The 4-Hour Body quickly covers 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 based on his personal encounters over three years with experts. Ranging from doctors to athletes, black-market drug salesmen to sex experts, Ferriss provides a quick guide of how to improve our body through all parts of our life.
Minimum Effect Dose
Put simply, the minimum effect dose is what Tim Ferris describes as the smallest dose that will produce your desired outcome. The most important things for readers, with regards to 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 completing 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 helps you find the balance between accepting the past and planning for the future, so you can focus on the present. They help you get thoughts out of your head so they aren’t bouncing around all day. This applies to keeping a photo journal too, which will help you monitor your progress.
The Slow-Carb Diet
Advocating for a slow-carb diet, Ferriss points out that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans doesn’t have a diet based around slow carbs. This is surprising to Ferris because of the benefits of slow carbs. Although this section will delve into all the tips given by the slow-carb diet, this diet is based around three things:
1) Eat a very simple set of meals repeatedly. This will help you keep on track with diet and stop you from treating yourself to something bad for you.
2) Focus on ‘slow carbs’ within the diet
3) Allow one ‘cheat day’ a week when all foods are allowed, including 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 there are certain foods that are not good for our body. White carbs are highlighted as unhealthy. So, if you want to keep to this diet you have to avoid eating bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, tortillas, and fried foods with breading. Ferriss also bans eating of wholewheat carbs: brown rice, whole wheat bread, oats, quinoa and amaranth. Ferriss’ diet can be described as one which avoids starches. Another type of white carb that Ferriss encourages readers to actively avoid is sugar, along with sugar alternatives. So, as well as having to avoid sugar, Ferriss makes the argument that to be really healthy you must also remove honey, agave nectar and artificial sweeteners like Splenda from your diet. Splenda may have no calories, but it makes you gain weight by increasing the amount of unhealthy bacteria in your gut. That’s right, gut bacteria have a huge impact on your health and this will be spoken about alter.
Another food group which is encouraged by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but Ferriss argues is bad for you is fruit. Fruits do contain some healthy vitamins, but they are also full of fructose. This is a type of sugar and so on this diet is a big no-no. 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 important part of improving one’s health. We will talk about lemons and limes later.
Dairy should also be cut out. You are going to want to avoid milk, yogurt, creams and cheeses.
There is good reason for why you have to cut out all these foods; the aim of this diet is 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 by that much. All living beings require glucose to stay alive, but high amounts of it lead to weight gain, heart disease and cancer.
Build a routine around your eating
One negative of Ferriss’ diet, which he openly admits, is that the diet can be a bit boring. Ferriss says his research doesn’t lie, though, so the 4-hour body says that having the same few meals over and over is fundamental to improving one’s diet. This is not too difficult, as there aren’t many things you can eat on this diet. So, building meals which incorporate all of the foods that are allowed, coupled with avoiding those that are not, should not be too difficult. Try and eat four meals per day, also.
Foods that are allowed
This book argues for multiple foods being bad for our health. It also says there are some food items that are particularly good for you and can make a positive change if added in large quantities. One food group this diet is strongly in favor of is lean proteins. Therefore, Ferriss’ Slow-carb Diet encourages people to incorporate eggs, fish, legumes (such as lentils and beans), and a whole lot of vegetables into their diet. The book also recommends consuming 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. The majority of meals, then, should be based around 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. These foods offer opportunities to snack during the day, if really needed, but they should not be indulged in too much or this will hinder the individual’s progress. For example, you can have a couple of almonds if you want a little snack, or you could have a few carrots dipped in hummus, but you should not be making these food items a staple part of your diet.
Advice on drinking habits
Within the 4-hour body, Ferriss makes the argument 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. Having few drinks you’re allowed might encourage dieters to drink less, but Ferriss makes the point that you should actually be drinking more but of the right drinks. You will need to be drinking lots to avoid headaches and feelings of weakness.
Cheat days aren’t optional
Although reading that cheat days aren’t optional instantly makes you think that you can’t have any cheat days, Ferriss actually argues that one cheat day per week is obligatory on this diet. Even if you don’t necessarily feel like it, a cheat day is as key to losing weight as any of the other rules. Therefore, one day a week you’re allowed to go crazy and eat what you want. There are no restrictions. White carbs, ice cream, sweets, and fruit are all allowed on one day per week. You don’t have to count calories, it’s your cheat day. To avoid complete self-destruction on this day, though, individuals must start the day with a high protein and high fiber meal. An example of this would be a meal based around beans and lentils. Ferriss also advises that dieters consume some grapefruit before starting to eat junk food, as it absorbs fat.
