4-Hour Body: Three Week Review

So, I am making a calculated decision to review my first three weeks of the 4-Hour Body BEFORE I do my weekly weigh-in and progress photos…because I don’t want the results to muddy up my review of the plan itself — the nutrition, the side effects and more. But don’t worry! The results will be posted below.

(Speaking of results, a brief update on my half marathon training — still on track! Getting nervous at how quickly April is approaching…click image to enlarge)

And make sure you catch up:

Here is my review so far, at the end of three weeks.

Overall

  • This has been an amazing opportunity to refocus my diet — I’d really been struggling with late-night snacking, overeating at some meals and undereating at others and more. Because I’m staying true to the plan — I’ve really reset my intuitive eating instincts, and that’s something that I think is a definite plus.
  • I chose to do the fat loss track, but because I still work out a LOT, I’m wondering if I might have been better served by the strength training portion of the book.

Diet

  • Beans, beans…oh, the beans. Pinto beans for breakfast. Black beans for lunch. Lentils for dinner. I’m so.sick.of.beans.
  • I’m still struggling with vegetarian options on 4HB. There is a controversy when it comes to which soy products are OK and which aren’t. For these three weeks, I have been very conservative and have cut out ALL soy products, including tofu and tempeh. I am considering building these back in to the diet because, frankly, I am out of options.
  • I am eating a ton of eggs, which I normally don’t love. So far, it’s OK, but I really do miss my sweet breakfasts.

The Good

  • I have not felt hungry for even one moment on the 4HB plan, which shocks me. I’ve been putting my stats into SparkPeople just to track the nutrition, and I’m hovering between 1,300-1,700 calories a day. Again, the 4hb plan does NOT ask you to count calories, but I find it interesting that by upping my fiber and protein levels, I’m feeling much more full.

The Not-So-Good

  • I continue to have terrible stomach distress, gas and bloating — I know it’s gross, but you want the dirty details, right? I blame the beans. (see diet above)
  • THE BINGE — or, in more pc terms, “refeed day.” This might shock you, but I think refeed day is grossly overrated. GROSS is the key word. I went a little nuttso last week, eating everything that wasn’t nailed down. Waffles (4), beer (lots), ice cream (3 scoops), pizza (yup, a whole pizza), candy hearts (half a bag) and more. About halfway through the day, I was feeling sick to my stomach, totally disgusting and really looking forward to eating clean once again. Now, I will say — although there are no rules when it comes to this one treat day, I think that for myself, I need to think of it less as a free-for-all, and more as a day to enjoy a few things that I don’t get to eat during the week. That’s my plan for later today, and I’m hoping that it makes the day more enjoyable than last week.
  • I did go off plan twice during the week (that I know of). I had some steamed skim milk in my coffee and I used agave nectar in my cabbage.

The Results (So Far)*:

Week-3-Tummy

Week-3-Side

  • Start
    • Weight X
    • Measurements X
  • Week 1
    • Weight -2lbs
    • Measurements n/a
  • Week 2
    • Weight -3.8lbs (total since start)
    • Measurements
      • Left Arm same
      • Right Arm -.25
      • Waist +.25
      • Hips -.5
      • Left Leg same
      • Right Leg +.5
  • Week 3
    • Weight -2 (+1.8 from Week 2)
    • Measurements
      • Left Arm -.25 (-.25 from Week 2)
      • Right Arm-.25 (same as Week 2)
      • Waist +.5 (+.25 from week 2)
      • Hips -.5 (same as Week 2)
      • Left Leg (+.5) (+.5 from Week 2)
      • Right Leg +1.5 (+1 from Week 2)

*I don’t have a problem sharing my weight or my exact measurements, but I’m sensitive to the fact that for some, the numbers may be a trigger or a way to compare their numbers to mine. So I’m not posting them publicly. If you are just DYING to know, email me kwidrick at gmail dot com and I’ll share.

Now that I’ve written my review, what do I think of the results?

