Spinach – Popeye Got It Right in The 4 Hour Body

In The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss he lists singles out three foods for a special mention – eggs, spinach and lentils.

Spinach – The 4 Hour Body

Tim Ferriss singles Spinach out for its

Milk Free on The 4 Hour Body Diet

Rule #3 in the book The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss is “Don’t Drink Calories”.

Other than the obvious culprits like soda and fruit juice that you’d expect not to be allowed in most diets a surprising inclusion is milk.

No Milk on The 4 Hour Body Diet

Milk had a low glycaemic index so you would think it would be good for you.  Unfortunately though even with a low GI level it has a high insulinemic index (almost the same level as white bread).  By having a high insulin index this triggers the body to release a dispassionate amount on insulin.  The leads to unstable blood sugar levels and encourages the body to store fat, feel hungry and mixed energy levels.

There is lots of anecdotal evidence online about people eliminating milk and dairy from their diets and experiencing rapid weight loss.  In the book “The Four Hour Body”, Tim Ferriss mentions a guy who only ate a handful of cheese with his eggs at breakfast and a glass of milk.  When he cut this out he lost 6 pounds in one week.

I can also speak from personal experience, back during my first year of university.  I had packed on the weight living in a halls of residence so was at my heaviest I’d ever been.  For the summer holidays I went to China with a Chinese friend for 2 months to experience the culture.  This was in 2001 so before China had had much contact with the west.

One thing that I couldn’t eat easily in China was dairy products.  Their supermarkets didn’t sell cheese.  They didn’t sell coffee so I gave up drinking that – so no milk.  No breakfast cereals etc…  They didn’t have foreign cuisines at that time in my friend’s home town so we only ever ate Chinese food that had no dairy in it.

In those two months I would have shed about 10 to 15 kgs.  There were other factors that I think did contribute such as green tea but I do think the big one was eliminating dairy.

Unfortunately over time I put the weight back on but it was an amazing transformation over two months – especially since it happened without doing one bit of exercise.

Ice Ice Baby – Benefits of Taking a Cold Shower in The 4 Hour Body

Reading  about the experiments & seeing the pictures of Ray Cronise in the book The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss was astonishing.  In 6 weeks he lost a whopping 13kg (28.6lb) with a complete change of body shape.

This led me to look into the benefits of a cold shower also known as hydrotherapy when doing The 4 Hour Body Diet.

Cold Shower in The Four Hour Body

Vincent Priessnitz, a German farmer in the 1820s first touted hydrotherapy as a cure to all ailments.  He turned his farm into a “health camp” where people came in the hope the cold water would cure them.

As time passed, the popularity of hydrotherapy declined and medicine took over as the main way to treat illnesses.  Nowadays natural cures are making a comeback.  Most people are aware that athletes use ice baths to recover from sport.  It has also been shown through various modern experiments that a cold shower can help improve total well being.

One major advantage of a cold shower is a the improvement in immunity.  It is believed the cold water activates the immune system to produce more white blood cells which means less cold and flu.

Another advantage is the increase in blood circulation.  Good blood circulation prevents things like hypertension and overall cardiovascular health.   Also good circulation improves the performance of your body making you look healthier and younger.

The big benefit we’re interested in which is the most relevant to the book – The 4 Hour Body is the weight loss benefit.  Exposure to cold stimulates the production of “brown fat”.  Brown fat is also known as the “fat-burning fat”.  When we’re cold it uses the other fat in the body to fuel itself.  It also leads to an increase in metabolism so so processes in our body become more efficient thus leading to more weight loss.

Taking a Cold Shower – The 4 Hour Body

Other experiments Tim Ferriss did on top of the cold shower included placing an ice pack under a towel on the neck and upper body area.  This where most of the brown fat in our body is as adults so its another way to try and stimulate it without a cold shower.

The consumption of ice water on an empty stomach on waking was another experiment mentioned in The Four Hour Body.  In two studies it had been shown to increase the resting metabolic rate which as mentioned above makes the body more efficient in losing weight.

The final experiment Tim did which is for the hardcore was 20 minute ice baths which induced shivering.  To increase the thermogenic effect he would also consume cayenne pepper with some protein beforehand.  This experiment is not for the faint hearted though to paraphrase Tim “visible results are results”!

