The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman


The 4-Hour Body
Publisher: Harmony
Published: 12/14/2010
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?

Book Summary - The 4 Hour Body by Timothy Ferris

Key Insights

Have you ever wanted to get in shape but convinced yourself there is not enough time in the day? You might be right.

Taking time to eat healthily and exercise takes significant time out of the day. However, there are ways to eat healthier and optimize your fitness without compromising on the time you need to commit to other things.

By learning minimalist methods you can streamline your workouts and improve eating habits. Also, implementing this methodology will further enhance your quality of life, reduce the recovery time in your fitness, and improve your sleeping habits. Although this might all seem too good to be true, it is supported by thorough research into the methods used.

Key Points

Not all fitness routines work for everyone.

You have decided you want to get fitter but have trouble fitting in the time and getting motivated. All the different methods of promising weight loss or increased muscle can also be overwhelming. You may have tried out some of the more traditional methods and failed to see any effective results.

If you find that long hours at the gym are not working, minimizing the training may help. Using the Minimum Effective Dose, or, MED method, can help you break up the training into more manageable blocks.

For example, instead of going to the gym for hours at a time, break it down to a few highly effective hours a week. In those few hours, you can also integrate different methods of exercise to optimize results. So, one time you may use Crossfit, and another chunk is dedicated to swimming.

The reduced hours of exercise mean less impact on your social life and less strain on your body but still allow you to improve your fitness. You can take the same approach with healthier eating. Instead of switching everything you eat, try choosing a healthier option for one part of each meal. In time, you will lose weight but will not have drastically changed your lifestyle to do it.

If you want immediate results, this method will not work. But over time there will be significant and better changes. Unlike quick-fix solutions to health and fitness, the MED method will have a permanent effect on your life. As you implement better habits in small doses, they soon become second nature and you are less likely to stop doing them.

Understanding your genes and what you eat will help you lose weight.

You probably have heard people judge someone’s appearance by saying they have good genes. Although this observation may seem shallow, there is some truth to it. Our genes do play a part in our physical appearance and our health. However, they only play a partial role and you should not believe that your appearance is predestined by your genes.

Genetics may make your body thinner or more heavyset, but this doesn’t mean you can’t change the way you look. If you have an ectomorph body, it is harder for you to put on weight or muscle but it is not impossible. Certain foods and specific workouts will help you build your frame. It is the same if your genes predispose you to put on weight. In both cases, choosing to follow a slow-carb diet will benefit you.

If this sounds like another trendy diet or fad, it’s not. Unlike other diets, this method does not require you to give up on all foods you like or to create a complex meal plan. It all doesn’t require counting the calories you consume each day. Instead, you just need to implement five basic rules into your eating habits.

When you eat lots of bread and pasta, you are loading up on white carbohydrates. The first rule is to cut white carbohydrates out. Simply by avoiding foods that are high in white carbohydrates will prevent you from putting on weight.

The second rule advises keeping to a food routine. Stick to proteins like chicken, vegetables, and legumes such as lentils. These three basic food groups will prevent you from excessive weight gain.

Rule number three is the exclusion of liquids with a significant calorie count. This includes milk drinks, fruit juices, and sodas. You can drink water, and if you prefer hot drinks you can drink tea or coffee without sugar or milk. Alcoholic drinks such as red wine are ok to drink in moderation.

You would think fruits would be ok to eat but on the slow-carb diet, fruits should be avoided. The fourth rule advises avoiding most fruits due to their sugar content. Fruits that you can consume are ones with low fructose sugar content such as avocados and tomatoes.

While it is good to abstain from white carbohydrates and items with caloric content, the slow-carb diet also recognizes that you cannot restrict yourself all of the time. The fifth rule states that cheat days should be incorporated into your routine. Eating fatty foods occasionally helps to stimulate your metabolism, increasing its ability to burn fat.

Keeping track of your progress will help you see how far you have come.

Thanks to technology, you have a lot of options on how you track your fitness. There are many phone apps and wearable technology options that allow monitoring of your activity.

Although the statistics in fitness technology are not always perfectly accurate, they help to give you an idea of the general trend. You’ll know that you’re heading in the right direction.

As long as you accept there is a certain percentage of inaccuracy, you can benefit from using fitness technology. It won’t burn the calories for you, but it will show you where you can improve and where you are succeeding. Sometimes, just knowing that you’re heading in the right direction can be all the encouragement you need.

Tracking your progress has numerous benefits in helping you with your fitness journey. As well as giving you the motivation to stick to your goals, it can also help you become more consistent with your efforts. Consistency helps you to develop good habits and prevents you from lapsing back into old routines.

Improving your sleep is just as important as improving your health.

If you have ever had trouble falling asleep or suffered a restless night’s sleep, you know how draining it can be on your body. Fortunately, there are ways you can improve your sleeping habits that will benefit your health as well.

Start by changing your evening habits to set yourself up for success. Dietary habits can affect how you sleep. If you drink wine in the evenings you are less likely to fall into a deep sleep, so try cutting back on the frequency you drink alcohol. Another thing to consider is the food you eat. This is where the slow-carb diet comes in handy. By eating protein-heavy foods, you will find it easier to fall asleep quickly.

Falling asleep quickly allows you to enter the Rapid Eye Movement, or, REM stage of sleeping quicker. This is one of the most important phases of sleep. Getting a decent amount of REM sleep makes all the difference between a good night’s rest and feeling exhausted the next day.

If you are only able to get an average of four and a half hours’ sleep each night then you can try the Everyman method. This requires you to take a nap for twenty minutes twice a day. The two naps combined with your four and a half hours of sleep will keep you feeling refreshed throughout the week. The added bonus is all the extra hours you have in the day.

There is one other method for productive sleep that is ideal if you suffer from insomnia. This is called the Uberman method. It requires you to have one core sleep of two and a half hours each night followed by twenty-minute naps every four hours. If eight hours of sleep a night eludes you, the Uberman method would be one way to make sure you get enough rest even without a full night’s sleep.

Improvements to your health will enable you to have a better quality of life.

Today we live in a world where medical advancements enable you to live longer. But it’s only effective if you can live fully. By implementing changes to your workouts, sleep, and eating habits, you can increase your chances of a fuller life.

Although exercise and habits work differently for everyone, making the effort to implement good practices is essential. Simply adding healthier options to your diet and making small, but consistent exercise routines are enough to make significant changes to your quality of life.

There is no guarantee that any exercise or diet method will increase your longevity. However, that is not the aim of the MED methodologies. They provide the chance to improve your quality of life for the duration and help you to live it to the full.

The Main Take-away

The minimum effective dose method helps you lose weight and get fitter without feeling like it’s taking up all of your time and attention.

You take what you need to do and break it out into manageable chunks of workouts. This goes well with building good habits and making improvements to your diet for the whole fitness package. It’s all about taking the small changes and using them to make a big impact on your life and health.

About the Author

Tim Ferriss is a New York Times bestselling author and podcast host. His podcast “The Tim Ferriss Show” is one of the most downloaded podcasts and the first business podcast to exceed 100 million downloads.

As a public speaker, Ferriss has been invited to speak by a wide variety of organizations including MIT, Google, and Nike. He has also been the keynote speaker at numerous summits including TED Talks and SXSW.

Ferriss is an early investor in several tech startups including Uber, Facebook, and serves on the advisory board of the educational nonprofit Donorschoose.org. He was listed as one of the “40 under 40” in Fortune.

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