The 4-Hour Body claims to provide you with everything you need to know about getting the body and good health you have always wanted. Tim Ferriss goes in-depth with The Slow-Carb Diet and provides guidance on exercise, sleep, and sex. This guidance relates to his encounters over three years with experts. These experts range from doctors to athletes and black-market drug salespeople to sex experts. Ferriss provides a quick guide on how to improve your body through all parts of your life.
About Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is an author, investor, TV host, and economic advisor. He has written five books, including his bestselling debut book, The 4-hour Workweek. Since, he has had his own TV series, The Tim Ferriss Experiment, and his own TV show, Fear(less) with Tim Ferriss. In the latter, Tim has interviewed a wide range of people, including highly successful CEOs and sportspeople. One of Tim’s most famous guests was LeBron James.
Minimum Effective Dose (MED)
The minimum effective dose is what Tim Ferriss describes as the smallest dose that will produce your desired outcome. The most important things for readers regarding MEDs are the following:
- To remove stored fat, do the least necessary to trigger a fat-loss cascade of specific hormones.
- To add muscle in small or large quantities, do the least necessary to trigger local (specific muscles) and systemic (hormonal) growth mechanisms.
Use Tools and Incentives to Keep Yourself Motivated
Tim recommends utilizing external pressures to help you get things done. Create deadlines you would struggle to push back. Use contracts to bind you to complete something you start. Provide yourself with rewards for completing something in its entirety.
Keeping a journal is another way of helping you get things done. Ferriss argues that keeping a journal enables you to balance accepting the past and planning for the future. Subsequently, you can focus on the present. They help you get thoughts out of your head, so they aren’t bouncing around all day. Tim also suggests keeping a photo journal, which will help you monitor your progress.
The Slow-Carb Diet
Ferriss points out that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t have a diet based around slow carbs. Although this section will delve into all the tips given by the slow-carb diet, this diet is based on three things:
1) Eat a very simple set of meals repeatedly. This will help you keep on track and stop you from treating yourself to something bad.
2) Focus on ‘slow carbs’ within the diet.
3) Allow one ‘cheat day’ a week when all foods are allowed. This includes the naughtiest treats. Doing this will help you keep motivated for the majority of the week.
What You Should Avoid
One of the main points made by Tim Ferriss in the 4-hour body is that certain foods are not suitable for our bodies. White carbs are unhealthy. You have to avoid eating bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, tortillas, and fried foods with breading. Ferriss also bans eating wholewheat carbs: brown rice, whole wheat bread, oats, quinoa, and amaranth. Ferriss’ diet avoids starches. Ferriss also encourages readers to actively avoid sugar and sugar alternatives. Splenda may have no calories, but it makes you gain weight by increasing the amount of unhealthy bacteria in your gut.
Ferriss also argues that fruit is bad for you. Fruits contain some healthy vitamins, but they are also full of fructose. The exceptions to this rule are avocados, in moderation, and tomatoes. Lemons and limes are also allowed on this diet and are, in fact, an essential part of improving one’s health.
Dairy should not be consumed. Therefore, avoid milk, yogurt, creams, and cheeses.
This diet aims to lower blood sugar levels. Your body takes the carbohydrates of the food you eat and turns it into blood sugar, also known as glucose. Foods with a high glycemic index, like wheat, rice, and potatoes, drastically raise your blood sugar levels. Low glycemic foods, such as vegetables and fish, don’t affect your blood sugar levels much. All living beings require glucose to stay alive, but high amounts lead to weight gain, heart disease, and cancer.
Build a Routine Around Your Eating
Ferriss states that having the same few meals over and over is fundamental to improving one’s diet. So, building meals that incorporate all foods that are allowed, and avoiding those that are not, should not be too difficult. Also, try to eat four meals per day.
Foods That Are Allowed
This book argues that many foods are bad for our health. It also states some food items are particularly good for you and can make a positive change if added in large quantities. One food group this diet is firmly in favor of is lean proteins. Therefore, Ferriss’ Slow-carb Diet encourages people to incorporate eggs, fish, legumes (such as lentils and beans), and many vegetables into their diet. The book also recommends consuming 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. The majority of meals should include green vegetables, like broccoli, asparagus, and spinach.
Ferriss also encourages readers to eat certain foods, but just eat them in moderation. Ferriss calls these food items ‘Domino Foods.’ These foods include nuts, chickpeas, and hummus. You should not be making these food items a staple part of your diet.
