3 Reasons To Try Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body (Slow-Carb) Diet – And 10 Reasons Not To…

3 Reasons To Try Tim Ferriss' 4 Hour Body (/Slow Carb) Diet And 10 Reasons Not To...

As I mentioned in a recent post, A Very Simple Thought That’s Helping Me To Be More Healthy, I’m trying out Tim Ferris’ 4 hour body diet after reading the book (or more precisely that part of the book).

Here are my 3 reasons for trying this diet:

3 Reasons To Try The 4 Hour Body/Slow Carb Diet

1. I love to experiment

This is probably the main reason for trying it for me. I love experiments and learning new things and this experiment has certainly taught me more than I bargained for about my own tolerance, what I’m capable of putting myself through and how I perceive food generally. It lead me to that simple thought I mentioned above which though very simple, kind of sums up my overall reaction to this experiment and how my perspective has changed.

2. It’s easy to follow/No measuring

This convinced me to get started straight away and is definitely a big advantage of this diet. Not being a fan of diets in general, I dislike the idea of having to check and measure all of that calorie and nutrient information which can make things difficult. This diet is really easy, it has very easy boundaries to follow (see “The Rules” below) and the cheat day once per week makes it all much much easier to take. It can still be tough through the week, but having a cheat day at the end of each week makes it much more manageable. I have also found through the weeks, that my ‘cheat day’ is becoming healthier and healthier as my cravings for unhealthy food are perhaps (hopefully) being re-trained through the week.

3. I like a challenge

In fact, I LOVE a challenge. I think challenging yourself, pushing your boundaries and learning new things are what makes life interesting. This is not quite the same as the first point above because it could be an easy experiment. I haven’t actually set myself a time limit for this challenge, but I reckon I’m going to give it at least 3 months. I will adapt as I go along but I won’t break any rules.

These are pretty much the only reasons I could come up with. You might notice that one of the reasons wasn’t to lose weight. That’s because I wasn’t particularly unhappy with my weight in the first place. As I said in the A Very Simple Thought… post, I don’t particularly like diets, but I do love experiments and this one intrigued me, so I thought I’d try it.

How It Works (“The Rules”)

Rule #1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates

This means no bread, pasta, rice, noodles, pastry, potatoes, cereals or even fried food cooked in breadcrumbs. Even brown rice, bread and pasta is forbidden.

Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again

I see this rule as more a guideline than anything (I couldn’t check – see point #8 below) as it makes it easier to stick to the diet if you eat the same few meals over and over again. In fact, it’s not difficult for me to observe this rule because I eat only fresh food anyway (we don’t own a freezer and live in the countryside so I just eat what we have that’s within the food allowed in the diet. Tim tells us to ‘mix and match’, creating each meal with one from each of the three following groups: Proteins (eggs, meat, fish), Legumes (lentils, beans), Vegetables (you know what vegetables are). See Tims post for more details. As long as we stick to these permitted foods, we are allowed to eat as much as we like.

Rule #3: Don’t drink calories

Water & tea, coffee (as long as it’s without full-fat milk or cream), even diet sodas apparently though I personally don’t drink those are allowed, as is a glass of red wine (though I don’t drink that either in my case).

Rule #4: Take one day off per week

One day per week (Saturday for me) is ‘Cheat day’. Everything is allowed on cheat day. The theory here is that by dramatically increasing the calories once per week your metabolism doesn’t slow down.

How The First Week Went For Me

Day 1: Monday
Feeling: Entusiastic.
Supplements: None
Breakfast: None (cup of tea)
Lunch: Raw Tomatoes & Parma Ham
Dinner: Mackerel
Drinks: Tea (with low fat Milk, no sugar)

Day 2: Tuesday
Feeling: Excited
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Kipper
Lunch: Butter Beans & Ham & Pea Soup
Dinner: Lamb Chops & Chick Peas
Drinks: Tea

Day 3: Wednesday:
Feeling: Challenged but Positive
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Kipper
Lunch: Tuna Fish, Broad Bean & Spinach Salad
Dinner: Spinach & Broccoli Soup with Butter Beans
Snacks: Pistachio Nuts
Drinks: Tea

Day 4: Thursday:
Feeling: Really Hungry!
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Parma Ham & Spinach
Lunch: Rump Steak & Fried Tomato
Dinner: Rump Steak, Fried Tomato & Broccoli Soup
Snacks: Pistachio Nuts
Drinks: Tea

Day 5: Friday
Feeling: Hungry but looking forward to cheat day tomorrow
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs & Bacon
Lunch: Lamb Tikka Masala with Lentils
Dinner: Roasted Chicken Legs & Salad
Drinks: Tea

Day 6: Saturday (Cheat Day)
Feeling: Positive, no visible results yet but made it through the first week!
What I Ate: Too much crap to mention

Note: I’ve been trying the diet now for several weeks, but have just posted the kind of stuff I’m eating from week 1 as it’s pretty much the same each week, just to give you an idea and otherwise it could get very boring 😉

Having tried the diet (and surprisingly not getting the results I expected or claimed by the diet even though I have stuck to the rules of the diet), here are 10 reasons why you may not want to try this diet…

10 Reasons Not To Try The 4 Hour Body/Slow Carb Diet

1. It’s Boring

Yep. It’s really really boring. I like to appreciate food, good, natural, healthy food and to enjoy every mouthful. This diet eliminates lots of foods I could otherwise be enjoying 6 days out of 7.

2. Too many eggs?

I’m a little concerned about how many eggs I end up eating on this diet. We believe that a good healthy diet is about moderation, but with this diet it’s very difficult to exercise moderation (particularly for breakfasts and especially when you consider breakfast as the most important meal of the day) regarding the number of eggs you eat. Are too many eggs bad for you? How many eggs are too many? In any case, I really feel like I might be eating too many eggs on this diet.

