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after true Paleo for several months...ditched 4HB after 1 week!

by (178)
Updated November 20, 2014 at 3:07 AM
Created February 14, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Being a firm believer in the Paleo/Primal way of life after reading Paleo Solution, Primal Blueprint, and New Evolutionary Diet I can truly attest to the health benefits this way of life has offered me. BUT a couple weeks ago a friend recommend I read Tim Ferris' 4 hour body and after reading the nutrition chapter I decided to give it a try. Boy was that the worst week of my life. The beans at every meal was absolutely horrendous. The extra carbs from the beans gave me just enough of an insulin spike after each bean consumption to make sure I was hungry all the time! and this concept of an all out cheat day where you stuff your face with as much junk as possible was just as stupid if you ask me. The feeling I had the day after my "cheat day" (which only consisted of a thai dinner with non paleo options) I felt like crap and it only further reminded me of why I ditched my old way of life to begin with. I'm intrigued by his concept of ramping up your thyroid function with this cheat day but I don't think the horrible day after feeling makes it all worth it. sorry for the rant but didnt know if any of you tried Ferris' recommendations...I just had to share.

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133 · September 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Beans are optional, and not at every meal. The diet works for people who refuse to do Paleo. You lose weight, that's what it's for. The cheat day helps keep people sane who can't hold to a strict, unaddictive diet. People who refuse to eliminate grains, REFUSE to eliminate grains. So the cheat day helps them maintain the regime. Everything else in the book is helpful if you experiment and tweak the notions he gives you. It's about self experimentation.

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704 · September 14, 2011 at 4:11 PM

After all, Prince Fielder is a prominent vegetarian athlete who is as svelte as they come! Oh, wait a sec...

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1906 · September 14, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Just as a followup to this, let me say that the Occam's workout protocol really isn't all that Ferriss makes it out to be. The exercise selection is poor and the results marginal. The only "good" thing about the protocol is that it's not time-consuming. I've really started to wonder how Ferriss researched the book, because it doesn't take much digging to find a much better workout strategy.

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2399 · May 21, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Maybe I wasnt' clear. Paleo Solution/Perfect Diet/Primal Blueprint (all three are great) >>>>>>>>>>>>> Tim's book.

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10919 · May 20, 2011 at 8:44 PM

What's wrong with Primal Blueprint? (I'm not very science-y so I'm serious.) Besides the love of nut oils it seems OK to me. Sisson allows some fruit but it seems easy enough to cut down on those if you're stalling out.

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1069 · May 20, 2011 at 5:26 PM

I agree about the kettlebells and the cold showers, although I've found Pavel Tstatsouline's approach to KB (hard-style I guess?) better than the Crossfit or 4HB approach. I think 4HB did not focus enough on the hip mobility necessary to do KB properly. As for cold showers it's really interesting that you do it at night... I have been doing it in the morning to REALLY wake up. I'll have to start trying it at night and see if it helps me sleep too!

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386 · May 20, 2011 at 4:28 PM

The diet's only a small fraction of the book, honestly. No need to judge so definitively before reading it.

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386 · May 20, 2011 at 4:27 PM

The slow-carb diet was actually my gateway to a paleo diet. I went from SAD to Clean to slow-carb to KGH-style paleo. Also, a *ton* of Ferriss' non-diet-related stuff is completely awesome.

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25467 · May 20, 2011 at 4:09 PM

sleep is better because by doing those things you cave your cortisol at the precise correct time. That is why it works.

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178 · May 20, 2011 at 6:16 AM

Okay "Mr. Relevant" either the beans have completely ruined your train of thought or you just own a piece of the Ferris' empire and decided to make an account here and chime in with your one post.

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178 · February 19, 2011 at 8:52 PM

I did read it Tim oops I mean geezus.

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494 · February 15, 2011 at 3:09 PM

For fat loss, he recommends putting an ice pack on your neck for 20-30 minutes at night (which I do as I fall asleep) and taking a 5-10 minute cold shower before bed. So far I haven't noticed a remarkable difference in fat loss, but I sleep amazingly now. It also gave me the push I needed to bite the bullet and start using my kettlebell, which has been invaluable because I love it. I don't know why it took me so long. The things Robin mentioned are all good reads too.

