Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review & Recipe: "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss and "On the Go Hummus"

When I was given the chance to review "The 4-Hour body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman" by Timothy Ferriss, a few months ago, I wasn't expecting almost 600 pages of how-to's on to transform myself and become "superhuman." The book's size was somewhat intimidating, and it sat on my shelf for weeks until I finally opened it up and read "Rule #1: Think of This Book as a Buffet" where the author instructs the reader not to read the book from beginning to end, but to instead pick the chapters that are most relevant to them and just read those. Whew! ;-)

Author Ferriss, author of the business best-seller "The 4-Hour Work Week," states clearly that he isn't neither a doctor nor a Ph.d, but instead "a meticulous data cruncher with access to many of the world' best athletes and scientists." I would also venture to say that he is just a little bit crazy too, spending 10 years and more than $250,000 to test every workout, diet, supplement, and health fad he could find on himself to find the ones that work with the least amount of effort and time. Throughout his journey, Ferriss worked with more than 100 experts-- doctors, scientists, Olympic athletes, and different specialists, and tested his results for 3 years with over 200 volunteers, male and female.

His Result: The book states that you will learn (in less than 30 minutes each):
  • How to lose 20 lbs in 30 days (without exercise) on the ubersimple Slow-Carb Diet
  • How to prevent fat gain while bingeing on holiday meals
  • How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice
  • How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested
  • How to produce 15-minute female orgasms (yikes I just said orgasm on my blog!) ;-)
  • How to triple testosterone and double sperm count
  • How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks
  • How to reverse "permanent" injuries
  • How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months.

10 Surprising Tips from "The 4-Hour Body"
  • To increase fat burning up to 300%, drink at least 500 ml (about 17 oz) of ice water on an empty stomach immediately upon waking, follow with a 5-minute cold shower, and place an ice pack on the back of your neck for 30 minutes while watching TV in the evening.
  • Eat within one hour, ideally 30 minutes, of waking to increase fat-loss. One subject went from approximately 5 lbs. of loss per month to more than 17 lbs. per month with this one change, based on a few protein-rich foods.
  • Pig out on junk food one day a week to lose weight. This will ensure that your metabolic rate (thyroid, hormone, etc.) doesn't downshift from extended calories restriction.
  • On these scheduled "binge" days, drink yerba mate tea so food will exit your stomach faster and add less fat to your waist line. Lime juice or wedges can be timed for more effect.
  • Add cinnamon to your pastries to increase your insulin sensitivity and minimize fat gain.
  • Consume three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice just prior to meals to lower your blood sugar peaks by approximately 10%.
  • Eat two tablespoons of raw almond butter before bedtime to make even four hours of sleep feel like eight hours.
  • Take a cold bath one hour prior to bed for a good night's sleep (faster time to sleep).
  • To increase your sex drive, eat three to four hard-boiled eggs the night before sex and Brazil nuts and raw almonds a few hours before.
  • Increase your step cadence to help you jog farther with less effort.

"The 4-Hour Body" says that it isn't a "diet book or a fitness book." Ferris writes that instead. "It's a manifesto, a call to arms for a new mental model of living: the experimental lifestyle. It's up to you to learn what your body best responds to."

Does it work? Good question! As you know, I am not a doctor myself and I am also not one to put much stock in quirky tips and special diets and promises for quick results as I think it is hard to sustain them for a healthy long-term lifestyle. That being said, there are parts that do seem to make sense while some are a little (or more than a little) out there. Remember I said that this book sat on my shelf for many weeks? Well, I finally pulled it back out after a good friend raved about needing to buy new jeans after a couple of weeks following just some of the rapid fat-loss tips from the book. She was pretty sold, and that made the "Rapid Fat Loss" section of the book the part of the "buffet" that I took a closer look at.

Some of the rules and tips were already things I was doing (at least part of the time) -- like avoiding "white" carbohydrates, and not "drinking your calories." Others like not eating fruit (due to the fructose/sugar) and eating the same few meals over and over again (difficult for a food blogger), aren't so workable for me. I think eating within 1 hour of waking, preferably within 30 minutes makes sense. Taking daily cold baths and cold showers and putting an ice packs on the back of your neck for 30 minutes a night... well that just makes me cold and kind of grumpy! ;-) I didn't end up being committed enough to follow things through for a complete test but the book (or at least sections I covered in the book) is interesting and gave me some things to think about and possibly try. It doesn't seem like there is anything in it that would be especially harmful, but I will likely stick to my current ongoing healthy lifestyle plan to continue to reduce those extra "blogging pounds" that creep up occasionally. Still "The 4-Hour Body" is entertaining--just reading about the experiments Ferriss went through in his quest is fun and some are pretty fascinating, so it was worth a "buffet-style" read.

There are a handful of recipes in the book from Ferriss and others. Since I like to cook something related to the book to accompany my book reviews, I chose the "On the Go Hummus." I have my basic favorite hummus go-to recipe but found the lack of olive oil and addition of tamari (fermented soy sauce) in this one were interesting.

"On The Go Hummus"
From "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferris
(Serves 6-8)

3 cups garbanzo beans
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp tamari
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lemon, lime or orange juice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 -1/2 cup water

Process all ingredients except water in blender or food processor. Add a small amount of water at a time to keep ingredients moving in blender or processor, as needed.

The book says, "Great with tortillas or pita and laced with kalamata olives for trailside lunch on those long runs. For a great sandwich add slices of red bell pepper, tomatoes, and choice of salad greens."

Notes/Results: It won't replace my favorite hummus but it was still pretty tasty. I did add a bit more cumin to it, and some extra lemon (I used orange juice for my quarter cup of juice, but ended up adding about 2 extra tablespoons of lemon juice to the mix), to give it a bit more flavor but the consistency was creamy and you do cut down on calories omitting the olive oil. As a veggie dip or sandwich spread it worked well.

Obligatory Disclosure Statement: I was sent this book free of charge from the publisher but was not obligated to review it and my thoughts, experience and opinion of the book are entirely my own.

Happy Tuesday!


  1. Huh. Interesting. I think you're right that some things make sense - eating within 30 minutes of waking boosts your metabolism, cinnamon HAS been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, etc. But some are just truly odd. The cold shower thing? I'd never get warm ever again! (I'm terminally and I swear a hot HOT shower is the best half hour of my day.) And 15 minute orgasms? I'm not sure that'd even be healthy! Ah well. Great review!

  2. Some of those things sound just plain weird.

  3. I'm with you on this book Deb. I think some of the things are interesting and make sense BUT others of them (cold showers and ice packs)do not. Either way, you did a great job reviewing it!

  4. Some great infgo there...gotta agree that the cold showers wouldn't be an option for me though!

  5. Bits and pieces of this book are very good and are very pale in some areas.

  6. Looks like a really cool book to try out. I'm adding it to my Amazon list. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What an interesting look at weight loss. Your review was fair and well balanced. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary


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