Reviewing the Diet from The 4-hour Body By Tim Ferriss 3

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman By Tim Ferriss

I recently finished Tim Ferris’ latest project and book after hearing raving reviews. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. I am a big fan of this “experimentalist’s” first book, The  4-Hour workweek, new york times bestseller for 15+ months. By managing to maximize efficiency in business by leveraging time and outsourcing as much time consuming tasks possible we can apparently work 4 hours per week and have the rest of the time to complete case studies on performing super-human tasks and feats. So why not apply this efficient principle to our body!? I like the book and think it’s great for anyone looking to make a change in their body. This could be from learning to run or swim more efficiently to adding muscle and building confidence! The book is easy to read, more like a manual or study guide, loaded with fun studies and experiments.

Some cool quotes from the book:

“What’s the fastest way for someone to improve their inner game? Improve your outer game.” – Richard Branson

“We seem to have confused comfort with happiness.”  – Dean Karnazes

The biggest buzz around this book was about this slow carb diet. There is a cult-like following around this ketogenic style diet (slow carb). Claims and case studies losing 20+ lbs of fat and gaining muscle in as little as 30 days! All of his studies are based around the theory of The minimum effective dose (MED) is defined simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.  I automatically was a little alarmed about the rules and guidelines but as I read into it, I kept in open mind and looked at his perspective with all of his case studies and research that he had completed.  Here is a summary of the slow carb diet from the book: Besides whole foods, anything you put in your mouth or your bloodstream that has an effect is a drug. Treat them all as such.

Here is my outline and notes from the book:

Four principles of failure-proofing behavior:

Rule #1 It’s not what you put in your mouth that matters, it’s what makes it to your bloodstream. If it passes through, it doesn’t count.

Rule #2 The hormonal responses to carbohydrates (CHO), protein, and fat are different.

  1. Make it conscious.
  2. Make it a game.
  3. Make it competitive.
  4. Make it small and temporary.

Starting a body recomposition program without measurements is like planning a trip without a start address. I guarantee you will regret it later.

Photograph all meals or snacks prior to eating. I thought this was cool, at the least it helps your become aware of what you are eating and forces you to take a minute to think about the long term.

“what gets measured gets managed”

Subjects who use food diaries lose three times as much weight as those who don’t.

Measurement = motivation. Seeing progress in changing numbers makes the repetitive fascinating and creates a positive feedback loop

“I just want to be healthy” is not actionable.

Starting a body recomposition program without measurements is like planning a trip without a start address!!

“The decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit.”

Rule #1 Avoid “White” Carbohydrates. (All bread, rice (including brown), cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas, and fried food with breading.

Rule #2 Eat the Same Few Meals over and over Again.


*Egg whites with 1–2 whole eggs for flavor (or, if organic, 2–5 whole eggs, including yolks)

*Chicken breast or thigh

*Beef (preferably grass-fed)

*Fish Pork Legumes

*Lentils (also called “dal” or “daal”)

*Black beans Pinto beans Red beans Soybeans Vegetables


*Mixed vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, or any other cruciferous vegetables)

*Sauerkraut, kimchee (full explanation of these later in “Damage Control”) Asparagus Peas Broccoli Green beans Eat as much as you like of the above food items, but keep it simple. Pick three or four meals and repeat them.

Eating more frequent meals also appears to have no enhancing effect on resting metabolic rate, despite claims to the contrary.

Make sure to have your first meal within an hour of waking. Meals are approximately four hours apart


Do not drink milk (including soy milk), normal soft drinks, or fruit juice. Limit diet soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces per day if you can, as the aspartame can stimulate weight gain.


The only exceptions to the no-fruit rule are tomatoes and avocados.  Say no to fruit and its principal sugar, fructose, which is converted to glycerol phosphate more efficiently than almost all other carbohydrates. Glycerol phosphate → triglycerides (via the liver) → fat storage.