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215 · February 15, 2011 at 6:51 AM

Agreed - it's better than SAD but if you are already cured of SAD it can be a step backward. The interesting non-food related stuff includes sleep (he looked at a number of polyphastic sleep protocols), how to get the big O (for women who are non-orgasmic), repairing injury, ... The list goes on. The book is a lot of fun.

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2759 · February 15, 2011 at 5:40 AM

I concur on the diet part. I bought the book and I don't think it's a complete waste because it has some interesting ideas and ways of thinking about things.

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1781 · February 15, 2011 at 4:56 AM

I didn't think vegetarians got obese.. (tongue firmly in cheek) Sorry Pammie, couldn't resist. Glad you're losing the weight and finding health.

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1781 · February 15, 2011 at 4:50 AM

Care to share any of those non-food related things with us?

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1781 · February 15, 2011 at 4:48 AM

Hmmm, don't eat cake so don't think I'll try the crap either thanks.. ;p

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178 · February 14, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Save your $9.99 and get Taubes' new book instead.

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178 · February 14, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Glad I'm not the only one!!!

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2099 · February 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM

I haven't read that book, but I have to agree with you because if I did what it recommends, I would start on a cycle of cravings that had no end except to go back to less than 20 grams of carbs per day for a week or two. To me, being paleo all week, then "rewarding" myself with cheat foods...or an "open" day, however you want to look at it...seems totally self-defeating. What kind of "reward" puts a person back to square one, or nearly back to square one? What kind of "reward" starts a viscious cycle of cravings? Seems like a pretty shitty way to reward myself, if you ask me.

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17 Answers

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494 · February 14, 2011 at 9:39 PM

I think Tim's slow-carb diet is excellent for people who eat SAD. Apart from beans and a cheat day, it's a lot like paleo. If you're happily living the paleo lifestyle, I think it's probably a step in the wrong direction.

I tried it out for a month. For beans, I only ate lentils and black beans that I soaked overnight and prepared myself. I didn't notice any significant reaction to them. The cheat days did me in though. It would take my body four to five days to recover, even when I didn't consume any gluten. I'm quite content going back to paleo.

In defense of 4HB, I did enjoy reading it and there are lots of random non-food related things that I've started utilizing.

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494 · February 15, 2011 at 3:09 PM

For fat loss, he recommends putting an ice pack on your neck for 20-30 minutes at night (which I do as I fall asleep) and taking a 5-10 minute cold shower before bed. So far I haven't noticed a remarkable difference in fat loss, but I sleep amazingly now. It also gave me the push I needed to bite the bullet and start using my kettlebell, which has been invaluable because I love it. I don't know why it took me so long. The things Robin mentioned are all good reads too.

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1781 · February 15, 2011 at 4:50 AM

Care to share any of those non-food related things with us?

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215 · February 15, 2011 at 6:51 AM

Agreed - it's better than SAD but if you are already cured of SAD it can be a step backward. The interesting non-food related stuff includes sleep (he looked at a number of polyphastic sleep protocols), how to get the big O (for women who are non-orgasmic), repairing injury, ... The list goes on. The book is a lot of fun.

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1069 · May 20, 2011 at 5:26 PM

I agree about the kettlebells and the cold showers, although I've found Pavel Tstatsouline's approach to KB (hard-style I guess?) better than the Crossfit or 4HB approach. I think 4HB did not focus enough on the hip mobility necessary to do KB properly. As for cold showers it's really interesting that you do it at night... I have been doing it in the morning to REALLY wake up. I'll have to start trying it at night and see if it helps me sleep too!

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117
25467 · May 20, 2011 at 4:09 PM

sleep is better because by doing those things you cave your cortisol at the precise correct time. That is why it works.

E7dc4f2e3998906dd3213973a3c10d50
386 · May 20, 2011 at 4:27 PM

The slow-carb diet was actually my gateway to a paleo diet. I went from SAD to Clean to slow-carb to KGH-style paleo. Also, a *ton* of Ferriss' non-diet-related stuff is completely awesome.

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50 · May 20, 2011 at 3:47 PM

First time poster and fan of Tim Ferriss. I don't do the slow carb diet (I eat paleo). But I wanted to point out that he considers the beans optional for someone who knows how to eat enough calories to replace the carbs they're removing.

