The 4 Hour Body: Notes & Review

the 4 hour body book cover

The 4 Hour Body (2010) is a guide to rapid weight loss and physical excellence based on Tim Ferris’ own personal experience.

Bullet Summary

  • No white carbs
  • No sugars
  • Use cold to shed calories faster

The 4 Hour Body – Summary

About The Author: Tim Ferris says first and foremost in his own introduction that he is not a doctor and you should consult your doctor for any doubts, issues, and pre-existing conditions.
Tim Ferris indeed is an American entrepreneur and “hack-seeker” who became famous after his first book “The 4 Hour Work Week“.

Foods To Avoid

Avoid white carbohydrates, which are:

  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Crackers

And also avoid:

  • Cream based sauces (herbs and spices are fine)
  • No deep fried (stir-fried is OK)
  • No whole grains or steel cut oats

Beverages: Mostly Stick to Water

Drink plenty of water.

No juices, milk and limit soft drinks to 500ml max and only diet versions.
If you like coffee and tea, drink them without sugar.

Alcohol: Dry Wines, Without Sugar

If you like wines, the best ones are dry and red (no more than 1.4% of sugar content).
Avoid champagne.

No Fruits

Most doctors and nutritionists do recommend lots of fruits.

Not Tim Ferris.

Tim Ferris recommends no fruits for your diet. He says that in the research literature, there is no consensus on the benefits of eating lots of fruits.

The only exceptions are tomatoes and avocado -but not too much of it-.

My Note:
Ferris talks about the benefits of “lots of fruits”, which is generic and specific at the same time.
What does he mean by “lots”? And who says that “some” fruits per day are not good?
I personally stick to my fruits.

Allowed Food

These are the food you can eat and enjoy:

  • Eggs (organic)
  • Fish: such as tuna and salmon
  • Meat types: chicken, beef, pork
  • Legumes such as: lentils, black beans, pinto beans, red beans, soy beans
  • Most vegetables such as: spinach, asparagus, broccoli, peas, beans
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts etc.
  • Tomatoes
  • Yogurt

Repeat The Same Meals

Tim Ferris suggests you repeat the same meals over and over.

He says that the research literature shows no consensus on the merits of a balanced and diversified diet.

But if you still crave variety, then you can mix the allowed foods above.

My Note:
Again Ferris mentions “no consensus”.
But consensus is almost never reached: one single small study proving Y against a thousand proving X would still mean no consensus. Yet you’re far better off with X.

One day a Week Binge

Pick a single day in a week in which you can as much as you want of whatever you want.

Use Thermal Dieting For Faster Weight Loss

And now we finally get into Ferris’ penchant for hacks :).

When we are in cold environment we lose calories due to heat loss.
So you can accelerate your weight loss with “cold treatment”.

Tim recommends cold showers and ice packs on the back of the neck and upper back for 30 minutes (you can also do it while watching a movie).

And drink half a liter of icy water when you wake up.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

Tim Ferris lists a few of the common mistakes people make.

I will pick the best ones and transform them from the negative form (not eating.. ) to the positive form (make sure you do.. ).

Make sure you:

  • Eat within half an hour after waking up
  • Eat enough proteins (at least 20 grams per meal)
  • Drink lots of water, especially on the binge days
  • Avoid too much sweeteners, whether artificial or natural
  • Avoid lifting and going to the gym too much (2-3 times a week is enough)

The 15 Minutes Orgasms 

Tim Ferris also has some tips on how to reach orgasms.

Here’s the gist (for men):

  • In missionary shift weight on the hips and grind her clitoris
  • When at the bottom, rise up so that your torso is at 160 degrees (lean back 20 degrees)

For the improved angle missionary and the pictures, you must get the book.
Or read:

the 4 hour body book cover

The 4 Hour Body – Criticism

I enjoyed the book and there is much good stuff here.

Yet, there are also a few things I would warn the readers about:

  • WARNING: NOT Good for Binge Eaters

This diet is not good for people who have food addiction (ie.: binge eating, huge cravings, often thinking about food).

People high on the food addiction scale must skip the binge days (also read “Bright Line Eating“)

  • Over-analyses & Obsession Make For Poor Quality Life

Tim Ferris is a “hacking” and details obsessed man.

“x grams of this a day”, “a capsule of that at this time”, “percentage variation of Y” etc.

That’s what also makes him a great writer and what makes the 4 hour body great.

On the other hand, though, there are so many factors influencing whatever we measure in our body, than one has really to wonder: what about fooled by randomness?

And if you pick up the same attitude, you will be spending most of your time measuring instead of living.

  • Health as Mathematical Obsession

In general, being data driven is good.

But not all realms of life can be exactly measured.

And I find Tim Ferris in general to be too numbers-driven in realms that are difficult to reduce to simple equations.

“The 4h Body” thinks it can measure anything and find a direct correlation to body size, shape and energy levels.
But there are plenty more variables who can make these too-detailed measures not only a fool’s errand, but actually misleading.

Campbell in Whole refers to it as a mathematical equation approach to nutrition, and he says it’s wrong. I agree with Campbell.

  • Heavy Cognitive Load

Following Tim’s full list of advice, your diet can become a big heavy cognitive load in measuring amounts and applying ice packs.

What I’d wonder is: are you living for your diet, or is your diet that should be serving your life?

  • Too Many Topics?

From weight loss to exercise, it makes sense.

But diet, orgasms, testosterone, sperm banks and “engineering sleep” might be a lot for someone who’s looking for an answer to a specific question.
(that being said, it’s all interesting and important stuff Tim writes about).

PROS

  • Strong Drive to Seek What Really Works

My natural reaction is to reject the “hacking” and “engineering” terminology.

I’m always worried it might lead people to think there’s always a shortcut instead of hard work.

That’s not the case for Tim Ferris though, the guy is hell bent in looking for what works and that’s great.

  • Jam Packed With Info

There’s so much information in this book that it’s crazy.

  • He Did His Research

Tim Ferris did research hard for the The 4-Hour Body, and I appreciate that a lot.

The 4 Hour Body – Review

I find The 4-Hour Body to be a hugely informative book.

Tim Ferris does his research.

However, I find that all that research to be also counterproductive as it approaches food as a mathematical equation.

This is something that Michael Pollan calls “nutritionism” in In Defense of Food and he explains very well all the drawbacks of looking at the single nutrients instead of the whole food.

I prefer a more of a holistic, whole food approach. Which is also simpler to live with.

Disagree on Binge Days

First of all, I’d like to address binge  days. Tim says a binge day a week is actually helpful to lose fat.

And I have no reason to doubt it. But I just didn’t like the idea. For sugar lovers (like me) “eating whatever I want” could easily mean kilos of pies, desserts and ice creams.

I’m super small and light, but could easily eat 1 Kg of the sweetest foods and drink more than one liter of of orange juice.

I don’t think that’s good. Plus there are food that should be off limits at any time, like industrial trans fats.

Addendum: after reading books such as Hunger by Roxane Gay I understand that binge days are not just a real issue, but completely a bad idea for people with food addictions. For them, I recommend Bright Line Eating.

Overall Review

Tim Ferris is a remarkable author.

The 4-Hour Body will be super useful to people looking to lose weight (caveat: unless you’re food addict). And even those who don’t need to shed kilos, you will still learn a lot about nutrition and scientific research.

Get the book on Amazon

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