Advice on Drinking Habits
Within the 4-hour body, Ferriss argues that you should actively avoid drinking any calories. The exception to this rule is red wine. This does not mean you should be downing bottles of wine. Instead, people should limit themselves to a maximum of two glasses of red wine per day. The book only encourages drinking one of three types of drink: water, unsweetened coffee, and unsweetened tea. So, this book also says you have to avoid milk, soft drinks, and fruit juice. You will need to be drinking lots of the right drinks to avoid headaches and feelings of weakness.
Cheat Days Aren’t Optional
Ferriss believes that one cheat day per week should be obligatory. Even if you don’t necessarily feel like it, a cheat day is as key to weight loss as any of the other rules. There are no restrictions on these days. White carbs, ice cream, sweets, and fruit are all allowed on one day per week. To avoid complete self-destruction on this day, individuals must start the day with a high protein and high fiber meal. Ferriss also advises that dieters consume some grapefruit before eating junk food. Grapefruits absorb fat.
Calories Aren’t Bad; It Is Just the Type of Calories
One of the 4-hour body’s features that sets it apart from many other diets is that it advises against calorie restriction. Ferriss argues that calorie restriction can slow your metabolism, which will prevent you from losing fat. This is one reason why a cheat day is excellent for fat loss, as it helps increase metabolism.
Supplement or Increase Your Intake of Foods Rich in Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium
One of the most common effects of the Slow-Carb Diet is a loss of excess water on non-cheat days. So, you are probably losing magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Because of this, Ferriss recommends supplementing these minerals in pill form or ensuring you eat foods that are very rich in these minerals. Nuts are high in magnesium. Therefore, including almonds, cashews, peanuts, and Brazil nuts in your daily non-cheat diet is essential. Additionally, foods that are rich in potassium include salmon, black beans, lentils, and mushrooms. Finally, foods high in calcium include tofu, collard greens, tempeh, and sardines. Most important of all, though, is spinach. Spinach is high in all three of these minerals, so you should eat it daily.
Your Gut Bacteria Are Integral to Losing Weight
Ferriss believes that gut bacteria can help you lose weight. Therefore, the 4-hour body encourages balancing bacteria for fat loss. There are two different types of bacteria in your gut: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Fat people have more Firmicute bacteria, while lean people have more Bacteroidetes. As fat people get leaner, they start to develop more Bacteroidetes. Therefore, if you can increase your amount of healthy bacteria, you will become leaner and healthier. Then, being leaner will help further increase your Bacteroidetes, helping you become even leaner and healthier.
Firstly, the 4-hour body encourages incorporating foods into your diet that contain high amounts of healthy bacteria. These include kimchi, Japanese natto, sauerkraut, and fermented fish. Plus, garlic, leeks, and chicory are all food-based types of prebiotic. On top of this, though, the book encourages readers to start consuming pro- and prebiotics. The author’s recommended supplements are Sedona Labs, iFlora prebiotics, and Athletic Greens supplement (which contains a prebiotic called Inulin). These supplements are ones that Tim Ferriss claims to have benefited from personally.
Balancing your gut bacteria is crucial. A balanced gut flora helps you lose weight and feel healthier. Plus, it has also been associated with reducing allergies, aging, and even helping with symptoms of AIDS and Type 2 diabetes. Studies also show it makes you feel happier, as most serotonin, a mood neurotransmitter, is produced in the gut.
As Well as Avoiding Foods High on the Glycemic Index, There Are Other Ways You Can Reduce Your Blood Sugar Levels
The first way offered by this book is to make sure you are eating healthy fats. Fat reduces sugar spikes. More fat earlier in the meal lowers your glycemic response. So, remember to have some before you eat your main dish. Nuts, avocados, and olive oil are all very healthy fats. Tim Ferriss eats four Brazil nuts and a tablespoon of almond butter every morning. The second is to drink lemon juice. Lemon juice can lower your glycemic response by up to 10%. It also contains high amounts of vitamin C. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to your meals and into your water.
Finally, cinnamon is an extremely useful tool in reducing your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon can lower your glycemic response by up to 29%. There are three different kinds of cinnamon: Cassia, Ceylon, and Saigon. Cassia is the most common one. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but they all lower blood sugar to some degree. According to the book, Saigon cinnamon is the most effective for lowering blood sugar, followed by Cassia and then Ceylon. Don’t consume more than four grams of cinnamon per day, though, as excessive consumption may thin your blood.
