I started reading the 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris on Christmas day, and by Monday the 27th, I had started the fat loss program.

If you haven’t read the book, then I’ll try to sum up Tim’s main themes. Calories in and calories out is not the whole equation, he would claim. The kinds of food you eat make a big difference, and there are various hacks you can used to enhance the amount of fat you lose. (Check out my one page cheat sheet if you want to get an idea of what a day looks like.)

Tim says you can lose 20 pounds of fat in 28 days, while gaining 5 pounds of muscle for a net loss of 15 pounds of weight. So 28 days has passed. How did I do?

I lost 13.6 pounds in 28 days, going from 205 to 191.4. I lost 5.5 total inches (sum of circumference of biceps, thighs, hips, and navel). I’m using a bioimpedence scale to measure bodyfat, which is not the most accurate tool, but I did follow Tim’s suggestion of having two glasses of cold water on waking, and measuring 20 minutes later. I only obtained the scale two weeks in. I saw my bodyfat drop 0.8% in two weeks. In sum, I would consider this a good success.

For 4 straight days in week three, due to work stress and other events, I cheated on the diet, and saw myself gain back 2.5 pounds. Had I stuck with it through those days, I believe I would have easily hit the 15-pounds that Tim said would be possible.

Those are the numbers. Now let me give you the experiential perspective:

Week 1:

  • I start the fat loss program. The key elements are that I’m not allowed to have any grains or sugars, except on one cheat day per week. (There are other restrictions, such as no dairy, that don’t affect me because I didn’t eat dairy.) Meals consist of a protein source, a legume, and vegetables. I enjoy the food very much (I love beans), but I’m shocked by how much protein I have to eat. It takes about 3 days before I’m eating enough protein for breakfast (target: 30 grams of net protein.) Meals can be as big as I want, and I eat enough to make sure I won’t be hungry before the next meal.
  • I find that I really miss my snacks. I find myself in the kitchen at least once every 30 minutes looking for a snack even though I don’t feel hungry.
  • It’s hard to stick it out. I concede and allow myself 4 nuts in the afternoon and 4 nuts in the evening as a pure “snack” food. I continue this practice for all 28 days.
  • I also continue my practice of having a drink every evening, even though this is not strictly part of the diet.
  • I notice that sinus congestion, a chronic condition I am used to dealing with, goes away almost completely, probably due to removing grains from my diet.
  • Favorite meal of the week: salmon salad on whole romaine lettuce leaves.
  • I go from 205 to a low of 197, then enjoy my cheat day. I pig out, eating an entire tray of honey cookies that could normally feed about 8 people, 2 bowls of ice cream, 4 bowls of potato chips, 3 bowls of pretzels, 2 bowls of nuts, and a large number of chocolate candies.
Week 2: 
  • I am actually relieved to get back to the diet after making myself slightly sick on cheat day.
  • Cravings for snacks continue, although the number of times per day I find myself in the kitchen goes down slightly.
  • I am back at work in my office, and find it’s very boring to go through a whole day of work without snacks. I relish in the fact that coffee is still allowed, and even encouraged as it helps fat loss.
  • I start GLUT-4 exercises, and enjoy using the Thera-band Latex Exercise Bands.It feels good to be doing something other than just sitting in front of the computer.
  • I start using the supplements that Tim recommends.
  • I start cold showers this week, another tactic that Tim encourages to help the body burn fat, and start noticing a correlation between high weight loss days and the cold showers.
  • I start this week at 200 (I make it a policy not to weigh myself on the day after cheat day), and hit a low of 195.6, a loss of 1.4 pounds over my previous week low.
Week 3: 
  • Cravings for snacks diminishes this week, and yet strangely this is my hardest week yet. I end up cheating on the diet on 4 consecutive days. All of these behaviors I would attribute to stress. Only one of these is my official cheat day, and the other days I only have “small” snacks: a chocolate candy or a cookie.  Yet I see my weight loss completely stall on these days.
  • I start the week at 196.2 and hit a low of 193.8, a loss of 1.8 pounds over my previous week low.
Week 4:

  • Cravings for snacks is at it’s lowest. I stick to the diet for the whole week. When I have any intense stress related cravings, I get myself a cup of no-calorie chocolate tea, which smells great and is oddly satisfying.
  • I start kettlebell exercises.
  • I start the week at 196.8 and hit a low of 191.4, a loss of 2.4 pounds of my previous week low. I’ve gone from 205 to 191.4 in 25 days.
I feel like this is something I can easily stick with as long as necessary. I don’t feel hungry, I don’t have to count calories, and I have an allocated day to being able to eat anything I can. Compliance is easy, and it’s clearly effective as I’m losing weight steadily.
On the other hand, when I started four weeks ago, people said things like “oh, that was just water weight you lost.” I’ll be curious to see if I continue to lose weight as the same rate or not, so you can expect a follow up post in another 28 days.