Tired of being fat? I certain was.
How did I go from fat to somewhat fit in a month?
That’s what I share in this blog.
About a month ago, I was hoping that today I would be sharing before-after photos of my epic body transformation.
I undertook a challenge to reach 10% body fat within 4 weeks and shared it publicly on my last blog.
I put a price to pay to force myself to commit.
And then, I pushed myself every day to make it happen.
But alas, I failed to meet my goal.
This blog ain’t about giving up, though.
In fact, I’m reinvigorated!
I made decent progress in muscle gain and some fat loss.
This blog is about sharing what actions I’ve taken, how they’ve changed my life, what lessons I’ve learned, and how I’m going to improve the next time.
I also share some info about a giveaway, which is the punishment for my failure according to my commitment.
Hope you can find something useful here.
So, What Did I Do? – The 4HB Experiment
The work of Tim Ferriss has been monumental in my personal and professional development. His book, “The 4-hour Work Week,” has changed my entire life for the better, but that’s a story for another day.
Highly impacted by Tim’s work, I was eager to explore his second book, “The 4-hour Body (4HB) – An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman.” In it, Tim outlines unconventional ways (as he usually does) for rapid fat loss, muscle gain, improving sleep, sex, etc.
I’ve never been able to lose enough fat to see my six-pack, so that’s what I focused on.
And that’s the premise for my fat loss challenge.
The Slow-Carb Diet (SCD)
Tim introduces the slow-carb diet as the main driver for fat loss, which has five simple rules:
- Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, or grains).
- Eat the same few meals over and over again (eat proteins/meat, legumes/beans, and veggies).
- Don’t drink calories.
- Don’t eat fruit.
- Take one “cheat day” per week and go nuts.
Using this diet, many people have lost significant amounts of fat and gone from obese to healthy. Some even got shredded.
I followed it religiously for three weeks and three days, and it was the most difficult part of the challenge.
Having consumed lots of rice and bread my whole life as a Bangladeshi, it was a kick in the gut for my body.
But I did stick with it.
Yes, I went a bit crazy on the cheat days, mowing down multiple pizzas and other junk. But it didn’t prove to be much of a problem, as the scheduled cheat day is part of the fat loss formula when properly done with ‘damage control.’ Crazy, right?
On the other six days, it was a real test of willpower.
When others around me were eating the ‘normal’ food with delicious carbs and fat, reducing the exposure to normal food made it a bit easier.
My staple SCD meal was: chicken, dal (lentils), and shak (spinach). But I did change things up from time to time.
To accelerate fat loss and provide missing nutrients while on the slow-carb diet, Tim recommends certain ‘drugs’ like:
- cissus quadrangularis (CQ)
- the PAGG stack, which consists of
- alpha-lipoic acid
- green tea flavanols
- garlic extract
He also recommends some vitamins and mineral supplements like calcium and potassium.
I hate taking medicine/drugs and have always tried to minimize their consumption.
I skipped the drugs for the first two weeks, but as I was not losing fat fast enough, I decided to give it a shot.
I started with CQ
Then I got alpha-lipoic acid & decaffeinated green tea extract.
They are expensive AF.
So I made my own ad-hoc garlic extract from raw garlic. Don’t ask how 🤦♂️
I ignored policosanol.
While they (CQ + AGG) may have boosted the fat loss a bit, I didn’t notice much of a difference in the rate of fat loss according to the numbers.
Instead, they actually made me more anxious and unstable.
Pair it up with looming hunger from the slow-carb diet, and my mind and body just said: NO.
So I didn’t continue them after one week.
That being said, I’m using whey protein powder right now. It’s a supplement I’ve used before, and I love the convenience of quickly absorbing protein, especially right after a workout.
Tim did acknowledge the existence of anabolic steroids and the truth and dangers behind them.
I have never taken steroids, nor do I intend to do so. It has long-term, irreversible consequences, including for your balls/ovaries.
Fcuk that s$#t.
Don’t do drugs, kids.
Unless you MUST.
In terms of workouts, Tim kept it optional or very light about twice per week.
But he kept a full chapter on kettlebell swings, which can aid in fat loss or shape a fine ass.
