Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of the 5-star reviews for 4HB came up on the first day. Given that Tim Ferriss has previously endorsed outsourcing in his Four Hour Workweek, I wonder how many of those 5-star reviews were from his personal assistants abroad.
Let me start with my bona fides: I am a currently practicing and licensed physician in the state of California. I graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine. I am a black belt and a lifelong athlete, and I have been weight training for over 20 years-- and unlike Mr. Ferriss, without injuring myself in any way, ever. I have no financial interest in his book or any other product discussed here.
Regarding the depth of my review of The 4-Hour Body, I spent over [...] on the equipment, supplements, and ultrasound machine recommended in the book. I bought the BodyMetrix Professional ultrasound and software he recommends by Intelametrix ([...] after discount for mentioning 4HB book), and completed the 1-on-1 online training despite the fact I am previously certified in performing ultrasound. I engaged my friends and colleagues in a "Fat off" competition with obsessive and objective weight and body fat measurements and followed the routine for 5 weeks as perfectly as I was able. I also experimented (like Mr. Ferriss) using continuous glucose measurement (CGM) to assess minute-to-minute glucose responses to food and exercise using both the DexCom system he recommends as well as the MiniMed Guardian system. I plan to upload a photo of the nutritional supplements I bought, which nearly cover my kitchen table. I downloaded apps to my phone for recording each workout obsessively, and more importantly to help with the very slow rep time he recommends.
My basic finding is that after trying the diet, supplements, exercise routines and lifestyle changes recommended in the 4-Hour Body that I found no change, whatsoever, in body weight or competition. Nor did any of my other friends trying the book.
Why doesn't the 4HB work?
(1) It takes more than 4 hours a month in the gym to have a great body. I'm sorry, it just does. Mr. Ferriss recommends performing 2-3 SETS, for a total of less than 30 reps, per WEEK, to get a great body. Ask any athlete, bodybuilder, trainer... not enough. Not even close. It's hogwash. I actually could feel my body dwindling despite eating as much protein as I could stomach.
(2) Almost all the supplements recommended in 4HB have never been scientifically proven to do what Mr. Ferriss claims they do. Take cissus quadrangularis (page 110), costs about $30 for 120 capsules. He discusses that he took CQ in China while eating a high volume rice diet with sweets and states "CQ preserved my abs". Really? If that's the level of evidence that you're comfortable with, great. But with simultaneous exercise, multiple other ongoing supplements, lifestyle changes, etc., who can tell whether it was CQ or just dietary changes from his being in rural China?
(3) The diet is just a mishmash of other diet routines, basically Atkins plus paleo with a dash of South Beach Diet. There are important flaws in the diet that should be pointed out. He recommends carbohydrates from beans instead of "white carbohydrates", hence the "slow-carb" diet. This relies on a bunch of old data regarding glycemic index. The reality about carbohydrate digestion is very different. Carbohydrate digestion is so important that it begins IN THE MOUTH with salivary amylase. Whether you eat a slice of Wonder Bread or a handful of garbanzo beans, the breakdown of these sugars into the body's currency of glucose is extremely rapid and effective regardless of which form you ingest it in. I have tried this myself using continuous glucose monitoring as recommended in the book. The only way I have found to blunt the sugar rise is simultaneous ingestion of a good quantity of fat. Also, can a diet really be paleo without milk or dairy? And did early Homo sapiens farm for beans and lentils?
(4) The blood sugar response data in the book is flawed by a misunderstanding of how continuous blood glucose monitoring (CGM) works. He notes "it turned out foods and liquids took much, much longer to get to my bloodstream than one would expect." But the DexCom SEVEN implant he was using has a 20-30 minute delay between the blood sugar reading you get on a finger stick, and the blood sugar reading on the machine sensor. That is, there is a BUILT IN DELAY (check some online diabetic forums for more info on this) because capillary blood from fingersticks shows changes much faster and more accurately than the interstitial fluid surrounding the implant. So, as noted in (3), sugar responses are actually very fast. Drink that protein shake right before or after the workout, not 1 hour prior like he says.
(5) Measuring body fat before and after interventions is much less easy than implied in the book. Body scans using DEXA are really great, but it's hard to convince all your friends to do it with you given inconvenience and expense. I have used the ultrasound unit he recommends and even with training it is very difficult for me to get reliable, repeatable data. This is true even when I have switched it to expert "M" mode and done my own curve fitting of the actual ultrasound output. It is also very dependent on the body type you select for yourself when you calibrate the machine.
(6) The sex improvement section seems out of place in this book, and is not terribly original to boot.
Here's what you can learn from 4HB without buying the book:
---Measure your body fat (!) before and after any change you make in your diet.
---If a book makes unrealistic claims, don't believe it.
---Have your friends join you in challenges and short contests.
---Exercise consistently over years...and be more careful with your body than Mr. Ferriss is.