The Four-Hour Body diet: an early report

| January 14, 2012

Some months back, I ordered a copy of The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, probably due to a mention on some other blog. After it arrived, it sat with 20 or so other books on my nightstand, unopened. However, some family members in other states started following Ferriss’s ‘slow carb’ diet from the book and reported steady, meaningful results. So a little over two weeks ago (12/29/11, to be exact), I decided to try it out myself.

Two weeks later, I’ve lost 12 lbs, in spite of being relatively inactive physically for reasons explained below. I haven’t felt particularly deprived, either.

There are lots of explanations of the diet on the web, but here’s a summary of my implementation of it:

  • No ‘white’ or ‘bleachable’ carbs: flour, rice, potatoes, etc.
  • No sugar or fructose (including fruits and fruit juices); limit artificial sweeteners.
  • Drink at least 1/2 gallon of water per day.
  • Meats (as used here and below includes fish and fowl), vegetables, and legumes (read: beans) at every meal. Limit corn and carrots, though.
  • Eat within 60 minutes (and preferably 30 minutes) of waking up.
  • One day a week (for me, Saturday) is ‘cheat day’ — all rules and restrictions are off.

As mentioned, I started this on Thursday, December 29th. The very next day, I managed to give myself a severe high ankle sprain slipping on a wet patch of reseeding soil on the sloping side lawn. This means that I spent my first week on the diet mostly lying on the couch or on our bed with my foot propped up and a cold pack wrapped around my ankle; I’m still limited in what I can do physically and probably will be for weeks.  Nevertheless, by the morning of my first real cheat day (Saturday, January 7th), I had lost nine (9) pounds.

I sort of went wild that first cheat day and the next morning had gained back four (4) lbs. However, my weight started declining a bit each day thereafter, so that, as noted, as of this morning I’m down a total of 12 lbs (which is to say, 7 lbs since last Sunday). I’m eating more modest amounts today and don’t expect to have the same weight gain tomorrow morning.

In preparation for the diet, I made a large batch of my Grandpa Jack’s Mexican beans (you can find the recipe in this post), froze half and kept the other half in the fridge. I also have been grilling a significant amount of protein (beef, chicken, fish, pork) on our large BBQ grill once a week, then sticking it in the fridge and using it each day. I stocked up on canned beans (no sugar/fructose) and various fresh and frozen veggies.

My daily meals have more or less followed this pattern:

  • breakfast: some sort of eggs, often scrambled, with veggies (mushrooms and onions, most often), Mexican beans on the side.
  • lunch: usually a salad with sliced meat and beans (canneloni, great northern, black) in it, occasionally other vegetables and/or diced hard-boiled egg. Dressing is either a homemade oil-and-vinegar dressing or occasionally a dollop of mayo. (I had a craving some days ago for a BLT sandwich and made a BLT salad instead.)
  • dinner: meat of some kind, veggies of some kind, beans of some kind, either as three portions of the meal or combined in some way.

Ferrriss recommends four small meals about four hours apart, but I usually end up having just three most days. If I do have a fourth, it’s usually just snacking on some veggies or having another portion of protein.

For my water, I just use a standard 2 QT plastic water container. I add in one squeeze of Mio and another of lime juice just to give it some flavor. I drink maybe one diet soda every other day, usually Fresca.

Speaking of snacking — following this diet has made me aware of just how often I would usually snack during the day. Of course, most of the things I used to snack on (cheese, crackers, bread, sweets) are off limits now (except, of course, on Saturday). However, I have found a useful substitute for when I’m just really craving something sweet or salty. Once or twice a week, I’ll cook up a half-rasher of bacon in the morning, have a slice or two with breakfast, then wrap the rest in a paper towel, put it in a ziploc bag, and stick it in the fridge. When I get a strong snack craving, I’ll just pull out a cold, salty, crispy strip of bacon and eat it. Frankly, it’s better than candy.

Likewise, this diet has made me keenly aware of how many processed food products contain sugar, fructose, or other sweeteners. Some I can understand, but vinaigrette salad dressings? Soup? Mayonnaise? Really?

Farriss gives physiological reasons for the ‘cheat day’, but I think the psychological reasons are as important. Whatever it is I want, whatever it is I’m craving, I know that I can have it in 6 days or less without ‘breaking’ the diet. Last Saturday was my first real cheat day (I was only a day or two into the diet on 12/31, so that hardly seemed like a big change), and as I mentioned above, I went a tad overboard. Today, however, while I’m enjoying what I’m eating, I don’t feel quite the same compulsion or intensity. In fact, a lot of what I’ve had today have been frozen leftovers (brownies, homemade mac-and-cheese, pizza) from last Saturday. I still have a trip to McDonalds planned between playoff games, though.

Overall, I feel fine. It’s hard to gauge my sleep patterns to date, since I have this ankle and shin that are prone to ache through the night. But I tend to wake up rested and with plenty of energy, and I maintain my energy through the day and evening, even though my caffeine consumption (in the form of diet Coke) has dropped dramatically.

Most interesting is my nose. I suffer from acne rosacea, which for me means a reddish nose that’s prone to swell a bit, with one or more whiteheads each day to deal with. Since starting on this diet, I’ve seen a total of two (2) whiteheads in the past two weeks, there has been little swelling, and even the redness seems to have faded just a touch. I’ll be watching to see if this trend continues.

I’ll keep reporting from time to time. My initial goal was to lose 30 lbs by the end of April, which would put me back where I was five years ago, when my weight started slowly creeping up; I now find that after two weeks, I’m almost halfway there. My ultimate goal is to lose 50 lbs, which will put me back where I was about 15 years ago. Should be fun.  ..bruce w..


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Category: Food, Four Hour Body, Health and Fitness, Main, Personal

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Four Hour Body diet — week 3 | January 21, 2012
  2. Four Hour Body diet update — five months in | May 31, 2012