Ferriss claims: How to lose 20 Pounds in 30 Days Without Exercise?

Timothy Ferris suggests a slow-carb diet in his book, The 4-Hour Body. There are five simple rules to follow for this diet:

Rule 1: Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).
Rule 2: Eat the same few meals over and over again.
Rule 3: Don’t drink calories.
Rule 4: Don’t eat fruit.
Rule 5: Take one day off per week and go nuts.

Adherents have lost an average of 10lbs-15lbs in 2 weeks. I agree with his first 3 rules. I avoid white carbs (simple carbs like potatoes, white rice etc), and eat complex carbs like sweet potatoes. Ferriss further notes (I’m not sure I agree):

another reason to avoid the whities: chlorine dioxide, one of the chemicals used to bleach flour (even if later made brown again, a common trick), combines with residual protein in most of these foods to form alloxan. Researchers use alloxan in lab rats to induce diabetes. That’s right-it’s used to produce diabetes.

As much as possible, I also eat the same meals everyday which leaves little room for bad food choices. It also keeps my shopping list simple, and as Ferris mentions, it makes it easy to eat healthier food for cheap. I avoid drinking juice and soda and opt for water and green tea instead.

I slightly disagree with the last two rules. His main objection to eating fruit is fructose (but this is naturally occurring and is much better than high fructose corn syrup which is found in many processed foods). Fruit is high in fiber which makes you feel fuller with less calories. It’s better to eat the fruit than drink the juice – fruit juice (contains a lot of fructose) dramatically spiked up Ferriss’ cholesterol and iron levels.

I disagree with his last rule : take one day off to per week. Ferriss claims that “dramatically spiking caloric intake in this way once per week increases fat-loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate…doesn’t downshift from extended caloric restriction.” I would suggest instead adding weight training, to maintain muscle mass.  Therefore, while his food suggestions will help weight loss, I believe combining them with exercise will turbocharge the process.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.


  1. Totally agree with you!

  2. I adhere to Rule #1. I also give myself permission to “go nuts” whenever I have to. The nice thing about eating “realistic” portion sizes is that I can’t go as nuts as I used to be able to, making the “go nuts” portion of this scheme less damaging.

    However, I simply can’t abide Rules 2, 3 and 4. Don’t drink? Maybe easy for you teetotalers out there, I enjoy my occasional vodka or whiskey, or a couple glasses of wine (usually red). I’ve pretty much given up beer, to lighten the carbohydrate load. “Don’t eat fruit”? Huh? An apple a day keeps diabetes away…most diabetics I know suggested when I was diagnosed that eating an apple or pear was a great way to stave off those hunger pains formerly doused with doughnuts, chips or other crap. And I’ve never agreed with the “eat the same meal” theory…there is too much good, delicious, healthy food out there to restrict oneself to a pedestrian diet.

  3. Oh, yes, and this “no exercise” bit…one may lose weight, but without activity you won’t lose it as quickly, or steadily, and you certainly won’t be healthy.

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