If I were going by pictures and how I feel alone — I’d be thrilled. I really do feel fitter, tighter, “cleaner” and more in tune with my body’s intuitive eating needs. I’m lifting more weight in Body Pump, sticking with my half marathon training, feeling rested and drinking lots of water.

But by the scale and measuring tape — the true tools — I’m not that impressed. 2 pounds lost in three weeks and very little movement in my measurements (in some cases, I’m up!) are a little frustrating. I have to admit up front – despite Tim Ferriss’ urging that people doing 4HB should invest in a series of BodPod sessions, I did not. I wish I had, but it was too hard to schedule (and would have cost about $250 out of pocket). I think that my body fat is down, although I’m eyeballing by photo alone. I estimated at the beginning that my body fat was about 24%, and now I’d guess closer to 21%.

What’s next?

  • I am going to continue with Week 4 as planned. I committed to a full month on the plan for a complete review AND I have read that for some women, especially those who were fit going into the plan, don’t see results until after Week 4.
  • I think I can be even more diligent on the plan — measuring my cream in the morning (the only “dairy” allowed), watching portion sizes, etc. I’d like to give it one really good try before finishing my review.
  • I am going to be much more conservative on today’s “cheat” day. Rather than eat everything in sight, I’m going to eat what I am *really* craving, when I’m craving it. No more eating for the sake of eating. It made me feel crappy, and I think it really set me back for the week’s progress.

If you’re looking to start 4HB, yes it is a fad-based, trendy program…but it’s one that is designed with enough science that I think it’s worth trying. For me, it’s been a jumpstart to get back into higher protein and  fewer carbs, and a reset of my system in terms of portion sizes. I don’t know if I’ll call it a home run after Week 4, but no matter the results, it’s been a totally worthwhile experiment.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Thanks for posting such an intensive review. I saw the book yesterday at a bookstore and thumbed through it. Reading your post made me realize that I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing but will make some tweaks here and there in my daily food.

    • 2

      says

      Karen,

      I’m glad it helped! I think that for people (like me) who are really into learning the science of nutrition and how our body reacts to variations in diet, the book is really good.

  2. 5

    says

    I’m looking foward to the final review. I read through most of the book and was very curious about what the results might look like for me–of course–I just won’t give up my beer & other junk for the moment. Thanks for such a thorough review :)

  3. 7

    says

    I can definitely see a difference. And yes – refeed days are best when not approached as a free for all. I fully beleive in them and actually am using the concept right now as I’m dieting as well. Maybe I will do a post on it? Either way…I am trying to keep calories and things in mind to make my progress, but allow myself more treats and higher cals on Saturday (as that tends to be a day with social activities or dining out naturally). I keep things realistic though and eat healthily/normally with the exception of a couple things I wouldn’t typically have during the week. It has always worked for me that way! Keeps me not feeling restricted, but the progress coming.

  4. 8

    says

    I had a bod pod done a few months ago. A local community college has one and offers an analysis for $30. Maybe a school near you has something similar?

    The photos look great!

  5. 9

    says

    Thanks for the honest review! I’m not much a diet-watcher and The Husband would voluntarily stare if I did a diet change like this but it is still interesting to read.

    And I’m not expert but the extra inches, especially on the waist, may be from your body still adjusting. Water retention and bloating could easily be the cause of that.

    Good luck with you last week and with marathon training!

  6. 10

    says

    Well, even if the numbers aren’t showing huge decreases in weight, but you look great, and I can definitely see a difference! keep at it-sometimes it takes the body awhile to adjust to a series of changes. And remember, stress affects each of us too, so if you’re stressing about losing weight, then you’re less likely to be able to! I’m excited to read your final review!

