Book Review - The 4 Hour Body

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The 4 hour body (4HB) is one of the most promising books I’ve read in many years. It could be considered a 'hacking guide to the human body', with many approaches to changing your physiology. The 4HB is remarkable for the variety and density of the information provided. Any one or two chapters of the 4HB could be the basis of an independent book. The underlying premise of the book is to find the minimum action that will produce the maximum benefit. The 4HB covers many topics, and is intended to be read as a in parts, rather than cover to cover. There is an introduction section, then topic sections such as 'subtracting fat', 'adding muscle', 'improving sex', 'reversing injuries', etc. Each section contains chapters that are foundational and some that are specific or advanced topics.

I highly recommend the 4HB; if you only read one book this year, it should be the 4HB. I read many books, but rarely do I find them worth buying (I love the library). The 4HB is unique in that I have purchased two copies, one for my family and friends to borrow and another for me to write in and reference. The 4HB has prompted more changes in my life than any book I can recall reading. Here are some of the highlights

  • The slow carb diet. This is a remarkably simple diet that fits in nicely with everything I’ve read on nutrition and Weight Loss. The five rules are
    • Avoid carbs that are, or can be, white.
    • Eat the same few meals over and over.
    • Don’t drink any calories.
    • Don’t eat fruit.
    • Binge once a week.
  • Advice on how to binge effectively, including ways of keeping your muscles insulin sensitive so the extra calories don’t tend to go to fat.
  • How to use supplements to speed up Weight Loss. The 4HB uses Policosanol, Alpha-lipoic acid, Green tea flavanols, and Garlic extract, AKA the PAGG stack.
    • Policosanol is a supplement normally sold for cholesterol control, but 4BH suggests that taken before bedtime, it can boost fat loss.
    • Alpha-lipoic acid. ALA is an antioxidant that also helps improve glucose uptake by the muscles. This should help in recovery, restoring Glycogen reserves faster.
    • Green tea flavanols (Epigallocatechin gallate). The 4HB claims that helps improve glucose uptake by the muscles and reduction in glucose uptake by fat cells. It also increases the programmed cell death of fat cells. One of the reasons people regain lost weight is that they don’t lose the extra fat cells they gain, they just shrink in size.
    • Garlic extract. Claimed to have many benefits, including fat loss.
  • Using cold exposure to boost fat loss by raising the level of brown fat.
  • What it takes to lose the last 5-10 pounds of fat. I’ve not come across this type of advice before and it provided great insight into what is required.
  • How to add muscle. Lots of muscle! The example is 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, which initially made me think this was a fraud. Further reading has suggested this is actually possible.
  • How to improve your sex life. Being a ‘suitable for all audiences’ type of site, I won’t go into details.
  • Optimizing sleep, both avoiding sleep problems and using polyphasic sleep to reduce overall sleep requirements.
  • Advice on improving running, which I found fascinating. There is advice on sprinting and ultramarathon distances.
  • How to improve on other sports like American football, swimming or baseball.
  • An evaluation of approaches for living longer.