future of “total human optimization” and whether we’re headed towards a dystopian future of two classes of humans
  • And much more!

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Special thanks to Keelan O’Hara for editing the podcast!

Read the Transcript

Brett: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. When you hear the word total human optimization, what does that conjure up in your head? Well, our guest today has made it his mission in life to help people optimize themselves to the utmost. His name is Aubrey Marcus. He’s the founder and CEO of Onnit. It’s a health and fitness company that hard to describe. We’ll let him describe it for you all but Onnit’s focused on helping people become the best they can through sort of unconventional means using unconventional exercises like Indian clubs and gada maces and using supplements like Nootropics to help you improve your cognition. Something is written about on the site before and so in this podcast today we’re going to talk about Nootropics and how supplements can help our brain function better.

We’re going to talk about why unconventional exercises should be a part of your workout routine. I’m a big fan of the barbell. I love the barbell, deadlift, bench press, squat my favorite, by I do incorporate the other stuff like Indian clubs and kettle bells, and the warrior mace.

Then we’ll also talk a bit about what Aubrey has learnt from mixed martial artists. For some reason or other, Onnit has attracted Indian male fighters and we’re going to find out what Aubrey has learnt about what it means to be a man and what masculinity means by rubbing shoulders with these really fierce fighters and I think the answer will surprise you. A really fascinating hodgepodge discussion so stay tuned.

Aubrey Marcus welcome to the show.

Aubrey: Thanks Brett. Glad to be on here.

Brett: All right so you are the founder and CEO of a fitness company and health company called Onnit. For our listeners who aren’t familiar with the company because like I’ve tried to describe what Onnit is because it’s not like any other health and fitness company out there really and it’s hard for me to describe so how do you guys describe yourself.

Aubrey: Yeah you really have to talk about the idea and idea is about taking healthy people and improving their performance. We call that total human optimization and it’s really hard to that by focusing on one aspect alone. Well nutritional supplements with earth-grown nutrients are a core part of what we do. That’s not going to cut it as well. We need to talk about other nutrition principles and functional foods. Then even that alone isn’t the complete picture. Also, how you are working out, your fitness, your training, your unconventional methodologies that you use, that you’ve put up on the site as well with the Indian clubs and the maces and things of that nature, all of that contributes to this holistic picture of what it is to live an optimized life.

That’s what I think makes Onnit somewhat unique in that we don’t just focus entirely on one thing. We kind of treat the human as a whole and say look if you want to be optimized, you ought to spend some time training and working out, working out in ways that suit the body that we’d been given and filling it with proper nutrition and then taking supplements that can optimize your performance.

Brett: Awesome. When did you guys start out? Wasn’t too long ago right?

Aubrey: Yeah I really I kind of marked the founding in July of 2011 when we can out with [inaudible 00:05:21]. We were working on some other stuff a little bit prior to that but Onnit became what it is now. There was a pivot and some repositioning.

Brett: Yeah, it’s crazy. I first heard about you guys because of Alpha BRAIN a few years ago and since then, you guys are everywhere. It seems like you guys were an overnight success but we all know that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Can you give us the back story of how you came up with this idea of total human optimization and starting a fitness company that supports that?

Aubrey: Yeah, really it was just a product of my own life. My stepmother was Dr. Janet Zand. She founded a company called Zand Herbal and so when I was growing up, I had played basketball games and I would have a stack of supplements on a little paper towel and I would just take it. I didn’t know what it was and I would take it before the game and I would play better than I would in practice. Then I would have another stack of supplements on important test days. I would take that before tests and I would feel more focused and feel sharper so I got used to the paradigm of what I ingested affecting my performance. I kept that with me my whole life. Then started working on the other aspects that was necessary to run a business like this, self-mastery, leadership principles. I started a marketing company, worked with that.

