(Aside: Here is my one page cheat sheet for the 4 Hour Body fat loss.)

Tim Ferriss
4 Hour Body
  • 4 Hour Body
    • More than 10 years of data gathering and data crunching, and 3 years of intensive experiments
  • holy cow, watching video of muscle samples being taken
  • Science is a method.
  • You can find amazing scientists all over the world.
  • Richard Feynman: it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how beautiful your theories are, it only matters what the experiment shows
  • There’s tons of stuff on fat loss, but what really works? The experimentation needs to be done.
  • Teenager could deadlift 400 pounds. She trained for 5 minutes a couple of times a week to achieve this.
  • Tracy, mother of 2, loss more than 120 pounds doing 2 or 3 exercise periods per week.
  • Patrick lost more than 120 pounds over the course of a year using slowcarb diet, and 2 cheat days per week.
  • 4 First Princples
    • The Minimum Effective Dose: 
      • Treat exercise and diet as a drug: use exactly the dose needed to get the quantified results.
      • Sample meds:
        • 20 minutes of kettlebells swings, 3 times per week
        • 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up
        • 1:30pm on the clitoris
        • 90-120 seconds of tension for most muscles
          • focus on time under tension
          • 1 set to failure
          • 5 seconds to raise, 5 seconds to lower (removes momentum).
        • 1,200 words for conversational fluency
          • usually identified my ministry of education
          • takes 8 to 12 weeks
    • The Extremes Inform the Mean, not Vice-Versa
      • Design firm working on garden shears: didn’t want to know about the mean user. They wanted to know about the extremes: the parapalegic who was gardening. the elderly user. If they could design for the extreme, the middle will be taken care of.
    • Know Thy Worst-Case Scenario: ET, Staph, Emodin, and friends.
      • Prepare for worst-case scenario if you are going to do self-experimentation.
      • A simple injection ended up as a staph infection in Tim’s elbow which required hospitalization and intraveneous antibiotics.
    • Tracking + Loss Aversion > How To
      • The best protocol doesn’t matter if you abandon it.
      • The Rules of Behavior Change
        • Make it conscious (“flash diet” and before pics)
          • People who use food diaries lose 3x as much weight as people who don’t
          • People who take picture of food lose even more.
          • If you divided group into two and one half got a personal trainer, and one half used iPhone to take pictures, the iPhone group would lose more weight
        • Make it a game (Drucker and five sessions)
          • People who do something 5 times will keep doing it.
            • Rig the first 5 sessions so you’ll keep doing: go to gym for 15 minutes, not 3 hours.
        • Make it competitive (embrace loss aversion)
        • Make it small and temporary (MED, two weeks)
          • two weeks is something people can do
          • otherwise, people will take any lapse as an excuse to give up
      • Keep Improvement Relative
        • It’s not about beating everyone else.
        • It’s about making the biggest possible gains relative to yourself.
  • Questions
    • Q: What about the impact of eating meats?
      • A: Ethically raised meats are possible. It’s possible to be lacto-ovo vegetarian and get enough fatty acids, but to be totally vegan seems to cause issues, reproductive and otherwise.
    • Q: What about these high achievers, type A personalities, how do they approach fitness?
      • A: They are tinkerers, experimenters. They track things. They may not have a complex system, but they have a pad of paper, and they keep track of it.
    • Q: What if we’re already doing yoga, and working out, and doing stuff beyond the MED. Are we hurting ourselves?
      • A: I view exercising as something to have a minumum effective dose, and seperate out recreation: going for hike, doing something for fun.
      • Also, sitting down does far more damage than doing some exercise or recreation.
      • If you don’t have a competitive goal, then go nuts. If you are training for a marathon, than stick with the MED.
    • Q: For language acquisition, verb conjugation is very hard. What to do?
      • A: Vised.com: They do flashcards.
      • Japanese: common characters, 1300 characters.
      • Learn I want, I need, I like. If you tag these verbs with other verbs, you vastly expand your repitoire.
      • gruneberg: imagery for vocabulary. you can learn almost 400 words a day.
    • Q: From your new book, what could you apply back to the 4 Hour Work Week?
      • A: Richard Branson was asked what thing to do to be more productive, and he said “work out”
      • There is a lot to provide that exercise has a big positive impact on learning, cognitive ability, and productivity.
      • Using exercise/recreation to bracket your day: before and after.
    • Q: How to sleep less?
      • Experiment how to increase REM sleep. 
      • Two tablespoons of almond butter, ensures you don’t have low body sugar.
      • Polyphasic sleep: one 4 hour block, plus 20 minute naps.
      • Uberman Sleep: Just 20 minutes. You’ll be completely asocial. If you miss one of those naps, you are f’ed. 
      • Before trying to cut down on sleep, do an 80/20 analysis, and product analysis.
    • Q: Any plans for a workbook that puts all this together – what’s anecdotal versus experimental vs. broadly applicable.
      • A: Want to use sites that allow people to track health to compile data. Working on it.
    • Q: How do we take principles from the 4 Hour Body, and get people who are older, who are in midwest lifestyle, and get them to adopt it?
      • A: It’s hard to fight with logic. Point to social studies: point to Tracey, and what she accomplished. Ask them to make one small change for 2 weeks. 
    • Q: I am allergic to both eggs and most beans. What can I do?
      • A: Allergy tests are notoriously error prone. I have a friend who had an expensive allergy tests, and tests came back that he was allergic to 15 items. Have the tests done again before you make massive lifestyle changes.
      • Same test, same labs, different results. 
      • You don’t need eggs. 
      • You can also create food allergies by eating the same foods over and over again for a long time. If you cycle off for 2 months.
      • Very lactose intolerent if he drinks pasturized/homogonized milk, and just fine if he drinks raw milk.
      • if you don’t eat the beans, track the calories to make sure you are eating enough.
    • Q: Diagnosed with irregular heatbeat. Doctor said “you are stuck with this for life”.
      • A: Some fantastic doctors out there. But… C=MD. As long as you pass your tests, you get an MD. There is always someone who is the worst in their class.
      • The average healthcare visit is 11 minutes. Many times a doctor doesn’t or can’t spend the time to work with you.
      • Get a second opinion.
      • Not always the doctor’s fault: they don’t have the resources or reimbursement to do it.
      • Spend the money to see a good specialist.
      • Get a second opinion.
      • Try removing gluten from your diet, and see if that has any effect. Removing gluten gets rid of many issues.