I made my own workout routine, four to six sessions per week early in the morning because I enjoy it. I may have overtrained a bit :p
I did keep an alternative version of the kettlebell swing called “cable pull through” since my gym didn’t have kettlebells.
I also focused on eight to twelve slow-controlled reps to maximize time under tension (TUT), also recommended in 4HB in the muscle-building section.
Sadly, due to a lack of carbs/sugar in my body due to the SCD, my strength dropped.
Other Fat Loss Strategies from 4HB
In addition to the points mentioned above, I’ve also tried to follow from 4HB:
- Consume 20g or more protein right after waking up (three eggs or protein shake)
- Consume lemon
- Consume green tea
- Consume cinnamon
- Consume fermented foods
- Increase cold exposure with ice packs
Yes, I strapped ice on gamsa and placed them on two spots – neck and abs/lower back. 😂
Even though recommended cold exposure was 20-30 minutes, I may have overdone it with 1-2 hours of ice packs.
What can I say, I like the cold. 🤷♂️
Would have dipped in an ice pool if I was in a colder climate.
What Went Well?
- A renewed trust and respect in myself for keeping the discipline of sticking to the routine. Even though it sucked, I was impressed by my discipline and integrity to follow the diet and daily grind religiously.
- Surprisingly, even though I lacked strength due to low glucose in my body, I built a significant amount of muscle. I couldn’t lift/exceed my non-slow-carb diet PRs but gained some lean mass. Maybe due to the consistent routine or time under tension (TUT).
- Learned to cook a few essential dishes like dal, chicken, and spinach, which don’t always taste like dog shit. Thanks to my fam and YT! My mother did help out a lot with cooking; thank you Ammu! ❤️
- Use of body fat calipers to measure and track progress. It served both as an insight into my efforts and as motivation. As Peter Drucker said it better, “What gets measured, gets managed.”
- Whey protein for capitalizing on muscle growth. May not be the most cost-efficient protein source, but it’s certainly the most widely used one for a reason. I love it.
What Didn’t Go So Well?
- Constantly hungry every 2-4 hours. Although I did eat quite a lot of the approved SCD foods, my stomach became a monster and kept devouring and asking for more. Had to eat about 4-6 meals/day.
- Fat loss routine was a ‘full-time job’. I had very limited time, energy, and focus to do anything other than eat, workout, cook, sleep, etc. I had to heavily cut my availability for my freelancing clients.
- The drugs and diet made me feel anxious, dizzy, fidgety, etc. I’m not used to putting pills in my body, and it felt alien to me. Even though I was losing fat, I knew there would likely be side effects and long-term consequences.
- Lack of energy and strength due to very limited carbs/glucose in my system. My workouts suffered, but I did somehow build some muscle.
- It’s expensive to sustain the SCD and fat loss regime that I tested. This is no surprise because switching rice/bread for meat and legumes burns a deeper hole in your pocket. Add the supplements/drugs to the mix, and you’re probably looking at 2-5x your regular monthly cost. Of course, there are ways to make it cheaper, and many people make it happen. But it WILL cost you more. Tim calls it the ‘six-pack tax’.
- Food got boring. Even though I changed up dishes and flavors a bit periodically, I had to soldier through pretty much the same food over and over. Additionally, I was surrounded by food I couldn’t eat because they were not slow-carb compliant. Other than a piece of potato three times during this challenge, I stuck to my diet. The SCD is meant to be effective and isn’t inherently fun. It’s your job to make it enjoyable.
- Broken caliper. I accidentally dropped and broke my first caliper in the last week, and I missed two days’ worth of measurements. I got a new one on the 1st of August, but it’s much more sensitive and gives much higher numbers relative to the first. I know it’s advised to use the same measurement device for consistent tracking, but I can’t go back. I’ll move on.
What Did I Learn?
- Slow-carb diet ain’t for me. Yes, it’s effective for rapidly losing fat and has changed the lives of many people. But giving up carbs six days a week is not a sacrifice I’m willing to make; life is just too short. I’ll find something that’s more sustainable, even if it takes a bit longer. Still glad I tried the SCD – now I know it’s not for me.
- I underestimated the amount of time needed to get shredded. Success takes time. It won’t happen overnight or in a month for that matter. You need to put the reps in, go the distance, and stick with it for the long haul no matter the goal or challenge.