3. There seem to be ‘leaks’

In the first week I snacked on nuts. Then in the second week I snacked too much on nuts. Nuts are apparently allowed, even salted nuts (I love almonds and pistachios but I read that salted peanuts are fine too) but this to me feels like a kind of ‘leak’ – i.e. snacking on nuts could easily be used as a substitute for biscuits, crisps etc and given that the diet promotes eating as much as you like, this feels a little dangerous. So I have massively cut down on nuts after week 2.

4. Not the best for nutrients

Tim does say in his book that this diet is designed to be effective, not necessarily to be the best nutritionally or something like that. In general the diet promotes healthy food (what’s not healthy about vegetables) but it also misses out lots of ‘wonder’ foods full of nutrients (apples, blueberries, fruit juice etc etc etc). So there are probably lots of healthier diets out there when it comes to getting the vitamins and nutrients you need.

5. No fruits

I get it that fruits contain a lot of sugar, but they also contain a lot of goodness, they’re natural and full of vitamins. No fruits whatsoever could be a big turn off for some people. This point alone for me makes the diet unsustainable in the long term. Apples and bananas in particular will probably find a way back in to my life at some point during the week.

6. It’s anti-social

This diet is really difficult if you are invited to a friends for dinner and it happens to be on a day other than your cheat day. I also eat every day with my family but don’t share their meals. The last example was a beautiful lasagne I made at the request of my kids (I do make a mean lasagne) but I couldn’t eat any of it!! Whilst my wife and kids finished off my beautiful lasagne, I sat with them eating a repeat of the meal I’d had earlier that day (steak and lentils).

7. It’s confusing

Take a look at Tim’s How To Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days Without Doing Any Exercise post (i.e. the slow carb diet post) – what’s the pizza doing there? Are pizzas allowed on this diet? It seems a bit contradictory to what he said was allowed. Am I being thick? I don’t eat pizza as it is a bready/whit carb type product, surely! Let me know what you think – I find this very confusing, but maybe that’s just me.

8. Lack of ‘official’ information & support on the diet.

On that How To Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days Without Doing Any Exercise post you may eventually be able to find my comment (left March 19th 5.12pm). I ask for some guidance and a few questions as I can’t quite understand why the diet is not working. No response. It’s no surprise. Tim is obviously a busy boy, but it seems to be par for the course for this diet that you have a plethora of contradicting ‘participants’ opinions (and don’t get me wrong, some very helpful people and an amazing community) but no official feedback when things don’t quite go to plan. Reading through the comments there are quite a few others who have struggled with the diet and got little help – though it does seem to be effective for the majority of people.

9. It’s probably not sustainable

I don’t know about you but I don’t plan to stick strictly to this diet forever and have always been an advocate of, when making any kind of change, making it a sustainable one, particularly when it comes to your health. Having said that, it’s been interesting and I think it certainly will serve to educate me as to what works and what doesn’t. I will certainly consider continuing with my own ‘version’ of this diet once I’ve tried it for a few months (e.g. re: my point above, perhaps allowing apples and bananas back into my diet during the week – or perhaps even all fruit, but just not other sugar such as sweets etc).

10. Dangers coming off the diet

As a follow-up to the above point, there are lots of people commenting on Tim’s blog post that we should Be VERY careful with this diet and remember as soon as you return to normal eating habits you will gain all back and more. Be smart, choose a diet you can maintain for life and that won’t screw with your hormones.

Two Bonus Reasons

Just for good measure, here are two bonus reasons why this diet may not be the best idea for you. Admittedly the first isn’t a strong reason, and it’s more of a suggestion about how the diet is communicated, nothing in the diet stops you drinking lots of water – I just think it should be a bigger part of the diet. Tim should make that one of his rules. It would have more impact than ‘eat the same meals over and over’.

11 (bonus). Not enough emphasis on water

This diet only really started working for me when I introduced a minimum daily consumption of water as part of it. Once I did that I found that the diet became effective, but it’s not something that is prescribed as a necessary part of the diet.

12 (bonus). It’s Tricking Your Body

Basically this diet is ‘gaming’ your metabolism. The body is a complex and wonderful thing, it’s also finely balanced so messing with the complex system that is your body may be dangerous.

Would I Recommend The Diet?


UPDATE: This article was written at a point in time. I continued on the diet for some time after writing it. The ‘No’ above relates to whether I would recommend the diet as a long term option. I still wouldn’t. I would however (highly) recommend trying the diet, I learned a lot from trying this diet and my current diet is still informed by the experience.

That being said, I wouldn’t go on a campaign against it either.

Tim Ferris is obviously a very smart guy and he does present several caveats in his work. So if you’d like to try it, you’ve read the caveats and disclaimers and you’re comfortable with these, why not?

I tried it because it intrigues me.

I can’t recommend it though because we promote health and moderation and this diet is about neither of those things in particular, though one could argue that despite the diet allowing you to eat as much as you like and on cheat day eat anything you like, at least if you have a sweet tooth, then you’re only eating sweet things one day per week (so it can’t be that bad) – what are your thoughts about that?

What’s The Alternative?

Well, there are lots. I’m probably the wrong person to ask. As I said, I’m not particularly into diets as such as for me it’s always been simply a case of eat less, move more, eat healthy. When I’ve obeyed these simple rules, I have generally been healthy and a good weight, when I’ve disobeyed them, I’ve put on weight.

A while back when on a fitness drive (more so for fitness than weight loss at that time) I invented my own kind of diet which someone actually offered me money for. It’s essentially a kind of accountability diet to keep you on track versus your own health goals and make sure you are making good healthy choices every day (e.g. 5-a-day, vitamins, execise, drinking enough water etc etc). It’s basically a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets) and I think at some point I will transition from Tim’s diet above back to my good old reliable spreadsheet. I may even write a post about it ;-).