If you’ve been reading the 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, you probably know one of the things he recommends is a fermented cod liver oil, vitamin rich butter combination.

This combination is unique for several reasons:

  • The butter is a special vitamin rich butter that comes only from grass-fed cows eating fast-growing spring grass. It turns out to be rich in Vitamin K, and it one of the only food sources for Vitamin K.
  • Cod liver oil normally has some great health benefits, and fermented cod liver oil is even higher in vitamin D.
This hard to find combination can be found on Amazon with Green’s Pastures’ Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend – Capsules.

I received an email from a reader this morning telling me that the 4 Hour Body wasn’t working for them. They were doing the diet, the GLUT4 exercises, taking the PAGG stack, and not losing weight. I’ve seen similar stories on many 4 Hour Body forums.

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Even among many people who are not losing weight on the scale, they suddenly find their clothes are fitting better. Tim Ferriss calls this body recomposition, and he even says in the book that you may lose 20 pounds of fat, but gain 5 pounds of muscle. I wonder if for some people this principle may be happening in extreme, where they are putting on lots of muscle. They may not see a net loss of weight, but they look and feel better. Instead of measuring pounds only, measure total inches, bodyfat percentage, and take those full body photos to see if the diet really is having an effect.
  2. Some common themes I’ve noticed among people who are not losing weight include: they write extensively about the amount of beans and vegetables they are eating, but don’t mention anything about protein. Or they write about the protein shakes they are consuming. My advice would be to focus on real-food protein. Eat eggs, fish, and meat to get 30 grams or more of protein at breakfast, and 20 grams or more of protein at lunch and dinner. Don’t do protein shakes, and don’t obsess over beans an veggies.
  3. Watch out for the snack foods. At Tim says, any food that you can’t consume just one of is a risk. So nuts, jerky, or even beans are all foods that may be part of the diet, but you can eat them mindlessly. Don’t do that. Eat meals. If you get too hungry with three meals, then eat four, but don’t snack.
  4. Visit the 4HB Talk forums, where lots of other users are sharing their experiences.

