What Is the Minimum Effective Dose?
(My Tim Ferriss Obsession Confession)
By Tim Ferriss
I’ve been writing about health and fitness for years now, but I’m not sure if most people have ever heard of me or my book, “The 4 Hour Body.” But it’s time to change that. If you’re reading this then you probably are interested in what I do because you want to get results faster than the rest of us. You want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
Or maybe you just like reading about all the crazy stuff I do in my free time. Whatever your reason, you deserve to know everything there is to know about getting fit so that when you finally decide to start doing something with it, you’ll have a head start over everyone else.
So here goes…
If you read anything on nutrition or exercise from anyone other than Tim Ferriss, then congratulations! You’re already ahead of the game.
But I’m going to give you some tips anyway. And these aren’t just any tips; they’re the best ones I’ve found. So don’t take them lightly!
1 – Don’t Overload Your Gut With Probiotics & Prebiotic Foods
Tim Ferris says: “Your gut is where your immune system lives, and it’s also where a good portion of your energy comes from.” That means that if your gut is healthy, then you’re going to be able to fight off disease and lose weight easier.
Conversely, if your gut is damaged, you’re going to be more susceptible to getting sick and packing on the pounds. Unfortunately, most people’s guts are damaged beyond repair thanks to the mass over-use of antibiotics, chlorinated water, birth control pills, and other causes of intestinal distress.
So what can you do about it?
Fermented foods and drinks and probiotic supplements are your best options. Fermented foods include real yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, apple cider vinegar, tempeh, and dark chocolate (don’t worry, I’ll explain). Prebiotic foods include asparagus, artichokes, beetroot, bananas, garlic, leeks, onions, and chicory. You don’t need to eat a whole bushel of asparagus to get the benefits; eating a normal serving is fine.
If you’re really serious about fixing your gut, then you can take daily probiotic supplements and consume prebiotic foods daily as well. I usually just take a probiotic pill once a day before bed. I also eat one serving of sauerkraut before going to bed as well for the beneficial bacteria. But that’s it.
Because your body can ONLY hold so much useful bacteria in it. If you consume more, then the excess just dies off and goes to waste. So don’t overdo it!
In terms of dosage, follow the instructions on your chosen supplement or use my recommendations:
Begin by taking short breaks from all supplements (1-2 weeks). Then, start adding back in probiotics until you reach the recommended daily amount.
I personally take 20 billion CFU’s per pill once a day. Then, I eat one serving of fermented food (sauerkraut) before bed. That’s it.
2 – If You’re a Meat-Eater, Then Eat Only Grass-Fed Beef
Why eat only grass-fed beef?
Because regular beef can contain amounts of toxins that could harm your body and even cause cancer.
Granted, the amount isn’t enough to give you cancer. It just increases your risk significantly.
So it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
And don’t go buying some expensive grass-fed beef from Whole Foods either. You can buy some at Trader Joes for $5 a pound! That’s much more affordable and still tastes great.
3 – Eat One Protein-Based Meal per Day
The rest of the time, you can eat anything you want. But every day you should have a meal that’s high in protein. Here’s why:
Your body needs protein to build muscle and stay energized throughout the day. If you don’t get enough protein, then your body will start breaking down your muscles (and bones) to get the raw materials it needs to function. That’s bad for a number of reasons:
Muscles burn calories, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. This helps you lose weight and stay lean. Burning fat is good, but burning muscles is bad. Your immune system needs antibodies to fight off invading pathogens.
Your bones store important minerals that your body needs to function properly. If you lose too many of them, then you put yourself at risk for a variety of medical issues.
So make sure you’re eating at least 40 grams of protein every day. That can be done in a variety of healthy ways:
Have two cups of cottage cheese with 1 cup of mixed berries for breakfast. It’s a delicious combo and will keep you full until lunch.
Make a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter.
Make a large salad and top it with 3 ounces of grilled chicken.
Have 4 egg whites with 1 cup of oven-roasted potatoes.
You get the idea. Just make sure it’s protein and get creative. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
4 – Do Some Cardio Every Day
Your goal here is to get your heart rate up to 80% of maximum pulse for at least 20 minutes every day. This is called “cardio exercise.” It’s important for a few reasons:
It helps you lose weight and body fat. It increases your HDL (“good”) cholesterol while decreasing your triglycerides. It strengthens your heart muscle and improves blood flow to all parts of your body. This reduces your risk of stroke, heart disease, and other medical issues.
Again, there’s no shortage of ways to do cardio:
Jog (or walk) for 20-30 minutes.
Do the “Spin” program in an exercise video (I like “Les Mills Pump”).
Do interval training with various exercises (jump rope, squats, push-ups, etc.)
Go swimming laps for 20 minutes.
Go for a bike ride outdoors (25 minutes on average) or stationary (either 25 minutes or continuously for 10 minutes).
It’s up to you, but find something that you enjoy and do it every day. If you really get into it, feel free to do double the amount listed above.
5 – Sleep for 8 Hours Every Night
The last piece of the puzzle is sleep. When you don’t get enough of it, your body goes into “survival mode.” In this state, your body tries to conserve as much energy as possible and does things like reduce your heart rate so that you don’t need as much blood.
While this might help you if you are being chased by a predator (like in high school), it’s not ideal for maintaining and building muscle. When your body goes into this mode, cortisol (a.k.a.
the “stress” hormone) increases to make sure your brain gets enough blood flow at the expense of everything else.
Cortisol also raises your triglyceride levels and causes your body to create fat around the abdomen. This is one reason why sleep deprivation can lead to obesity.
The other big problem with lack of sleep is that it causes your body to produce too much of the hunger hormone ghrelin and not enough of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. This is why you always feel like eating when you’re tired.
By getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, you can minimize these issues and maximize the amount of muscle you have while you’re dieting.
Doing It Right
Now that you know how to lose fat and not muscle, you can set up your diet properly. I recommend eating 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, 0.5 grams of carbs per pound, and 0.5 grams of fat per pound.
Always spread your protein out throughout the day, but have most of your carbs and fats in two main meals.
So, if you weigh 200 pounds and you want to be eating 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, you’ll be eating 300 grams of protein per day (200 x 1.5 = 300).
All of that protein might seem like a lot, but you need it to preserve muscle and keep you full. If you think it’s too much, then simply decrease your caloric intake by 150-200 calories. You can’t work out extra to make up for the deficit or else you’ll lose more muscle.
If you want to gain weight, eat over 1.5 grams of protein per pound. If you want to lose weight, eat under 1.5 grams of protein per pound.
Also, don’t be afraid to eat healthy fats. As long as you aren’t eating over 0.5 grams per pound of fat per day, it won’t turn to fat. It’s only when you start eating over this amount that the fat turns into fat.
If you’re getting bored of eating the same foods all the time, try to eat a variety of meats, fruits, and vegetables. However, it’s also okay to have some cheat meals every now and then. Make sure these are ordered correctly though: eat healthy for 5 days, and then eat whatever you want (but still in moderation) on the 6th day.
With this plan, you can lose fat and not muscle. I promise.
Sources & references used in this article:
The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life by T Ferriss – 2012 – books.google.com
The dark side of relationship pursuit: From attraction to obsession and stalking by BH Spitzberg, WR Cupach – 2014 – books.google.com
Hacking Life: Systematized Living and Its Discontents by R Holiday – 2013 – Penguin
Do more faster: TechStars lessons to accelerate your startup by JM Reagle Jr – 2019 – books.google.com
Accelerating Sustainability Using the 80/20 Rule by B Feld, DG Cohen – 2019 – books.google.com