  7. 11

    says

    Thanks for doing such a comprehensive review. I think the way you post measurements is fine. the +/- is all that matters. This is just me but a couple things came to mind, 1. fat weighs less than muscle, so you can lose inches without much weight 2. Everyone says slow weight loss is the healthy way to do it. I took off 35 pounds over the course of a year and the biggest side effect was the $$ to pay for new clothes, which continues to be a problem with continued weight loss. I’m looking forward to your conclusions. (I feel a little weird to be the only guy posting…)

    • 12

      says

      I think it’s funny that you’re one of the only guys in this thread of comments, because I don’t see a lot of women doing 4HB! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences :)

  8. 13

    says

    Thanks for posting your review so far!! It is so interesting to see what people think of certain fad diets. I love beans, but I don’t think that I could eat them for a majority of my meals for more than a week at a time.

    Even though you probably won’t be following this plan for the rest of your life, sometimes it is good to use these things to get back on track like you said!

  9. 14

    says

    I loved this book.
    I loathed this book.
    I laughed AT THIS BOOK.
    I totally believe this book works wonders.

    all wrapped up together.

    For me if he’d left out all the sex snippets Id have been more smitten, BUT youve shown that it works.

  10. 16

    Adam Z says

    One suggestion is to start taking a fiber supplement at least once a day. This may help with your stomach discomfort. I follow a similar diet in which I keep my fat and protein levels high and limit my carbs to 30-40 grams per day. A fiber supplement (I take Metamucil once daily before bed) is very beneficial for anyone, but on this type of diet will help regulate your body and also help with weight loss.

    • 17

      says

      I haven’t thought of that — my fiber intake is higher than most people’s, but I’ll *definitely* try the supplement. Metamucil, here I come!

  11. 18

    says

    I’ve started the 4HB today and I’m already hating the beans!! I’m not a big beans lover and I miss my bread and peanut butter with my breakfast!

    I’m intrigued to see what happens in 4 weeks and to see if I’ll continue with it after I’m done of those 4 weeks.

    Your photos look great and I’m pretty freakin’ proud of you for sticking with this the whole time and I once again thank you for sharing how you’ve been progressing and how you’ve been feeling!

    You’re a champ!

    • 19

      says

      The beans for breakfast component was, and is, the hardest part for me. But when I calculate the calories I was stuffing in my face before 8am, between the bread, PB and banana, I realize that 4HB or not, it was a bit out of control.

      Thanks … I’m proud of myself (although I did have a major slipup on Sunday booooo)

  12. 21

    says

    Couple questions for you as I’m on my 5th week of the #4HB:

    1. Any reason you aren’t doing any weight training?
    2. How much water have you been drinking each day?
    3. How do you FEEL after 3 weeks?
    4. Are you unhappy with the results?
    5. Have you tried bean-o? ;)

    And some feedback of my own. Now I’m a bigger guy who doesn’t care about “weight” but I’ve lost 18 pounds and after 2 straight Saturdays of disgusting binge eating I keep it fairly clean now. I feel way better on #4HB and it keeps me motivated. And to give you perspective, my girlfriend joined me in this venture and she’s lost 10 pounds.

    Personally, I think water intake and weight training is incredibly crucial for any weight loss program. It’s what has worked for me in the past and what continues to work.

    Either way, congrats on kickstarting a diet and sticking with it!

    • 22

      says

      Couple answers for you…

      1. I am doing *some* weight training (Body Pump, which is HIIT) but not as much as I’d like. I did P90X last year and really loved it, but I’m having trouble balancing the cardio training that I need for my half marathon and the weightlifting that gets me the results I love.

      2. I am swimming in water. I drink about 64 ounces a day, and more if I can. I’m chugging ice water as soon as I wake up and drinking up until I go to bed. BRRR.

      3. I feel great! A little bored with the food, but I can handle that.

      4. Unhappy? No…disappointed that it’s not more dramatic. But this usually happens when I try new “fad” or popular programs. Because I already eat *really* clean, I don’t get the initial dropoff that others do, and it bums me out.

      5. I’m getting some tonight :) Lucas can’t stand another week of me without some solution.

      18 pounds??????? You are freaking amazing. I wouldn’t have thought you had that much to lose. And tell your girlfriend I’m in awe of her progress. Are the two of you sharing the results on the blog?

