The Long Game 8: Fasting and Metabolism, Doing Nothing, the Dating Economy, Walking, Thinking Small, Beating Aging

👩‍💻 Software vs Content, Polarization, Existential Risks, Home Game, Exploding Topics and Much More!

Hey there 👋🏼, and welcome to The Long Game—my take on health, wellness, and better living.

Welcome to the 8th episode! If you're reading this but haven't subscribed yet, it's easy! Just sign up, sit back, and enjoy!

Summer is finally here in Belgrade! It went from rainy and almost cold, to 35°C in a matter of a few days.

If you missed the past episodes, you could catch up here.

This week we explore:

  • Fasting and metabolic health

  • Resisting the attention economy

  • Walking for better thinking

  • The benefits of thinking small

  • Why Sofware is more profitable than Content

  • How to beat aging

Let's dive into it!

A statue in Belgrade


🥑 Health

🍽 Fasting, Longevity, and Metabolism

Over almost three years ago, I started my fasting journey by doing a 16 hour daily fast. This meant that I would have dinner, then skip breakfast, and have a late lunch.

Not eating breakfast was super easy for me, and as I continued to research about the benefits of fasting, I decided to extend my fast to 20h per day (check this article). The reasons I got hooked up on fasting are numerous: It promotes health, I can stick easily to my optimal weight, and I gain time and productivity throughout the day. There are many different fasting regimens, and different benefits are associated with each one of them. 

More extended fasts (48hours and above) expose our body cells to stress, which triggers the process of autophagy. This process consists of the ability of cells to remove unnecessary or dysfunctional components.

Read about my 72h fasting experiment

However, when I started using a Continuous Glucose Monitor a few months ago, I was shocked by what I saw. It seems like my metabolism was very sensitive as soon as I would reintroduce food after a fast, and it led to very bad blood glucose levels.

Fasting is generally healthy. But it doesn't mean that any type of fasting is going to be optimal for everyone.

I put my fasting on hold for the moment as I learn more about my metabolism and find something that works for me.

That's exactly the type of information and insights we will help people uncover with the solution I'm currently building with my co-founders. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that can work for health.


🌱 Wellness

🌴 Doing Nothing

While the attention economy is proving us with more content, more information, and more choices, it also contributes to overstimulating us.

It may sound like a joke from a guy who links to dozens of articles in every new episode, but I've been trying to create moments where I do nothing.

I have to admit that it's very hard, especially right now when there is no separation between work and home. You can always answer a quick email, read another article, find interesting ideas on Twitter… The possibilities are endless, but our attention is not.

For this exact purpose, Patricia Mou linked to the book "How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy" in her excellent newsletter Wellness Wisdom. I will be exploring more on this topic.

A general rule I try to apply is:

If you put a lot of attention and energy into what you're doing, you should find a hobby you won't obsess about.


🧠 Better Thinking

🚶🏻‍♂️ Why Walking Helps Us Think, by Ferris Jabr

An old but perennial piece on the benefits of walking for better thinking.

Want to improve your thinking? Walk more:

  1. Circulate more blood & oxygen to your brain

  2. Change the pace of your thoughts.

  3. Allow your attention to wander & stimulate creativity

What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. 

The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa. 

Because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander.


⚡️ Startup Stuff

🎯 The Benefits of Thinking Small, by Elad Gil

When starting a project, should you think big, or small? Both have their places, but thinking big can make it hard to find the right steps to take in the beginning.

Think of the top internet services you use, all of them started as niche products.

It Is OK To Build Something That Does Not Scale From Day 1
A common VC question is "how does this scale?".  Ultimately, to build a large, long-term business you need to be able to take an approach and scale it.  However, it is OK to start with something that is manual and hands on.  The key is to have something that can be systematized and replicated over and over eventually.


📚 What I Read

💻 Why Software is More Profitable than Content, by Adam Keesling

An excellent piece from Adam Keesling to understand why Software businesses have a higher margin than Content businesses.

Software and Content have many things in common: distribution, investment and iteration.

So how come Software is more profitable?

Content products decay while software products don’t.

Content exists to help people make sense of the current state of their world, to remind us of important truths, or to make us feel something. 

As humans, we need to be reminded of what to do and how to do it. "We need context."

Content products talk to humans, while software products talk to computers.

How to beat aging, by José Luis Ricón

If you want to understand what's currently happening in the field of aging and longevity in a short article, this piece is what you need.