Buy the Book!
The 4-Hour Body cheat sheet, meal plans and other tips on this blog are now available in Slow Carb Fat Loss, a handy companion guide to make the most of the slow carb fat loss plan. Buy a copy today.

Other 4-Hour Body posts:

If you have been reading The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris, you’re probably excited to get started. Although the basic eating plan is simple enough, if you add in the GLUT-4 exercises, supplements, and other activities, it can get confusing to plan your day.

I did my best to capture the eating plan, GLUT-4 exercises, supplements, and cold therapy in one cheat sheet for my own use, which provides a daily schedule for the 4-Hour Body fat loss plan.

It is not a replacement for the book itself. The 4-Hour Body is an excellent resource, well researched and carefully documented. The cheat sheet is just a helpful way to capture the most important information on a single page for people who have read the book.

The cheat sheet has been updated to reflect corrections and questions from readers.

New 4 Hour Body Fat Loss Cheat Sheet

4HB Fat Loss Cheat Sheet Download by format:

If you find the cheat sheet helpful, please check out the 4-Hour Body Fat Loss Shopping List, which puts together the supplements, exercise equipment, and measuring tools from the 4-Hour Body in one place.

Frequently asked questions:

  1. Q: Am I supposed to have 3 meals or 4 meals per day? The cheat sheet only shows 3, but Tim Ferriss has 4.
    A: Tim Ferriss says you can do either. His guiding advice is to “eat when you’re hungry”. For many people, 3 meals are more convenient than 4, but if you are consistently getting hungry before your next meal, then it may make sense to do 4 meals. Note that the AGG stack should be taken a maximum of 4 times per day, one of which is at bedtime, so if you do have four meals, don’t take AGG with every meal.
  2. Q: Do I have to take a cold shower?
    A: No, the cold shower and everything besides the eating plan is optional. You may lose weight faster, but you should still lose about 15 pounds in one month just doing the diet portion.
  3. Q: Do I do the GLUT-4 exercises every day or just on cheat day? Do I take PAGG every day or just on cheat day? Do I take Cissus Quad just on cheat day, or every day?
    A: The formatting of the book does make this hard to understand. Most people who are following the 4HB and who choose to use PAGG or do the GLUT4 exercises do them every day. (Tim Ferris says to skip the PAGG stack one day per week, and one week per month.) However, Cissus Quad is not for long term use, according to Tim. I think he is suggesting that you use it only on cheat day, or for periods of up to four to six weeks.
  4. Q: I am not losing weight, so what am I doing wrong?
    A: One possibility is that you’re not losing weight because the fat loss is roughly balancing out weight gain. Many people seem to report that their clothes are fitting much better even though they aren’t seeing any pounds lost. This is what Tim Ferriss calls body recomposition.Other likely possibilities include: You are making your meals too complex and fancy. Keep it simple, and repeat a few meals. You are not eating another protein. Are you getting at least 30 grams of protein at breakfast, and 20 grams at lunch and dinner? That doesn’t mean just 30 grams of food, but actual 30 grams of protein in your food. Not sure? Count your protein for two days.

    Visit the 4hb talk forums, where many users are helping each other.

p.s. If you want to link to the cheat sheet, please link to this page, rather than the individual documents, whose URLs may change.