What Next?

I’m going to continue on the diet for a while (I’m now on week 6) to make sure I’ve given it a good chance and most likely will slowly transition to what I consider a healthier diet based more on healthy choices, moderation and getting the right amount of exercise than quick wins and tricking the body. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have…

UPDATE II: I said below in response to some comments and given the ‘point in time’ nature of this article that I would most likely write a follow-up article relating to my experience with this diet, further thoughts & related decisions. You can find this here: How To Improve Upon Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet (aka My New Diet Regime)


3 Reasons To Try Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body (Slow-Carb) Diet – And 10 Reasons Not To… — 64 Comments

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  4. Hi Alan-

    Just came across this post and subsequent comments and wanted to say kudos to you for how you have handled some of the name-calling/antagonistic comments. Also, I wish you continued success on your quest for better health.

  5. Thanks for the alternative viewpoint Alan, though I kind of agree you weren’t very rigorous in trialling the diet and seem to be finding negatives that could easily apply to most diets.

    You are right on a few points. I had to do a lot of extra googling to find out whether certain foods were ok/not ok/allowed in moderation. An excellent resource has been eslowcarbdiet.com, I seem to use it whenever I’m at the grocery store. I just type in a food and I get a straight answer.

    I’ve been doing it for 5 weeks and losing 1 kg per week on average. The biggest win for me though is that I am feeling better – mind is less foggy and I just feel better. Not sure why this is, may have had a gluten intolerance or something.

    Another point is, it’s recommended you take supplements for calcium, magnesium and potassium. I’ve noticed I’ve had headaches whenever I stop taking calcium and magnesium supplements, so I do recommend them.

    I have also found some awesome recipes such as smoked salmon, kale and pine nut salad .. basically I used to be incredibly lazy in the kitchen and now I am finding new appreciation for the food that is allowed on slow carb. Some respond to limitation by becoming more creative (instead of bored) – I am finding that to be the case with me.

    I intend to go back to a diet that includes some fruit, and the occasional potoato or bowl of rice, as soon as I hit my target weight. Am also finding it really important to weigh myself daily, as it helps indicate what things trigger weight gain, and will definitely help me come off the diet without putting weight back on.

    • Hi Darren,

      thanks for a great comment, and you’re right… kind of. This was never meant to be a rigorous trial of the diet such that I’m reviewing it for others but rather sharing my experience and my own personal experiment trying the diet (I suppose there’s not much difference in the end but I’m trying to explain my viewpoint when I wrote the article). That being said I did read the book sufficiently to understand the diet (I’ve since gine back and double checked) and I did follow the rules of the diet rigorously with one extremely minor exception (cups of tea) – in the spirit of the diet and without being really anal about it this should have been sufficient to see ‘results’.

      I did deliberately write a controversial headline, however I don’t think anything said above is that far fetched.

      In fact, you raise another reason why this diet is not ideal – that it’s recommended you take supplements for calcium, magnesium and potassium.

      What kind of healthy, balanced diet requires you to take supplements?

      I love your comments though as I actually learned an awful lot from the experience, just like you did – which was actually my goal. I learned to appreciate certain foods just like you did (please read this article if you have time: A Very Simple Thought That Is Helping Me Be More Healthy) and like you, I felt different which was interesting. Also, like you, I became more creative in the kitchen within my new limits (but already knew that would happen from a ‘less is more’ standpoint which I’ve also written extensively about here).

      My main beef was that no fruits are allowed on the diet, so for me the diet is excellent to learn, perhaps to ‘get back on track’ or to test certain things but it’s not really sustainable and adding a few fruits and perhaps some of the more healthy carbs in moderation is the best way to stick with a modified version (which will still work and avoid you needing to take supplements).

      If you do want to try another extreme diet which allows fruits (and one I also would not recommend as a long term option but great for experimenting, take a look at the Paleo diet – and read this: 3 Reasons To Take The Paleo Challenge) – p.s. I found this MUCH harder than the slow-carb diet, but again an interesting experience.

      take care & thanks again for the comment,


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  7. Hi Joe,

    first of all I am sorry I’ve clearly angered you with what I’ve written, but please do bear in mind it is just an opinion. Now, to some of your points…

    Yes I did read the book.

    It’s not intended to be a review of the diet as such, I’m just a guy who tried this diet and share my thoughts about it. You’re of course entitled to disagree with them but I’m also entitled to an opinion and that’s all this is – plus a bit of fun. I really think you are taking this all a little too seriously?

    For me this was an experiment and they were my thoughts at the time.

    Overall as far as diets go, I think the best thing is still to eat healthy, eat less and move more. This diet clearly promotes eating as much as you like (limited by certain rules 6 days of the week and limitless on cheat day) and claims to work even with no exercise.

    So I do find this quite an extreme diet but I have to say quite an effective one (it did work for me just, as I said, not as much as I’d expected or it seems as claimed by the book).

    That being said, I’ve learned a lot from the experience and my diet now and taste is modified (for the better) as a result of it.

    … and I did try it for more than a short period of time. I don’t think I said either in the article or in the comments that I tried it for a week (though someone else said that and I corrected them so maybe that’s the comment you read?)

    I am not and never have been fat.

    I only cheated on putting a little milk in my tea. Nobody’s perfect, in fact I seem to recall in the book, Tim himself said something along the lines of bending what he originally intended the diet to look like to accommodate his love for red wine.

    I did mostly start the day with a big breakfast though as the diet said no measuring I didn’t measure if I started with at least XXg of protein. I just had a plateful of omelette, lentils, bacon, sausage, spinach etc – i.e. whatever I had in stock which was allowed accoridng to the diet.

