Tim Ferriss - Rewriting the Rules for the Optimal Body

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The Fol owing is a transcript of an interview conducted with Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-
Hour Body and the 4-Hour Workweek as part of the Future of Health Now online event.

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Ann Wixon: Hello, and thank you for joining us. I`m Ann Wixon, your
host for The Future of Health Now. The purpose of our series is to give
you privileged access to useful and helpful conversations with many of
the world`s most respected doctors and scientists, helping you to
achieve the best health possible.

We are speaking with Mr. Ferriss today to learn the ridiculously simply
fat-loss tricks he has spent the past 15 years testing and perfecting,
plus how to triple your testosterone without a single drug, using diet
alone. Welcome Mr. Ferriss!

Tim Ferriss: Thank you for having me.
Ann Wixon: Oh, we`re very excited. So what is a four-hour body?
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Tim Ferriss: So, a four-hour body, or the four-hour body, in general, is
simply a minimalist guide to rapid body change, and that fixes primarily, and
focuses primarily, on something cal ed the minimum effective dose. So,
looking at any one of these 50 topics that I explore, whether that`s fat loss,
muscular gain, sleep, or otherwise, and looking at the minimum dose,
minimum volume of a change, the smal est changes possible for the largest
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Ann Wixon: Well, we`ve all been told is that you have to really work
hard, you have to exercise a lot, you have to be so careful with
everything you eat. It`s kind of surprising that you`re saying four hours
a week is really all you need.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, the four hours, if we look at it across a time scale, if we`re
looking at exercise, is on a monthly basis, so, it would be four hours for an
entire month. It is surprising, it`s very counter intuitive, but if you look at the
data, if you look at the case studies, you`l see that the volume you need is
very little.
My dad is one example. He started at age 55 on a number of these protocols.
He was 250 pounds, and 5`6, very overweight, and he ended up losing more
than 90 pounds of fat and gaining 20 or 30 pounds of muscle, and he spent
no more than an hour a week in the gym - probably less than that.
Ann Wixon: That`s incredible. So, is it really possible to really lose 20
pounds of fat in 30 days, and increase fat burning by up to 300 percent?
Almost everything ever written says safe weight loss is like 2 pounds
per a week.

Tim Ferriss: The two pounds is a bit like an urban myth, and then you find
that two pounds is repeated so often that people believe it`s true. And MDs
fal prey to this as well. There are some amazing MDs.
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There are also some who just repeat what they`ve heard. It is entirely
possible, if you look most recently at Twitter, is one example. If you go to
Twitter and search @Tferriss, which is my handle, you wil see dozens of
status updates every day from people who have already lost 20 or 30 pounds
since the book came out about a month ago. So, it`s absolutely possible.
Ann Wixon: In your book, you mention fat-burning tips. So, let`s start
with the first. What is Ice Therapy, and how does it work?

Tim Ferriss: So, Ice Therapy, or cold exposure - you can work with cold
showers, or even ice packs. It involves exposing your body to very short
periods of cold in order to trigger accelerated fat loss. That`s due to a few
things, activating brown adipose tissue is one.
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The second is, I believe, a hormone cal ed adiponectin. There were a lot of
skeptics when this first came out in my book a month ago. There was just an
article that came out in The New York Times about this - this week, in fact - and
confirming much about what I put in the book.
Ann Wixon: Congratulations, that`s fantastic!
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, thank you very much. And this research was done (that
ended up in the book) with a gentleman named Ray Cronise, who is a former
NASA scientist, and he works with thermodynamics; that`s what he does. He
was able to triple his own rate of fat loss.
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He went from 5 pounds of fat loss per week to 4.5 by simply adding what he
cal ed "shiver walks". He would spend a short period of time outside with
minimal clothing, meaning minimal jacket, etc.
In my particular case, I prefer to take ice packs and put them on the upper
back and upper chest area while you`re watching TV or reading, let`s say, for
30 minutes at night.
Or, if you want to get a bit more aggressive with it, which is what I do, you
could take 10-minute ice baths 3 times a week, and that`s only up to the
waist; you`re doing it with 2 bags of ice, 10-pound bags of ice. But you start
gradual y, you start with the ice packs, then you move to cold showers, then
you move to the ice baths. It does have a very measurable impact on fat loss.
Ann Wixon: Wow! I love the idea of sitting in front of the television with
an icepack, knowing I`m burning fat. I think that`s fantastic. And this
fat-burning tip about Ice Therapy, this is something you`ve tested and
documented, right?