It may appear crazy if you're not familiar with the latest research, but our chances of living hundreds of years aren't null.

Gerontologist Aubrey de Grey believes that the first person to live to 1,000 years of age is already alive.

We only get to live one life. Philosopher Simone de Beauvoir dreamt of something beyond that when she said, “I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life.

We may create very soon a world where de Beauvoir's dream is possible.

🚀 Looking Forward to the End of Humanity, by Adam Kirsch

On the same topic of aging and the future of humanity, this excellent piece explores how a transhuman future could be.

Eternal life through advanced technology seems like a pipe dream for a society that, until recently, had trouble manufacturing enough masks to save doctors’ and nurses’ lives. Yet Covid-19 may turn out to be just the kind of crisis needed to turbocharge efforts to create what its advocates call a “transhuman” future.

“We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering and our confinement to planet Earth.”

Transhumanists envision several possible avenues to immortality. Nanorobots could live inside our cells and constantly repair damage, halting aging in its tracks. Genetic engineering could eliminate the mechanisms that cause us to age in the first place.


📽 What I'm Watching

🤼 Home Game, on Netflix

I just started this incredible docu-series. It's about traditional and unusual national sports. In the first episode, Rugby meets mixed martial arts in the brutally violent Calcio Storico, a traditional sport of Florence, Italy, that dates back nearly 500 years.

A few highlights from the episode!


🍭 Brain Food

🖤 Attraction Inequality and the Dating Economy, by Bradford Tuckfield

Have you ever wondered how does the Dating Economy works? Do we see the same types of inequalities than in other parts of our economy?

This excellent article answers this question, and unfortunately, the dating world is hugely unequal.

Dating seems to follow the Pareto Principle 80/20:

“The bottom 80% of men (in terms of attractiveness) are competing for the bottom 22% of women and the top 78% of women are competing for the top 20% of men.”

Yet another study, run by OkCupid on their huge datasets, found that women rate 80 percent of men as “worse-looking than medium,” and that this 80 percent “below-average” block received replies to messages only about 30 percent of the time or less. By contrast, men rate women as worse-looking than medium only about 50 percent of the time, and this 50 percent below-average block received message replies closer to 40 percent of the time or higher.

For more on this topic, read about the growing problem of men outnumbering women in China and India in this excellent article:

In China and India, men outnumber women by 70 million. Both nations are belatedly trying to come to grips with the policies that created this male-heavy generation


🎙 Podcast Episodes of the Week

🔫 Existential Risk with Toby Ord, on Making Sense Podcast with Sam Harris

I'm very interested in risk and risk management. The current COVID19 pandemic is a perfect test for our societies because it shows whether or not we're prepared for challenging times. I think we can all agree that we aren't prepared at all.

In this episode, Toby Ord author of "The Precipice", a book on existential threats and the future of humanity, shares his perspectives on the most significant risks to come. Toby also covers the "Effective Altruism" movement he co-founded to maximize the outcomes of philanthropy.

They discuss:

  • The psychology of effective altruism

  • Feeling good vs doing good

  • Natural vs human-caused risk (asteroid impacts, nuclear war, pandemics)

🤷🏻‍♂️ How Politics Became Our Identity with Lilliana Mason, The Psychology Podcast

The increasing polarization of societies worldwide is a subject I pay a lot of attention to. I think it's going to be one of the main challenges of this century. People believing different things isn't new, but the social media era changed the consequences of opposing beliefs in society.

This episode is great to deconstruct and understand the polarization of society in the US. It explored the psychological aspect of the problem.

Here are the main ideas:

  • How racial identity shapes social status.

  • Why people value social status over money.

  • The role of emotions and why they matter.

For more on this topic, the "Refragmentation" by Paul Graham is a must-read.


🔧 The tool of the Week

📈 Exploding Topics

Exploding Topics is a one-stop aggregator for trending topics in health, business, marketing, fashion, and more. Topics are sourced from millions of data points, including search, shopping, and online communities.

I use Exploding Topics every month to keep an eye on health, fitness, lifestyle, startups, and technology trends.


🪐 Quote I'm Reflecting on

“Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.”

— Sebastian Junger


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EndNote

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I will see you next week. As always, if you're finding this newsletter interesting, give me your feedback, you can respond to this email, tweet at me or send me a note!

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Have a great day,

Mehdi

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