First off, this book is a beast. At 550 pages, you might be thinking that you’ll have to cancel all your plans for the next six months. Let me assure you, you do not have to read the whole thing. With topics ranging from weight loss, muscle-building, reversing injuries, and perfecting athletic skills, “The 4 Hour Body” should be treated more like a textbook than a novel. Read what is of interest to you.
In this book, Tim Ferriss shares the “Slow-Carb Diet,” which states that you eat high protein meals with no grains (e.g. chicken with black beans and mixed vegetables) six days a week. On the seventh day, you partake in a “Binge Day,” where nothing is off limits.
On one hand, this seems like terrible advice, telling someone to go and eat pizza, donuts and chocolate to their heart’s content. However, since it’s not unusual for someone to lose 80 pounds and later gain 100, maybe this cheat day is the answer. When you deprive yourself of food you love, you use an incredible amount of willpower to stick with it. That can lead to the mentality that once you break the diet, even a little, all bets are off. (“I broke my diet by eating one cookie. I might as well eat the whole bag.”)
With the binge-day model, instead of using willpower until the end of time, you only have to use it for a few days. That shifts the narrative from “I’m not allowed to have this” to “I’ll eat that on my next cheat day.”
In the chapter on building the perfect posterior, Tim talks about the kettlebell swing, with which one of his case studies was able to lose 100 pounds by doing the kettlebell swing for 15 minutes, twice per week. I was so eager that I promptly went out and bought a kettlebell. Let me tell you: it’s hard work! I’m starting with intervals of 60 seconds on, 30 seconds rest, with the intent to eventually make it up to the full 15 minutes non-stop.
My critique of this book is its lack of citations. While Tim refers to several studies, only one of them had a link for further review. Sometimes I use the citations to learn more on a topic; sometimes I just refer to the citations to determine how much to trust the book. (e.g. Are the citations of reputable sources? Is there a variety of sources?) I could not find sources in the book or online. If you come across them, please let me know!
This is an awesome book, filled with quirky self-experimentation. Many of the experiments had a sample size of one (Tim Ferris alone), but what he has discovered (and his methods for doing so) are so bizarre and hilarious that it makes the book a great read. A very prudent guideline for reading this book is a quote in the book from Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own.”
Despite its size, it’s a fairly easy to read and even comes with suggestions of which chapters to read based on your fitness goal. For example, to read all there is about rapid fat-loss, the total page count is 98. If you’ve wanted to read this book and have put it off for months because of its size (ahem, that was me), don’t be intimidated. Pick it up and jump right in!
Interested in Tim Ferriss? Be sure to check out his podcast (informative, entertaining, and a little bit odd at times) as well as the book review I filmed of the “Four Hour Work Week.”
[Note: I found this book at a library book sale. Yay! After wanting to read the book for years, I took this as a sign (and a kick in the pants.)]
Book review of “The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman” by Timothy Ferriss.
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