My Experience With The ’4-Hour Body’ Diet

Posted by on April 17, 2011 in 4-Hour Body, Announcement, Opinion | 21 comments

The Four Hour Body DietA couple of weeks ago, I started the “Slow Carb” diet from Timothy Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Body. The key selling feature of the book is that the diet supposedly “hacks” the body, or more specifically, the metabolism. By following the simple rules of the diet, you can trick your body into shedding weight without any exercise. Busy people like me become overweight because of poor/excessive eating habits. Exercise can cover up these shortcomings, but it really just treats the symptoms instead of the disease, so to speak. I’ve never actually been on a diet before. Ever. This particular regimen seemed tailor-made for my lifestyle, so I’ve decided to follow it to the letter for two months and see how well it works. I want to lose about 30 pounds by June. Believe it or not, that’s supposedly within the range of this diet plan.

I want to get down to about 155 pounds, but I know I’ll inevitably gain 10-15 pounds of lean muscle by consuming so much protein and doing the minimal effective amount of exercise. So my goal is the equivalent of getting down to 140 pounds, which I haven’t been since my early years of college.

My five goals throughout this diet are:

  • To learn how to properly monitor my nutrition
  • To lose excess weight and keep it off
  • To increase my energy level and outdoor activity
  • To teach myself proper portion sizes
  • To limit my alcohol intake

I’m starting this diet now because it dovetails nicely with the onset of spring and summer. I’m naturally more active when it’s warmer, there are no sports I follow on TV all weekend (besides the golf majors), and fresh produce should start popping up at my local farmers’ markets and my own backyard garden.

4HB Diet Cheat SheetTo prepare for the diet, I spent the last week of March buying high-protein ingredients. I made ten pounds of homemade (low-sodium) sausage and tested out some recipes for huevos rancheros and fritattas. I read and re-read the relevant chapters of the book and typed out a cheat sheet that’s taped to my refrigerator door. You can click on the image to the right to see and print the cheat sheet, but I’m going to reiterate that you need to buy the book. There’s a difference between knowing the rules and understanding the rules. There’s more information at Tim Ferriss’ website.

I’m a natural fit for this diet. I cook every day, so I have total control over what I eat. I’ve never liked sweets by nature, I gave up caffeine years ago when I quit smoking, and I’ve always enjoyed eating with a fork rather than a spoon at breakfast time. The things that have been hard for me to give up are cheese, cream sauces, potatoes, rice, and noodles. I used to eat a lot of pasta. But that’s what cheat day is for; on Sundays, I can eat as much pasta as I want.

The first few days I was on the diet, I felt like I was force-feeding myself. I’ve never been a big eater in the mornings and it was hard for me to put down 3-5 eggs along with extra ingredients. It was also difficult to eat beans over and over again, but I figured out a few ways to spice things up. I’m blogging some of these tips and recipes, so subscribe to get all of the updates (or click here to see a list of links).

When I started the diet, I weighed in at 189.5 pounds. In the two weeks since, I’ve lost around 7 pounds. That’s with no exercise that goes beyond my normal daily activity.

I wanted to see if the diet was working before I started exercising. I figured if I’m going to alter my eating schedule, I’m going to make sure I’m not crediting the diet for my workout results. I should add that I’m strictly following the diet regimen. And I didn’t cheat very much on either Sunday, so I didn’t see the weight increases that are typical for Mondays. Or, to be more specific, I ate like a glutton each weekend, but I ate diet-sanctioned meals like BBQ ribs and chicken carnitas. As you can see on the cheat sheet, I have my usual breakfast on Sundays, but I allow myself to cheat at lunch. Honestly, I’m so full after lunch that I don’t have much of a desire to gorge myself later anyway. I do, however, allow myself to drink some white wine.

I’ll update my results every two weeks through June.

Notes

I was talking with the wife about the benefits of the 4-Hour Body Diet (since I do most of the cooking, she’s also on it) and I thought I’d list them here.

Since I started this diet, I’ve felt a lot better, physically. Unexpectedly, I’m sleeping a lot better too. And I’ve only had to take my heartburn medicine twice; it used to be a daily occurance. My digestion is much less aberrant and I seem to have more energy. Some people describe having less energy on this diet, but that’s because they’re going heavy on the vegetables and not getting enough calories.

All in all, I think I’m going to adopt some aspects of this diet permanently. I’ve already drilled it into my head that “sugar in = sugar out” and “protein in = fat out.” Meaning, if I eat sugar, my body burns sugar first. It’s like an uncontrollable accounting scheme. But by simply minimizing sugar, my body will inevitably burn fat to create energy. Why wasn’t I informed about this earlier?

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21 Comments

  1. Chad, the sleep was the very first thing I noticed when I started. I’ve had a hard time falling/staying asleep for years and within the first few days I was sleeping so soundly and restfully that my 6:15am alarm didn’t seem quite so awful. Glad you’re having success and feeling good! I’m still struggling with sugar, but I find if I skip it altogether on cheat day I’m not as liable to sneak a bite of chocolate during the following week. You don’t miss what you’re not eating I guess. But it’s what I want the most, so I’m not sure how that will pan out in the long run. I’d love to hear your recipes!

  2. Clare, I’m still trying to figure out why my heartburn isn’t so bad. I’ve been popping Zantac like candy for years now. All I can think is that it’s because I’m consuming less acid? Have you experienced anything like that on this diet?

    And yeah, I’m not really into cheating that much on cheat day. Last week I had Mexican and the thrill was to eat fried tortilla chips. But I’ll admit that I crave pizza every now and then. I could live without bread, but forgoing cheese has been tough for me.