  13. 23

    says

    Ben wanted to buy that book recently and I vetoed it because I thought it was too fad-y. But, now I’m curious. I don’t think I could do it (trigger), but it might work for him

  14. 25

    says

    Awesome! I checked this book out of the library but never had time to fully read it before it was due back. Once I get settled into my new apartment I’ll be re-checking it out! Can’t wait to see your 4 week results!

  15. 28

    Nicole says

    Hi Katy,
    I was down over 5 lbs the first week, 2 the second and now I’m mid-way through the 3rd and have to take a break, b/c my stomach hurts SO BAD!
    I’m also really bloated. My stomach looks much bigger, but everything else is smaller. I like eating beans, b/c they are so easy, but I’m wondering if beans work well for me?
    Let me know if you find something that works for you!
    Keep up the running.. I’m planning to run my first marathon!
    Nic

    • 29

      says

      Nic —

      WOWZA…you had incredible weight loss! But if you’re in that much pain, I think you’re right to stop and take a break.

      I didn’t have any problem with the beans (I was gassy, for sure, but not in pain), but in the book, TF mentions that Beano is a good option if you have side effects.

      Are you drinking lots of water? That should also help flush (no pun intended…or maybe it is…) out your system.

      Keep me posted — and good luck on the marathon!

  16. 31

    says

    This is my first week on 4HB and I was already eating a vegetarian diet so I’m worried the results won’t be as dramatic for me either. However, I’ve realized that being “vegetarian” technically means french fries and grilled cheese are options, so hopefully by cutting out white carbs and fried food I’ll get the weight lose that I’m looking for.

  17. 32

    ron says

    Ok, so I am in Week 9 and today have lost 6 lbs and put on 7. My calipers are showing the same, no change. I have playing around with beans, no beans, more veggies, less veggies and even no veggies. Being stuck, I doubled my binge days and anticipate them…but hate them about half way through the day.

    As for bloat, you got it here! My gut is bowling bowl size and lately (no beans by the way) I could power an America’s Cup 12 meter across the Bay with gas power!

    My calorie intake is below my metabolic resting rate. And for the first 6 weeks I wasn’t exercising frequently, which was a drop from 6 days a week. I have started spinning again and tossing a kettlebell.

    Oy! I don’t know what to do and where to go.

    Anyone with any suggestions please chime in.

    • 33

      says

      Hi Ron!

      What are your goals for 4HB? Weight loss/fat burn/strength?

      As you know, I had a similar experience with the weight loss, and really hated feeling like exercising might be derailing my efforts. When you do follow the plan, are you eating REALLY clean foods? You might want to play around with cutting other things out to help jumpstart. Perhaps avoid dairy for a few days (if you are eating ANY, like cottage cheese).

      You talk about weight, but have your measurements changed? I often find that that’s a much clearer indication of progress.

      Keep me posted!

      • 34

        Ron A says

        Katy,

        All goals are stated and written. I keep a daily journal, and have done so for many years. My goal is to reach })

        So, I am at a loss. It could be my age (59) or that I’ve followed either The Zone or Protein Power diets for so long that my system is unresponsive.

        Let me know your thoughts.

        • 35

          says

          Ron…

          How much weight are you hoping to lose? More than that…what kind of shape are you in, generally? Is this about getting more fit, or are you starting a relatively big change?

          I do think that for people who are looking for incremental changes, or have messed with their metabolism in the past (via other diets), plans like 4HB can be frustrating. As you may have seen from my final results, I was not totally satisfied with how things went, even though I did see some improvement in my measurements.

          I’m not a nutritionist or counselor of any type, so I hesitate to offer any medical advice. But I think you might find some good support on Tim Ferris’ website…his forums are very active and I often got answers to questions…

          • 36

            Ron says

            Katy,

            I am in decent shape, I feel overweight and certainly there is too much brown fat on my belly. My goal is to go from 26% to <20% body fat.

