Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body has rapidly become one of the best-selling and best-reviewed health books in history. Ferriss deserves this achievement, as he’s done a huge amount of work to bring useful and effective health information to a large number of people. What impressed me even more is that he received accolades from major figures in medicine. Doctor Oz said that his research team validated nearly all of the information in the book. Science writer and well-known skeptic Dr. Ben Goldacre contributed a chapter to the book’s appendix.
The book is my favorite type of book – a grab bag of hundreds of actionable tips. With such a book, there are areas that will interest some people more than others. In my case, I was most interested in the sections on nutrition, fitness, sex, sleep, and medicine. Those are the sections I’ll focus on in this post. Other people may be more interested in the parts about improving performance in specific sports, trying out polyphasic sleep, or becoming as extreme as David Blaine.
Here we go:
• Bodybuilders are often on the cutting edge of science and medicine.
• Use the Pareto principle to increase effectiveness in fitness and in life.
• Richard Branson says that working out is the most important step to becoming more productive.
• It’s important to identify the minimum effective dose – the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.
• Be mindful of the difference between correlation and causation.
Fat Loss Introduction:
• The three best methods for estimating percentage of bodyfat are DEXA, BodPod, and Ultrasound (BodyMetrix).
• Four ways to change behavior:
1. Make it conscious (be aware of it in real time)
2. Make it a game
3. Make it competitive
4. Make it a small and temporary change
The Slow Carb Diet:
1. Avoid flour, sugar, grains, and fried food with breading.
2. Eat the same few meals over and over again, mixing and matching from three groups of food – proteins, legumes, and vegetables.
3. Don’t drink calories. Drink only water and unsweetened tea & coffee, and maybe red wine.
4. Don’t eat fruit. Fruit includes fructose, which increases triglyceride levels and fat storage.
5. Take one day off per week. Dramatically increasing caloric intake once per week keeps the body’s metabolic rate from downshifting.
• Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are good supplements to take. 500 mg of magnesium taken before bedtime will improve sleep.
• If not eating legumes, eat extra protein and vegetables.
• Spices add variety to the repetitive meal plan.
• If you get symptoms of low blood sugar, eat another slow-carb meal.
• Eating eggs leads to more fat-loss and increased basal metabolism.
• Eat breakfast within one hour of waking, preferably within 30 minutes.
• Get at least 20 grams of protein per meal.
• Be sure to drink enough water.
• If you don’t have much time to cook, start off by getting canned and frozen food.
• Stop eating nuts if fat-loss plateaus.
• Artificial and natural sweeteners can cause fat-loss to plateau. Spices and extracts like cinnamon and vanilla are better.
Preventing Damage on Cheat Days:
• Minimize the release of insulin:
1. Eat a meal high in protein and high in fiber for the first meal of the binge day.
2. Eat a small amount of fructose (like grapefruit juice) to cause blood glucose to flatline.
3. Use supplements like PAGG (policosanol, alpha-lipoic acid, green tea flavanols, and garlic extract) to increase insulin sensitivity.
4. Drink citrus juices.
• Use caffeine and yerba mate tea to increase the speed of gastric emptying.
• Engage in brief muscular contractions (air squats, wall presses, and chest pulls) throughout the binge day.
• The medicinal plant cissus quadrangularis reduces fat and increases muscle.
• Balancing gut bacteria increases the rate of fat loss. Some steps to improve the gut microbiome:
1. Stop using artificial sweeteners.
2. Eat fermented foods.
3. Take probiotic and prebiotic supplements (Sedona Labs iFlora and inulin).
The Four Horseman of Fat-Loss:
• The PAGG fat-loss supplement combo is made up of Policosanol (20 to 25 mg), Alpha-lipoic acid (100 mg), Green tea flavanols (325 mg), and Garlic extract (200 mg).
• The timing involves: AGG prior to breakfast, AGG prior to lunch, AGG prior to dinner, and PAGG prior to bed.
• Take one day off each week and one week off every two months.
• Take a B-complex vitamin supplement while using the PAGG supplements.
Mastering Temperature to Manipulate Weight:
• Place an ice pack on the back of your neck to stimulate brown adipose tissue to burn fat.
• Cold showers lead to fat loss, increased lean muscle gain, immune system improvements, and improved mood.
• Cayenne increases thermogenic effects.
The Glucose Switch:
• Have a protein shake about an hour before working out and then a large meal immediately after a workout.
• Eat good fats (like nuts) as an appetizer before an entree to reduce the glycemic response.
• Lemon juice lowers blood sugar peaks by 10%.
• Saigon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon lower blood glucose, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Only use one and a half teaspoons per day.
• Eat slowly and chew more to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Building the Perfect Posterior (Or Losing 100+ Pounds):
• Exercises to lose fat and improve toning: glute activation raises, flying dog (arm and leg extensions), kettlebell swings
• The kettlebell swing also improves posture.
• One movement to improve abs is stretching and bending backwards while lying on a BOSU ball.
• Another ab improvement method involves kneeling on all fours, forcefully exhaling, and pulling your belly button upwards toward your spin for 8 to 12 seconds – then inhaling and repeating for a total of 10 repetitions.
