That’s what I’m wondering lately. How many people have left the Four Hour Body Diet because it started to give them binging problems – or who left it, only to see all their weight come right back?
I’ve been doing more research over the past month. Something just isn’t 100% right about the 4HB. It’s not a diet (or regime, or nutrition plan) you should live on forever. Ferriss brings a lot of science to bear upon his arguments, but you know what? For every study there’s an equal and opposite study. A study, or group of studies, unfortunately, does not a natural law make.
I’ve read the work of Neal Barnard, Dean Ornish and Joel Fuhrman, too. There are just as many studies showing the deleterious effects of eating too much animal protein (which comes with as much animal fat, even if you buy the “low-fat” versions). Ferriss likes to say that the science that disagrees with his point of view is just “bad science,” but you can’t simply assert that it is and then move on. The reason Tim can say this is, simply, that the 4HB worked for him. (After all the “4HB” is just the diet that Tim Ferriss adopted for himself). Adopting a vegan diet might work a lot better for a middle-aged woman with diabetes.
One of the most concerning problems with the high-animal-protein-diet as I see it is the much increased risk of cancer that it contains. Sure, you can eat steaks for one month and lose 25lbs, but all of a sudden you’re a much higher risk for developing cancer. Study any of the preventative cancer literature, and the number one recommendation is toning back your intake of animal tissues. We’ve got microtumors growing inside of us all the time – and excessive intake of animal tissues promotes microtumor growth. Personally, I’d rather find a better way to lose weight – one that doesn’t induce microtumor growth.
Then there’s the vexed issue of how many carbs one should eat. Here I have found the arguments of Gary Taubes quite convincing. It is true that Tim Ferriss’s diet is, in some sense, largely supported by the research of Taubes (or at least congruent with it), but there are differences. Again, Tim Ferriss’s comes up looking like an ill-conceived, even dangerous, diet plan.
Taubes’ argument is that too much sugar (glucose and fructose) makes us fat. Taubes advocates for eating as little sugar as possible (including all things that break down into sugar – such as the starches and grains). But Tim Ferriss adopts the cheat day idea and encourages people to eat as much sugar as they want one day a week (including the occasional diet coke for a snack when you can’t take your cravings anymore during the week). Once you read Taubes, you’ll see how disastrous the cheat day idea is physiologically (if Taubes is right). Sure, it might help you psychologically, but that’s it. If you have an insulin resistance problem, it’s still going to do you ongoing damage.
So where does this leave us? Where does it leave me? I’m the sort of person who doesn’t lose weight easily. I am almost sure I have some degree of insulin resistance problem (I’ve never read any argument more coherent or cogent than Taubes in this regard). But at the same time, I know the research on the dangers of too much animal protein all too well. There is the added fact of body allergies, which develop from eating the same meal too many times in one row (as Ferriss advocates). Additionally, we have the problem of pH balance in the bloodstream (an understudied area, I am sure). Animal tissues spike blood acidity and strain the workings of the renal system.
As I’ve said before, the only nutritional thing I know for sure after these years of study is that the only safe foods (uncontroversially safe) are cruciferous vegetables (basically all vegetables except the starchy ones).
The most OPTIMAL foods are cruciferous vegetables eaten raw.
I think that the diets (or nutritional regimes) that have grown popular are those for which their advocates found a high degree of success adopting, and go on to proclaim to other people. It’s a case by case basis, and it has empirical truth because obviously the said diet has worked in at least one case. But I do think our bodies are all different on the insides, with different weaknesses and problems, so I do think we have to test it out on our own.
I’m seriously considering starting with a raw diet and seeing where to go from there.