I got Timothy Ferriss’s newest book, The 4-hour Body for Christmas and couldn’t wait to get into it. I am a big fan of his first book, The 4-hour Workweek, and I use a lot of his advice to streamline my work in and out of the classroom. There’s a common misconception among many these days that teachers just coast from vacation to vacation, biding their time until retirement. Thankfully someone like Ferriss came along to help make our jobs even easier! Jeez. What a bunch of slackers we are!
I could go on, but I’ll spare the oncoming, sarcastic rant for another post. (Deep breaths.)
Anyhow, I’m a Ferriss fan, and I was excited to receive this book. This time, instead of writing about personal productivity, he explains how to hack the human body for maxim health and performance.
There’s a lot of neat information in this book on how to run faster, lift more weight, improve your baseball swing, and how to please the ladies. Given my expertise in all these things, I decided to skip those chapters to focus on his “Slow-Carb” diet.
Ferriss advertises this diet, which is similar to Atkins or South Beach, as a way to “Lose more fat than a marathoner by bingeing!” This didn’t really interest me either. I love to eat, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve successfully maintained my weight and body fat percentage for a while now and felt pretty comfortable with my ways of eating.
What I sought was a way to regulate my energy levels. I’ve had trouble with this since I started teaching. At first, I was coming off of a two-pot-per-day coffee addiction (born from the office drudgery I faced at my old job). My first year as a teacher I nearly passed once in front of a room full of kids because of low blood sugar: that was the inspiration for my initial changes in nutrition.
I learned to moderate my portions and to minimize my caffeine intake. I changed my conditioning regimen from lifting some weights and jogging around the neighborhood once in awhile to consistent, intense workouts to complement my martial arts training.
Most recently, after reading books like In Defense of Food and watching movies like Food, Inc. I flirted with a near complete plant-based diet. I’d been limiting meat servings to a few times per week and have focused on sustainable whole foods–especially whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
My food confession has a point: I wanted to try a more common-sense approach to keeping my insulin levels low from meal to meal. I still didn’t feel like I had it quite right. If I went too long between meals, I felt faint. I craved a lot of sugar and was almost always thirsty. I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I was eating too many carbs . . .
I researched the Paleo diet, and considered trying it before Ferriss’s new book caught my attention. It holds many of the same tenets, except one important item–the cheat day.
Here are Ferriss’s rules:
1. Avoid “white” foods. – This includes ALL processed carbohydrates, whole grain or not. Dairy is also to be avoided as it can spike insulin and thus increase body fat.
2. Eat the same meals over and over again. – Not a problem for anyone strapped for time. My experience is that it helps your body know when to expect calories and nutrients every day, and it helps to regulate energy levels.
3. Don’t drink calories. – This is a no-brainer for most of us, but do you count your sports drinks or the milk in your coffee?
4. Don’t eat fruit. – I can’t really adhere to this one. I prefer to have a serving of fruit as a snack without combining it with any other food so as not to trigger an insulin response. I still need the quick energy from time to time. I am limiting my portions, though.
5. Take one day off per week and go nuts. – This could easily be the main appeal to this diet. Ferriss advocates breaking all the rules once a week. According to his research, this actually regulates hormone levels, boosts metabolism, and increases fat loss. Plus you get to pig out!
Can you sense a series coming on? I’ve had some good luck with this diet so far, though there have been some ups and downs. Over the next few weeks I’ll detail my experience with “slow-carbs” and how they jibe with the demands of martial arts training. Ferriss, an efficiency pioneer, suggests limiting exercise for maximum results. For many of us that isn’t an option, so some tailoring will be necessary.
Has anyone else experimented with this diet or one similar? Please share your experiences now and as we move along in the series.