Thursday, February 24, 2011

"4 Hour Body" Book Review

This book is all the rage, apparently. Walk into any Barnes & Noble and it is right there with Stieg Larsson and other bestsellers. So, I decided to pick it up and see what all the fuss is about.

This isn't your typical fad diet book. It wants to be more than that. Described as an "uncommon guide to rapid fat-loss, incredible sex, and becoming superhuman," author Tim Ferriss has some real ambition here. He aims to show you how to do the following and more:

* How to prevent fat gain while bingeing (X-mas, holidays, weekends)
* How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice
* How Tim gained 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time
* How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested
* How to produce 15-minute female orgasms
* 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

Ferriss is not a doctor, but he has experimented extensively on himself to arrive at the prescriptions detailed in this book. A human guinea pig, so to speak. Do the programs work?

I was unable to test every program, but I did try the diet (lose 20 pounds in 30 days without exercise), so I will speak exclusively of that. Yes, I did lose some weight while on the diet. But, I suspected I was also losing muscle mass and I felt undernourished while on it. This diet is not really intended for endurance athletes in training, to say the least. It certainly isn't very vegan friendly. So, I had to stop the program.

But, for the average person, it probably would be effective. Although, I have serious concerns about what happens after the 30 days are up. The dieter runs a risk of putting all the weight back on because he or she has not learned to make healthy food decisions for themselves, but has rather just been following a rigid set of restrictions for a month. The dieter also hasn't learned the value and joy of exercise. Effective, long-term weight loss requires that your change your entire frame of mind regarding food and exercise. You don't get that with this program.

And to be honest, there's nothing really very revolutionary about the diet anyway. It merely reiterates principles that have been expounded upon by health professionals for years: a low carb, low fat, high protein diet.

The writing itself is fun, fresh, and interesting. The science here is speculative, but compelling. Ferriss takes liberties where few scientists or doctors would (or could).

I'm fine with that. It's all very fascinating. But, here is my biggest problem with the book: it seems tailored for that specific attitude that demands fast results with the least amount of work put in. It's an obsession of the American public to want things done now and to not have to break a sweat for it. The world doesn't work that way. The best things in life are never easy. That's my problem with fad diets. They are in it for the short-haul. People follow them for a month or two and then things fall to pieces. Yo-yo dieting becomes the trend. I said this book wants to be more than your typical diet book. But, I fear it may be just that.

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