Best-selling author Tim Ferriss, “the human guinea pig,” has built his reputation by experimenting on himself and testing every health craze out there. He breaks everything down into simple, timesaving tools to make your life easier and healthier. In his latest book, The 4-Hour Chef, Ferriss focuses on meal planning designed to improve overall health, boost energy and enhance weight loss.
In all of his endeavors, Ferriss subscribes to the principle of “meta-learning,” which involves getting the most out of the least amount of effort. He believes you only need to know the most important 2.5% about any topic in order to get 95% of the results you want.
This principle can be applied to any type of learning – a new language, cooking, building the perfect body or getting more energy. The trick is figuring out what the most valuable 2.5% is. By experimenting on his own body, Ferriss has discovered that the most unusual methods are often the most effective.
Whether you want to boost your energy or lose weight, Ferriss believes food is 95% of the solution. His new book expands on some of his most popular ideas including the 30/30 Rule.
The 30/30 Rule
Eat 30 grams of protein (such as 3 eggs or a protein shake) within the first 30 minutes of waking up to rev up your metabolism and prevent overeating later in the day. Research shows that a protein-rich breakfast – rather than a carb- and fat-filled one – will keep you fuller longer and helps promote weight loss.
4-Hour Energy-Boosting Plan
Morning Energy Boosters
Ferriss advocates harnessing energy within the first hour of waking up in order to keep going throughout the day. Waking up tired is a common occurrence for many folks. To help boost your morning energy level, try:
Blue Light Therapy
Frequently offered in spas, blue light therapy can recharge your battery even if you have not gotten a good night’s sleep. The blue light wavelength actually helps to set circadian rhythms and boost energy. Blue light boxes can be purchased online for home use. Sit in front of the box for about 10-15 minutes in the morning – while eating breakfast or reading the newspaper – to help recapture energy. Available online for about $60 and up.
Coffee With Grapefruit Juice
Drinking a shot of grapefruit juice before your cup of coffee can extend the mileage of caffeine. Studies have shown that naringin, a flavonoid in grapefruit, prolongs coffee’s energy effects.
These wholesome legumes are an excellent breakfast choice since they create a sustained energy release. In addition, they contain anthocyanins, potent compounds that may boost memory and help fight cancer. A half-cup of black lentils contains 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber to keep you full and energized all day long. Eat them on their own or fold them into an omelet.
Ferriss wants you to eat “dirt” for breakfast to increase energy. Not real dirt, but a tasty dish resembling dirt that contains almond milk, cocoa powder and coffee. Get the complete recipe now.
The Afternoon Slump
To avoid that all-too familiar energy lull that hits in the late afternoon, try these energy boosters:
This fermented soybean paste is very popular in the Japanese diet. Natto contains the enzyme nattokinase, which aids digestion and has also been shown to reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s and blood clots. Take 2-3 tablespoons of natto first thing in the morning. Or try a nattokinase supplement. Take 100mg, 3 times a day. Available at Japanese markets or health food stores.
Holy basil leaves contain eugenol and caryophyllene, aromatic compounds that have long been used in ayurvedic medicine as essential oils to elevate mood and spirit. To release their aroma, place the leaves in a bowl and pour steaming hot water over them. Add mint and thyme, if you wish, which also have energy-boosting properties. Breathe in these aromas anytime in the afternoon to help you relax and regain energy. Available at grocery and health food stores.
This weed has been used for hundreds of years to help reduce various types of inflammation-related ailments including psoriasis and bruises. Plantain weed can help reduce the inflammation caused by daily stress. Apply plantain weed ointment to your temples in the late afternoon. Available at health or natural food stores.
Tim Ferriss’ Super Tonic: Dandelion Coffee
To boost energy at any time of the day, reach for Ferriss’ Super Tonic. This alternative to regular coffee contains dandelion root, a substance often used by competitive wrestlers to help keep weight down. This medicinal herb has also been used for centuries to aid liver function, cure an upset stomach and more. It also increases energy and helps reduce excess water bloat. You can purchase ready-made dandelion powder or capsules at any health food store. Or buy it in chopped form and grind into powder on your own.
1-2 tbsp dandelion root powder
1/4 cup water
Coconut milk, to taste
Cardamom, to taste
Brew in a regular coffeemaker. Or use a drip method by placing ground dandelion in a coffee filter on top of a cup and pour water over it. Let steep for the perfect brew. Because dandelion tastes bitter, you may want to add some sweet and creamy coconut milk. Top with aromatic cardamom.
Master Healthy Cooking to Stay Healthy and Lose Weight
Ferriss has travelled the globe getting tips from top chefs to help you master healthy cooking and make meals that taste great and help you lose weight. His book, The 4-Hour Chef, contains super easy recipes that have 4 ingredients or less and take less than 15 minutes to prepare.
Tim Ferriss’ 4 Easy Tricks to Master Healthy Cooking
1. Strategic Herb Pairings
By pairing up certain foods with specific herbs, you’ll not only boost flavor, you’ll also gain lots of health benefits.
- Fish and Fennel - Fennel helps with digestion and constipation.