Learned e-commerce game, started to get more familiar with different people who could support the brand like my friend Brody Miller who is one of the founding investors with me and of course Joe Rogan who’s become an incredibly valuable partner in the business. Everything came together. The last piece was really getting a strong medical advisory team and scientific team that’s been running our clinical trials. We’re actually able, last week to just announce the results of our flagship randomized double blind Alpha BRAIN trial which is really some pretty ground breaking stuff from proving Alpha BRAIN statistically significantly affects cognition in a variety of positive ways.

Brett: Yeah let’s talk about alpha brain because that’s how I heard first about you guys is through Alpha BRAIN. Alpha BRAIN is a nootropic, right? is that how you describe it?

Aubrey: Yup.

Brett: For our listeners who aren’t familiar with nootropics, could you explain what they are and their benefits because it sounds sort of like voodoo. You’re taking this pill that can make your smarter. That’s exciting stuff. Were you saying that you have studies that say no, there’s actually something to it?

Aubrey: As of course the challenge that we’ve had overcome with these clinical trials as we came out with the product and all of the ingredients in the product have good scientific data but until you actually prove that your formula against a double blind randomized trial is going work, people are always going to be a little bit skeptical but basically the field in nootropics is anything that enhances cognitive performance and a lot of times, people think that the brain is synonymous with the mind. Oh it’s just a strong mind, strong brain. Well, the brain is actually an organ and as with the muscles or skin or the liver, that organ has input that it uses to create the output. Now the output happens to be thoughts, and cognition, and personality, and a lot of other things that come from what the brain does which is different than a muscle, which flexes and contracts. It is easy to think of it like that, but regardless the brain uses fuel and actually uses a lot of fuel to do what it does. The field of Nootropics is at least as far as we’re concerned is providing the brain with the nutrients that it needs to perform optimally and some of the main fuel sources for the brain are the neurotransmitter precursors.

The one that we focussed on the most was the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and that’s what we targeted because that’s what’s responsible for mental clarity, focus, mental speed, and that’s where we saw some of the greatest gains in the formula, but also wanted to make it well rounded, so we have some ingredients in there to support the dopamine mechanism, the GABA mechanism, and a variety of the other brain neurotransmitter functions. Then we also have another formula that supports the serotonin mechanism as well as some other things. Vinpocetine brings additional blood flow into the brain, cerebral vasodilation, and another ingredient is like a really strong antioxidant that we license that comes from an extract of cat’s claw which grows in the Amazon rain forest.

It’s just kind of putting together the dream formula of what the brain could use to perform its best and then we had great results in the public and then put that to the test with the Boston Center for Memory, a really prestigious institute and show that a variety of things were improved; verbal memory, executive function. We even hooked them up to acute EEG and the people taking Alpha Brain versus placebo, they had a higher peak alpha brain wave which is synonymous with ability to kind of be in the zone or be in the flow state, and also improve the theta beta ratio, which is what people track for attention and focus issues. A variety of different benefits. Button-press accuracy when you’re hearing high and low tones, so responsiveness to auditory cues. A variety of different things that Alpha Brain has shown to be effective in, so hopefully taking it out of realm of woo-woo and into the realm of hard empirical science.

Brett: Yeah, and I think part of the problem, I think, people have with Nootropics is that sometimes people market it as this thing like it’s a cure all. You take this pill and you’re instantly going to be superhuman, but it’s just a supplement. You got to do other stuff in addition.

Aubrey: Of course. Yeah, I mean this is focussing on taking a healthy brain and making it a little bit supercharged. I mean, we’re not working miracles here, but in the world, having a couple of percent edge is really generally the difference. A lot of times the tipping point is not 30% away, the tipping point is 3% away. Am I going to start writing this book or not? Well, it’s usually pretty close to a 50:50 ball if you’re interested in it and having that energy and having that focus, maybe a 5% increase, a 10% increase is more than enough to actually get the ball rolling and get you to do that. Same performance in any variety of things. This is not a miracle drug. This is not like limitless, but it will help performance in anything that’s close to that tipping point. You’re going to get a major benefit from something that’s helping in a marginal way.