As well as consuming certain foods that lower blood sugar levels, Tim Ferriss also recommends eating slowly. Sugar and starch will always spike your blood sugar, but protein and vegetables can do the same if you eat them too fast. Tim divides his plate into thirds and waits five minutes between eating them. If you’re used to eating quickly, try to drink water between thirds to keep yourself busy. On top of this, liquids will help you digest your food better. Finally, chew your food more. Chew each mouthful at least 20 times. You should take a minimum of 30 minutes to finish your meal.
This book points out that men have always been attracted to women with a special number: 0.7. Women that have a waist 7/10 the size of their hip have been considered attractive in every century. You can see this in fashion, with things like corsets exaggerating this number. According to a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Dev Singh, men’s evolutionary biology attracts them to this number. This ratio is linked to higher fertility.
There is also a magic number for men. A body fat percentage of roughly 12%, or even slightly lower, is preferred. Plus, a 0.8 ratio with broad shoulders and strong ‘lats’ gives a man the desired ‘V’ shape. Of course, a six-pack is another feature that women find attractive in men.
In this book, Tim Ferriss claims he turned himself from geek to freak through the Colorado Experiment. Tim obtained remarkable muscle gain results, gaining 34 pounds of muscle in a month. He did this by just working out for four total hours. Tim only went to the gym for 30 minutes twice a week for the month. First, Tim claims that you need to eat vast amounts of calories to build the muscle. You want to be eating between 5000 and 8000 calories per day. These calories should come from foods enormously high in protein, though, with a low glycemic index, like quinoa. However, you don’t want to do this every day of the week. Drop calories by 50% on one day per week to prevent protein uptake down-regulation.
The workout he used was always full-body and utilized the idea of continuing until failure. An entire body exercise was encouraged to elicit a maximal hormonal (testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1) response. However, you must also focus on no more than 4-7 multi-joint exercises. These were the exercises he included:
- Pullover + Yates’s Bent Row
- Shoulder-Width Leg Press
- Pec Deck + Weighted Dips
- Leg Curl
- Reverse Thick-Bar Curl
- Seated Calf Raise
- Manual Neck Resistance
- Machine Crunch
Each exercise should be repeated until failure. Each repetition had a 5/5 cadence. This means that you hold your position up for 5 seconds, and you hold your position down for 5 seconds. These slow lifting speeds instigate muscle gain far better than more repetitions at a faster rate. Finally, you should take a break of at least three minutes between each exercise.
As you grow in size, you will also want to exercise less frequently. Your recovery ability can only increase 20-30%, whereas your muscle gain can increase by 100%.
Full Body Exercise
So, there are ideal numbers for both women (0.7) and men (0.8). The Russian kettlebell swing is a perfect exercise for losing fat quickly and obtaining these optimal numbers. To do this exercise, you grab a kettlebell and put it between your feet. Your feet should be slightly bent, about eight inches outside of shoulder width. Once you have enough space around you, bend your knees, and lean forward to grab the kettlebell with both of your hands. Then, swing it up to the area in front of your face with your arms, back, and legs all in a straight position. Let the kettlebell pull your arms down to the space between your legs. This will force your back and your knees to bend forward. Swing the kettlebell back up for another repetition. Just make sure your back is straight when you’re pulling the kettlebell up. This is an all-in-one full-body workout, so it burns more calories in a shorter space of time. The kettlebell must be the right weight for you. The perfect kettlebell is one that you can do at least 20 perfect repetitions. However, you do not want it to be so light that you can do more than 30 repetitions in a row. Try to do 75 repetitions twice a week, taking 60-second rests when needed.
Exercises for Your Abs
In this book, Tim Ferriss also mentions two ab workouts to help people get the six-pack of their dreams. These workouts incorporate the myotatic crunch and the cat vomit exercise. One works on the upper, and one works on the lower abs. To do the cat vomit exercise:
- Get on your hands and knees.
- Exhale all the air out of your lungs, and pull in your belly towards your spine until you can’t pull it further. If it burns, you’re doing it correctly.
- Hold your breath in your belly in that position for about 10 seconds, then take one breath.
- Do it again.
Try doing this at least ten times. Some people prefer to do this exercise while standing up. It’s not as effective but less embarrassing.