Tim Ferriss: Yes, absolutely. Ray has tested this and documented it, at this
point, with several dozen subjects. So, it`s definitely replicable. It`s not just a
random outcome for one person. We`re talking about something that`s been
studied, not only by Ray, but also extensively by the military.
Ann Wixon: Oh, interesting. So why do ice baths make you lose weight?
Tim Ferriss: It comes back primarily to the effect on hormones, and that
would include norepinephrine, adrenaline, etc. But, adiponectin, I think, is
the most interesting. Adiponectin is a hormone most people have not heard
much about that impacts, not only fat loss, but muscular gain. So, Ray also
increased his rate of muscular gain, oddly enough, when he added in his cold
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Men and Women

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Then, you have, last but not least, the brown adipose tissue. The brown
adipose tissue is what some scientists refer to as fat-burning fat. It is actual y
a good type of fat that you want to have, which infants use to increase their
body temperature when they are too cold because they can`t go out for a jog,
and they can`t cover themselves.
So, they have brown adipose tissue. Adults also have this fat-burning fat, but
it`s only located in a few areas, like the upper back and upper chest, at least
as far as we know. For that reason, that`s why it`s where you put the cold
compresses and the ice packs.
Ann Wixon: Your second tip recommends that you eat 30 grams of
protein within 30 minutes of waking up. That`s a lot of protein. What
does that do?

Tim Ferriss: It`s a decent chunk of protein. It`s actual y very easy to do if you
just eat a protein shake of some kind. You can also just do - it doesn`t al have
to come from a pure protein source - so you could do 2 or 3 hardboiled eggs
or scrambled eggs with some type of lentils and spinach; you could approach
it that way.
My father used a protein shake. Very simply, he used Myoplex, which
wouldn`t be my first choice. Unflavored whey protein of some type would be
my first choice. But he used Myoplex, and he made this one change, and he
went from an average of 5 pounds of fat loss per a month to 18.75 pounds of
fat loss per a month. So, he went from roughly 5 to roughly 20 pounds of fat
loss per month just by making this one change.
Ann Wixon: That`s incredible. Your third tip is like a dieters-gone-wild
dream. Pig out, once a week. How will this benefit us, and how is it even

Tim Ferriss: There are a few ways, or a few scientific reasons behind it. First
is biochemical and hormonal. So, I keep coming back to these hormones.
And for people who are wondering - hormones are basical y chemical
messengers. They go from one place in the body to another, and then
produce a particular type of change.
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In this case, we are talking about improving thyroid performance. So many
women, in particular, after they have their first, or particularly second, child
have trouble with weight gain. And it`s partial y due to problems with the
thyroid, or decreased thyroid output.
By increasing your calories once a week, dramatical y, you actual y improve
conversion of what`s cal ed T4 thyroid hormone to T3, which is more active
for fat burning. Secondly, from a psychological standpoint, it makes the diet
much more sustainable, and people are able to sustain this low-carb diet,
with this one cheat day, indefinitely, in many cases.
For me, I`ve been doing this for 7 years, 7 or 8 years, and many people have
been doing this for the last few years since I introduced it on the blog. So,
there are both biochemical and behavioral reasons that the "cheat day"
Ann Wixon: Okay, I can pig out. You`re not talking, like I can pig out on
tofu, right? I could pig out on donuts one day a week, and that`d be

Tim Ferriss: That`s total y fine. I like chocolate croissants and bear claws. I
also like Wild Nettle Pizza. There`s a fantastic place in San Francisco cal ed
Gialina. So, I`m not saying eat as much as you want of celery and broccoli. I`m
saying eat as much as you want of anything, but you have to keep it to one
Ann Wixon: Okay. So let`s say I mess up, and eat something really bad
on a non-pig-out day, is there anything I can do to stop the bad results?

Tim Ferriss: Yup, there`s a few things you can do. So, there`s an entire
chapter in The Four- Hour Body cal ed Damage Control. It talks about this.
So, you have an unplanned splurge, whether that`s - you can only - you want
to minimize this, of course, but there are ways that you can reduce the
One is, assuming you`ve already eaten the food, you can actual y have two
tablespoons of vinegar after your meal. That wil lower the glycemic index of
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that meal. What that means is it wil decrease the blood sugar spikes that
come after the meal, which is very, very helpful, and that wil minimize fat
gain. Secondly, when you eat that food, most of the time that food wil hit
your bloodstream 45 minutes to 90 minutes after your meal.
So, what you can do - and you`re not going to get fat until it hits your
bloodstream - so what you would then do is, let`s say you went home, you
could do a series of exercises, not that strenuous. The goal is to provide
tension on the muscles. You can do things like wal presses, air squats - not
hard to do at al .
You`re not going to make yourself sick. That wil actual y increase the
recruitment of what are cal ed GLUT4 transporters, and those wil actual y
put them up in the muscle cells, so you can put more of those calories in
your muscle, as opposed to on your hips or waistline.
Ann Wixon: Um, there`s a lot of confusion about diets, mainly because
each new diet contradicts the other about what you`re supposed to eat,
what`s good for you, what`s bad for you. You recommend the slow-
carb diet. What is that and how does it work?