    One downside of this diet is that you can’t eat on-the-go, meaning there’s almost no mobile/fast food you can eat. BBQ and Chipotle bowls work, but even those are fork meals. That seemed like a ‘plus’ at first until I started looking at the sodium levels in the canned beans/lentils/legumes and everything else that makes a quick meal on this diet. It’s through the roof. Some pre-cooked lentils and refried beans are 25% sodium per serving. 25%! We’re going to be thinnest people ever to die from high blood pressure complications.

    • You know, I never looked at the label on my favorite fat free refried black beans until just now – 540 grams of sodium!!! Yikes. And I had two servings today! The lentils I use are 140, so that’s not quite as bad. But I am going to try and cook my own lentils eventually…

      RE: heartburn, my guess would be a decrease in acid but who knows. I’ve never had a heartburn issue, so I can’t speak to that, but it’s a nice side effect! I agree about eating on-the-go, it’s a pain. I rely a little too much on Whole Foods hot bar, Chipotle and Eatzi’s (not sure if you have that in your ‘hood), so this week I’m going to try and plan my meals better the night before to save myself the trip. My parents are coming up this weekend and I got my Dad reading the book in January, so I’m interested to hear his medical take on it all. So far he’s a big fan and fascinated by all the research and stats. And he usually thinks all diets are bunk. The way I knew he was getting into it was when Mom said, “your father insists we have lentils ALL the time now, and I have no idea why.” She says she worked up a great lentil soup recipe as a result, so I’ll have to get her to whip me up a batch before they leave…

  3. Another fast food option….KFC with Grilled Chicken and Dbl Green Beans. Not likely good to do it all the time, but it definitely works. I had that about once a week when I needed a quick lunch. I’ve lost about 30 lbs in 8 weeks on the 4 Hour Body.

  4. I have been on it for almost 3 weeks and never cheated only the 1 day a week and I lost 3 pounds Im so disapointed!!!!ANY ADVICE

    • Tiffany, 3 pounds in 3 weeks is actually pretty good, depending on how overweight you are. But you might consider the proportion of the foods you are eating. I think of this diet like an end-stage Atkins type diet. (Like the final stage of Atkins, without the oppressive, but effective, first stage of basically no-carbs) To get a better result, increase the fat and decrease the carbs (beans) as a total proportion of food. Atkins has something called a fat-fast, for use when your diet stalls out. That’s where you have a low calorie diet for a very few number of days, but those calories should be nearly all fat – peanut butter, bacon, etc. Try that for a few days to jump start your metabolism into burning fats.

  5. Tiffany, I finish my two-month diet period this weekend. Check back next week and I’ll have a new post up with my results, recommendations, and final comments on the 4-Hour Body diet.

  6. Just wondering if you have a page with just the foods that you can eat. instead of telling what you can eat. just put the list of foods and that would help. thanks

  7. Chad – I was really getting into reading this thread and you dropped off before two month final results. I hope is was not the blood pressure from the sodium. :-)

    By the way keep an eye on your heart burn, not to be over dramatic but we found out the hard way that untreated indigestion can turn into Barrett’s disease which is pre-cancer… anyway just a tiny heads up without being weird.

    I just saw the 4 Hour body on Dr. Oz and am interested to see how you have done over the last few months. My concern is that is you ever stop following the plan weight comes back. I would love to hear how you are.

    Terriann

  8. I am interested in starting this diet but am concerned with the effects the ALA and Policosanol may have on thyroid medication. I take 112 mcg levothyroxine daily and would like to know if anyone has had any problems with interactions with this drug.

  9. I started this diet the 1st week of March and have lost 57 lbs. I have 15 lbs to go and hope to be working out a maintanence plan by the end of the year.

    I love the diet. It has been the easiest diet for me to be on and stay on. I can easily tell myself to hold out for my cheat day on any cravings that I’m having and truthfully by cheat day I’m not craving it anymore. I look forward most to a piece of toast and some fruit or cheese on my cheat day. However, I always include a sweet treat of some sort. I’ve tracked it and I seem to gain about the same amount of weight every cheat day whether I eat until I have circus belly (not that I try to eat until I have circus belly) or if I try to have a minimal cheat day.

    I share this diet and my experience with anyone who asks me how I’m doing it (losing weight) and/or says they can’t stick to any diet and they’ve tried everything.

    • I am wanting to start this diet. I heard about it from a blog. I want to eat more raw foods and healthier ideas, but no cheese or bread seems hard. Do you have any advice or ideas for me?

    • what are some of your specific menus? Do you drink the wine that is allowed? Do you use butter?

  10. I’ve only been on the diet for a couple weeks and am experiencing a lot of constipation issues. Anyone have suggestions? This was rarely a problem b4 the diet. Also, I don’t do the supplements. Do I need to use them for the diet?

  11. I’m on the 4HB diet and having great results. I had to do the spoon of peanut butter last night though. :-) I’m working out as well (kbells) and have good energy. Thanks for the post!

  12. Awesome! Thanks for posting this.

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  14. How do you handle it when invited to a friends only to find everything served isn’t what you would eat (lasagne, salad with fruit and sweet dressing, etc.). With the holidays upon us, its hard. There’ll be days in a row of visiting family and staying overnight for our visits. It’ll be hard to deal with.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 100 Days On The 4-Hour Body Diet - [...] in Timothy Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Body, at the beginning of April. I weighed in at around 190 pounds …
  2. Learning Proper Portion Sizes On The 4-Hour Body Diet - [...] been on Tim Ferriss’ Slow Carb (4-Hour Body) Diet for four weeks now. When I blogged about it two …

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