I was interviewed about my experiences with the 4 Hour Body by the nice folks at Pareto Nutrition. These are the same folks who developed a combined PAGG supplement that gives you the entire daily supplement regimen in just two pills, at lower cost than you’d get by buying them separately. This is the same supplement regimen recommended by Tim Ferriss.

I look forward to trying it out.

One of the Q&A:

3) What’s one tip that you would share with someone who’s just starting the program?

Stick very closely to the diet portion, because even a tiny amount of carbs on a given day seems to negate any weight loss for that day.

Read the whole interview

It’s been fascinating to see how The 4 Hour Body has provoked arguments and disparaging comments in virtually every online fitness community. Typically it looks something like this:

  • Original poster: Hey, I am trying Tim Ferriss’s fat loss program in The 4 Hour Body, and I am losing a lot of weight. It’s great. What has been other people’s experiences?
  • Response #1: weight loss is a simple matter of calories-in, calories-out. If you want to lose weight, you take in less calories, or put out more calories. I don’t need to spend $14 to learn that.
  • Response #2: Who are you to be posting in our community? I’ve never seen you post here before.
  • Response #3: What is it with all these people posting about The 4 Hour Body? I think Tim Ferriss must be paying people to go around posting.
I’ve seen it in Reddit Fitness, and at least a half dozen other communities. As someone who understands online communities, and as someone who is new to fitness via The 4 Hour Body, I think it’s an interesting issue to observe.
Someone who had not been into fitness, perhaps because they haven’t had success with diets or exercise programs before, tries The 4 Hour Body, has success, and is excited and wants to share their experiences. The established community sees a bunch of newcomers spouting off about some counter-intuitive fitness information, may have heard some controversy about Tim Ferriss or the 4 Hour Body, and so rejects the new community members summarily.
I want to address just one part of the conflict, because it’s typically the first issue raised: the established community says something to the effect of: “Weight loss is simple, you either reduce calories in, or you increase calories-out.” That’s what they say, but what I think they mean is closer to: “You either eat less, or you exercise more.”
There’s two reasons why this statement is in conflict with the principles of The 4 Hour Body:
  1. The 4 Hour Body fat loss program doesn’t require restricting food intake. In fact, Tim says, “If you’re hungry, eat more.”
  2. The 4 Hour Body fat loss program doesn’t require people to spend time exercising, although you can do 2 to 3 minutes of exercises before each meal for more rapid results. But 2 to 3 minutes of exercises does not equal 60 minutes on a stationary bike, or 30 minutes running.
Here are just a few of the differences:
  • The 4HB fat loss section emphasizes eating more protein, and no grains, sugars, or fruits. Protein itself has less available calories (3.2/gram) than is normally listed as (4.0/gram), and so it’s already a win over carbohydrates.
  • On top of that, the body directly excretes up to 1/3 of excess protein that can’t be used, whereas the equivalent in carbs would be more efficiently converted to fat.
  • By ensuring that people eat higher quality foods (protein, legumes, vegetables), they have more energy, and can more easily cut the snacking cycle. This may indeed reduce calories-in greatly, but it’s vastly different than just telling people to “eat less”.
  • The use of a high protein diet stimulates metabolism, increasing calories-out without the use of exercise.
  • Similarly, cold therapy stimulates metabolism and increases calories-out without the use of exercise.
  • GLUT-4 exercises (2-3 minutes of fast paced exercises) redirects incoming calories to muscle development rather than being stored away as fat, a term that Tim calls body recomposition. It is far easier to do and to sustain 2-3 minutes of exercise before a meal compared to taking 60-90 minutes out of your day to “go exercise”, and so most people wouldn’t consider this as exercise per say.

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.