RULE #5 TAKE ONE DAY OFF PER WEEK. (Binging once a week)

Dramatically spiking caloric intake in this way once per week increases fat-loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate (thyroid function and conversion of T4 to T3, etc.) doesn’t downshift from extended caloric restriction. That’s right: eating pure crap can help you lose fat.

It is important to spike caloric intake once per week. This causes a host of hormonal changes that improve fat-loss, from increasing cAMP and GMP to improving conversion of the T4 thyroid hormone to the more active T3. Everyone binges eventually on a diet, and it’s better to schedule it ahead of time to limit the damage.

Against whole grains, a principle from the paleo “cave man” diet.

Discourages consuming any refined soy products, including all soy milk and isolated soy protein supplements.

Some fried foods are ok: Stir-fry is ideal for this diet, as are most cuisines (like Thai) that depend on it.

On Convenience or “eating on the go”

If you’re airport-hopping and cannot find a Mexican restaurant or grill, grab a bag of raw almonds or walnuts at a kiosk and commit to consuming no starch.

Most airports also have chicken salads (omit dressings besides olive oil or vinegar) that you can combine with the nuts. If it comes down to it, choose mild hunger instead of deviation.

Having followed this diet in 30+ countries, I can state without exception that travel is not a legitimate excuse for breaking the rules.

Interesting tips when eating too much and/or binging:

Have as much of the crap ingested either go into muscle tissue or out of the body unabsorbed.  He suggests  focusing on three principles:

PRINCIPLE #1 Minimalize the release of insulin, a storage hormone

Steps to manage Insulin release:  minimized by blunting sharp jumps in blood sugar. Using enzymes and citic juices to aid in moving the food.

PRINCIPLE #2 Increase the speed of gastric emptying, or how quickly food exits the stomach

Accomplished primarily through enzymes, caffeine, and yerba mate tea

PRINCIPLE #3 Engage in brief muscular contraction throughout the day

For muscular contractions, my default options are air squats, wall presses, push-ups, etc.. You may ask, “Why the hell would you want to do 60–90 seconds of funny exercises a few minutes before you eat and, ideally, again about 90 minutes afterward?”

Because it brings glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) to the surface of muscle cells, opening more gates for the calories to flow into.

Interesting Section on Losing the Final 5–10 Pounds

Removing even a little dairy can dramatically accelerate fat-loss!

Macadamia oil is the new and improved olive oil.

There should be no need, or real physical urge, to eat snacks. If you are hungry, you’re not eating enough protein and legumes at each meal.

Eating a balance protein rich meal every three waking hours: Like natural shake, clean lean meat, fish, eggs, or salad.

Balancing Bacteria for Fat Loss

  1. Get off the Splenda.
  2. Go fermented.
  3. Consider probiotics and prebiotics.

Lemon juice lowers glycemic response. Three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice just prior to eating appeared to lower blood sugar peaks by approximately 10%.

Cinnamon, even in small doses, has a substantial effect on glucose levels. One and a half teaspoons. Don’t consume more per day.

And another hot topic, Brazil Nuts – Tim points out in his studies, that supplementing with a few brazil nuts which are one of the highest sources of selenium have positive effects on the body. From what I’ve found brazil nuts carry mood and testosterone boosting benefits. The selenium in the nuts is required for synthesis and metabolism of the thyroid hormones, thus effecting energy, feel good chemicals, sperm count, and testosterone.

Brazil nuts are high in fat and calories… so a few goes along way. I use them in smoothies and actually made some good brazil nut milk with the vitamix by soaking them adding water, vanilla, and mixing. After blended, I squeezed through mesh cloth and made a delicious powerhouse dessert with the leftover meat from the milk.

More than quality, it’s the size and speed of meals that determined glycemic response. The easiest thing you can do to decrease glucose spikes is slow down. It also helps to drink more water to dilute digestion, eat smaller portions, and chew more.

