Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Body, tells us how to binge without gaining weight. The secret is in the supplements, starting the day right, and a wee little bit of well-placed exercise. The end result: this Holiday, overeat and gain no weight!
WITH THE Holiday Season and New Year upon us, we will be overeating as if succumbing to an eating disorder. Most advice on the matter is about eating abundantly of the good stuff while picking at the bad stuff. This is a noble sentiment. But during the Holidays, advice on how to prevent binge eating falls on deaf ears.
I say go for it. Binge away! Overeat to your heart’s content. After all, it’s our Holiday Birthright.
Just do two things so you don’t pay the inevitable price of constipation, bloat and weight gain:
- Choose one, or two at most, days to do your binge eating; and
- Adopt the advice of Tim Ferris to prevent fat gain whilst you binge.
Number one is up to you. Choose the day(s) when you’re going to the biggest food feast banquet of the Holiday season.
Number two is explained by Tim Ferris in his most recent book, The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman.
The rest of this post will explain the man’s methods for eating a bunch of high-calorie crap without gaining weight. (Hopefully.)
The relevant chapter in Mr. Ferris’ The 4-Hour Body is titled: “DAMAGE CONTROL, Preventing Fat Gain When You Binge”. There, Ferris tells the tale of his self-experimentation during a binge day, and his interventionist principles used to negate the binge calories’ propensity to create more fat on the ole body.
Tim Ferris on Binge Day
Tim meticulously recorded the food and drink eaten on binge day. The calories total a mind-boggling 6,214! This was eaten by a thirty-something year old man who weighed less than 170 pounds at the time, and had then a basal metabolic rate– the calories burned without activity – of 882 calories over the 12 hour time period of total eating. (Calculate your BMR.)
My calculator tells me that on his binge day, Ferris ate 7 times the calories needed to sustain his BMR. But, naturally, he didn’t stay in bed on binge day, so Tim estimated the calories he used from a very light calorie-expending day to be a mere 200, resulting in a net intake of 6.8 times his BMR!
Despite this amazing amount of overeating, remarkably, Tim was four pounds less and about the same percent body fat on the morning of the binge day as compared to 48 hours later. Specifically, on binge day he weighed 169 pounds at 9.9% body fat, and two days later weighed 165 pounds at 9.6% body fat. Remarkable!
At this point, the reasonable query is: “How did he do it”!
The Three Principles of the Lost Art of Binging
These three principles, says Ferris, are designed “to have as much of the crap ingested either go into the muscle tissue or out of the body unabsorbed”.
Principle #1: Minimize the Release of Insulin
If you’re familiar with Dr. Mark Hyman’s work and lectures, he is very focused on insulin levels produced by the body. He links belly fat, high cholesterol, depression, fatigue, infertility diabetes and many chronic diseases – which he likes to roll-up into one term, “Diabesity” — to the overproduction of insulin.
[My post on Diabesity is called The Diabesity Epidemic – It May Be Coming to You. I intend to post about Hyman’s PBS Diabesity lecture soon.]
The amount of insulin produced by the pancreas is diminished by smoothing out blood sugar spikes as a result of eating foods with high sugar content, such as white, refined, non-complex (“simple”) carbs (carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.).
When the pancreas produces more insulin than the body can use, it becomes insulin-resistant, thus needing an excessive amount of insulin to do the same job of keeping blood sugar levels even. The high insulin level leads to an appetite that is out of control and the resulting weight gain gets concentrated in the most damaging part of the body — around the belly. Belly fat!
Tim Ferris extols four actions to minimize the release of insulin:
1. On binge day, don’t make your first meal a binge meal. That can wait till after your breakfast. For breakfast, eat protein and fiber. Aim for 30 grams of protein within a half hour of arising, and either mix fiber-rich food into that protein meal, or supplement with fiber supplements.
The protein can be eggs, meat or protein powder. The fiber can be legumes (lentil, pea, beans, chickpea, etc.) or something like flax seed powder or psyllium husk powder.
2. Before your second meal of binge day – the start of your first “crap meal” (Tim, you have a way with words), ingest a small amount of grapefruit juice, which has a “near-flat-lining effect on blood glucose” (blood sugar).
3. Ingest supplements that increase insulin sensitivity. Tim recommends “PAGG”, which consists of the following four supplements, along with the amounts of each he uses per serving:
- Policosanol, 20 – 25 mg
- Alpha-lipoic acid, 100 – 300 mg
- Green tea flavanols, 325 mg
- Garlic extract, 200 mg
You can get all of these separately at Lucky Vitamins, and a Google search found an all-in-one supplement called PAAG Supplements 2.0. Lucky has good prices on all the top brands, but has slow mo shipping. Don’t know anything about PAAG S. 2.0.
If you’re an Amazon shopper, there’s a page for all the PAAG-comprised supplements.
Note: Mr. Ferris took two doses on pig-out day, but says he would have taken up to three doses “If I’m going whole hog…”, which makes me wonder if he thinks 6,214 calories is half hog.
4. Consume citric juices. These can be lime and/or lemon juice either in water or on food.
Principle #2: Get the Food Out Quickly
Proper eating is eating to maximize nutrition. Nutrition is medicine, as Dr. Hyman and Dr. Weil like to say. But on gluttony day, you want to absorb as little of the crap as you can.
This can be accomplished, Tim reports, by consuming caffeine and yerba mate tea. Yerba mate tea is widely available and it contributes to this endeavor by offering theobromine (also in dark chocolate) and theophylline (in green tea).
He takes 100 – 200 milligrams of caffeine, or 16 ounces of yerba mate tea during crap eating.
Apparently, this concoction instigates focused toilet seeking. I should add, you could similarly inspire this action by drinking down some psyllium husk powder (tablespoon) along with four ounces of apple juice and four ounces of water about one-half hour prior to crapmeal. Simply shake in a jar and down the gullet before it all congeals into Elmer’s glue.
Principle #3: Perform Brief, Multi-muscle Contraction Throughout the Binge
Working your large muscles, even briefly, “brings glucose transporter type 4 (“GLUT-4”) to the surface of muscle cells, opening more gates for the calories to flow into”.
OK, that description might make a scientist cringe, but what you should take away from this is that there’s someplace for the glucose (sugar from all the simple crabs you’re binging on) to go, like to fuel contracting muscles, rather than building the midsection’s muffin top.
Here’s what to do: 60 to 90 seconds of squats (no weight but you), push-ups (on your knees if regular ones are too hard) and wall presses (feet three feet or so away from the wall, face it, hands on it, press chest to and from it).
Do the exercises a few minutes prior to and 90 minutes after the binging. If you binge both at lunch and dinner, do this twice.
I’m Going To Do It!
Typically, I don’t binge on crap. Instead, I may pick at the mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing, and stuff myself with bird, veggies and salad. (But here’s one time I surrendered to gluttony.) This Christmas Dinner at my sister’s home, however, I’m going to go where the whims of the Binge God direct me. I’ll do my own weigh in before and two days after, just like Tim Ferris. And I’ll report back to you.
[Update: As promised, here's my attempt to "Overeat and Gain No Weight".]
In closing, I encourage to you try one or more of Tim’s “Principles” on binge day. And if any of this intrigued you, know that you’ll find a bunch more “health hacking” in his book, The 4-Hour Body. I encourage you to check it out!
Published on December 23, 2011