The 4-Hour Body: a 5-year review

The 4-Hour Body: a 5-year review

After over 5 years since I first read this book, I felt it was time to revisit it.

This is the book that changed it all for me.

Not because it has the most scientific-based approaches (it doesn?t) nor because it is ?the last book you?ll ever need to read about diet?.

But because it found me in a particular time and place ? it was the right book at the right time.

When it all began

Let?s start at the beginning.

It was the distant year of 2013.

And I was overweight, and unhappy, and had just moved to a new country.

I had struggled with weight for years. I was not obese, but simply had never had success in leaning out.

How could something seemingly so simple (?calories in, calories out?) be so hard?

I always thought that the success hadn?t come because of my ?lack of time?.

But now, I had time in my hands.

And I was determined to succeed.

So I started killing myself with diet (eating whole grains every 2?3 hours, and feeling hungry most of my waking hours), and exercise (over 2 hours per day, and just hating it).

In the first weeks doing this crazy regimen, I lost about 6 pounds.

I felt tired. But kind of happy.

But then? I reached a plateau.

I couldn?t lose any more weight.

I felt tired all the time. And sore.

I was beginning to get desperate.

That?s when I found Tim Ferriss? book.

And I was surprised to see that the advice contained was the exact opposite of everything I had tried.

Eat 3 square meals a day ? no snacking.

No need to feel hungry ? eat until you?re satiated.

No calorie control.

No fruit.

No whole grains.

And wine every day.

To top it all: a cheat day. Every. Fucking. Week.

I was sure this wasn?t going to work.

But hey, at least it seemed like more fun than I was having.

A few months pass

Image for postMy transformation with the Slow Carb diet was the tipping point

Fast forward a few months, I had lost over 30 pounds with the Slow-carb diet, and became obsessed about healthy eating.

After all ? how could everything I had learned so far be so wrong?

So I started reading. A lot. And experimenting.

Hell, I even started writing about it in my own blog (in Portuguese).

I began following a more low-carb (and even ketogenic) approach.

I started intermittent fasting.

I started lifting heavy, but less often (goodbye ABCDE bodybuilder splits. Hello compound lifts).

I ditched all the other sports (which I hated, and only did because I felt it was needed to lose weight). I stopped feeling sore all the time (thank God).

And I lost more weight, and gained more muscle.

In fact, with all the experiments, and small changes here and there?

I realized I had stopped following Tim Ferriss? advice altogether.

Because it had taken me so far.

But now ? in order to go forward ? I needed other tools.

I began carb cycling ? with a higher protein intake.

Cheat days every week stalled my progress, so I reduced the frequency of diet escapades.

It was indeed different than the 4-Hour Body approach.

But I always kept a special place in my heart for that book.

Because it was where it all began.

So, after all those years (and a myriad of other diet books), I felt it was time do acquiesce myself with it again.

Tim Ferriss, we meet again

So, I read it again.

And, I have to say, it has its pros and cons.

PROS: It?s very action-oriented.

Tim Ferriss is a great storyteller, and the book is fun to read ? at least the first 60?70%.

The book is very well-writen.

Specially the start of the book, where I feel Tim ?rigs the game so you can win?.

What I mean is this: The diet is enjoyable and easy to follow.

Cheat days every week mean you still eat all your favourite foods on a weekly basis.

No calorie tracking removes confusion and a layer of complexity.

The workouts are simple and not time consuming (you can do it all in machines, there?s no need to learn new lifts).

CONS: You have to trust Tim?s word for most of it ? I mean, it?s not like legumes have any magical property ? at least, not according to science.

At the same time, the strengths of the protocols become their weaknesses.

Because no calorie tracking means you?re flying blind.

Cheat days every week may stall your progress.

The workouts (like the ones in Occam?s Protocol) won?t break any records.

And the other advice in the book is more useful as thought-provoking reads than as instructions: you really won?t start playing major league baseball after reading the chapter, nor become an ultra-marathoner.

Some surprises

All things considered, this book has good advice for really overweight people who want to get to a ?normal guy/gal? baseline.

It will not make you super shredded, and Tim can be a bit of a name-dropper sometimes.


It has its gems.

I tried some exercises for lower back pain, and they worked surprisingly well.

The sex chapters are worth delving into (at least a part of them).

And cold therapy may not burn a ton of calories (as implied by the book), but cold exposure can be a stoic exercise in resilience, a kind of hormetic stressor ? and really wake you up as a bonus.

It also highligths the value of self-experimentation, which is important for long-term adherence.

My Review

Reading the book 5 years later, I feel that pretty much everything in this book is hyped up.

Maybe that?s the price you have to pay to make sensible and useful advice become a best-seller.

Or, specially: to get people to start taking action.

I know it worked to get me moving.

Even if, in the end, I went to a different direction than the one indicated in the book.

However, getting people to take the first step (and following through) may be the most important factor.

Because the best diet (or execise regimen, or whatever) is the one that you can stick to.

And Tim Ferriss is very good in making it an easy game to win.

Kudos to you, Tim Ferriss.

You may not become ?effortless superhuman? in 4 hours. But you can change lives.


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