To do the myotatic crunch, you ideally want to use a BOSU ball. Most gyms have them, but if you don’t have access to one, feel free to use a couple of firm pillows instead. Position the BOSU ball or the pillows under your lower back, allowing your butt to be a couple of inches from the ground. Plant your feet on the floor with your knees bent. Start by extending your arms upwards as if you were trying to touch the ceiling in a diving position. Slowly lean back until your arms and head are in a horizontal position. This movement should be slow. It should take you about four seconds to complete, and you should pause for an additional two seconds in the final position. Then, slowly go back up to where you started. That’s one rep.
You must also record every workout in detail, including the date, time, order of exercises, reps, and weight. This practice will help you find the specifics that work best for you.
Improve Sperm Count and Your Sex Life
This book highlights that sperm quality depends on three things: count, morphology, and motility. Sperm count refers to the amount of sperm in each ejaculation, and sperm morphology refers to the amount of sperm in the right shape. Sperm with an irregular shape is not fertile. Sperm motility refers to the amount of sperm that can swim straight. A healthy-looking sperm that can’t swim properly is useless. Worryingly, Ferriss points out that sperm count decreases 1% in healthy men in first-world countries every year. The leading cause of this seems to be cell phone radiation. Therefore, this book recommends not carrying your cell phone in your pockets. This can lower sperm quality as well as testosterone.
The 15-minute Orgasm
Tim says that most women are most sensitive in the quadrant of the clitoris at 1 or 2 o’clock on a clock face. Focusing on this area isn’t enough, though. You want to ask the woman permission to avoid sex and foreplay. You want to just focus on their pleasure and manual stimulation until they reach that 10-15 minute orgasm. Tim even says this should be surprisingly easy when learned correctly. Here are the main tips offered:
- Remember, it is a goal-less objective. Although this could produce an orgasm, it should be about focusing on one area.
- Separate the labia.
- Gently retract the clitoral hood upwards with the heel of your palm.
- Anchor the clitoris with your right thumb by holding the hood back.
- Put your left hand under their bum with two fingers under each cheek. Your thumb should be resting on, not in, the base of the entrance to the vagina.
- With your index finger stroke using the lightest touch possible and only 1.5 mm or so of movement. Stroke at a constant speed for periods of two to three minutes.
Sex Drive and Testosterone
Tim Ferriss claims that he tripled his total testosterone through the following steps and increased his sex drive. He breaks these tips down into two protocols.
Tim supplemented using two capsules upon waking and two before bed of Blue Ice Butter Oil or Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend. Plus, 3000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 upon waking and before bed. Short ice baths or cold showers, one upon waking and one right before bed. Finally, eating 3 Brazil nuts upon waking and 3 Brazil nuts before bed.
Tim recommends consuming at least 800 milligrams of cholesterol within three hours of sleep the night before sex. You can get this much from just four eggs. Then, about four hours before sex, you will want to eat 4 Brazil nuts and 20 raw almonds. Plus, consume two capsules of either Blue Ice Butter Oil or Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend.
Sleep is so crucial for your health. One way to prevent bad sleep quality is to avoid drinking alcohol sooner than four hours before bed. One or two glasses might help you fall asleep faster, but more will only screw up your sleep quality.
As well as avoiding alcohol, the book recommends taking 200 micrograms of Huperzine half an hour before bedtime. This will increase your total REM sleep by 30%, which is most important for health. Huperzine can also be useful for learning but do not consume it more than three days a week as it has side effects.
A high fat and fiber snack will help you feel less tired and grumpy in the morning. Your blood sugar levels drop a lot overnight. Therefore, you might want to have two tablespoons of almond butter with a couple of celery sticks before bed. This should help keep your blood sugar levels steady overnight. Plus, you want to eat a large meal full of fat and protein three hours before bed. This will help you fall asleep faster. Take a cold bath or shower before bed and consume 1.5 to 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour before bed.
Technology is excellent for helping improve your sleep too. Ultrasonic humidifiers will make your bedroom cool and humid, making it easier to sleep. A blue light therapy lamp for 15 minutes in the morning will give you a boost of energy. These lamps are often used for jet lag and winter depression. A NightWave pulse light will help you relax by producing a blue light that gently rises and falls. The book recommends breathing in time with this light as the movement becomes slower and slower. However, you should avoid some technology. Try to avoid using your phone or computer at nighttime, as they transmit blue light. This light will only make it harder to sleep. If you have to use these devices, get yourself some blue light blocking glasses.
As well as providing ways to improve health, Tim Ferriss also focuses on how people can reverse bad habits or bad health. One of these ways is through reversing injuries. He highlights the 4Ms of positive rehab.
