As neuroscience and psychology continue to advance, we are quickly realizing that intelligence is fluid.
Although we once believed that your intelligence levels were determined at birth, we are finally realizing that your intelligence levels can be manipulated through mental training exercises, diet, physical activity, and environment.
This groundbreaking research is still in its infancy and we have yet to discover just how far we can push the human brain.
But top scientists have found a handful of methods that have conclusively been shown to increase your cognitive function and boost your basic intelligence.
Here are 10 of my favorites.
10 Hacks that Will Increase Your Intelligence
1. Do Cardio or Resistance Training for at Least 30 Minutes a Day
that physical exercise is necessary for cognitive health.
Regular exercise can increase brain function, improve memory, speed up cognitive processes, and fight off diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Luckily, you don’t need to spend several hours each day slaving under the iron to accomplish your goal of building a better brain.
Experts suggest that 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week is all that is necessary to optimize cognitive health.
Anytime I’m coaching a client, one of the first habits I will ask them to adopt is to do some form of resistance training three times a week for 45 minutes and spend at least 60 minutes a day walking, jogging, or biking (preferably outdoors) on the other days.
This is slightly above the minimum recommended amount, but I’ve found that these numbers allow you to reap benefits beyond the basic cognitive boost of the 30 minutes a day.
2. Get Out in the Sunlight for at Least 15 Minutes a Day (Or Supplement with Vitamin D3)
Ever since the skin cancer scare back in the 90’s (which was based on exceptionally bad science) people have been avoiding healthy sun exposure and using a whole slew of nasty chemicals to “protect” themselves from damaging UV rays.
Contrary to popular belief, recent studies have found that most cases of Melanoma resulted from early childhood sunburns and long term sun exposure (growing up in an overly hot climate), not from healthy sun exposure as an adult.
Unfortunately, the abundance of misinformation has resulted in some very real health problems.
Most notably of which is vitamin D deficiency.
a definitive link between vitamin D deficiency and impaired cognitive health.
When you don’t get sufficient amounts of sunlight, you can expect to suffer from mood swing, depression, anxiety, and a number of other negative effects.
This is one of the reason that suicide and depression rates tend to increase the further away from the equator you go.
Luckily, you don’t need to relocate to the beach in order to remedy this particular problem – although you could.
Simply exposing your body to early morning sunlight (before 10 a.m.) for 15-20 minutes has been shown to dramatically improve your body’s vitamin D synthesis.
If you live in a colder climate or do not regularly spend time outside, you should also supplement with 5,000–10,000 IU of a high-quality D3 supplement every day. (I prefer Jarrow’s Brand)
3. Get 8–9 Hours of High Quality Sleep
Most people know that sleep deprivation is, to use the scientific nomenclature, “No bueno”.
But did you know that?
People who regularly get 6 or fewer hours of sleep a night are shown to perform tasks slower, less efficiently, and with more errors than their well rested peers.
And the worst part?
They don’t even realize that their performance is being affected!
Most people who suffer from sleep deprivation think that they are fine. They don’t feel like their lack of sleep is affecting their performance. But they are completely wrong.
Get 7–9 hours of sleep a night and you can literally make yourself smarter.
One of the first things that I do anytime I sign up a new client is to have them begin their self-transformation journey by increasing the quality and quantity of their sleep.
In order to get the best sleep possible, I recommend that everyone reading this (even you) does the following:
- Invest in an insanely comfortable mattress
- Buy blackout shades or tape black trash bags over your windows
- Set the thermostat to 67F or cooler and sleep naked (seriously, it’s )
- Remove ALL electronics from your room and cover any light emitting fixtures (like smoke detectors)
- Take 1,000 mg of Magnesium, 50 mg of Zinc, krill oil, and 400 mg L-Theanine 45 minutes before bed
- Turn off all electronics 60 minutes before you go to sleep
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Consume a high fat snack 3 hours before bed and quit consuming alcohol 4 hours before sleep
There are a plethora of hacks that you can use to improve the quality of your sleep but this should be more than enough to get you started.
If you do NOTHING else except improve your sleep (and get more of it), I promise you that your brain will be faster and sharper than ever before.
4. Drink Coffee and Supplement With Creatine (Separately)
The research is in.
In addition to staving off depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s, coffee has been shown to speed up cognitive processes and improve your overall mood and sense of well being.
Similarly,has been shown to have significant cognitive benefits with almost no appreciable side effects.
Just be sure to take these substances 4–6 hours apart since creatine and caffeine have been shown in a handful of studies to have negative chemical interactions.
(I like to combine my coffee with L-Theanine in order to enjoy the alertness of caffeine without the jitters)
5. Meditate for 10–30 Minutes a Day
to help rebuild grey matter in the brain and increase cognitive performance significantly.
Simply sitting down and following a guided meditation for 10 minutes a day can have HUGE benefits for your brain in the long run.
Top performers all over the world from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Kobe Bryant to Arrianna Huffington have cited meditation as one of their keystone success habits.
Forget all of the woo woo nonsense you heard growing up.
Meditation is a powerful tool that will help you take charge of your emotions, improve your brain, and live a happier, more fulfilling life.