Brett: Just to clarify, this isn’t like a prescription drug. This is like natural supplements, right, that you could buy at Whole Foods.

Aubrey: Yeah, all of these things come from earth-grown nutrient sources and that’s something I believe both in my professional and personal life, we as humans evolved alongside our environment. To cohabitate and support each other in that manner, so it only makes sense that the best stuff that we could put in our body would be stuff that we evolved alongside. It doesn’t really make sense that some random synthetic chemical is going to be longterm be the best solution. In certain circumstances, if I have a bad infection I’m going to take some antibiotics and I appreciate the hell out of that, but most of the time when you’re talking about nutrient sources staying as close to nature as possible is going to yield the most benefit with the least risk of adverse effect.

Brett: Yeah. I’ve had some positive benefits from Nootropics. I’ve my own little stack for serotonin because I did 23andMe, right, have my genetic thing sequenced and I found out that I have the gene that causes my body to use serotonin really fast, so it never gets to my brain or I get very little, so it makes me prone to anxiousness. Like have the Larry David gene basically. I’m like neurotic. I take this stack that helps, supposed to increase serotonin, but also slow down the rate at which it deteriorates … I don’t know what’s the word you use, but your body uses it and it has helped me. It’s not like I’m super calm or whatever, I have to other stuff like meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy stuff, but it’s helped me. I’m a little more even keeled because of that.

Aubrey: What you got? Like 5-HTP, l-theanine and …

Brett: Yeah, and Rhodiola.

Aubrey: Yeah, Rhodiola is a great adaptogenic herb. It helps with stress. That class of adaptogenic herbs is something that really everybody should take because it’s one of those things that helps an ability to help you marginally a little bit in a variety of different ways. It kind of finds the stress points and supplies some lubrication for those stress points to a certain degree. Yeah, that’s a great herb.

Brett: The other one, I take the GABA part of that, so it helps out. Again, it’s not like a cure all, but it’s … If anything can give me an edge, I will take it.

Aubrey: Yeah. With the GABA, you know for people listening, GABA is a great neurotransmitter. There’s some issues with taking nutritional supplement, GABA, in its regular form. There’s some controversy over whether it crosses the blood-brain barrier, so keep an eye out for that and there maybe some better ways that you can influence the GABA mechanism. L’theanine is really closely related to the GABA mechanism and that’s a natural amino acid. It’s found in green tea and some other things as well and a lot of people will find that taking l’theanine improves that, what they’re targeting for the GABA more than actually taking GABA itself which can get destroyed before it gets to the blood brain barrier.

Brett: Interesting. That’s good to know. Okay, so we kind of related to Nootropics, you’ve a documentary that I just saw on your website. Kiwochuma?

Aubrey: Huachuma.

Brett: Huachuma, kiwochuma. Huachuma

Aubrey: Huachuma.

Brett: What’s that about? I kind of had the general gift just before, the readers aren’t familiar. What’s that documentary about?

Aubrey: Well, that documentary is about a practice that started several thousand years ago and there was a period in pre-Andean civilization before the Incas, before the Mayans, before the Aztecs, before any of that, there was a civilization that thrived and the center of that was in a place called Chavin. For 800 years, there is no evidence of war and conquer in the area, so it’s something of an anomaly in archeological records. One of the reasons that that’s credited is that the center of Chavin was a place of pilgrimage where people would receive a sacrament of plant medicine that comes from San Pedro cactus that interestingly enough, since we’re talking about serotonin, acts on the serotonin mechanism to create a very kind of bonding, heart-opening, mind-expanding experience that they would provide for everybody in the area.

Huachuma is only practiced by one or two more practitioners in the same old way, which is using the mesada, which is kind of like the structure of the ceremony and then brewing the cactus in that particular way, the San Pedro cactus, to create that medicine and the documentary is about my experiencing going down to the jungle to partake in that, that ancient ritual, as well as how that might look if we were to revive some of those principals of Chavin and the idea of [inaudible 00:18:10] “for the good of all.”