- Commitments are super powerful, especially when you make them public. Without making this endeavor a public commitment, I don’t think I would have stuck with it. Thanks for yet another lesson, Tim.
- Find out what works for YOU. The 80/20 principle is always at play. As Bruce Lee said it better, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”
- You can be in control of your life if you DECIDE to take full responsibility and DO something about it. Instead of excuses and pointing to others, figure out what you can do to improve your situation and get closer to your goals. Although it took me a while to cultivate this change in mindset, it has radically improved my life as well as helped me tackle this challenge. Thanks to Stoicism, Taoism, and many other mentors like Tim.
How Did It Go? – The Results
Based on just the numbers, I clearly failed to meet my goal of reaching 10% BF.
The fat loss was somewhat random and volatile. But I did build some muscle.
The difference is certainly noticeable with the before-after comparison.
I started out with about 18% BF and dropped to nearly 15% in the first week. Super motivated, I kept going.
By the end of the second week, however, I didn’t see much of an improvement. The rate of fat loss wasn’t enough to meet my goal.
That’s when I decided to try out the drugs, in the middle of week 3.
Constant hunger, low blood sugar, exhaustion, and the effects of the pills accelerated the stress and anxiety.
After getting the new caliper and seeing the change in sensitivity, I realized I wasn’t going to make the goal.
I decided to stop the SCD and pills on 2nd August but kept several other fat loss strategies from the 4HB.
Meanwhile, I started implementing several workout and diet recommendations from BLS (explained next).
How Am I Going to Improve Next Time?
When the slow-carb diet and pills were proving to be a pain in the mains, I decided to search for alternative solutions.
I came across another book titled “Bigger Leaner Stronger” (BLS) by Michael Matthews.
It shares an approach called ‘flexible dieting’, which allows you to eat whatever you want as long as you can meet your calorie and macronutrient targets. It doesn’t restrict carb consumption but rather encourages it (along with high protein intake)!
This seemed like a godsend for me.
I was also pleased to find a solid workout program with a focus on heavy compound exercises on BLS. Awesome!
Technically, I’m still going through the book. But I’ve implemented several recommendations and am seeing impressive progress already!
Sure, BLS may not be the magic formula for everyone, but it’s proving to be a very promising one.
I’ll try to keep you posted on the progress.
As I’m always looking to learn more, experiment, and figure out how to get better, I’ll certainly explore other options when the time comes.
For now, I just need to put the reps in…
How Will I Pay the Price of My Failure? – Giveaway
According to my commitment:
… If I fail, I will buy $100 worth of cigarettes to my disgrace and give them away to random people.
I’ve given my word, and I’m going to keep it.
Although I don’t smoke, I remember watching this video a while ago about the effects of cigarettes vs. vaping on the human body.
Vapes are about 95% less harmful than cigarettes according to several research studies.
So I might give away vapes or e-cigarettes because giving hundreds of cigarettes to people is neither fun nor healthy.
In my next blog, I’ll share exactly how I’ll do it, be it in person or via delivery.
Comment below and stay tuned if you are interested in the giveaway.
While I failed to achieve the fat loss goal I set out a month ago, I did learn and improve quite a bit in this struggle. I’m grateful I decided to take on this endeavor.
But… this is just the start!
If you’re not happy with your health and body, DO something about it. It’s your body, after all.
Nothing else can bring you happiness if you’re physically unwell.
Set a goal and put something at stake.
If you keep waiting for tomorrow or the ‘right time,’ you’ll take it to your grave.
Start now! This is day one.
Measuring Body Fat
I’ve found body fat % to be one of the best metrics for judging a person’s fitness.
Of course, low body fat with no muscle looks weak, skinny, and not sexy at all. So the goal is to lose fat and gain muscle.
I got my hands on a body fat caliper like this:
I used the 3-Site Jackson & Pollock algorithm.
While not the most accurate means of body fat measurement, it provides an effective, cheap, and accessible way to track progress.
I recommend you get one too, unless you’re highly overweight (over 25% BF). In that case, you can just use waist circumference and/or weight.
If you’re reading this sentence, thank you.
I know it’s a long post, and I allowed myself to blabber for too long.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, be it any suggestions, criticism, a story, or whatnot. Go wild!