Put down the TV remote and pick up your Headspace app.
You won’t regret it.
6. Play a Variety of Different Games
Although there are definite drawbacks to playing copious amounts of video games, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water just yet.
have shown that specific games ranging from Call of Duty to Sudoku can have positive cognitive benefits when practiced in moderate doses.
While the correlation is still under investigation, there is enough evidence present that I recommend everyone plays some sort of game for 15–30 minutes a day.
Whether it’s online chess, Fortnite, or just a normal crossword puzzle, stimulating your brain in new ways has been shown to dramatically increase cognitive capacity.
In order to get the biggest cognitive benefits, I recommend that you regularly switch up the types of games that you play as most studies have shown that novelty has a tremendously positive affect on your cognitive health.
7. Learn a Musical Instrument
that most people already know.
Music makes you smarter.
Being classically trained in a musical instrument has a number of benefits, not just for your brain but also for your social life and sexual desirability.
If you don’t know how to play an instrument now, I recommend that you either hire a teacher or use an app like Yousician to develop your skills.
Not only is music an amazing hobby that will do wonders for your social life, but it will literally rewire your brain and make you a faster and better learner.
Although volunteering might not directly increase your intelligence it has a number of psychological benefits that serve as “Neuroprotectants”.
that people who regularly volunteer are at a decreased risk for depression, chronic anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s.
They’ve also shown that people who volunteer are more likely to have heightened levels of happiness and fulfillment which play a significant role in keeping your brain healthy.
9. Eat a Diet High In Healthy Fats and Low in Processed Sugars
Many studies have shown that your diet has a HUGE effect on your cognitive performance.
Although we have barely cracked the surface in most of our research there seems to be a direct correlation between the foods that you consume and your cognitive health.
Specifically, studies have shown that eating 100g+ of healthy dietary fats (like fish, olive oil, and avocados) has a positive impact on cognition and eating processed foods has the inverse effect.
So eat a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and ‘clean’ fats and always think about your brain before swinging by the donut shop.
10. Supplement and Use Nootropics
This tip is entirely up to your discretion. I am not a doctor and don’t claim to have the legal authority to give medical advice.
I’ve simply interviewed dozens of high level “biohackers” and health experts who have all stated that nootropics are an incredibly effective way to increase intelligence.
This can range from the relatively mundane coffee and l-theanine that I mentioned earlier to the pharmaceutical Modafinil (or “God Pill”).
Do your own research and look into different supplement stacks to help boost your brain.
You might find the unfair advantage you’ve been looking for.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about a few habits that will make you, as my British friends say “Thick as pig shit”
5 Bad Habits that Will Lower Your Intelligence
1. Drugs and Alcohol
I like Bourbon as much as the next man.
I partied my face off back in the day and experimented with more drugs than I care to remember.
That being said, I wish that I hadn’t.
Alcohol, in moderation can have a number of positive benefits.
However, in the amounts that most men consume it, alcohol makes you dumber and impairs decision making.
Marijuana, although beneficial in MANY other regards, has been shown to slightly lessen grey matter (although not in significant amounts)
And cocaine… Well you might as well just poke a hole in your head and call it a day.
Drugs and alcohol are fun. No doubt. That’s why they are one of the most popular products in the entire world.
But they kill your brain and make you dumber than a box of rocks.
I’m not here to preach and tell you what you should or shouldn’t consume.
I’m simply here to give you a word of warning.
If you want to improve your brain as much as possible, you should avoid the majority of illegal and legal drugs that are on the market. (Anti-depressants, pain killers, and other prescription drugs can be just as bad for your brain).
2. Mindless TV
I love a good show like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad.
However, the crap that people can spin off as “Television” these days amazes me.
Avoid stupid TV at all costs.
It doesn’t add anything to your life and.
Yeah… Watching the Jersey Shore can actually make you as dumb as the people who act in it.
3. Eating Sugar
I’ve already mentioned this but it’s worth repeating.
Studies have clearly shown that sugar makes you dumber.
It slows cognitive processes, ages your cells, and makes you fat.
Cut it out of your life and you will be much better for it.
4. Stressing Out
Studies have shown that stress has significantly negative effects on your cognitive health.
and increases your chances of an early death.
So chill out and maybe reconsider taking that promotion at work that will double your weekly workload.
5. Operating from a Fixed Mindset
Ok, so this isn’t exactly research based. Just anecdotal evidence from my own life.
Some of them had ridiculously high IQ levels. Some of them didn’t.
All of them were smart and all of them operated from a growth mindset.
This means that they all believed that they could improve.
I’ve noticed that the dumbest and least successful people all believe that “This is just how it is”
The smartest and most successful people believe “This is how it is BUT I can change it”.
Just food for thought.
There are a number of ways that you can increase your intelligence levels and become a faster and sharper thinker.
What I have shared in this article barely scratches the surface of all the weird and bizzare ways human beings have found to make themselves better.
So test these habits out for yourself and measure your results.
I have no doubt that many of these habits will work great for you while others might not fit your particular lifestyle.
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding habits that work for you, and ignoring the rest.