Calories aren’t bad, it is just the type of calories
One of the features of the 4-hour body that sets it apart from a lot of other diets is that it advises against calorie restriction. Ferriss argues that calorie restriction can slow your metabolism, which will prevent you from losing the fat that you want. This is one justification for why one cheat day of eating junk food is great 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 the six days of the week that are non-cheat days. So, you are probably losing magnesium, potassium and calcium. Because of this Ferris recommends supplementing these minerals in pill form or ensuring they eat foods which 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 important. Additionally, foods which are rich in potassium include salmon, black beans, lentils, and mushrooms. Finally, foods which are in-line with Ferriss’ guidance in this book, that are also high in calcium, includes tofu, collard greens, tempeh and sardines. Most important of all, though, is spinach. Spinach is high in all three of these minerals and so it should be a food eaten on a daily basis.
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 even more Bacteroidetes. Therefore, if you can increase your amount of healthy bacteria you will be leaner and healthier, which will help further increase your Bacteroidetes, which then helps 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 pre-biotics. The specific supplements recommended by the author 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 one’s gut bacteria is great. It not only helps you to lose weight and feel healthier, but 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 the the majority of 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% and it also contains high amounts of vitamin C. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to your meals, and into the water you drink. 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 own 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 are proven to lower blood sugar levels, Tim Ferriss also recommends eating slowly. Sugar and starch will still spike your blood sugar irrespective of the foods you eat alongside them, 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 fast, try and drink water in 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 at least 30 minutes to finish your meal.
Accelerate fat loss with The PAGG stack
To speed up fat loss, Ferriss recommends the following supplements:
– 150 mg of 100% R-Alpha Lipoic Acid (R-ALA). Higher quality than racemic mixture of R/S ALA
– 200 mg of Garlic Extract (aged for 20 months with High Allicin Potential)
– 542 mg of Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract yielding 325 mg of EGCG
– 100 mcg of Biotin – B complex reduces glucose levels in the blood and plays a key role in protein and carbohydrate synthesis. Biotin can bring increased energy levels.
30 Tablets of pAGG Night Time. Each tablet contains:
– 25 mg of Policosanol
– 150 mg of R-ALA – 200 mg of Garlic Extract
– 100 mcg of Biotin
Take 1 pAGG All Day 15 min before meals and 1 pAGG Night Time tablet before bed. Daily: 3 x All Day and 1 x Night Time
This book points out that for as long as humans have been around, men have 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. Men’s evolutionary biology attracts them to this number as this ratio is linked to greater fertility, according to professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, Dev Singh.
Is there a magic number for men too, though? Well, a body fat percentage of roughly 12%, or even slightly lower, along with a 0.8 ratio with broad shoulders and strong ‘lats’ gives a man the ‘V’ shape that men want. Of course, a six pack is another feature that women find attractive in men.
Full body exercise for fat loss
So, there are ideal numbers for both women (0.7) and men (0.8). Tim Ferriss recommends specific exercises to help people reach those magic numbers. 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, that metal cannon-looking ball with a handle on it, 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 bend forward to grab the kettlebell with both of your hands and swing it up to the space 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 obviously 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. Don’t bend it back. This is basically an all-in-one full-body workout and so it burns tons of calories in a short space of time. You can even do this exercise from home and a kettlebell will just be a one-time investment. It is important that the kettlebell is the right weight for you, though. The perfect kettlebell is one that you are able to do at least 20 perfect repetitions with, but isn’t so light that you would be able to do more than 30 repetitions in a row. Try and do 75 repetitions twice a week, taking 60 second rests when needed.
Rapid muscle gain – The Occam’s Protocol
In the book, Tim Ferriss claims he turned himself from geek to freak through using the so-called Colorado Experiment. Tim claims he obtained remarkable muscle gain results, gaining 34 pounds of muscle in a month, just from working out for 4 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 huge 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 a full body one and utilized the idea of continuing until failure. A full-body exercise was encouraged as it elicits 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 to gain so much muscle in such a short space of time:
-Pullover + Yates’s Bent Row
-Shoulder-Width Leg Press
-Pec Deck + Weighted Dips
-Reverse Thick-Bar Curl
-Seated Calf Raise
-Manual Neck Resistance
Each exercise was repeated only for one set, until failure. Each repetition had a 5/5 cadence, meaning you hold your position up for 5 seconds and you hold your position down for 5 seconds. These slow lifting speeds are claimed to instigate muscle gain far better than more repetitions at a faster rate. Finally, you should take a break of at least 3 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 100%.
Exercises for your abs
In this book, Tim Ferriss also mentions two ab workouts that will help people get the six-pack of their dreams: the myotatic crunch and the cat vomit exercise. One work son the upper and one works on the lower abs. To do the cat vomit exercise, get on your hands and knees and exhale all of the air out of your lungs and pull in your belly towards your spine until you can’t pull it in any further. If it burns, you’re doing it correctly. Hold your breath in your belly in that position for about 10 seconds, and then take one breath. Then do it again. Try doing this at least 10 times. Some people prefer to do this exercise while standing up. It’s not as effective, but still effective and less embarrassing. Do it the way you want.