• The bicycle crunch is the most effective form of crunch.
• Supplements used to put on 34 lbs of muscle in less than a month in two 30-minute workouts per week (exact doses and schedule are in the book): NO-Xplode, Slo-Niacin, ChromeMate, alpha-lipoic acid, BodyQUICK, Micellean, policosanol
1. Perform one set to failure for each exercise and take three minutes of rest between exercises.
2. Perform every rep with five seconds up and five seconds down.
3. Focus on two to ten exercises per workout (including at least one multi-joint exercise).
4. Increase recovery time.
• Bodybuilder Casey Viator gained 63 lbs of muscle in 28 days by using negative-only sets and supersets to the point of failure. He also ate six to eight meals per day.
• Keep shoulder blades back to reduce the risk of injury in exercises.
• Increase the weight by 10 lbs if you can complete the minimal number of reps for all exercises (except for the ab exercises and kettlebell swing).
• Attempt to move the weight even beyond the point where you think you’ve hit failure.
• Don’t pause at the top or bottom of any movements (except the bench press).
(The book also has detailed advice on performing specific resistance exercises.)
• Take two to four days off between workouts.
• Take seven days off after training that causes significant muscular damage.
• If not gaining enough muscle, drink up to four liters of a milk a day.
• L-glutamine is useful for tissue repair and intestinal repair.
• Creatine monohydrate is a supplement that improves muscle strength and protein synthesis.
• Three exercises to build biceps are the two-handed kettlebell swing, the “Yates” bent row, and the reverse drag curl.
The 15-Minute Female Orgasm:
• The most sensitive part of the clitoris is the upper-left-hand quadrant (as seen from the woman’s perspective lying down).
• Women are sometimes self-conscious during sex, but they need to know how beautiful and exciting they are in the state of orgasm, according to sex researcher Nina Hartley.
• A book for helping women become orgasmic is I Love Female Orgasm.
• A sexual position that increases the probability of female pleasure is the improved-angle missionary position. This involves keeping the woman’s hips elevated on a firm buckwheat pillow. Another option is the improved-pressure cowgirl position, which involves the man leaning back about 20 degrees on a bed against a wall, or on an armless chair.
• Some approaches to experiencing extended orgasms were developed by Drs. Steve and Vera Bodansky.
• The 15-Minute orgasm is based on teachings developed by OneTaste. The whole process is kind of hard to explain in a blog post, but the book has lots of helpful illustrations.
• Supplements for increasing testosterone include:
1. fermented cod liver oil and vitamin-rich butter fat (2 capsules upon waking and before bed)
2. Vitamin D3 (3,000 to 5,000 IU upon waking and before bed) until you reach blood levels of 55 ng/mL
3. Brazil nuts (3 nuts upon waking and 3 nuts before bed – if you’re deficient in selenium)
• Short ice baths or cold showers taken when waking up or before bed are also helpful.
• Short-term testosterone boost:
1. Eat 800 mg of cholesterol (four whole eggs or a steak) the night before you want to have incredible sex.
2. Four hours prior to sex – eat 4 brazil nuts, 20 raw almonds, and 2 capsules of the fermented cod/butter combination.
• Cell phones decrease testosterone and impair sperm function.
Engineering the Perfect Night’s Sleep:
• The Zeo is a helpful device for optimizing sleep.
• Use a single bedsheet at a room temperature between 67 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
• Eat a large fat- and protein-dominated meal within three hours of bedtime.
• California poppy extract can increase the percentage of time spent in deep-wave sleep (the best kind of sleep).
• Use a blue light emitter in the morning.
• Use iso-lateral resistance training.
• Take a cold bath one hour prior to bed.
• Try taking melatonin at bedtime.
• The NightWave Sleep Assistant can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
(There are pictures and extensive step-by-step instructions for many of the following techniques in the book):
• Wear Vibram Five Fingers or Terra Plana Barefoot Vivo shoes to fix lower back pain.
• Use the Egoscue method to heal cervical/neck and mid-back injuries.
• The Advanced Muscle Integration Technique (as practiced the ChiroMAT office) can be used to repair muscles.
• Active-Release Technique is another method for muscle repair. It has been used successfully by UFC fighters.
• Prolotherapy is a technique that temporarily increases inflammation in order to stimulate tissue repair.
• Biopuncture involves injections of Traumeel, zdeel, and lymphomyosot to improve recovery time from injuries.
• These exercises are the most effective at preventing injuries according to NFL training specialist Gray Cook:
1. chop and lift
2. Turkish get-up
3. two-arm single-leg deadlift
4. cross-body one-arm single-leg deadlift
Life Extension Techniques:
• creatine monohydrate
• intermittent fasting and protein cycling
• donating blood to reduce excess levels of iron that build up in males
Separating Good Science from Bad Science:
• Focus on absolute changes rather than relative increases or decreases that are expressed as percentages.
• Ignore observational studies and instead pay attention to the results of randomized and controlled experiments.
• Be skeptical of studies that rely on self-reporting or surveys.
• Beware of studies where the funders have a vested interest in a certain outcome.