30 Days into the 4 Hour Body

I’ve finally worked out how to eat.

It was whilst on holiday this summer that I decided that I would try a new diet as one of my winter projects for this year. My wife, Timi, and I had done Alkaline detox weeks every few months over the last year. I found the detoxes effective, but heavy going. The time needed to prepare the smoothies, juices etc. just wasn’t sustainable for me to do it more regularly. The tightening of the trousers over the holiday was the decision point to try something else. It was almost going to the the 5:2 diet but then I read the 4 Hour Body.

I’d been following Tim Ferris, a writer and “life-hacker”, for several months after a recommendation from a friend. Tim made his name with the 4 Hour Work Week, a book about optimising how you work to free up time for whatever else you want to do instead. 4-Hour has become his brand and there’s now the 4-Hour Chef and the 4-Hour Body.

It’s a big book with a lot of topics and not meant to be read all at once. I read the fat-loss chapter, the natural starting point, on holiday and decided that September would be my 30-day trial on the Slow-Carb Diet that it recommends.

The first bit of advice is to take some baseline measurements and photos. The photos are for before-and-after shots and are taken from all angles. It was quite a motivator to see the “before” shots as they weren’t pretty. That was the point where I had fully made the decision to do the diet properly.

It’s a fairly simple diet: no white carbs, no fruit and don’t drink calories. Then there’s the good parts: 1 day off per week (“binge day”) and I could continue to drink coffee and wine. Giving up coffee was the killer for me with most other diets. I’m happy drinking it and not interested in giving it up. To be fair, the book doesn’t encourage wine as a part of the diet. It’s more of an “if you must...” and I decided that I must. Just following the basic principles will get you some good immediate results and there’s also more advanced techniques you can add in for the final kilos.

Week 1 was very easy. The slow-carb breakfasts and not stopping the coffee made it feel like I wasn’t really on a diet. By the end of the week I had lost 1.3 kg from the baseline of 78 kg. Week 2 was similar with an extra 1.6 kg down. By now I was down to my wedding weight (75 kg) without much effort.

Whereas weeks 1 and 2 were in a fairly controlled environment of normal working days in the office, weeks 3 and 4 had the extra challenge of travelling abroad for work. Travel can often be a killer for diets with the combination of jet-lag cravings and lack of healthy choices at the airports, planes and hotels. I managed to stay relatively on-track resulting in only a 0.3kg increase over the 2 weeks.

Week 5, taking me through the 30 day mark, was back to the controlled environment of home and the office. The closing measurement for the first month was 74 kg, a drop of 4 kg from the baseline and my lightest that I can remember.

So, what worked...? A good diet that you stick to is better than a great diet that you don’t. The Alkaline Diet was great, it just wasn’t sustainable for me. Not having to give up coffee and wine was the key thing that made it sustainable for me. Yes, I could cut them down or cut them out, but I didn’t have to. The weekly “binge day” helped as I could still eat cakes and carbs and I could feel good about it too because it was an essential part of the diet. Finally, I took the PAGG stack supplements that the book recommends. To be honest, I have no idea if they actually worked as it’s hard to isolate their effects but I’m choosing to believe that they did.

Given how easy the diet was and how much extra energy I had at the end, I’m going to continue. Month 2, October, is about losing the final 1 kg then adding some muscle. I already have the muscly runner’s legs but I’ve also got the upper body of a girl and that needs to be fixed.

Time to read the next chapter.

Richard gowerComment