I thought I’d start this post off with a review of Tim Ferris’ popular “The Four Hour Body“. I came across it accidentally, and after reading bits of the material on his website, I went and bought the Kindle version. Essentially, the book offers tips and tricks to “hack” the human body, in order to achieve radical weight loss (among other things) and to generally become “superhuman”.
Now, by and large, the book doesn’t offer anything too drastic, and most of the stuff that he mentions you probably won’t end up doing (like, for example, chugging down a few hundred millilitres of flaxseed oil first thing in the morning, or taking ice baths three times a week). However, it does offer a few nuggets of information which do pay dividends.
The main part of his weight loss plan, which advertises 9 kg of body “restructuring” in 4 weeks, is the low carb diet. By body restructuring, he doesn’t necessarily mean losing 9ks of fat, but means perhaps 5 kg of fat loss, and 4 kg of muscle mass increase. You get the point. In any case, I tried out his no carb diet myself. You’re supposed to steer clear of any white carbs, not eat fruit, not eat sugar, and have plenty of vegetables and legumes daily, with one cheat day a week.
I measured myself (I bought a scale and tape measure for this whole exercise) and kept a spread sheet of my weight, waist circumference, and hips circumference (I also tracked biceps, calves, thighs and chest, but that’s less important). First off, let me say that I struggled with breakfast: after years of having cereal and milk every day, moving to scrambled eggs is tough. I also took the suggested green tea and garlic extract supplements, and did some basic exercise. The one thing I couldn’t do was not have any sugar in my coffee, and I had it with a drop of milk.
The other thing he mentions is that you should be doing some basic strength exercises to work your muscles before and after meals on your cheat day. The first day that went down quite well, but that got old really fast. And the final disclaimer: I like my beer. Thus, when he insists on only one cheat day, my weekends tend to include beer on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I managed to cut Sundays, but not all Fridays, and I had a friend visit on a Wednesday which totally ruined my plans. Nonetheless, I experienced significant drops, enough to make me go out and buy new jeans. Check the figures (I am 25 years old, and am 1.78 metres tall):
Weight: 87.9 kg
Hips: 96.0 cm
Waist: 90.0 cm
Weight: 84.2 kg
Hips: 94.2 cm
Waist: 90.0 cm
Weight: 83.6 kg
Hips: 92.0 cm
Waist: 85.0 cm
Weight: 84.4 kg
Hips: 93.5 cm
Waist: 84.9 cm
Weight: 84.1 kg
Hips: 92.0 cm
Waist: 84.5 cm
You’ll notice a bit of an increase in week 3, and that was the week in which I indulged, wonderfully, in the best burger and beer session of my life. It was worth it, but my figures have showed the slight increase, so I did pay. After a binge day, I typically put on 2-3kg, and by the Wednesday (my binge days are Saturdays) I had lost it again. Also, in this time, my body fat % dropped from 21.9% to 18.7%.
I’ve been a bit naughty after week 4, but even so, my weight hasn’t gone above 84.5kg while I’ve been binging. I’m back on the diet now, and will be interested to see how far it takes me, but I can safely say it’s worked wonders for me thus far. Having to buy a new pair of jeans after 4 days because yours are now too small is a fantastic feeling, and as far as I can tell, I now weigh in the 84kg region, not in the 88-89kg region, which is a 4-5kg drop in a matter of days.
Besides all of that, it is absolutely fascinating to read what Tim Ferriss puts his body through. The guy is a bit of a nutcase, but his book makes for entertaining reading, whether or not you intend on following through on what he offers. If you find science interesting, and you are interested (in any way) in the human body and conditioning, then this book is a must.
My only complaint is with the Kindle version, which has some minor formatting issues, and has a table of contents, but doesn’t allow you to easily navigate to important links, and between pages (at least, I couldn’t get it to work). Other than that, this book was worth every penny.
If you’ve read the book, have you tried it out? And if so, what did you think?