Forbidden Fruit – “Don’t Eat Fruit” on The Four Hour Body Diet

One of the most controversial rules on The 4 Hour Body Diet developed by Tim Ferriss is No. #4 – “Don’t Eat Fruit.”

Don’t Eat Fruit – The Four Hour Body Diet

Eating 5 pieces of fruit a day has long been a health campaign promoted in a lot of countries.  Tim Ferriss throws this notion out the window with the main reason being fructose.

Fructose is one of the main sugars found in fruit along with glucose.  The thing with fructose which makes it different from glucose is the way our body processes it.

Glucose has a different chemical structure to fructose so when it enters the body all the organs can metabolize it.  Fructose on the otherhand can only be metabolized by the liver.  This causes problems if the liver has too much fructose to process.

If the liver can’t process the fructose fast enough for the body to use as sugar, then it instead starts producing fats also known as triglycerides and sends them off into the blood stream.  Triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease plus everyone knows fat in the liver is not a good thing for the body.

Another problem with fructose if it gets converted into fats is, it ends up bypassing our normal appetite signalling system so tricks the body into thinking it is still starving which of course it is not.  This encourages us to eat more which is why fructose is often associated with weight gain.

A final issue with fructose is it regulates the dopamine reactors in our brain so when we have a “dose”, the next time we’ll need more to satisfy ourselves.  e.g. drinking a can of cola, you’ll want more than one can next time to get the same pleasurable feeling.

As the book – The Four Hour Body points out, our fruit consumption these days has increased so much as there is more available than ever before.  Fruit used to be a seasonal food you would eat when plentiful, to “fatten” you up before you got into winter where food was scarce.  Nowadays we can consume most fruits every day of the year so it no longer is regarded as a treat but as a staple of our diet.  Tim Ferriss argues that “humans don’t need fruit six days a week, and they certainly don’t need it year-round” hence the reason for the rule “don’t eat fruit” which in other words equates to go “fructose free”.

Eggs For Breakfast – Great for Weight Loss on 4 Hour Body Diet

One thing in the book The 4 Hour Body that Tim Ferriss advocates is to avoid white carbohydrates.  This means the traditional breakfast of cereal and toast is out.

The 4 Hour Body Diet – Eggs for Breakfast – Helps Weight Loss

One of the easiest things to eat for breakfast is eggs.  They’re quick and easy to prepare, there are so many ways to eat them and now in a study by researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Louisiana it has been shown that they can help in the battle to lose weight.

In the study overweight volunteers that had been given an egg to eat for breakfast reported feeling a lot less hungry.  They also ate a lot less at an “all you can eat” buffet restaurant.

The study also conducted blood tests on the participants and interestingly enough not only did the volunteers who ate eggs have lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite but also they had higher levels of PYY3-36 which is a signal we’re full.

Tim Ferriss also quotes an interesting study in his book The Four Hour Body where overweight woman who ate 2 eggs a day for breakfast for eight weeks lost 65% more weight then the woman who ate a bagel which had the same number of calories as 2 eggs and also the same weight.  Not only did they lose more weight but they also showed and 83% greater reduction in their waist measurements.  Great news in anybody’s books!

Some of my Favourite Lunches on The 4 Hour Body Diet

Lunch can be the trickiest part of the day when you’re on The Four Hour Body diet.  You’re sitting at your desk, most likely bored anyway.  It is very tempting to step out and just buy something you’d like to eat.  Especially when you’re out of ideas and sick of eating the same food all the time.

In a previous post (A Typical Meal Plan on the 4 Hour Body Diet) I talked about the home made chicken fajitas that I cook up in batches and bring in for lunch.  Here are a couple of other favourites that I fall back on once I’m sick of eating that.

Super Salad

4 Hour Body – Super Salad

This salad is so quick and easy to make.  I usually put it together while cooking my eggs in the morning for breakfast.  The best bit is that it is so filling as well.  Pretty much I take half a lettuce and chop it up, add chicken pieces from the deli at the supermarket, chop up an onion and peppers.  Then the final addition is a few sun-dried tomatoes using the oil they’re in a dressing for the salad.  I think strictly you could argue that sun-dried tomatoes aren’t allowed but I think as long as you don’t have excessive amounts it is fine.  This salad is super tasty and as mentioned really filling.