- Beef (or Pork) and Rosemary - Research shows that rosemary protects against dementia and Alzheimer’s. This herb is also a good source of calcium and iron.
- Eggs With Tarragon - Tarragon is rich in anti-aging antioxidants, fights fatigue and calms nerves.
2. Mixing and Matching Flavor Combinations
These surprising combinations are healthful, flavorful and satisfying.
- Olive Oil on Ice Cream - Olive oil, when drizzled on ice cream, adds as much richness as caramel or hot fudge. Plus olive oil is loaded with healthy omega-3s that protect your heart and brain.
- Black Pepper on Watermelon - This sweet and spicy combo tastes fresh and unexpected. Black pepper and watermelon are both great diuretics that help fight bloat.
- Almond Butter on a Hamburger - Almond butter not only adds extra richness, but also more protein and fiber, and helps to balance blood sugar.
3. Paper Cup Trick
Practice this portion-control trick: Cut a paper coffee cup in half and use it as a cylinder to measure and present food. For instance, place chicken salad or cooked rice in the cylinder, press down slightly and then unmold. By stacking your food this way, you’ll shave off calories and enjoy a nice presentation.
4. Update Your Fats
Add macadamia nut oil to your pantry. It contains the highest level of monounsaturated fats, tastes a lot like butter and has a high smoking point. Use it in sautés and stir frys, or to make salad dressing. Available at health food stores.
Tim Ferriss’ Ultimate Comfort Food: Crisp-baked, Sesame-coated Chicken
This revamped classic has everything you crave. It’s crunchy, buttery and juicy. The coconut flakes add sweetness, and the sesame seeds add crunch and are an excellent source of magnesium, bone-building calcium and energy-enhancing B vitamins. Plus, this version contains half the calories of classic fried chicken and can be made quickly and easily. What more can you ask?
Amp Up Your Meals With Powerful Supplements
Ferriss recommends making your meals healthier by adding vitamins. Today, many supplements come in powder form or come in pills that can be crushed, making it easy to add extra nutrition to any dish. Try cooking with these supplements, many of which you may already have on hand.
L-Cysteine - This amino acid helps the body fight off aging and diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It also strengthens the immune system. Available in drug, vitamin and health food stores, it is sometimes labeled as NAC (N-acetyl-L-cysteine).
L-Cysteine is not only healthful, but also makes a great kitchen item since it can also extend the shelf life of cakes, bread, cookies and other baked goods. Just crush up a tablet and add a small sprinkle to any dough preparation.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) - Vitamin C protects against free radical damage, which ages the body on the inside and out. This essential vitamin also keeps bones, teeth and blood vessels healthy and wards off colds and other illnesses.
Use vitamin C in the kitchen to prevent fruits and vegetables from browning. Also use it as a seasoning to add mouthwatering acidity, particularly to fruit-based dishes. Crush a tablet into a fine powder and sprinkle it on foods.
D-Ribose - D-Ribose contains ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the main energy source for the body’s cells. D-Ribose can help keep you going throughout the day. Plus research shows that it also helps protect the heart and can improve mood by relieving anxiety.
Dust D-Ribose on meats before grilling to add sweet, caramelized flavor. Available at health and vitamin stores.
WPI (Whey Protein Isolate) - Used often by bodybuilders to help build and repair muscle, WPI is comprised of pasteurized whey that has had the non-protein elements removed.
At breakfast time WPI can be used in a shake to practice Ferriss’ 30/30 Rule: 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. WPI can also be used as a thickener, a gelling agent and a foaming agent, or to emulsify everything from vinaigrette to mayo. Or use it to make Ferriss’ Hot Chocolate Wine Cocktail, which contains both heart healthy red wine and dark chocolate.
Hot Chocolate Dessert Wine
1.5 cups dessert wine
6 oz dark chocolate
1.5 cups skim milk
1 tbsp WPI powder
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. If you want a frothy foam, whir in a blender.
Bonus Tips From Tim Ferriss
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can decrease the healthy bacteria in the gut, which weakens your immune system and makes digestion more difficult. Try sweetening coffee with vanilla extract or cinnamon instead.
For a quick burst of energy, try one of Tim Ferriss’ favorite exercises: the Kettle Bell Swing. If you don’t have kettle bells, use filled gallon milk jugs. Practice 50-75 swings 2-3 times a week to wake up your nervous system, build muscle, and burn fat.
Makeshift “Garlic” Spatula
Put a clove of garlic on the end of a fork and use this “spatula” to sauté foods you want to infuse with garlic flavor. You’ll add all the benefits of garlic, which includes building immunity and fighting inflammation.
A Peeler Is Never Just a Peeler
Use a vegetable peeler as an all-purpose slicing machine. Slice ribbons of zucchini to substitute for pasta or thinly slice butter to add a bit of flavor to favorite dishes.
Avocados contain healthy fats, lots of fiber and taste great. If you buy them when they’re still hard and unripe, just put them in a paper bag, close it up and leave overnight. This concentrates the ethylene gas and speeds up ripening.
If something’s missing from a dish – if the flavors don’t quite pop – it’s probably missing acidity. In this case, try adding a bit of lemon juice. Not only does it add flavor but it also lowers the glycemic index of the food you’re eating.