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. Work with what you have. Position the BOSU ball or the pillows under your lower back, allowing your butt to be a couple of inches from the ground. Your feet should be planted 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, as if you were trying to touch the wall behind you. 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. This should also take you about four seconds and you will again pause for two seconds when you get to the initial position. That’s one rep.
Combining both of these ab workouts and the Russian kettlebell swings, along with the diet and sleep advice, Tim Ferriss argues that anybody can have the body they have always wanted. You must also record every workout in detail, though, including the date, time, order of exercises, reps and weight. This 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. Sperm morphology refers to the amount of sperm with the right shape. A 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 pointed out that in first-world countries, sperm count decreases 1% in healthy men every year. The main 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. If you want to have kids some day carry your cell phone somewhere else. Tim Ferriss himself had low sperm quality, and when he stopped carrying his cell phone in his pockets, his sperm quality increased drastically.
The 15-minute orgasm
Tim Ferriss makes the bold claim that through his tips it is possible to give women a 15-minute orgasm. This is based on his own practical experience while writing the book. Tim says that for the majority of women they are most sensitive in the quadrant of the clitoris that is 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, to avoid the kissing and the fondling of sex. Let you just focus on their pleasure and their 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 just 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 his right thumb by holding the hood back
-Put your left hand under their bum, with two fingers under each cheek, and your thumb resting on, not in, the base of the entrance to the vagina
-With your index finger stroke using the lightest touch possible and only 1.5mm or so of movement. Stroke at a constant speed for periods of two to three minutes
Sex drive and testosterone
Tim Ferris claims that he tripled his total testosterone through the following steps and increase his sex drive. He breaks these tips down into two protocols.
Protocol 1 is long-term
Tim supplemented using 2 capsules upon waking and 2 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.
Protocol 2 is short-term and fun before sex
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. This is because testosterone is derived from cholesterol and is mainly produced during sleep. Then, just before sex, about four hours before, you will want to eat 4 Brazil nuts, 20 raw almonds and 2 capsules of either Blue Ice Butter Oil or Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend.
Sleep is so important for our health. An easy way to know your sleep quality is bad is if you are taking too long to fall asleep, you find yourself waking up through the night or if you are waking up too early and can’t get back to sleep. 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%, the type of sleep that is most important for health. Huperzine can also be useful for learning, but should not be used 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, so you might want to have two tablespoons of almond butters with a couple of celery sticks before bed. This should help keep your blood sugar levels steady overnight and definitely won’t keep you up at night. Plus, you want to eat a large meal full of fat and protein three hours before bed. This will help you fall asleep faster, as will taking a cold bath or shower before bed, even if a bit painful, and consuming 1.5 to 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour before bed.
Technology is great 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, as it is often used for jet lag and winter depression. A NightWave pulse light will help you relax to sleep by giving a blue light that gently rises and falls. The book recommends breathing in time with this light as it the movement becomes slower and slower. The final point is one about avoiding technology. Try and avoiding using your phone or computer at night time, as they transmit blue light. This will only make it harder to sleep. If you really have to use these devices, get yourself some blue light blocking glasses.
As well as providing ways to improve health, in the 4-hour body 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 kinds; this won’t always be necessary, but might be for some.
Running Faster and Farther
In order to run faster, Tim recommends specific exercises to build up speed and specific practices during your races. The practices include a 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 normal squatting with jumping. With regards to the practices, 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 30cm 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. Then, when running you need to keep your chin down and you should not look up.
Tim Ferriss found that through some simple steps it is possible to move from running 5km to running 50km. This improvement is based on the Tabata protocol as a way of increasing 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 shorter recovery as time goes on. As well as this, Tim recommends building a strong undercarriage through max effort lifting; correcting your own inflexibilities, such as the common hip flexor tightness associated with desk workers; and, making sure you have good running form.
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 and complete sets of 5×5.
The book is full of tips to help improve your life and it also gives tips to extend 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, 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 actually need, and this 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, and 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 it doesn’t extend your life by that much, if at all, it could save someone else’s. Keep that in mind.
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 and helped Tim increase the time he could hold his breath from 40 seconds at the start 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 minutes 30 seconds
- Take 3 semi-purge breaths (best way to define this is in between a deep breath and a purge)
- 1 minute 30 seconds of deep breathing
- 1 minute 30 seconds of purging
- Hold breath for target 2 minutes 30 seconds
- Take 3 semi-purge breaths
- 2 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
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