    Aside from a little bit of milk in my tea I didn’t ‘cheat’ outside of cheat day – no I didn’t stuff my face with pasta as you put it or even eat any fruit at all. My point about fruits is that they are natural and there is a lot of goodness in a lot of fruits so it seems a shame to have a blanket ban on them, that’s all. No need to get so worked up about it.

    I will agree whole-heartedly with one thing you said though – it’s not the diets, it’s the people themselves. What I did experience with this diet was mostly positive, I learned a lot, I did lose some weight (despite not being fat in the first place which you seemed to assume I was).

    Anyways, enough said. I’m guessing you’re still going to be upset with me here whatever I say, suffice to say sorry this seems to have upset you so much.

    P.S. I don’t have any competing products with Tim Ferris. Far from it, as I said, I’ve never really been into diets before this little experiment (never needed to either).

  8. This is an intellectually dishonest posting. It’s clear you wrote this in your head way before actually trying it. And by “trying it” I mean, actually read the book that is full of information. Seems kind of important to do before reviewing a diet, no?

    Anyways, the biggest problem with diets/life changes aren’t the diets themselves. It’s the people, especially ones who don’t actually read the information(which is fairly obvious to anyone who has read it, that you’re in this category), who like to pick and choose what parts of the diet they’re ok with and then skip other parts.

    “oh, it SAYS no pasta, but I can’t do that! I just love shoving pasta down my face every day? WHY AM I NOT LOSING WEIGHT?!”
    “Well, it SAYS eat 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, but I’m just going to drink some tea. That’s the same thing, right?”
    “No Fruit?! Yeah, it’s high in sugar but it’s got Vitamin C! I can’t cope!!!”

    It’s all excuses. How about adding that to your 52 actionable tips. “STOP MAKING EXCUSES. You’re not fooling anyone including yourself.”

    There are a multitude of issues with your complaints but I’m not even going to bother going through them all.

    #1 – It’s Boring. It’s only boring because you’ve made it so. I’ve been on it for 6 weeks and haven’t for 1 second have felt bored. Why? Because I’ve decided to make good food that tastes good. I’m eating tastier food in the last 6 out of 7 days for 6 weeks than I do on my cheat day. Why? Because I put a little effort into it. Crazy right?

    #2 – Too many eggs. Again. You can get protein in so many different ways. Why’d you choose eggs if you don’t like them?

    #3 – “Leaks” – You didn’t read the book. Had you, you’d realize you can’t go hog wild on them. Similarly, it’s odd that you mentioned that you cut back on week 2, yet in the comments, you said you only tried it for a week. Intellectual dishonest.

    #4, 5 and 6 are so unbelievably lazy and dishonest that I can’t realistically write about them without getting angry.

    #7 – It’s confusing – Yes, you’re being thick and at least hopefully in your case, you know it. It’s actually fantastically simple.

    #8 – Lack of official info – Well, since you didn’t read the book, I can understand this. There are COUNTLESS sources of information all over the interwebs AND, if you actually tried, you could easily find out for yourself, but like a lot of dieters, you want the information to find you. Doesn’t quite work that way.

    #9 – Unsustainability – It’s unsustainable if you have no will power, which granted, most fat people do not have, which is why they’re looking for the magic “eat pizza and fruit all day” diet pill.

    #10 – Welcome to every diet ever. Oh, and you didn’t read the book. This seems to be a common theme.

    #11 – You didn’t read the book, did you???

    #12 – You’re just making stuff up now… Yes, you need to trick your body into doing certain things, like losing weight, because you’ve tricked your body into thinking it needs a handful of nuts and fruit and horrible carbs and dairy to survive. It doesn’t. But you’ve certainly convinced yourself that it does. Let me repeat. It doesn’t.

    Bottom line is, you didn’t read the book, didn’t ACTUALLY do the diet, you claim to have a diet of your own, which anyone with any bit of integrity would tell you is disingenuous at best, AND you’ve got a competing life-change book. Can you say conflict of interest?

    I’ve copied this just in case you don’t post it, just to show to others who’ll get a laugh at the article itself, and just in case you hid/deleted it. I’m actually afraid to drive your post numbers up considering how bad it is, but anyone who I show it to, will quickly see how much of a joke it is.

    • You seem like a nice guy, Alan, but I tend to agree with Joe, thought perhaps more softly 🙂 Much of the specifics from the book have been ignored, so I’m actually surprised you had even decent results. It’s really not an “Atkins” look-alike at all, and it seems that you sort of loosely followed that kind of mainly-protein idea. I’d be really interested to know what kind of results you would see if you tried to follow it to the letter – just for science’s sake 🙂

      • Hi Terry,

        I never claimed to be following the diet perfectly however I do think that I followed it pretty well – and I didn’t say it didn’t work, I just said it didn’t work as well as expected. I recounted my personal experience. I didn’t claim to be an expert.

        So you are entitled to your opinion and so am I.

        I followed the diet for quite a while and I think in the end (though way after writing the above article) I did have a pretty good understanding of it. I also tried the 30 Day Paleo Challenge which you’ll find an article about here: 30 Day Paleo Challenge in case you’re interested. These are my experiences, nothing else.

        Admittedly with this one I did sensationalize the headline a bit.

        My current diet is pretty awesome and very well informed by my experience with both slow-carb and Paleo without being as extreme as either. As an ‘abstainer’ I found the ‘rules’ of both diets helpful – i.e. easier to not eat chocolate at all than to try opening a bar of chocolate and stopping after 1 piece. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that there are things for which rules help (again, speaking from personal experience only, not as an expert) for me that’s sweet things, desserts etc but other things which I am able to eat in moderation (bread, pasta, rice) so having tried by now quite a number of different diets (and with the Paleo challenge I definitely did follow it properly and was uber-strict about everything) in the end I heavily restrict carbs except on a kind of cheat day I still have each Saturday, but I don’t cut them out completely (e.g. if eating out at a friends house) nor do I think you really need to – even on Saturdays (cheat day) I eat ‘treats’ but only a little, I still try and eat relatively healthy and just allow myself a few treats, that’s all.