Salmon, Chicken and Avocado Mix

4 Hour Body – Chicken, Salmon & Avocado Mix

This lunch is even simpler to make and is something I usual rustle up during my lunch break.  All it involves is chicken pieces from the deli at the supermarket, salmon pieces and an avocado.  When I have this lunch I tend to have two lunches using the same ingredients.  All I do is throw some chicken in a bowl, throw the salmon in it as well and chop up half an avocado.  I’ll use the other half of the avocado for my “second” lunch.  Those three things really compliment each other in taste and the best bit is you don’t need any skills at all to make this – which is good for someone like me who generally is lost in a kitchen.


Eating Out On The 4 Hour Body Diet

No matter how organised you are or how disciplined at some stage while doing the slow carb diet from The 4 Hour Body you’re going to eat out at some stage.

The best option is to go for Mexican as most of the food is compatible with the diet and any carbohydrates are easy to substitute.

The Four Hour Body – Chicken Bowl from Chipotle

A chicken bowl from Chipotle is a great dish to have on the slow carb diet.  The only thing that needs substituting is the rice which they will happily give you more beans and meat.  Then you can add lettuce, salsa and guacamole which are all allowable and you’ve got a nice meal.

Another good option is to grab a burger.  Quite a few burger chains these days do “skinny” burgers so no bun and usually a salad on the side.  Even if they don’t particularly have “skinny” burger on the menu it is quite easy to discard the bun without people you’re dining with feeling uncomfortable.

The 4-Hour Body – Skinny Burger

Other cuisines have options as well.  Indian you can skip the naan and rice.  If you order a tandoori dish than it won’t have the sauce either.  Thai food, you can quite often order a salad.

I think the biggest thing is to be open to be adaptable and just ask the restaurant.  As Tim mentions in his book, even if the menu might say no substitutions if you’re willing to pay to have vegetables instead of carbohydrates then the restaurant isn’t going to say it isn’t allowed.  Even if they charge you “consider it as a nominal flat stomach tax”.

A Typical Meal Plan on the 4 Hour Diet

When doing the 4-Hour Body diet which is a slow carb diet devised by Tim Ferriss in the book The 4 Hour Body I came up with several meal plans for myself.

A typical breakfast I will cook for myself usually consists of fried eggs or an omelette.  As recommended by Tim I eat this first thing when waking before my shower.  This I follow with a pint glass of ice cold water.

4-Hour Body Diet – Breakfast

I work in an office where I have access to a microwave so bring in my own cooked chicken fajitas.  What I do at the start of the week is to cook a huge batch up and then I put it into containers and freeze it.  I then don’t have to think about lunch for the entire week and helps me keep to the diet.

4 Hour Body Diet – Lunch of Chicken Fajitas

They are super easy to make.  I use chicken thigh fillets and typically courgettes, peppers and mushrooms.  I then stir-fry the chicken first and then add the vegetables.  I then add fajita seasoning while everything is finishing off and they’re done.

One of my favourite dinners on the Four Hour Body diet is salmon with vegetables.  My local supermarket has a special where you can buy a pack of six roasted salmon fillets.  It works out perfectly for 6 days a week of diet and 1 day cheating.

Four Hour Body Diet – Dinner

The salmon is already seasoned with black pepper and takes 20 minutes to cook in an oven.  While it is cooking I usually stir fry some vegetables to eat with it.  Sometimes it is mushrooms and courgettes or another favourite is spinach with some garlic granules.

Overall this typical week of meals is super easy to prepare with minimum amount of effort.  The other great thing about this meal plan is the cost.  It roughly works out for 6 days of food to be approximately £25 of or $40.  This works out as an average of £1.40 a meal or $2.22.  Cheaper than a sandwich!

Does the 4 Hour Body Diet Work?

The first question on anyone’s mind when starting a diet is does it actually work.  The simple answer is “yes”.  When you search online you will find plenty of people who have had huge success following the slow carb diet in The Four Hour Body.