Brett: Yeah.

Aubrey: Working on ourselves individually first to make sure that we’re fit for service to work on the collective.

Brett: What was your experience? I mean sure you talk about it in the documentary, but kind of in general, what was your experience taking it? Because I’ve heard people like, I guess, experimenting with psychedelics, people to have these like these mind changing or life changing experiences where they become … Like Steve Jobs attributes psychedelics to help do awesome things with Apple. There are some other people too. What was it like for you?

Aubrey: This was not my first step in the journey. I was working with a shaman in the mountains of Mexico at 19 and that was kind of a right of passage for me and I would certainly not be sitting here right now if it wasn’t for the assistance that these traditional plant medicines had given me from [inaudible 00:18:59] to ayahuasca and also huachuma. For me, huachuma was really unlike anything else that I had experienced. First of all, the practitioner there, Don Howard, it’s really like you get the chance to sit with Gandalf, the white wizard. I have no other way to compare it, but it’s really amazing to be with someone who’s practicing at the height of skills that he is able to practice. Then the medicine itself had a lot of lessons that really would be difficult to get elsewhere.

It’s one of those things that kind of … It presents you with challenges that you have to overcome that are really practical for real world application. You take it and you end up walking through the jungle and everything in life becomes kind of magnified, and so you’re able to look at every little fear you have, every anxiety you have, every issue that you have, and have an opportunity to work through those in a microcosm during this experience that is really applicable to life afterwards as well as kind of the eye opening kind of mind expanding properties that these things have allowing you to see things in a different perspective. See the Earth in a different perspective, kind of hear that voice of the unheard, of the planet itself, of the people who you really end up after one of these experiences generally wanting to be more of service to.

Brett: Interesting. Okay, so we’ve talked about the mind optimization stuff a bit. Let’s talk about the fitness part. What I like about Onnit is you guys focus on, I guess, you would call unconventional fitness, unconventional exercises.

Aubrey: Yeah.

Brett: Talking in like kettle bells, we’re talking Indian clubs which we’ve done a video on. If you guys want to see me shirtless and in like tights doing kettle bells …

Aubrey: Doing what?

Brett: Or Indian clubs, you can check it on YouTube, though Indian mace which is pretty cool. I have one of those, so why focus those sort of … Because some of this stuff, it’s not like new stuff. I mean, people are using these stuff for thousands of years, right, the Indian clubs, the gada, the mace, been around for thousands of years. Actually some of this stuff was really popular in the west, like a hundred years ago, but then it died away. Why focus on that stuff?

Aubrey: Well, we really wanted to kind of look at … In the same way with nutrition, what we evolved alongside to do. Did our bodies evolve to lift barbells from a bench press position? How often did that happen? Probably never, and it doesn’t really happen that often in real life, so some of the ways that we train are really kind of counterintuitive to what the body is designed to do. The implements that we chose, we chose because they work well with the systems, and the hinges, and the levers, and the pulley, and everything is actually naturally going on with the body itself, and really can help strengthen and condition the body in a way that, that supports it.

Kettle bells are something that’s grown wildly in popularity recently and for good reason. I mean, really, if you put together a strong kettle bell routine that can really replace almost everything else that you have out there, but there are some other specialties that these other implements have and like you mentioned, the Persian Pehlwani wrestlers from the 1200s kind of pioneered some of these methods preparing themselves for competition, preparing themselves for battle, and really can help work out things like the shoulder girdle and some of your core strength in really unique ways that just feels great for the body, helps prevent injury, and it’s going to allow to continue training well into your 60s and 70s.

You see some of these guys swinging a mace at 68 with a big old beard and have been doing this for years, some of the OGs of it, and it’s really impressive that they have been able to continue to do that whereas you see a lot of people who’ve done conventional lifting like power lifting, heavy squats and dead lifts and … And those all have their place as well, I’m not saying not to do those and bench press, but generally, the body will break down over time doing those lifts because the body wasn’t designed for that kind of force.