        • No, I was honestly wondering what you’d have experienced if you’d followed Tim’s advice to the letter 🙂 I JUST read the book and haven’t started so I’m not even a proponent. Was just noticing that Tim has pretty strict guidelines and you followed it a bit more loosely, like the not “exactly” 30 grams of protein for breakfast, and the amount of beans. No offense intended at all!! Thanks for replying so quickly-

          • None taken Terry.

            I don’t know how ‘to the letter’ I was but I think I got pretty close. The problem is that the above article is a point in time and probably the time I really got to understand and follow the diet in the best way was after I’d written this – though beofre some of the comments and my responses to them, which is why I did say in response to one of the comments maybe I should write a follow-up article (with a less controversial headline).

            Of all the diets out there I do like the slow-carb diet the best – particularly because you don’t need to calorie count – that’s kind of the point of it to me. I found it really convenient to eat as much as I liked every day cheat day or non cheat day.

            If the diet is any good I think getting the key points right should be enough.

            For any diet though, drinking plenty of water is going to help because a lot of what we think is hunger (for a lot of people) is actually thirst – in my opinion.

            Though as I said I wouldn’t recommend it (meaning as a long term sustainable diet) I definitely would recommend giving it a try (as you’ll learn lots) and in the end whatever diet you choose is very likely to be informed by your experience (e.g. it probably is a good idea to cut down on sugar and carbs, maybe it is a good idea to have one day per week where you can indulge a little more to make the other days easier).

            On the subject of carbs, I personally find there is a huge difference what kind of carbs we’re talking about. Another way of looking at what’s good and what’s not is whether it’s processed or not. I reckon just avoiding white stuff is not a bad idea too – e.g. if you’re going to have sugar then go for brown sugar, not white, same for bread (maybe better to avoid bread completely but if you are going to eat bread, just a little & go for wholgrain, brown etc instead of white), same for pasta and rice. If it’s bright white it’s probably bleached or very processed – most natural things aren’t bright white in colour.

            In the end natural is best, so is moderation but if like me, you find moderation difficult (I did, not so much any more) then these diets are definitely worth a look to put some rules in place to stop you overdoing things.

  9. Just FWIW, low-fat milk is not allowed (nor is any milk). You are allowed 2 TBSP of heavy cream in your morning tea/coffee. I’m not sure if you had it every day with your tea, but it’s explicitly forbidden.

    (Just wanted to post this in case people looking for the rules come to your site)

    • Hi Robin,

      thanks for this – I did realize that that was the one tiny exception I was making. I actually recently heard Tim in an interview saying something along the lines of full fat cream being better for you than low-fat milk – because of the lactose which apparently plays havoc…

      take care & best wishes,

      • Hi Alan, gotcha 🙂 It’s counter intuitive, and kind of a drag. You can’t froth heavy cream like you can a good cup of milk 🙂

        • Yeah – well, I knew anyway, but I do love my tea so that was just a step too far for me. Perhaps I should have tried it with full cream instead.

          I stuck to the diet very strictly in every other aspect though (and limited the number of teas I did drink every day) – and I did see some results, just not to the extent expected. Perhaps the tea was a concession which made more of a difference than I realized…

          I’m going to try Paleo next for 1 month which I’m looking forward to even less – particularly because the one thing I grew really fond of when following the 4-hour body diet was legumes and they’re not allowed on Paleo. I can understand grains but still struggling to understand what’s so bad about chick peas & lentils…

  10. You only tried the diet for a week? I would give it a full three or four weeks before deciding how you feel about it. Start off with plenty of protein in the morning and eat good veggies and meat throughout the day. I never count anything except I limit my beans to 1 1/2 cups per day. I’ve lost so much weight and feel great. I feel better at 36 than I did at 20. There’s a website called 4 Hour People that has a great support forum.

    I’ve done a lot of self experimentation with a blood glucose meter and I can assure you that what Tim talks about it correct.

    • Er, no… I tried it for longer than a week but just posted ‘entries’ for each day for the first week, otherwise 1) it would get a bit boring and 2) that week is probably the most interesting anyway and maybe the hardest in terms of adjustment

  11. You ought to double-check your statement that fruits are loaded with vitamins. In fact, they aren’t. Fruits are a good source of phytochemicals (non-essential nutrients that help detox and protect the body). But, if you were to compare the vitamins in100g of fruit to 100g of organ meat, or muscle meat, or eggs, you would find that fruits are actually not very nutrient dense.

    The USDA allows nutritional labels to state Vitamin A in the form of carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables, however carotenoids are not “true” Vitamin A and they must be converted into the bioavailable form of Vitamin A — known as retinol — by the body. Most people, particularly vegetarians, have trouble converting carotenoids into retinol. Therefore, people can be deficient in retinol (true Vitamin A), despite eating buckets of carrots or grapefruit. Only animal meat — particularly organ meat — has true Vitamin A in it. In fact, Liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. And furthermore, the vitamins found in animal products are easily digested by our acid/peptin-based stomachs — making the vitamins found in animal products highly bioavailable.

    So, fruit is really not a very good source of Vitamins. Fruit is a good source of phytochemicals, which are crucial for detoxification, cleansing and protecting the body.

    Hope that clears up a common misconception.

    • It’s true that the vitamin A in carrots is not in as a bioavailable form as in butter for instance. We mentioned that in our Nature vs Marketing article.

