Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

 

Do you nibble on a Snickers to keep you going around 3pm?

Do you have a little stash of sweet goodies around your work station that you dip into just when you need a little pick-me-up?

That might just be frowned on at one Bay Area startup called Nootrobox.

You see this company proudly starves its employees.

Yes, as in makes sure they don't eat between Monday night and Wednesday morning.

Yes, as in there's no fancy in-house chef there to cook them up a healthy moussaka, should they get peckish.

I know that ensuring you hire hungry employees is the goal of many who want to make a fortune.

But literally keeping them hungry?

"We're actually super productive on Tuesdays," co-founder and CEO Geoffrey Woo told the San Jose Mercury News. "It's hard at first, but we literally adopted it as part of the company culture."

I fear you are wondering something along these lines: "Are these people utterly batty?"

I couldn't possibly comment. I can, however, tell you about their theory.

The idea behind starving is to change brain chemistry.

Of course they call it a hack. The word seems faintly dated these days. Still, entrepreneurs such as these are calling it biohacking.

There's a belief that you can change the brain's chemical composition in order to make your employees more productive.

Of course they're not just starving themselves for the sake of it.

Oddly enough, Nootrobox produces so-called "cognitive-enhancing compounds."

These apparently produce "minimal side-effects."

Some of these compounds are natural and some are "already produced by the human body (such as neurotransmitters), and their synthetic analogs."

They are, according to the Nootrobox website: "Generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by the FDA or approved for use as a dietary supplement."

What Nootrobox's employees are aiming for isn't nirvana. It's ketosis.

This is when your body looks inside itself, can't find any more carbs to chew on and decides to settle for fat.

The notion is that when you reach ketosis, you suddenly become a lot smarter than a fifth-grader.

I'm sorry, I meant sharper and more, you know, present -- as we say here in the Bay Area.

Please forgive me if I admit to a couple of suspicions.

How can this company be sure that its employees don't sneak to the fridge in the middle of the night for a little Haagen-Dazs white chocolate raspberry truffle?

How do they know that they don't sneak a steak when ketosis feels just like a pipedream?

Still, we do know that some of our own eating habits aren't exactly sane.

Occasionally, we begin to feel that something's not right and decide we're going to give up wheat, gluten or some other substance that might be insidiously affecting us.

And sometimes it works.

Of course, the science behind these new starvation methods is in its toddler-phase.

No one truly knows what long-term consequences there might be.

Why worry? In the Bay Area, we're building super-humans just as a placeholder.

Simultaneously, we're constructing machines to ultimately replace these super-humans.

So, if you want to survive for the longest possible time, you can see how these new-fangled nutrition delights might be intensely attractive.

I must leave you now. This white chocolate raspberry truffle has been waiting for me for some time.

Published on: Jul 17, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.