Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four-Hour Workweek,” has taken his considerable analytical skills and applied them to the human form. Quite specifically he has turned his body into a lab experiment, dropping over $250,000 in medical tests so he could monitor various outcomes of what he calls “biochemicals,” aka food and supplements to the rest of us.
It’s interesting; he’s an entertaining writer and has lots of stories. In his book, “The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman”, (affiliate link) he discusses testing his diet on 194 willing souls and there were some dramatic results in the group. He claims in 30 days you can “restructure” your body by 20 pounds.
I saw buzz on Twitter about the book from people that I respect picking it up and mentioning it in positive terms. I had initially done the big ol’ eye roll; 4 hours of working out per month to achieve optimal body results. Okay, sure.
I’m still really, really skeptical. Ferriss addresses primarily cosmetics, i.e., how your body looks, and he doesn’t address issues such as cardiovascular health, joint flexibility, bad backs, etc. Yet, all of his lab tests and blood work came back with healthy levels and if they didn’t, he tells the reader.
He’s a Research Geek, Like Me
What is interesting is Ferriss talks to good people and he uses decent research. He’s a very thorough investigator and looks for results from various studies and then strings them together. Sometimes he has a hunch about something and then experiments on himself to come up with an answer. A study with a cohort of one is a bit small (heavy irony) but he seems to be a normal human so there should be some correlation to others.
The Diet Basics
The diet itself is pretty restrictive. Nothing white (starches), don’t drink any calories (although a glass or two of red wine is okay), don’t eat any fruit, eat the same few meals over and over again, and take one day per week off and “go nuts,” eating whatever you want.
The foods are primarily lean proteins, legumes (he’s BIG on legumes), and a stingy list of veggies (remember, no fruit).
He also has a basic workout routine of about 30 minutes to do twice per week which totals about four hours per month, hence the title of the book.
Why I’ve Decided To Do It Myself
I’m skeptical, but I’m going to give it a go. For the next 30 days (today is actually day three for me), I’m going to try the diet and exercise routine. I took before pictures and measurements just as he suggested. I’ll be talking to some experts about the diet and getting their opinions as I go and I’ll be throwing in my own two cents as far as living through it and the exercises involved. They’re pretty simple and mostly involve kettle bells. I’m new to kettle bells personally so that will be a fun new toy for me to play with.
What are my concerns? That this isn’t a long-term sustainable eating plan; that the vast majority of people will slip off this wagon pretty quickly because it is so limiting (except for the one day per week). He claims you only need four hours of exercise per month and I’ve read study on top of study that says more like four hours per week. I’d like to see more information on why he’s challenging literally thousands of university studies.
But, he talks to some pretty high-end people in the fitness and nutrition realms; people I follow and greatly respect. A lot of the studies he cites are ones that I have read as well and respect the findings. He talks about how the university system limits scientific discovery in some ways and I believe that’s true. He also talks about the total disconnect between the bodybuilding community and the university researchers, and I do think some really interesting stuff would come out of research that looks at what the current bodybuilders are doing.
If you’re reading this and you’ve bought the book, feel free to comment with your opinions. I’d like to get a discussion going about if you think what Ferriss is advocating is good or not. I’ll be writing periodic posts as I talk to more people and go through the process. Ultimately, I’m doing the same thing Ferriss is: experimenting on myself and reporting back to you. I guess I get to be the second wave since he already did the hard work for me. Thanks Tim, appreciate that. :-)
Let me know your thoughts,