He didn't mention it in the book, but he's mentioned it in interviews. He doesn't want people to get hungry, think the diet doesn't work, and quit.

I stopped the diet because I felt terrible on cheat days. And I prefer eating sweet potatoes through the week, rather than only on cheat day. But I did lose weight. I think it would work well as a transition from SAD, and the results would make people start thinking about their food. I wouldn't be surprised if many people eventually find out about paleo as a result and transition.

p.s. I somehow only found out about this site a week ago, despite reading marks daily apple and robb wolf for 8 months. I've been here for the past week, and finally decided o post since I actually have something to add on this topic. I've only been full paleo for about a month, I still feel like a newbie.

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992 · February 15, 2011 at 1:54 PM

The book is about a lot of things. Nutrition is only a small part of it and among the nutrition advice, Ferriss has a lot of varying advice (since he consults a 100+ experts). For instance, he has a section on how to do vegetarianism in the appendix and then, in a section on raising your testosterone, he talks about eating practically nothing but red meat and nuts for a month.

What I found hilarious is that, during the section on endurance, the main expert consulted is Brian MacKenzie ... who founded CrossFit Endurance.... which of course recommends paleo as your fuel source. Keep in mind, we're talking in the context of actually being competitive at ultra endurance events. And Ferriss is totally on board. He says in a FAQ to eat paleo for endurance. In another chapter, he explicitly states that many of our health issues are caused by behaviors different from our stone age ancestors.

I think he steers away from a flat out recommendation of paleo overall because he's a clever marketer. He seriously likes naming things like the "slow carb" diet. Once he comes up with a new name and a slightly different approach (how many other diets are pushing beans/lentils so hard?), he can easily say he's invented it.

4HB has nothing against paleo. If anything, I think it is just saying that different diets can be used for different purposes, the corollary on that being don't trust anybody without seeing the results for yourself.

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40 · February 14, 2011 at 11:46 PM

I found 4HB a good transition to paleo. I went from being vegetarian, though, which might make a difference. I didn't lose any weight, and I did follow the program. I think it's entirely possible that I've really mucked up my metabolism with such a high carb diet for so long (30-ish years). I did start feeling better on 4HB. I feel even better on paleo. I'm also beginning to have some weight loss (I'm obese, middle aged, female - so any weight loss is pretty amazing).

There were other things in the 4HB book that I found interesting. The book also led me to look at Ferris' sources, which have been really interesting. Based on that, I can't say the book is a total waste of money for a lay person with little or no exposure to the information provided. If you are considering purchasing the book, you might want to thumb through and see if there's something that interests you beyond the dietary/weight loss information.

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1781 · February 15, 2011 at 4:56 AM

I didn't think vegetarians got obese.. (tongue firmly in cheek) Sorry Pammie, couldn't resist. Glad you're losing the weight and finding health.

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704 · September 14, 2011 at 4:11 PM

After all, Prince Fielder is a prominent vegetarian athlete who is as svelte as they come! Oh, wait a sec...

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20787 · February 15, 2011 at 5:00 AM

It might be more successful if the 'cheat' day was more of a carb reload day using healthy carbs like potato. I agree switching it up might be a good idea but not if you are switching it up with a bunch of crap food and making yourself feel sick afterwards.

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1548 · February 14, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Some of these nutritional plans and diets seem like that they are meant to appeal more to your inner toddler than to your rational self.

I swear I could sell a book extolling the benefits of coprophilia so long as it lets people eat cake on Sundays.

I have been Primal (grain free, low-carb, minimal processed foods, high-fat dairy) for almost 2 years and the only time I have cravings of any sort is when I have carbs earlier in the day. If I really need to eat fruit or chocolate I do so in the evenings before I goto bed just so I am past the cravings for more sugar by the time I wake up. The cravings remind me of nicotine cravings. I have not tried to just have a deep breath or the like to see if that would help them pass, but they do usually go away within a few minutes. Maybe I am just addicted to insulin or something.

I have found that even the smallest amounts of sugar can have an affect on me, my appetite, and mood.