      When it comes to vitamin C, fruits win. For all other vitamins, veggies or meat/dairy products come top. It doesn’t take away from the fact though that fruits are good to eat. They do contain vitamins and minerals, water, phytochemicals, dietary fibres (which are really good for our health). They contain little to no fat. On the negative side, they do contain carbohydrates (sugars). That’s why many nutritionists recommend to eat more veggies than fruits.

      As for liver. Yes, it contains a lot of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. So much so that it is not recommended in high quantities – especially for pregnant women.

      A good article against 5 a day (but completely misses out on the fibre content which is a very good point in favor of fruits): http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2012/03/five-a-day-the-truth/

  12. I have to agree with you Alan. I have the 4HB book. As a result I detached a muscle in my shoulder doing kettlebell swings back in 2010. Still gives me pain.
    As for the diet, it’s completely arbitrary in some of its food choices and to me it just seems like a variation of Paleo, but substitutes fruit for pulses. I’m sorry but endless lentils are boring and as for eating 30g of protein for breakfast – do me a favour. I have 2 whole eggs and 3Tbsp of egg white scrambled and that only comes to about 15g and that’s enough to satiate me.
    Where I would agree with 4HB and Paleo is in the restriction of wheat/gluten based products (bread, pasta, rice) and starchy vegetables like potatoes.
    I’ve found much more impressive results from restricting calories on two successive days and then enjoying the widest range of foods for the rest of the week, including the occasional risotto, curry and home made pasta. What sparked my interest in this was a BBC documentary http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19112549
    I think the success (and probably the seeds of its failure long term) is the fact that it’s very simple to follow with the allowed food selection very narrowly defined. I guess this suits some.
    To summarise 4HB, Paleo – very boring.

    • Hey Jon,

      thanks for a great comment and I’m so sorry to have taken so long to have responded.

      I actually learned a lot from this diet and I do agree it’s a really effective way to lose weight – but if you have enough discipline then I still think moderation is a better approach (& agree with you on the 30g point).

      Basically if we can learn to trust our bodies and understand how to listen to our bodies to understand when we really need food and when we really need water, we should be able to eat just about anything in the right moderate amounts.

      I am still following a lot of the principles from this diet given what it has shown me about carbs & bread – but I still eat bread, pasta, rice and potatoes just in much smaller quantities and I try and cut out sugar in the form of biscuits and sweets almost completely until the weekend.

      I can always tighten the screws again if I find myself slipping – but like you say – boring – then I just get a grip and remind myself to move around (not even any vigorous exercise needed, just walking & everyday stuff), eat in moderation and stop eating when I’m full.

      Really simple but it seems to work for me – like a modified version of slow-carb, no too extreme, with the strict version as a backdrop if I think I’m putting on weight (which I’m not).

  13. I have been on the 4HB diet for 10 weeks. Frankly, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and helps curb the appetite if you eat enough protein and get enough water. I started out at 242 lbs and a 42 inch waist. I’m down to 209 lbs and a 36 inch waist. I did minimal working out the first 8 weeks.

    Although it is recommended that you eat the same thing for your meals (e.g. same breakfast, same lunch,…) it is not necessary as long as you keep the carbs slow and protein adequate and drink enough water. I’m not tired on this diet nor do I experience hunger pains. I started to working out and have good success, but it is not near enough time to see any major or minor results.

    At 50 yo, I find the diet very easy to maintain and I like the foods that I eat. Before this diet, I had tried being a vegetarian for a year and a half. I could not maintain the energy or keep away the cravings and I missed my protein badly. I lost weight, but it was stymied at 240 lbs. I worked out religiously (not over train, mostly cardio and mid weights) and could not get the proteins to my depraved muscles. I was exhausted. I picked up 4HB and decided to try it out.

    My experience is different and I recommend this diet. It shows results.

    • Hey Charlie,

      thanks so much for this really helpful comment.

      Probably the most succinct and accurate thing I’ve heard when it comes to this diet is your comment:

      as long as you keep the carbs slow and protein adequate and drink enough water

      I never even looked at diets before this but one thing I have learned through this experience and also some other research I did previous to this is that drinking plenty of water is huge. Often people mistake thirst (for water) for hunger and put on weight by consuming calories they didn’t need to – in my view the more they do this the more they are ‘training their body’ (or even their mind) to crave the wrong things.

      I don’t particularly like water but it seems obvious to me that if we consume a lot more of it then it’s great for our health in all kinds of ways.

      Add to this your first two points – keep the carbs slow and the protein adequate and I’d say you’ve just summarized in one easy sentence the best way to approach this particular diet.


      thanks again,

  14. It honestly sounds like you skimmed the book. Every single question or issue you raised is directly addressed in the book. You also made every single mistake that the book makes crystal clear need to be avoided, including a lack of protein at breakfast and not increasing the volume of food you ate. This seems like a really shoddy review and I think it’s a disservice to your readers.

    • Hey Andrew,

      first of all, thanks for your comment.

      You may be right about the lack of protein at breakfast (though not the ‘not increasing the volume of food as I’m not eating particularly larger quantities and I’m pretty sure that several times Tm says you can eat as much as you like in his book) – I did realize after a while and having read other articles about diets and nutrition that I should probably be eating more at the start of the day. That being said with this diet I have already been eating a lot more at breakfast than before as I rarely had breakfast before starting this diet, just a cup of tea – but I could probably do more.

      On your other few points about the shoddy review and the issues I raised – I never declared this as a ‘review’ of the diet and this is just my own experience and opinion which I believe I’m entitled to. Also when you say every single point I raised are addressed in the book this implies that some of the points I made above are wrong, but they’re not. For example ‘No fruits’ – it’s a fact that the diet states to eat no fruits and in my case I’m just saying I quite like fruits and think they contain a lot of good nutrients and vitamins (which they do) so in my case they will probably find a way back into my diet.