Brett: Yeah. Speaking of old guys still doing some of these stuff, so there’s this … We have an Art of Manliness reader, also a Greek Orthodox priest, and he has got this giant great beard and he sent me this picture of him just holding the most, the biggest kettle bell that I have ever seen. I will post or link or an image of it, but it’s the coolest picture. He is in his orthodox priest garb and just rocking it out this giant orthodox priest forearms with the kettle bell. It was pretty impressive. Yeah, I think he was in his 60s and he’s still rocking it.

Aubrey: Nice.

Brett:  Yeah, and it seems like … A lot of unconventional stuff too is used … Because you focussed on that, it seems you have attracted a lot of MMA fighters. Is that something that just sort of naturally happened? Did you have a background in MMA or was that something that you reached out to fighters? What’s the connection there?

Aubrey: Well, I’ve always been a huge fan of the sport. I’ve trained in martial arts for most of my life and I’ve actually been watching the UFC since the very first one, so I’ve had some affinity toward it. I had some friends who were fighters, but really a lot of that comes from my partnership with Joe Rogan, obviously the UFC commentator and also a jujitsu black belt and a high level kickboxer when he was younger, so his connection has really facilitated a lot of that and then we’ve kind of worked with the fighters to make sure that our program really suits some of the activities that they’re doing as well because they have to put themselves to the ultimate test. I mean all of us, we like to be fit and we like to be in shape, but the difference of whether we’re in shape or not isn’t some giant trained killer kind of pound our head in if we’re slipping in our game a little bit.

We got a lot more slack then they do, so utilizing what they would do to get themselves in top condition and then applying that so that we can kind of mimic some of those patterns and movements and … It’s something that we really adopted as well.

Brett: Yeah, so you have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some really … Some of the top fighters in the world. I mean these are guys who … Yeah, like you said they can just pummel people to death if they wanted. What have you learned from them about masculinity and being a man?

Aubrey: That’s a great question. The best fighters I know and some of the toughest individuals in the world, like take at Tim Kennedy for example …

Brett: He’s a cool guy. I got to meet him a few weeks ago.

Aubrey: He’s awesome. He was number three ranked middle weight UFC fighters, so one of the top fighters in his weight class in the world and before that in his professional life, he was one of the Navy … I mean Army Ranger snipers in the world, so he was one of the top Special Forces snipers and one of the top UFC fighters and if you meet him, he’s the sweetest, like nicest, humble guy you’ll ever meet. Time and time again, the best fighters and the champions are going to be the kind of the least abrasive individuals you’ll ever meet because they’ve nothing to prove.

I think true manliness and true strength is not having something to prove, not having a chip on your shoulder, or having to say, “Hey everybody, look how manly I am. It’s knowing it like deep in your heart. Like I know what I am. I don’t need to show this to everybody because I’m completely secure and confident with what it is to be a man and what my strengths are in that regard.

Brett: Yeah, that’s something I’ve noticed over the years, so I’ve had that opportunity to like rub shoulders with MMA fighters, Special Forces guys, guys who own I guess security businesses, like they protect VIPs. Like they shoot bad guys for a living, right, but they’re like the … You would never know, right? Like they’re super jacked, they are huge. You don’t want to mess with them from like a physical, but just interacting, they’re not a-holes. They’re just the kindest people that I’ve ever met. Friendly and it’s just sort of weird because I think there is this idea out there that to be manly, you got to be sort of a jerk and like and embody the dark triad of personality traits, being narcissist and sort of psychopathic, but it’s not … I mean my experience like these alpha males type guys, they’re not like that.

Aubrey: No, they are somewhat of the opposite. I mean, I think anything that you’re trying aggressively show outwardly is an indication of an inward weakness, so the more that you’re trying to project something, the less probably confident you feel about that inside as a generality and there may be some exceptions to that and opportunities to kind of do something, to show some other side, but that’s more the general rule. It reminds me a little bit of … I had a great tattoo artist and he was explaining.