Other 4-Hour Body posts:

If you’ve been reading the 4-Hour Body, then you probably know that one of the techniques that can help you lose fat faster is to take cold showers. Cold showers burn fat in several ways:

  • They stimulate your brown fat cells, helping the ones you have reproduce, work harder
  • They cause your body to compensate for the loss of body heat through shivering and a higher metabolic rate.
But cold showers have many other benefits as well:
  • They can help reduce or avoid depression.
  • Improves circulation, which is good for overall cardiac health.
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Increases testosterone and fertility.
But how do you take a cold shower? If you just jump into cold water, you’ll be miserable. There’s a good technique that minimize the unpleasantness and actually maximizes the benefit you’ll get, because you’ll be able to stick with it better.
  1. Start with a normal, hot shower.
  2. Shampoo your hair and rinse normally.
  3. Soap up in the hot water.
  4. Then, turn the temperature to a low luke-warm. Nothing that you’d identify as cold, just neither cold nor warm.
  5. Rinse off in this low luke-warm water. This gives your body time to adjust to the temperature.
  6. Now, turn your back to the water.
  7. Turn the temperature down slightly, just a few degrees cooler.
  8. Wait about 30-40 seconds. You can count off one-one thousand, two-one thousand, or you can sing the ABCs.
  9. Repeat 7 and 8, as many times as you can. I can now go about 6 cycles of gradually reducing the temperature.
  10. I usually stop the cycle after my teeth start chattering while singing the ABCs.
The reason this process works is:
  • You still get to enjoy a hot shower to start.
  • You gradually reduce the temperature so that it is never an unpleasant shock.
  • By the time the water temperature is getting really cold, your upper back and neck are already somewhat numb, so you hardly notice the temperature change.
  • Using this method, you should easily be able to spend 5-6 minutes in an increasingly cold shower.
You’ll finish feeling invigorated and refreshed. Give it a try!

Buy the Book!
The 4-Hour Body cheat sheet, meal plans and other tips on this blog are now available in Slow Carb Fat Loss, a handy companion guide to make the most of the slow carb fat loss plan. It contains two full weeks of meal plans, complete with recipes and tear-out meal plans and cheat sheets. Tear-outs only in print version, of course. Buy a copy today.

Other 4-Hour Body posts:

When getting started with the The 4-Hour Body fat loss program, which uses the slow-carb diet, you may be wondering what exactly to cook. Tim Ferris gives some great examples of single meals in the book, but they still may leave you wondering what a week of cooking would look like.

Here’s an example meal plan, based on what I ate for a week while doing the fat loss section of the 4 Hour Body. It’s just an example, based on what I like, but I think it holds true to the principles that Tim describes:

4 Hour Body
Slow Carb Example Meal Plan
  • Keep it simple, repeat meals over and over.
  • Protein, legumes, and vegetables with every meal.
  • At least 30 grams of protein at breakfast, and 20 grams at lunch and dinner.
Here’s the example meal plan by format:

Here are related resources I put together on the 4 Hour Body:

  • Slow Carb Fat Loss is a handy companion guide to make the most of the slow carb fat loss plan. It contains two full weeks of meal plans, complete with recipes and tear-out meal plans and cheat sheets.
  • The 4 Hour Body Fat Loss Shopping List: all the supplements, exercise equipment, and measuring equipment Tim describes in the fat loss section, including where to buy a kettlebell.
  • The 4 Hour Body Cheat Sheet: all the things that Tim describes in the fat loss section on a one page cheat sheet.
  • How to do the kettlebell swing described in 4 Hour Body. Demonstrated by Tim Ferris.
p.s. If you’re wondering why Tim Ferris has so many fans, it’s probably because of his previous book, the The 4-Hour Workweek, which is also quite excellent.

Other 4-Hour Body posts:

If you’ve been wondering how to do the kettlebell swing that Tim Ferris describes in the 4 Hour Body, in the section entitled “Perfect Posterior”, here is a video of Tim Ferris explaining exactly how to do it.

Tim recommends a 20kb/44lb or 24kg/53lb kettlebell for men to start, and a 16kg/35lb or 20kb/44lb kettlebell for women to start. I was pretty out of shape, and I started with a mere 20lb kettlebell. (You can find kettlebells on Amazon.)