      As a final point, perhaps the title of the article is a little provocative but then it was intended to be – as I said, it’s just my opinion and my experience with it so far I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert,

      thanks again for the comment,

      take care & best wishes,

      • Jut to clarify: I stated that “not eating enough” was a mistake and you are absolutely correct that he says eat as much as you want of the foods allowed, so we are on the same page there. As far as my comment’s point, I think you are more than entitled to your opinion, but I also think if you have a following (which it seems you do), then you owe your readers a bit more. Your point about fruit is a perfect example. In the book, Tim is very clear that his overall message is not “stick strictly to this diet” but rather “try what I’ve developed for 2 weeks and then experiment and see what happens to your body.” So your choice to eat fruit is well within the bounds of the diet, but the book clearly states that if you deviate from the system, you have to accept the consequences. You are deviating from the system and blaming your lack of results on the system, discouraging others from even investigating it for themselves. So in my opinion, you owe your readers a clarification because some people out there actually see you as an authority figure on this and are making decisions based on your writing. But as you said, we are entitled to our opinions. Hope that adds a but more color.

        • Honestly, I don’t think Tim is writing the book to tell people not to follow his advice – eating fruit is clearly quite a fundamental deviation from what he is proposing with this diet and why it works.

          My main concern with this diet (for me, not for anyone else) is that though I find it very effective, I’m not sure it’s the best choice health-wise.

          but then if people were disciplined enough to make the right healthy choices, then we wouldn’t need diets like this in the first place, would we?

          That being said I’m still following the diet, albeit my own slight variation of it – I think this is mainly because it provides a convenient structure which allows a certain degree of ‘laziness’ when it comes to decision-making about what to eat.

          So I’ll take on board your suggestion and consider writing a follow-up article, particularly as I’m still following the diet or at least my own version of it which has certainly been informed by the slow-carb diet.

  15. Fantastic website you have here but I was curious about
    if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics talked
    about here? I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get advice from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Cheers!

    • just do a google search adding the word ‘forum’, ‘discussion’ or the words ‘message board’ e.g. “slow carb diet forum” and you should find what you’re looking for

  16. I just wanted to comment on the pizza – he mentions that white carbs/any carbs that can be made white are prohibited, EXCEPT “within 1.5 hours of finishing a resistance-training workout of at least 20 minutes in length”.

    • Good point Cass,

      thanks for the comment – I’m not really doing much in the way of resistance-training workouts so this doesn’t really apply much to me (for the moment I mostly play golf and take long walks with the dog) – but that’s true if you do workout, he does say that.

      best wishes,

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  19. I am trying to lose weight but I can’ t keep from eating fast food and stuff like that. I really like your article I need to really do some of this stuff. I just wanted to let you know that I think you got a really good Page here.

  20. I am just starting the diet. Just a couple observations. While I agree with some of the do not’s, there are some things you seem to be missing, which may be the reason for the lack of weight loss~ Breakfast should contain 30gr protein. Also it seems you are not eating the basics at EACH meal (greens,beans,proteins). It’s appears that you are not eating enough. Also you should be eating something every 4 hrs….it also took some doing but i am finding a variety of recipes( I hate eating the same meal over and over)

    • Hey Laurel,

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this comment. I was wondering why I was having such poor results but also conscious that I have made a couple of decisions based on the difference in Tim’s book between what he does and what he tells you to do. For example, he seems to advise eating the same meals over and over, but I don’t think you HAVE to do that, my impression from reading his book is that’s just advice, not a rule. He talks about eating corn-fed chicken but I’m guessing it just has to be meat. On that subject – eating meat, e.g. chicken, is it OK to eat the skin? He doesn’t talk about drinking lots of water as a rule, but does mention it in passing, I think drinking plenty of water is essential. So in short, yes, I’ve made some assumptions but just because the ‘rules’ could be clearer.

      Now on to your points:

      1) I didn’t realise that breakfast has to contain 30gr protein – your point is it has to be a decent sized meal, right? I get that but hadn’t realised this as an essential part of the diet. I usually do have a big breakfast, but have to admit it’s usually eggs and meat, I don’t particularly like the idea of having beans or lentils with my breakfast – is that an essential part of the diet? You’re also right that I don’t eat much during the week.

      2) Not eating much during the week. I stop eating when I’m no longer hungry. I have found that during the week I’m not as hungry but I see that as a good thing – are you saying I should eat more even if I’m not hungry? I thought if I’m not eating much during the week, then the danger is that my metabolism may change because of that, but the ‘cheat’ day stops that from happening?

      3) I haven’t focused on this point in particular either (eating every 4 hours) but again, I didn’t see it as an essential part of the diet. I probably do eat around about every 4-6 hours anyway, but haven’t been measuring the time. You’re probably right on this point so I’ll try and adjust this and see if it makes any difference.

      I have been very strict on keeping to (at least my understanding of) the rules though and would have thought that would have got me further than it has. The good news for me is that if your adjustments were the bit I’m missing, then it should be easy to adjust because I haven’t wavered otherwise.

      You say you’re on the diet and have just started – how long have you been on it then & how’s it going for you so far?

      thanks so much for the comment!


  21. Hey Alan,

    What a great review of this plan. Boy, I sure am glad I don’t do diets anymore. I also have never done ones like this. I just cut back on what I normally eat or cut a few things out that I overindulged on in the first place to drop my weight.

    It looks rather boring to me too. Plus, plans like this trick your body into doing certain things but then when you get back to eating regularly, your body is all out of whack. I guess for people needing a quick fix, this would be something they would want to do. Not me.

    Great review though, love your honest about the pros and cons. Thanks for sharing.. The next time I hear of anyone wanting to do this one, I’m sending them here first.

    Have a great week.


    • Hey Adrienne,

      well I’m still on it for the moment (I’ve eaten hardly anything today).

