Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Tim Ferriss 4-Hour Diet - Paleo Style

If you don't know who Timothy Ferriss is, you're in the minority.  A bit of a crazed science fanatic, who really gets 100% into whatever interests him at the time, this best selling author on Amazon also has a very popular website where many of his success stories are featured.

Tim decided to put his extraordinary energy and brain to good use studying the easiest and best methods for getting into shape, and the 4-Hour Diet and the 4-Hour Body book were the result.
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

The 4-Hour diet is basically a low carb plus diet. The plus part are all the modifications that Tim has made, taking advantage of the latest scientific findings on getting into shape and losing weight.  It's become very popular because it promises quick results, and it's easy since it relies on eating a limited number of meals.  It's also healthy because Tim recommends organic and grass-fed foods, which is why I think it will work very well for those of us who eat Paleo.  Paleo eating itself is a great way to get into shape, but if for whatever reason (medical or just aesthetical) you want that to happen as quickly as humanly possible, a few tweeks may very well help you on your way.

Below you will find a summary of the diet rules, but since this plan is explained in detail on his site and also in any number of articles, (this one for example), I'm not going to go into the details. If losing weight quickly while still eating Paleo appeals to you, check out the book, website or articles for yourself.  In this post I'm going to concentrate on showing you how you can get even better results with this plan by using the recipes on this website.

Because the majority of menu examples that you can find online feature beans and lentils, you will probably think you can't follow this plan on Paleo, but there really is no reason why not.  Even though beans and lentils are eaten by many, according to the rules posted, eating them is not actually a requirement.  And since the success of most diets depends on not eating the things on the NO list rather than eating everything on the YES list, I don't see why this shouldn't work for us as well.

Here are the rules according to Tim :
  1. Avoid white carbs.  This is a no brainer for those of us already eating Paleo.
  2. Eat the same meal over and over again.  Again, pretty easy with all the Paleo recipe choices we have here.
  3. Don't drink calories.  By that he means milk, soda and fruit juice - all things we don't have as part of our Paleo diet anyway. You can however have unlimited tea and coffee (with a max of 2 tablespoons of heavy cream) and a couple of glasses of red wine every night.  Nothing hard about that is there? You are also encouraged to drink lots and lots of water, which again is something we already do.
  4. Don't eat fruit.  Not really a problem.  Palaeolithic man didn't always have fruit available, so going without isn't all that drastic, especially since the last rule is ...
  5. Take one day off a week.  Then you can eat all the fruit you want, as well as any other goodies you fancy.
After checking many of the menu plans that people have used successfully, it's very obvious that there is still a lot of variety here.  Some people use dairy and some don't - which again makes it very doable for everyone doing Paleo.

Personally, I would lose the dairy.  Not because I believe using some dairy isn't healthy, but because it has a lot of calories, and when it comes to losing weight, calories might not be the end all and be all, but they still count.  If you're good at moderation, sprinkling a bit of parmesan or shredded cheddar over a dish might work for you, but if not, giving it up altogether is probably the easiest route. (This doesn't include butter or heavy cream, used in moderation.)

I think the best thing we Paleo eaters have going for us is the fact that we don't eat grains, beans and legumes, processed oils and sugar.  This will make this already very effective diet even more effective.  And if you follow a few simple tricks, you can lose weight quickly and healthily with a minimum of effort.

I have my own 5 steps for how you can use this diet to quickly lose weight using the recipes on this website :

( 1 )  Choose a breakfast option or two that you would be happy eating all week.

If you work at home scrambled eggs with avocado and a bit of salsa are a great option.

For those of you who often have to rush out of the house, take a breakfast burrito with you.

You could also try :

Check the BREAKFASTS AND BRUNCHES section under the RECIPES tab for more options.

 ( 2 )  For lunch, choose something quick and easy.  

A salad with some kind of protein is always a good idea.

Here are a few to try :
If you're not into cooking, just pick up a couple of bags of mixed greens, a carton of cherry tomatoes, some cooked chicken and/or beef, and a bottle of olive oil and a fresh lemon to mix as a dressing.  

On a cold day a cup of soup can hit the spot as well.  Many can be made in your slow cooker on the weekend and kept in the fridge to supplement your weekday lunches.

Some to try :

Look under the LUNCHES section under the RECIPES tab for more ideas.

( 3 )  Choose 2 or 3 dinners in each category to rotate - slow cooker, 30 minute and barbecue.

If you have a slow cooker and you want to make life as easy as possible, just choose 2 or 3 of these recipes and rotate them during the week.  Buy the ingredients, start one each morning before you start your day, and soon you will have all your dinners covered.