Does the 4-Hour Body Diet work?

On Tim’s website he has some great stories from people.  Some of of the people on there are truly inspirational when you see the amount they have lost.  Some losing an amazing 100 pounds which is life changing.

I can also speak from personal experience following this diet.  I’ve always been slightly overweight hovering around 80kgs.  I’ve joined gyms, counted calories, starved myself, ran half marathons etc…  I might be able to shift a couple of kgs but could never sustain it and went back to my old weight.  My other issue has always been my belly.  I’ve always had one and have never been able to change my body shape.  My attitude when doing this diet was I had nothing to lose to try.

Photo before doing the 4 Hour Body Diet

After a couple of weeks the results were immediate.  I had lost 4kgs and could feel my trousers weren’t so tight around my stomach which as mentioned above is my biggest problem area.  I’m now down to 65kg and really happy.  I haven’t been in the 60s since high school.  I now take an interest in my appearance and clothes.  I used to always have the attitude that nothing looked good on me anyway so there was no point even making an effort.

A shot after starting the 4Hour Body Diet

The biggest thing I think that makes this diet work is the fact the rules are simple.  Also I think the cheat day is a great compromise.  You have something to look forward to instead of “punishing” yourself the whole time which I think helps people stick to it.

The final thing which I think is one of the most important things to remember when doing any diet is “enjoy it”.  As Tim says, a lot of his content “is intended to be read as the diary of a madman” but the biggest thing he hoped to impart was the “joy of exploration and discovery”.  Find out what works for you and go for it.

What is the 4 Hour Body Diet?

The Four Hour Body Diet is a slow carb diet invented by Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4 Hour Body” and the “The 4 Hour Week”.

It consists of five simple rules:

  • Rule 1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).

    The Four Hour Body Diet

    Avoid White Carbs

  • Rule 2: Eat the same few meals over and over again.
  • Rule 3: Don’t drink calories.
  • Rule 4: Don’t eat fruit.
  • Rule 5: Take one day off per week and go nuts.

Rule 1 – Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).

This means not eating anything white including bread, all rice (both brown and

white), cereal, potatoes, pasta, tortillas and fried food with batter.

Rule 2 – Eat the same few meals over and over again.

This rule stems from the idea that the most successful dieters eat the same few meals over and over again.

The groups of foods that are recommended you eat most of and as much as you like are as follows:

Egg whites with 1–2 whole eggs for flavour (or, if organic, 2–5 whole eggs,

Eat Proteins

including yolks
Chicken breast or thigh
Black beans

Pinto beans
Red beans

Mixed vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, or any other cruciferous vegetables
Sauerkraut, kimchee
Green beans

As you can tell from reading the list Mexican food is actually one of the most conducive places to dine out at on this diet.  It is common now for most places to offer “naked” meals without the burrito etc… and it quite easy to swap rice for vegetables.

Rule 3 – Don’t drink calories.

Water, unsweetened tea, coffee or any other low calorie/no calorie beverages are allowed.  Milk including soy milk, fruit juice and soft drinks shouldn’t be drunk.  Even diet soft drinks should be limited due to the ingredient aspartame which can stimulate weight gain.

The diet doesn’t take all the fun out of life.  Red wine is still allowed, up to two glasses per night.

Don’t drink calories, though red wine is allowed.

Rule 4 – Don’t eat fruit.

The basis of this rule lies with the amount of sugar and fructose within fruit.

No fruit allowed other than tomato and avocado

Fructose when converted goes to glycerol phosphate which in turn goes to triglycerides which then via the liver lead to fat storage.  Tomatoes and avocadoes are the exception to the rule and are allowed with avocado limited to one meal or cup per day.



Rule 5 – Take one day off per week and go nuts.

This rule means that one day a week you can go crazy and eat whatever you want.  The idea being that by spiking your caloric intake it will increase fat-loss by ensuring your metabolic rate doesn’t go down from extended caloric restriction.  Anything goes on this day including beer, chocolate, ice-cream or any other vices you might have.

Take a day off and go nuts!

According to the author Tim Ferriss he has never seen this diet fail as long as you stick to the five rules mentioned above.