“For fastest fat-loss, minimize your blood sugar bumps above 100 to no more than two per day. “


Supplements suggested for 4 hour body diet:

Tim suggests a cocktail of health boosting supplements to maximize efficiancy of fat burning, digestion, antioxidant, energy transformation, muscle and joint pain prevention. He calls this the PAGG stack. Made up of:

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid ALA helps you store the carbohydrates you eat in muscle or in your liver as opposed to in fat.
  • Green Tea Extract Stimulating effect, Polyphenols, and antioxidants
  • Super Cissus Supports Strong And Healthy Joint, Ligaments, Tendons And Cartilage
  • Aged Garlic Supplementmaintain cholesterol levels and Garlic is also known to support circulation

Read more about them at his site or

Also suggested supplements such as : probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are bacteriaLA (alpha lipoic acid) helps you store the carbohydrates you eat in muscle or in your liver as opposed to in fat. Plus more…

The book also has a section of case studies from vegan based athletes. Taking examples of adding muscle and strength without meat. Very interesting! The book references studies from The China Study and some other popular strength and endurance athletes who eat plant based.  –

What I took from the diet is that primarily plant-based diet (what I’ll refer to as “PPBD”) makes most sense.

This includes 5 Steps:

Step 1 Remove starches (rice, bread, grains) and add legumes. Dense products, like black bean burgers without buns, are encouraged.

Step 2 Ensure that all of your meat is pasture-raised, grass-fed, or sourced within 50 miles of your home.

Step 3 Eat meat only after 6:00 P.M. (what Mark Bittman and others refer to as the “vegan till 6” plan) or eat meat only on the weekends or on cheat days.

Step 4 Remove all meat except fish (pescatarian) and/or eggs and dairy (lacto-ovo vegetarian).

Step 5 Eat a 100% plant-based vegan diet.

Brief Summary on Exercise from 4HB

Suggested only working out 3 Days per week varying based on optimal recovery and rest. This sounds nice! Also making a point at how much diet plays a role in staying healthy and lean.

Exercises were all done with top strength and conditioning coaches and our available in the book and at his blog.

A lot of full body compound exercises like kettlebell workouts and interval style training.

Need better sleep? Try using a single bed sheet at a room temperature between 67°F and 70°F produced the fastest time to sleep. Also try a cold shower before bed to adjust your body temperature. Helps with rem sleep!

And Tims answer to sum up book and justify why he can write about these things, “I’m just a relentless record keeper of all things physical. All of these factors have led me to some really interesting conclusions — conclusions that are going to save people a lot of time and wasted effort. The new book is a minimalist guide to the smallest changes in about 50 areas that produce the biggest results, ranging from fat loss to muscular gain to ultra-endurance to sex and sleep.”

“I approached the book as an investigator and an experimenter. Now, the content and the protocols — all of that came from people who are the best at what they do or from findings that came out of those self-experiments and testing with others, from Joe DeFranco, Charles Poliquin and Pavel Tsatsouline to Dr. Tim Noakes and NASA-based researchers.”


I can’t say that I agree with everything in this book. In this case, I’m just the reporter. I can see applying a few of the principals but things like fruit are going to be just about impossible for me to give up anytime soon. Check the book out to get much much much more details as well as tips and studies on: Training, running, 40 yd dash, swimming, and sex life.


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3 thoughts on “Reviewing the Diet from The 4-hour Body By Tim Ferriss

    • Jason Sani Post author

      I have been there.. I do not 100% agree with the 4HB Diet. I eat fruit on a regular basis, timing is key for hormone health. I try and consume on empty stomach to prevent digestion issues and keep hormone level in check. Low glycemic fruits like berries are my main choice. I do enjoy apples, grapefruits, pineapple, and bananas occasionally. Best to eat these rather than juicing to absorb the fiber and prevent insulin spikes.

      Fill up on all of the great plant protein sources, seeds, nuts, and greens. I eat a very healthy serving of sprouted seeds and nuts like almonds.