There are also a lot of great meals you can make in less than half an hour, so if you don't mind cooking a bit, choose a few of these and stock up on ingredients.

Some 30 minute meals to try :

Then again, if barbecuing is your thing, check the barbecue recipes and choose a couple of these as well or instead of the others. Another easy option.

Look under the SLOW COOKER, 30 MINUTE and BARBECUE sections under the RECIPES tab for more ideas.

Finally make sure you have some vegetable sides to finish your meals. Creamy mashed cauliflower is a great substitute for mashed potatoes, and it can be made on the weekend and then frozen in individual portions to reheat in the microwave when needed.  If you use frozen cauliflower that you can steam in the bag this will be even easier to make.

Check under the VEGETABLES section under RECIPES for more vegetable ideas.

If you really want quick and easy options, there are many different frozen vegetable mixes available now that are just as nutritious as fresh, and if you have found in the past that vegetables tend to go bad before you eat them, this can be a great option.  Stock your freezer with a couple that appeal to you and microwave when needed.

( 4 )  Stock up on drinks and snacks so there is always something you can eat.  

When you are eating Paleo you don't usually need snacks to fill you up, but if you do, you want to make sure you don't jeopardize your diet by not having the right things around to eat.

Herbal teas and mineral water as well as regular tea, green tea and even coffee are all drinks that you can have and should always have available.  A lot of times when we think we are hungry it's really thirst we are feeling not hunger.

Image from www.northbynorthwestern.com

As for snacks, I don't recommend cheese or fruit on this diet, but how about keeping a jar of nut butter* and some celery sticks in the fridge? (Just not peanut butter remember.  It's a legume.) If you don't end up eating them as snacks, nut butter lasts for ages refrigerated and celery can be chopped up and added to your lunch salad or soup.  (Another good option for eating with celery is liver pate.)

Some other snack recipes to have on hand :

* nuts and nut butters should be used very sparingly, and if you aren't happy with your weight loss, give them up completely.

(5 )  Make some special meals and desserts.

 The day off part of this plan is what I think makes this  ideal for Paleo eaters.  Tim says you can eat anything you want, and if you want to follow the 80/20 rule you can indulge a bit here, but since I've given you a lot of great indulgent recipes for meals and desserts, why not keep on eating Paleo?

Instead of eating white flour and white sugar - which many find starts all those cravings again - stick to coconut sugar as your sweetener as it has the lowest glycemic index.  My second choice would be honey or maple syrup.  Tim doesn't encourage artificial sweeteners of any kind, and since they are now starting to find that even sugar alcohols can cause cravings, I agree with him that they are all best avoided.

If cheese is part of your Paleo diet, then this is also the day that you can indulge.

I've given you a lot of rich meals and decadent dessert recipes on this website, but unfortunately it's very easy to over do them, which is why I'm constantly pushing you to watch how much of these you eat.  But most people who eat Paleo find eating as much as they want of the allowed foods one of the pluses, and really don't want to have to keep track of how much they eat.

If you are one of these people and have a hard time losing weight, this plan may be the answer for you. If you keep these extra rich recipes for your day off, you can indulge to your heart's content.  Unless you really go overboard, the damage you will do will be minimal, and then you can go back to your basic eating plan for the next week knowing that in 7 days time you can once again eat sandwiches, pancakes, muffins, cookies, cakes  ....... or whatever else you crave.

Some great day off meals are :

Day off breakfast options :

Check the RECIPES tab under all the sections for more tasty options.

Here is another idea that works for someone I know.  This person really doesn't like to cook, so on her day off she has a complete day off.  With no cooking involved, she just has a Primal shake mixed with some fruit 3 or 4 times a day.  A lot of the time she will go out for a meal in the evening, but having shakes the rest of the day not only makes it really easy for her, but it has also helped her lose even more weight. And she can still indulge in the fruit she craves the rest of the week.

All in all, I really like the idea of this 4 hour plan because you're still eating what you would normally eat on a Paleo diet, but just in a different combination and at a different time - and this can make all the difference between losing weight or not.

Tim has a lot of very impressive success stories on his website.  (Check out Briana's story here.) And by all accounts, he's the kind of guy who looks for the easiest way to get the best results - my kind of thinking.

I don't think there is any doubt that this plan does work if you stick with it.  And for Paleo eaters - especially with the help of all the recipes on this site - sticking to it should be pretty easy.  Certainly if you are looking for a way to loss weight quickly and still stay healthy I think it's worth a shot don't you?  

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw

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