Four Hour Body

Here are some observations I’ve taken from The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

Before anything else. This is the subtitle; An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. That is quite the promise. And this activates two thoughts in my head. The first is, he’s tested most things on himself and really knows how to promote something, maybe even too much. The second is, we (people) usually don’t follow through on advice, we normally try it for a day, and then go on doing what we did before. Inertia is very strong, are there things from this book that can break through mine?

Weight loss, the first promise

What Tim is looking for in his life is small things that have a big impact. It’s the same what the authors of Blue Ocean Strategy say, focus on the few that influence the many. And because he focusses on the small things, he believes these are also the ones that are most likely to stick and have an impact.

When you want to lose weight, there are three things you can play with; 1) diet, 2) drugs, 3) exercise. Tim chooses a 60% diet, 10% drugs (i.e. caffeine), and 30% exercise approach.

Measurement is also very important, so let’s start with mine:

Weight*: Now 93kg – Goal 88kg (ish)

Bodyfat*: 16% – 12%

Muscles*: 39kg (stays the same, hopefully)

*Based on a household scale that sends a small electrical signal through your legs, not too accurate, but good enough for my purpose.

  • Make it a game.
  • Make yourself accountable (e.g. by placing a bet with a friend, or posting it publicly on a blog)
  • Track or you will fail.

Let’s talk about food

3,500 calories are equal to about a pound (0,45kg) of fat. If you consume 1,150 calories too few (food – (exercise + BMR)) per day, you would lose about 1 kg of fat per week. That means if I stick to this and don’t get any more crazy with tips and tricks from the book, I will have to diet for four weeks. Are there any other things I can do?

Slow carb rules

  1. Avoid ‘white’ carbs – bread, rice, cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas
  2. Eat the same few meals over and over again – protip: you’re probably already doing this
  3. Don’t drink calories – no milk, soft drinks, fruit juice – also limit diet soft drinks
  4. Don’t eat fruit – it’s mostly sugar, eat a vitamin pill if unsure
  5. Take one day off per week – and that will be Saturdays – to keep your metabolic rate high

More tips

  1. Eat a breakfast – don’t skip it – really!
  2. Eat enough protein – 60+ grams per day (did you know that Queal is high in protein?!)
  3. Drink water – the normal advice is 2 litres – I keep a bottle at my desk, I average about 3 litres per day
  4. Batch that cooking – you won’t be in the kitchen every day
  5. Watch out for very dense foods – nuts and alike

Yo-yo can be good, “Forget balance and embrace cycling.” It can be beneficial to eat more on one day and less on another, versus moderately on both.

List of recommended foods (that I liked most)

  • Egg whites with 1-2 whole eggs for flavour
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Spinach
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Sauerkraut
  • Legumes
  • Garlic

What to do on binge day?

  • Have a high protein meal (and not too large) as your first
  • Eat a bit of fructose (e.g. grapefruit juice) before meal two to flat-line blood glucose
  • Use supplements to increase insulin sensitivity: AGG and PAGG?
  • Consume citric juices – lime juice in water
  • Consume caffeine (pill), theobromine (dark chocolate) and theophylline (green tea) to let everything pass through your body faster
  • Do small exercises during the day – to bring glucose transporter type 4 to the surface of muscle cells (so they can absorb the food instead of your fat cells) (e.g. 10 squats before you eat)

Observations from the book

  • Correlation isn’t causation, if you train for a marathon you won’t immediately look like a professional marathoner
  • Your predisposition is only that, something that will happen if you don’t challenge the status quo.
  • Measure with the same devices each time, the change/progress is what matters


  • Cissus quadrangularis (CQ) – possible fat-loss effects and anabolic effect
  • Ephedrine hydrochloride: 20 mg
  • Caffeine: 200 mg
  • Aspirin: 85 mg

High on caffeine, dependency, difficult to wake, so below is an alternative

  • Policosanol: 20–25 mg
  • Alpha-lipoic acid: 100–300 mg
  • Green tea flavanols (decaffeinated with at least 325 mg EGCG): 325 mg
  • Garlic extract: 200 mg

I’ve decided that I will use caffeine (not so sensitive to it) and green tea. The others are difficult to get in The Netherlands and it’s all extra costs for that 10% extra.

Things to do with your body

  • Swim! – cold exposure can lead to extra burning of calories
    • Tim does ice baths for about 20 minutes, don’t have a bath and it sounds (and is) painful
  • So I will place an icepack on the back of neck in the evening
  • Drink cold water in the morning, 500 ml
  • Cold showers (end with cold water on shoulders/back)

“Short-term cold exposure (30 minutes) in humans leads to fatty acid release to provide fuel for heat production through shivering. This same shivering could be sufficient to recruit GLUT-4 to the surface of muscle cells, contributing to increased lean muscle gain.”

For exercises, Tim has a few different pieces of advice. Most include exercises that recruit multiple muscles in the body and focus on the big muscles (legs, chest, back). I’m very familiar with Stronglifts 5×5 and I will use this as my basis (doing 3 big exercises each time, A/B schedule).

To conclude

In all honesty, the 4-Hour Body is not the most organized book ever. There are many stories and then some research to back it up. But when you want to act on it, it’s difficult to piece together the advice into a workable program (of diet, exercise and supplements).

The things mentioned above are the things that I’m doing, for you it may differ and I wish you the best of luck with your goals. In the near future (or in the past if you’re reading this later) I will post an update with my observations from the other side.