- Movement – You first port of call. You use movements to alter your posture and actions.
- Manipulation – Repairing your damaged soft tissue through pressure instigated by a machine or by hand.
- Medication – Take chemical concoctions orally or through injections as your last resort.
- Mechanical – This involves surgery of some kind. This won’t always be necessary but might be for some.
Running Faster and Farther
To run faster, Tim recommends specific exercises to build up speed and specific practices during your races. The practices include warm-up and muscle activation, followed by frequency training. The frequency training includes 20 seconds of jumping with plantar flexion and two sets of 5 seconds of regular squatting with jumping. To improve your speed, you need to adopt the correct starting position. Place your right hand down and your left leg forward. Keep your left foot about 30 cm behind the line, then touch your right toes at the back of your left heel. After this, you will need to put your right hand in front of the line and your right arm at a right angle. To boost yourself as you start, look at the first step of your back leg. When running, you need to keep your chin down, and you should not look up.
Tim Ferriss found that it is possible to move from running 5 km to running 50 km with some simple steps. He used the Tabata protocol to increase endurance, rather than the standard guidance of running high volume. This type of High-Intensity Interval Training involves short bursts of high-intensity training, with progressively shorter recovery. As well as this, Tim recommends building a strong undercarriage through max effort lifting.
Tim Ferriss’ advice for lifting heavier weights is based on listening to some of the best powerlifters in history. The advice is pretty simple. Only do four things: The squat, the bench, the deadlift, and compete in lifting competitions. On top of this, do not attempt a rep unless you are 100% sure you will make it. Only practice one type of lift per workout, and don’t rush your sets. He also recommends deadlifting once per week and squatting and benching twice per week. Finally, try to complete sets of 5×5.
Extend Your Life
The book is full of tips to help improve your life, and it also gives advice for extending your life. The first of these is semen retention. In an experiment, scientists separated a group of nematodes into two groups. One group was allowed to breed, and the other one wasn’t. The first group of nematodes lived eight days on average. The second group lived significantly longer at 11 days on average. If you’re a man who wants to live a long life, you may want to give NoFap a try.
Another way to extend your life is bleeding. Human beings have iron in their blood. We need it, but most of us have more of it than we need. Having too much iron isn’t healthy. Studies have proven that high levels of iron increase the likelihood of having a heart attack. High levels of iron also produce free radicals. The more free radicals in your body, the faster you age, and the more likely you are to get cancer. By donating blood, you rid your body of excess iron. Do it every once in a while, and you will prolong your life. Even if this happens to be wrong and doesn’t extend your life by that much, it could save someone else’s.
How to Breathe For As Long As David Blaine
Tim Ferriss also has the achievement of holding his breath as long as David Blaine, a record holder. This is despite Tim being born prematurely, which impacts on his lungs. The steps are extensive and clear. They helped Tim increase the time he could hold his breath from 40 seconds to 3 minutes 33 seconds after 15 minutes of training.
- 1 minute 30 seconds of deep breathing.
- 1 minute 15 seconds of purging (breathing air out hard).
- Hold breath for a target of 1 minute 30 seconds.
- Take three semi-purge breaths (the best way to define this is between a deep breath and a purge).
- 1 minute 30 seconds of deep breathing.
- 1 minute 30 seconds of purging.
- Hold breath for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
- Take three semi-purge breaths.
- Two minutes of deep breathing.
- 1 minute 45 seconds of purging.
- Hold your breath for as long as possible.
- Finally, after you finish, take 3-10 hard semi-purge breaths until you recover.
If you have feedback about this summary or would like to share what you have learned, comment below.
Get the official pAGG stack to accelerated your weight loss here.
Download the official 4-Hour Body App here.
New to StoryShots? Get the audio and animated versions of this summary and hundreds of other bestselling nonfiction books in our free top-ranking app. It’s been featured by Apple, The Guardian, The UN, and Google as one of the world’s best reading and learning apps.
Related Book Summaries
The Keto Reset Diet by Brad Kearns and Mark Sisson
Lifespan by David Sinclair
The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey
Thinner Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews
The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry
Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews
Breath by James Nestor
How Not to Die by Dr Michael Greger
The Keto Diet by Leanne Vogel
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
The Obesity Code by Jason Fung
Not A Diet Book by J.A. Smith and James Smith
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick G. McKeown
Super Human by Dave Asprey