I don't believe that there is a viable reason to cheat on the diet. It is kind of like drinking and being an alcoholic. A person can have a drink from time to time and enjoy themselves with no ill effect, fine, but alkies need to stay away from the booze. If you were a "Carbie" like I was then you got to stay away.

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1781 · February 15, 2011 at 4:48 AM

Hmmm, don't eat cake so don't think I'll try the crap either thanks.. ;p

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742 · February 14, 2011 at 6:42 PM

I saw the book at the store yesterday and was thinking about picking it up since I've heard so much about it lately. (just for info/curiosity, not because i was going to actually try it.) Thank you for your rant, now i don't have to waste my time. Beans at every meal? Really? You must have been farting up a storm, lol. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that carbs at every meal and an all out cheat day would wreak havoc on your insulin, hunger and cravings, and since high insulin is what causes all of my inflammatory conditions, this "diet" seems like it's the opposite of good for me. :) Thanks again!

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2099 · February 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM

I haven't read that book, but I have to agree with you because if I did what it recommends, I would start on a cycle of cravings that had no end except to go back to less than 20 grams of carbs per day for a week or two. To me, being paleo all week, then "rewarding" myself with cheat foods...or an "open" day, however you want to look at it...seems totally self-defeating. What kind of "reward" puts a person back to square one, or nearly back to square one? What kind of "reward" starts a viscious cycle of cravings? Seems like a pretty shitty way to reward myself, if you ask me.

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178 · February 14, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Save your $9.99 and get Taubes' new book instead.

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386 · May 20, 2011 at 4:28 PM

The diet's only a small fraction of the book, honestly. No need to judge so definitively before reading it.

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133 · September 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Beans are optional, and not at every meal. The diet works for people who refuse to do Paleo. You lose weight, that's what it's for. The cheat day helps keep people sane who can't hold to a strict, unaddictive diet. People who refuse to eliminate grains, REFUSE to eliminate grains. So the cheat day helps them maintain the regime. Everything else in the book is helpful if you experiment and tweak the notions he gives you. It's about self experimentation.

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30 · February 14, 2011 at 6:32 PM

I have had success on the 4HB, but I only use canned beans and I don't always have a bunch of beans with every meal. Some meals, I won't have beans and just eat strict Paleo. The cheat day wasn't really all that for me. I just added some bread and cheese that day, but I didn't have a food orgy. I have experimented with different canned beans. That's my two cents. Hope it helps.

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40 · September 14, 2011 at 3:07 PM

4HB did help my husband and I transition from a diet overloaded with carbs (white rice), wheat and 'healthy fats' such as canola oil. We never did any beans as we don't do well on them, just occasionally we would have some legumes (dhal). At the moment Cheat Day has become a single cheat meal per week for my hubby. I, on the other hand, am now at my goal weight after 3 months, so I allow myself a little bit of white rice. I think I am addicted to the stuff. Hubby seems to be doing fine without carbs.

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10919 · May 20, 2011 at 8:48 PM

My husband tried 4HB for about 2 weeks (I was still WAPF.) He hates legumes but was really hungry without them. At some point I was reading up on the diet and someone referred to it as "paleo-ish" so I took to investigating just what this "Paleo" concept was. Hahahahaha And now we find ourselves here 3 months later still doing Paleo. 4HB was a good stepping stone though I think the cheat day was really bad for carb addicts like us. Also, we really do better with high fat. Especially my husband. I seriously thought I would NEVER get that man off His daily madelines and ice cream... Enter butter, coconut oil, and lard and he doesn't whine about sugar anymore at all. His treats are once a month he gets some hagaan daz 5 ingredient ice cream or a local brand he likes that's minimal on the additives and once a week he has some home fries (real roasted taters) at a local foods restaurant with his brunch. I'm Grateful to 4hb for opening him up to real foods, though. He was really skeptical about Grassfed meats before.

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2399 · February 15, 2011 at 9:39 AM

The book is quite entertaining and Tim is funny writer but from a strictly nutritional view, it's easily worse than Paleo Solution/Perfect Diet/Primal Blueprint.

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10919 · May 20, 2011 at 8:44 PM

What's wrong with Primal Blueprint? (I'm not very science-y so I'm serious.) Besides the love of nut oils it seems OK to me. Sisson allows some fruit but it seems easy enough to cut down on those if you're stalling out.