He was like, “I never tattoo a dragon with its mouth open snarling.” He’s like, “You know why?” He’s like, “Because why the fuck would a dragon snarl? Who is it trying to scare? It’s a dragon. It’s a being of imminent power.” It has no reason to be growling at anybody or anything. That’s, I think, kind of what these fighters embody. They don’t need to put out that snarl because they have it. They got the goods.

Brett: Yeah. Have you taken up fighting? Like have you gotten in the ring a couple of times since the beginning of Onnit?

Aubrey: Yeah, as I said, I’ve been a martial artist a lot of my life, and I was more of a lantern than a laser. I never really focussed on anything enough to be truly, truly great. I mean, basketball was the closest I came to that, but then I started ramping up fighting a bit maybe five or six years ago, a little bit before Onnit actually, and was preparing to take a fight in the ring and training with some really tough guys and ended up getting in my first street fight in middle of training, so I was at the peak of my condition and I’m not the one who likes to fight and I’ll try to avoid it under almost all circumstances, but this time four guys came up to me and one threw my girlfriend face first into my car window.

Brett: Jesus.

Aubrey: I had no choice, there it was, and I ended up doing all right in the fight, but got a concussion and that kind of like … After that, I’ve basically been training for a moment, an artificial moment, in the ring where I could see what was inside myself and see who I would react and then it kind of manifested in real life and after that it kind of somewhat just scratched the itch and diminished my need to kind of show that side in the ring, but that was the really kind of interesting moment plus the concussion that I had just stopped training for awhile, but yeah, it was really interesting how that happened, how my whole life I’ve still only gotten in one major street fight and it happened … It just happened to happen when I was at the peak of my training with a pretty significant challenge and there were multiple attackers.

Brett: That’s crazy. That’s crazy, so this idea of total human optimization … With the podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some people who’re like doing this, right? I talked to the guy who wrote … I forgot his name. Man, I feel like an idiot. He wrote about flow. It’s about becoming superhuman.

Aubrey: I know which guy you’re talking about. I can’t remember his name either.

Brett: Yeah, I’ll have it in the show. It was a good podcast. Anyway, there’s like … It’s interesting that we’re at this point where we’re trying to figure out ways to optimize ourselves, mentally, physically, but one thing that … And I’m into it too, like I’ve messed with like biohacking, like biofeedback is what it is. It’s like the thing you put on your head and measure brain waves or whatever, but this stuff, it’s somewhat expensive right now. The big concern whenever I do this stuff, I’m like this is cool. It’s helping me out, but what I’m concerned about is like is this going to create some sort of … You remember in the sci-fi novel where there’s … When the guy goes to the future and there’s like two classes of humans. There’s like super awesome humans and there’s like …

Aubrey: Gattaca or something.

Brett: Sort of like … Not Gattaca, but I mean that happens in Gattaca, but there is also … A really old one. It’s like time traveler, what’s the … Man, I’ve to do some editing after this word, so we sound like we know what we’re talking about. It’s the guy who wrote 10,000 Leagues Under The Sea. What was his name? Jule … Or Verne?

Aubrey: Yeah, Jules Verne.

Brett: Jules Verne. He wrote a thing about the time traveler. He goes to the future and there’s like basically like two groups … Species of humans at this point. There’s like affluent super human types and there’s this like these poor not so great looking humans, and so whenever I do this, my concern is like is there going to … What’s the future of human optimization? Is it going to create this distinction between classes where the wealthy can afford to biohack their genes, improve cognition, and like parents will give their kids smart pills, they do awesome in their SATs, while less affluent people won’t be able to do that? Do you ever take a look, like a big picture look where this is going? What do you see is future of human optimization?