      I really appreciate your comment & thank you so much for your kind words and for saying you’d send people here.

      On that note, following your great advice from your blog, I have also added the code for TYNT. I hadn’t realised I could do it without the plug-in. Lets see how that goes then 😉

      I will be transitioning to a more healthy, less quick-fix diet because as you say, it really has to be sustainable.

      I think I’m going to come up with something that is simple and compelling and works as well or better than this one (believe it or not). I doubt I’ll make a best-selling book out of it though 😉

      • Hope you get some good results from using Tynt Alan. I love the keyword sneak peak of what people are really searching for. Very helpful for future blog posts.

        I have no doubt that whatever you come up with will work great and probably taste pretty good too. You’ll have to keep us up to date with that.

        • OMG. I have already received an ‘SEO overview report’ email from TYNT and found out that in just the first day of using it, my content was copied 9 times!

          Wow. Now I’m scared. I think what I will do is see where this goes and perhaps compare the stats between this and also using blog protector (i.e. I think with the second tool the ‘scraping’ should lessen – not sure at this point if I want that or not, I still somehow don’t like the idea of people copying my content).

          Thanks very much again for the tip Adrienne. I had heard of this before and thought this thing wasn’t really for me but you convinced me to give it a try. I hate the idea of people scraping content but I guess it’s just a reality of life on the internet and perhaps even a compliment in a way.

          On the diet thing, yep – I’ll keep you posted, I’m gonna stick with this little experiment a while longer just to make sure I’ve given it a good hearing, but I’ll let you know when (I was reading Tim Ferriss’ book again last night just to double check I was doing everything to the letter – I am).

          take care Adrienne,
          a bientot,

          • Surprise!

            People are going to copy your content no matter what you put on your blog for protection Alan. Not everyone is copying it for the wrong reasons which is what Tynt explains in their video introduction. A lot of people are just sharing what they read through email because that’s their form of sharing.

            It’s definitely a compliment and if you ping your content when you publish it, the search engines know which one is the original one so you are perfectly safe there as well.

            Do keep me posted on this diet. Will love to know how it goes for you.

            Enjoy your day!

            • Yep – you’re right, it would be cool if there was a way to separate the genuine sharing by email from the scraping too.

              I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the diet. Advance warning, it’s not going to be anything earth-shattering, because I am a believer in health, moderation and simplicity 😉

              take care,

  22. Your reasons for not staying on the diet are pretty much similar to mine. Have you read through much of the 4hb website? There are a lot of fanatics on there. I wonder how much of the comments on experiences like yours and mine have been suppressed?

    It’s great to experiment though,eh?


    • Hi Razwana,

      I did read through the comments on the 4hb website, mainly to see if other people who have been having problems with the diet have been answered, so that I could know more about why my results didn’t match the claims. There were quite a few people with similar experience according to those comments so I’m not so sure that such comments have been suppressed, however I didn’t find any of those actually being addressed.

      I’m still doing the diet, on week 7 now, and will keep with it for a while. I am actually seeing some results just nowhere near to the extent which most of those fanatics seem to experience or to the extent the diet claims.

      I have learned plenty from the experience and will certainly change my diet as a result, it just won’t bear much resemblance to the 4hb diet in the end. But first I will persevere with this one for longer – until I’m completely bored of it ;-).

      yep, good to experiment!


  23. I tend to stay away from diets like this, Atkins or the paleodiet simply because I don’t like all the rules are put on me. From how you described it, I don’t think I’d last long and just move on to my own things.

    For the most part, I just eat what I think is healthy. I also try to get a lot of water (which admittedly I’m not all that great at doing).

    I think you’re biggest critique that it’s boring really makes the diet hard to maintain. Enjoying what you’re eating makes sticking to a diet so much easier. And I can see how this diet would get repetitive. Perhaps it would work if you were completely dedicated to it, but more casual dieters would just lose interest.

    • Me too normally it just intrigued me somehow.

      I do like a challenge.

      This diet has helped me in a way, but I don’t see it as the ultimate diet, just a very interesting experiment. In the end, you’re right – just eating healthy and drinking plenty of water are probably as simple as it needs to be.

      That being said, some people struggle with both of those things and need set rules to follow. Once I’ve decided something and have a boundary or rule defined, whether set for myself or by anyone else, I’m pretty good at sticking to the rules. In this particular case, the rules become easier to follow because of the cheat day.

      I would have thought you’re a bit like me though Steve on this one, you like to learn, you like experiments and you are pretty good at being disciplined (though I know you don’t like being bored) – still don’t fancy giving it a try?


      I’m going to give it a while longer…

  24. Hey Alan,

    Well, that is one reason I don’t follow any diets particularly. I feel some diets works and some don’t but everyone of us has a different body and a different coping mechanism. Though I am not against any diets; I don’t follow any. I consult a nutritionist. I work out everyday and stay away from the obvious calories – desserts, sodas, too much diary, fried food and so on. But having said that I do have “cheat days”.

    But yes, I ain’t telling any one to stop following any particular diet; but yes working out is the bigger picture. That’s how I feel.

    • Hi Hajra,

      me neither, until this… and previously my own kind of diet, though as I said that was more of a means to track fitness and good habits than a diet as such. Sounds to me like you have very good healthy habits already – working out every day is excellent. I don’t but I should. I like the idea of fitting exercise into everyday things or at least things that are fun (walking the dog, cycling with the kids…). I also agree that assuming you have a fairly sensible exercise regime just staying away from the obvious calories should be good enough for some people.

      We’ll shortly be posting an article on Emotional Eating which can also be a problem as far as dieting is concerned but if you’ve cracked the 3 fundamentals – i.e. you eat in moderation, you get enough exercise (which could be moderate too) and you don’t emotional-eat then that should easily be enough for good health.

      thanks for the comment Hajra!

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