  18. 37

    Jody says

    I saw Tim on dr. Oz and got very excited. Bought the book on Amazon and read it like it was a college text book. Made notes, lists, etc. Went out and bought the suppliments, ice pack and the food. I heard him say that his dad drinks Myoplex for breakfast (the 42 g protein kind) so, I got that too. I dug up some interestting recipes and I was off an running. I have not strayed except for my binge day. No dairy except for eggs, nothing white except for cauliflower, no fruit or fruit juice, no sweets (except for three days of the 26 I did have a sugar free jello as recommended in the book.) I was really excited and committed to this but I need to see more results to stay motivated. I have lost a couple of inches but in 26 days I have only lost 6 lbs. (I gain a few after the binge day but then lose them again.) I don’t exercise (but I am about to start a bit) so I a feeling discouraged. The one thing that keeps me on this monastic diet is that I do feel like I have more energy in the afternoon. Any suggestions???

  19. 38

    says

    Hi Katy

    Thanks for sharing this. I tried the 4HB plan too, with many of the same experiences as you. To be honest, I think the bean element isn’t helping the plan. I got better results when I switched to a paleo-style plan, either with very little carbs, or easily digestible and nutritious carbs like sweet potatoes and small amounts of fruit and nuts.

  20. 39

    Trish says

    Try taking psyllium husk capsules! I take two before bed with water, and in the morning, my bowel movements are crazy! Helps keep the bloating down too…

  21. 40

    Vinnie says

    So, week 4? All the experts that reviewed this diet+ said that his recommendations are nothing new, or actually dangerous. That is, if it’s new, it’s potentially dangerous. The things that aren’t actually dangerous are nothing new. If they’re right, your body will find a way to convince you to get off this diet. So, did you quit the diet during week 4?

  22. 42

    Molly says

    Hi – I am thinking about starting the 4 Hour Body and I am curious about how you felt the whole 4HB went for you? I really only want to lose about 5 pounds but really want to lower my body fat %. Would love to have an update on your experience. Thanks so much!

    • 43

      says

      Hi Molly!

      In hindsight, this was much too restrictive for me to sustain. I thought it was a good jumpstart, but I didn’t see so much benefit that it outweight the burden. Plus, I don’t know how long I could have eaten beans for breakfast :)

      Have you looked at Paleo?

  23. 44

    Mike says

    If anyone is struggling with the bloating from a high bean diet, add cilantro to them. Cilantro improves digestion by relieving gas and bloating and calming the heat of an acid stomach.

  24. 45

    Jessie says

    Thanks for sharing this! i just started yesterday and yes, the beans are already getting on my nerves BUT I am discovering that there is more than a hundred ways to boil a bean.

  25. 46

    Rea says

    Hi! I started the 4HB diet a couple of days ago, and I find that I need to force feed myself every 3 hours, at least, in order to maintain my energy level – otherwise I feel extremely tired and shaky … I can’t seem to maintain energy for very long … is this normal in your experience with the 4HB diet? I should also mention that I am working out almost every day. It’s hard to believe that I may not be eating enough?
    Thank you for any thoughts on this!!!

    • 47

      says

      Hi Rea!

      It’s been a couple years since I did 4HB, so it’s a little hard for me to remember. I’m not a dietitian, but I think the first thing I’d look at is what you’re eating — does it have enough fat and protein to carry you through? What’s your approximate caloric intake through the day?

      Katy

      • 48

        Rea says

        Hi Katy! Thanks for your reply! Since I wrote that email a couple of days into the diet my energy levels have normalized considerably! Yesterday was my first “refeed day” – which I found really fun and guilt free – and even though my weight and body fat haven’t budged much, I am giving it a full month before I make any pronouncements. I do feel pretty satisfied throughout the day hunger wise, and I am happy to have a plan for staying off carbs most of the week, which is something I was struggling to do anyway – so for those reasons alone, this diet may be a keeper! :) Anyway, thanks again!
        ps – I have not been keeping count of daily calories, since TF says not to, but maybe I will…

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