Aubrey: Well, I think it’s really … While there are some monetary boundaries to some of the tools that you can use, I think more important than the tools is the idea. If people didn’t buy a single thing from Onnit, but just kind of followed along with the movement, the inspiration, and some of the basic principles of the nutrition, how to eat when you’ve … Because we can all make those small choices in certain ways, I think the spirit of it is a lot more important than the tools. Now, I think, ultimately there may be some tools that eventually evolve such as pretty dramatic gene modification that may create some kind of disparity that gets a little weird, but at this level is everything is applied in kind of a moderate level. There’s not this big thing that’s going to completely separate the classes. It’s more about wherever you’re at, let’s try to make that optimal.

I think ultimately, the only defense against that other kind of more drastic optimization that could create class disparity is for people to align their goals with something like I was talking about earlier, truly for the good of all, so that people who’re getting the fortunate blessing of being able to do these procedures and optimization techniques, they use whatever advantage they have and they take on the responsibility to do even more work for the planet and for other people. If that’s the case, that just means that more capability means more responsibility and everybody shares a different burden, and I think that’s really the only defense because there are going to be opportunities that come about. The only way to kind of even that out is to make that the heart and spirit of those who’re getting optimized is aligned with the good of the planet and good of all.

Brett: Yeah. I always like to end these things with some practical takeaway. If there’s like one or two things that a guy who’s listening to this podcast can do today to start optimizing his life, what would you recommend?

Aubrey: Well, I think you can make it really simple. First of all is breathe right. I think before you even worry about supplements and anything else you’re trying to take, every opportunity you get breathe with your diaphragm, take deep breaths. A lot of people get into the habit of these shallow chest breathing which contributes to a lot of extra stress and depletion of energy, so take some moments to breathe properly and diaphragm breath is that breath that goes all the way down to your stomach and take those few moments to do that. That’s going to make a huge improvement.

Then also chewing, these things that don’t cost any money. When you have food, a lot of times we’re preoccupied and we’re thinking about something else and we’re just worried about getting it down, but take your time to chew your food. That’s going to take a lot of stress of your digestive system. It’s going to allow more nutrients to enter your body. It’s going to reduce inflammation across the board. There’s an old saying “drink your solids and chew your liquids” which basically means chew till there’s nothing solid left in your mouth and when you’re drinking juice, go through that process to allow the saliva to help break down what you’re drinking because even if you’re drinking nutrient-dense juices, but just chugging it down, that whole process of the saliva interacting with the food is not going to be in place.

Those two things, I think, are really crucial and often overlooked, and the third most important thing that I would say is whatever your practice might be, find an opportunity to get still and that could be either meditation, that could be float tanks. Psychedelic medicine is a tool that I’ve used that allows that real moment of clarity to come in where all the noise and all the static and all the distraction goes away. However you want to put that into your life, find that opportunity to get still. It could be yoga, it could be a hike out in nature, but those three things are going to make a huge difference in your performance. Then, of course, we’ve a bunch of tools as well, but if you take care of those first three, you’re going to be in pretty good shape.

Brett: Awesome. Besides Onnit, where else people can find about your work? You have a personal blog, right?

Aubrey: Yeah. is kind of the new hub of everything. It’s got my links to all my social media and some of the posts and podcasts, and different stuff that we’ve going. You just head to That’s the best resource right now.

Brett: Awesome. Well, Aubrey Marcus, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Aubrey: Absolutely. Thank you, Brett. I appreciate that. I appreciate everything you do. Your blog is one of the few that are on my top list of sites visit, so I really appreciate that.

Brett: I appreciate that. Thank you so much.

Aubrey: For sure.

Brett: Our guest today was Aubrey Marcus. Aubrey is the founder and CEO of Onnit. It’s a fitness and health company, and you can go to to find out about that. He has also got his personal website, for book reviews, podcasts, and content that Aubrey has written.

Well, that wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. For manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the Art of Manliness website at and if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’re getting something out of it, I’d really appreciate if you give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or whatever else you use to listen to your podcast. That will help us out a lot. Until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.

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