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2399 · May 21, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Maybe I wasnt' clear. Paleo Solution/Perfect Diet/Primal Blueprint (all three are great) >>>>>>>>>>>>> Tim's book.

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225 · February 14, 2011 at 7:46 PM

I was in the same boat. I gave it three weeks, and it didn't cut it for me. Left the "Slow Carb" diet, and all my symptoms were gone within 36 hours. You'll feel better.

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178 · February 14, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Glad I'm not the only one!!!

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18 · May 19, 2011 at 10:54 PM

okay, you've managed to convince yourself paleo is gorgeous as usual and ferris' slow-carb 4hb is bs; so far so good;

just the fact that you had beans at every meal (?!) tells me you've got the 4HB slow-carb diet simply wrong, to begin with; and yes, jumping to the conclusions after just one week is not serious at all, and makes your review irrelevant

okay, now let us continue with our "bs diet" (that works amazingly by the way)

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178 · May 20, 2011 at 6:16 AM

Okay "Mr. Relevant" either the beans have completely ruined your train of thought or you just own a piece of the Ferris' empire and decided to make an account here and chime in with your one post.

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8 · February 17, 2011 at 8:39 PM

so you didn't read what the diet is and judge it? Maybe you should read the book first, no where does it say you have to eat beans every day. Talk about lazy, at least don't post like you did the diet if you didn't even read it.

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178 · February 19, 2011 at 8:52 PM

I did read it Tim oops I mean geezus.

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1906 · February 15, 2011 at 4:25 PM

4HB is an interested log of n=1 experiments, but there's not enough "natural" improvement. The diet info. is useful only from a transitional perspective (to paleo eating), and too much of the rest of the book relies on taking supplements to bring about change rather than focusing on real food. There are a couple notable sections, like on the aforementioned cold showers, or on using cinnamon, but I don't know if these tidbits justify the book purchase.

After playing around with the Occam's workout protocol, I'm also questioning how well it works compared to more "primal" workout routines.

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1906 · September 14, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Just as a followup to this, let me say that the Occam's workout protocol really isn't all that Ferriss makes it out to be. The exercise selection is poor and the results marginal. The only "good" thing about the protocol is that it's not time-consuming. I've really started to wonder how Ferriss researched the book, because it doesn't take much digging to find a much better workout strategy.

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373 · February 14, 2011 at 8:49 PM

I read the parts of the book that interested me, but did not try the diet because I'm doing quite nicely on my fairly good version of Paleo, having lost 68 pounds since 3/16/10. But I have been trying the ice pack for 30 minutes a day, the 4 Horsemen supplements, and 2 minutes of exercise just before I eat. Too early to tell what, if anything, is working. I also have started doing Slowburn weight training, and Ferriss helped motivate me to do that. The cheat days are suggested by quite a few "gurus" these days to reset leptin when you plateau. I have had some success with that, but all-out pigouts are counter-productive, imo. Every 2 weeks or so, I'll have some ice cream or some other treat, and that's it.

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8270 · February 14, 2011 at 8:49 PM

I've seen the same basic ideas on the cheat day in other diets. You eat a cheat day to deal with cravings AND to switch things up on the body.

The "problem" with the human body is it works to be the most efficient at things. If you do one exercise a lot, you won't burn the same amount of calories doing that exercise at 10 months that you did at 1 week. If you eat the same food all the time, you become really efficient at metabolising it (your body ramps down to meet the incoming calories) and your fat loss stalls. So the idea behind the cheat day is to ramp up your metabolism by providing more calories on one day. Think of it as two steps forward and one step back on the path to your fat loss goals.

That said, is it really necessary to have a cheat day? It depends on how accurately you are tracking things. If you know your weight/body fat percentage accurately, you can tell how you are losing over the weeks, and will see when your loss stalls. When loss stalls, put in a cheat day. Seems straightforward, but not everyone tracks it accurately and to that detail day in and day out (thus the general suggestions of once a week or once every couple weeks).

In re. the beans, Tim mentioned that it was to meet caloric goals, because in his experience, people eat too little otherwise. Doesn't really tell me that it's required.

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