I was instantly interested in the book The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Tim Ferriss.
The official description:
This is not just another diet and fitness book. The 4-Hour Body is the result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to hack the human body. It contains the collective wisdom of hundreds of elite athletes, dozens of MDs, and thousands of hours of jaw-dropping personal experimentation. From Olympic training centers to black-market laboratories, from Silicon Valley to South Africa, Tim Ferriss fixated on one life-changing question:
For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?
I read the entire book but really only focused on losing weight while still bingeing. Could it really be true?
12 months ago, I switched to a vegetarian diet. My main reasons were to eat more vegetables and recover faster after workouts. Plus Bart Yasso is vegetarian and overall a badass dude.
Well, my plan didn’t go very well. Five months into vegetarianism, my energy level was low and my running was the same, if not slower. I could also tell me body was looking weak. I was still the same weight but it had shifted from my arms, chest and shoulders to my mid section. In other words, I was losing muscles and gaining fat.
The “Slow Carb” diet…
The book promotes the slow carb diet, which eliminates simple carbs and promotes more protein. The plan is fairly simple, below is a summary from the more detailed chapter in the book.
For six days out of the week (slow carb diet):
- No white carbs (bread, white & brown rice, flour, white and whole wheat pasta, starch, potatoes, etc)
- No simple sugars (sugar, all fruit, dairy and soy milk, syrup, jam, and ice cream)
For one day a week (cheat day):
- Anything is game! In fact, he says it’s good to overload on the forbidden food to “reset” your metabolism or reassure your body it’s not starving. In theory, without a cheat day, your body would start storing food as fat thinking you were starving and needed the extra supply. Plus, there’s no way I could could go without Pizza, French Fries, and Ice Cream for too long. As most dieters know, it’s impossible to stick to a diet for a good length of time. Sooner or later you end up at a birthday party with pizza, cake and ice cream.
So what did I eat for the slow carb diet?
Beans, Vegetables, Tofu, Nuts, Boca Burgers, Eggs, Protein Shakes and tons of Peanut Butter. It may sound less than appealing but after a couple meals the creativity kicked it. Here are a couple of my favorite meals that I would eat over and over. To this day, I still love them…maybe more than “normal meals”.
- Black beans, onions, shredded spinach, salsa verde and a bit of feta cheese
- Vegetable stir fry with tofu (curry for flavor, red pepper for a kick)
- Pinto and kidney beans, green peppers, onions, chopped up Boca burger and taco seasoning
- Scrambled eggs, spinach, red salsa and Boca sausage (eating this right now as I write)
On my cheat days, I downed cream-filled donuts, pizza, chips and ice cream. I made my self sick about every other week. It was awesome and awful at the same time.
So how did I measure the diet?
First, I tested my body composition. Weight loss alone would not give me a decisive answer because I could be gaining/ losing muscles as well as fat. I needed a test that would tell me how much fat vs. how much lean mass my body was losing. There are many methods out there to test your body comp or body fat percentage. I choose Bod Pod because it’s easy, cheap and readily available. Just put on a pair of tight shorts and swim-like cap before getting into the pressurized pod and 60 seconds later you have results.
- Total Body Weight – 167.1 lbs
- Lean Weight – 141.0 lbs
- Fat Weight – 26.1 lbs
- 15.6% body fat
So how did the the 4-Hour Body and slow carb work?
Really, it wasn’t that hard to change my eating habits, once I got into the routine. Grocery shopping became simplified and so did cooking. Never once did I count a calorie. This was huge, because counting calories, eating timed meals is a pain in the ass and not sustainable. Instead, I just ate when hungry and made sure it fit the rules. Cheat days were amazing. I also took green tea extract, garlic tablets, and fish oil 4x a day. I don’t know if they helped, but they seemed like good supplements to have. And for the results…
- Total Body Weight – 153.9 lbs
- Lean Weight – 140.0 lbs
- Fat Weight – 13.9 lbs
- 9.1% body fat
Overall, I lost 13.9 lbs, of which 12.2 lbs was fat. Really, this is quite remarkable to lose only fat and not much muscle. I credit the muscle stability to kettle bell workouts, 100 push-up routine and running. I did 2 one-hour kettle bell classes a week, push-ups maybe 2-3 times a week, and ran 4 times a week.
- I was really hesitant about sharing my experience. I’m not sure why, but after testing the results with others I decided to share.
- The before and after pictures will stay private for now…I’m not that conspicuous.
- Protein shakes in the morning was, by far, the biggest factor that produced the most change for me. I recovered faster from workouts and felt full throughout the day.
- Energy level was sustained, if not increased. I set new personal records in the 5K and 50 mile distance (my first true ultra marathon!)