Tim Ferriss: So, the slow carb diet is, in effect, a diet that you follow 6 days a
week, because we have our binge day, we have our "cheat day". It entails a
few very simple rules: The first is for those 6 days a week, you wil not eat
anything white. That`s a very simple rule, makes it easy to remember, nothing
can be white.
So, that means no bread, that means no pasta, that means no cereal, no
milk. That`s the general rule, first and foremost. Secondly, you wil be getting
your protein in the morning, you`l be getting 30 grams within 30 minutes of
waking up. And third, you`re going to - much like people do already, I should
emphasize - you`re going to have the same few meals that you eat for
breakfast and lunch, which people do already.
If you look at what you ate for the last week, and what you had for breakfast,
you probably had one of three meals, or slight variations, so you`re just going
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to find better default meals. You wil minimize fruit - this is probably the most
Ann Wixon: I was going to say, I`m surprised to hear that.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, that`s the most controversial recommendation. And I`m
okay with controversy, as long as I have data to support it, because particular
fruit juice and fruit stil , by itself, in the industrial food culture, which we have
- we have large production, large-scale production of these foods - they are
designed to have the highest level of sugar; in this case, fructose, possibly
because it make it tastier.
And fructose is very unique. It`s not the same as table sugar. It`s very unique
in the sense that it helps you put down body fat. It is treated very uniquely by
the liver, and it`s converted to something cal ed glycerol phosphate, and then,
through a few steps, to body fat. So, you want to minimize fruit if your goal is
fat loss. One might ask, isn`t that unhealthy, isn`t that unsustainable? My
answer to that would be, if you look back evolutionarily, you`re not going to
see anyone in the winter of the 1500s eating much fruit, at least in cold
climates. So, I would say that that is yet another reason why fruit is not
necessary seven days a week.
Ann Wixon: So, other than white foods and fruit, are those the only
foods we need to avoid?

Tim Ferriss: That`s basical y it. If I say "avoid white foods", then you`re going
to be avoiding milk and dairy. You can very much enjoy most of the foods
you enjoy already. For most people, that wil mean you`l be eating lean
protein, some type of green vegetable, and then some type of a legume or
bean at every meal. That`s the general rule of thirds that I recommend. But
you can certainly go out to a Thai restaurant. I eat out two meals a day -
lunch and dinner - so eating out is not an excuse, is not an excuse to not
follow the diet. It works. I`ve been to 30+ plus countries, and I`ve stil been
able to follow it.
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Ann Wixon: Because I would say - most people would say - Oh my
gosh, if I eat out - eating out is what makes me gain weight. So, that`s
fantastic to hear that we can eat out and not worry about it.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, people use eating out as an excuse to gain weight. But, it
doesn`t have to be a reason that you gain weight. So, I`l go to a French
restaurant. I can have oysters, different soups, as long as there`s no potato in
it. I can have lamb shank with Swiss chard, and al that other stuff. If there` s a
little bit of cream, it doesn`t matter for the most part because - getting a little
technical - it`s an exception of sorts; but if it`s pure fat, surprisingly enough,
it`s not going to do the type of damage that you`d expect. You`re trying to
avoid, in the case of dairy products, the lactose for the most part, the milk
sugar that`s in those products. But, you real y don`t, you don`t have to feel like
you`re suffering, and even if you do feel like you`re suffering, which you
shouldn`t, you know you`l only have to feel that way for 6 days, and you can
eat whatever you want.
Ann Wixon: Then you get to pig out.
Tim Ferriss: Then you get to pig out.
Ann Wixon: So, are there any big surprises other than the fruit in the
slow carb diet? Fruit is actually a big surprise because if you look at the
food pyramid, you`re supposed to eat a lot of fruit.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I would say one other surprises is - and this is important
for people to realize - you can`t do this diet halfway. What I mean by that is
smal things; there are certain foods that, even if you have a tiny amount of
them, that can completely sabotage your fat loss. I`l give you an example.
What we noticed - I`ve tracked hundreds of people following this diet so I
have very good data and a lot of data - what we`ve noticed is that, in many
cases, they wil lose an additional 2 to 4 pounds per week, assuming they
have at least 30 more pounds to lose; at least 2 to 4 pounds additional
pounds per a week, if they just replace the milk in their coffee with cinnamon
- just the milk in the coffee. So, if you`re having 2 cups of coffee a day, and
maybe a 1/4 cup of milk in each of those coffees, that`s enough to keep 2 to 4
pounds of fat on your body per week. It`s these details that are important for
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people to understand. You can`t, you don`t, want to do it halfway, it`s a waste
of time. Whereas, you realize that it only takes smal changes to produce fat
loss. That can be very encouraging for people. In fact, if you wanted to just
test this out, without making any big changes, just get the 30 grams of
proteins within 30 minutes of waking up, and get rid of the milk - and see
what happens. You`l be amazed. There was one gentleman recently - he put
this on Twitter - he was doing everything else right, but he had his dairy stil
in his diet, but he removed the dairy and he lost 16 pounds in 15 days. Not to
say that that`s typical, but it`s certainly possible.
This has been an excerpt. To listen to the rest of Tim Ferris's ful interview on Rewriting the Rules of
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