Four Hour Body Meal #1: Concoction

So I’m a month into Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body, inspired partly by my brother‘s striking success, and partly by some sketchy bloodwork results at my last check-up. Exhibit 1:


Like the guy at the fish counter once told me: “You don’ want none-a dat.”

Part of the bloodwork-fixing process, of course, involves food. Now, food is something I enjoy, but rarely put a lot of thought or effort into. I’m usually either buying lunch out or having some of whatever my wife made herself for dinner. Unfortunately, my wife’s surgically-necessitated, high-bacon diet is not going to bring down my waist measurement nor my cholesterol. It was up to me to find something that tastes good, takes as little time as possible to prepare, and fits within the relatively strict but straightforward rules of the various diet protocols laid out in 4HB.

I’ve hit upon something I call Concoction – the recipe for which has probably already been independently invented by about 50,000 4HB readers, but which I’m going to document here anyway. If you’re doing the 4HB Slow Carb diet (the one for fat loss), you know that each meal needs a lean protein, a legume, and some vegetable matter. For one batch of Concoction, you need 12-14 oz of canned lean protein. I use line-caught tuna or organic chicken, because I’m a hippie. Today’s Concoction started with tuna:

For legumes, I like red kidney beans or lentils. Today, it was lentils, 1 can:

My favorite veggies are raw broccoli florets or raw baby spinach (organic, of course). Today, though, I’m experimenting with 1 cup of chard, which I hand-shredded thoroughly:

If you’re just doing Slow Carb, the ingredient list ends here. If you’re doing Occam’s Protocol (for muscle gain), you get to add in a quality carb like quinoa, brown rice, or a whole grain pasta. I favor the Trader Joe’s brown rice that I can microwave in the bag in 60 seconds (1 bag = 10.5oz):

Recapping the main ingredients:

  • 12-14 oz lean, canned meat
  • 1 can lentils or beans
  • 1 cup green stuff, chopped or shredded relatively finely
  • (optional) 1 bag (10.5oz) brown rice

This is all very healthy, but only so-so on the flavor, so I also add 2-3 teaspoons (I think, it’s not like I’m measuring anything but the greens here) of lime juice:

And to really make it sing, I also add sriracha:

There are many schools of thought on how to correctly use sriracha in food preparation, but I’m with The Oatmeal on this one:

Proper application of sriracha sauce

These are my favored flavors; there are many like them, but these are mine. Add whatever works for you to the main ingredients in a big bowl, and mix.

Concoction, shown here with kidney beans and spinach. Swiss ball garnish optional.

And the outcome? I think it’s delicious, at least with baby spinach. (The chard experiment did not go as well as I’d hoped – too bitter. Plus spinach has all those sexy phytoecdysteroids.) Prep time is however long it takes you to open 3 cans, cut/shred your vegetables, and stir the stuff together – no cooking (except for nuking the rice), one measurement (the veggies), and if you eat out of your mixing bowl you’ve only dirtied one bowl and one fork. One batch of Concoction is about 600 kcal & 94g of protein without the rice, 1000 kcal & 101g of protein with the rice (if I’ve read all the packages correctly). On Occam’s Protocol, I find I usually eat the whole batch in one (sometimes comically extended) sitting, and with shakes and an eggy breakfast I generally hit my food targets. Slow Carb-ers will likely get more than one meal out of this recipe. YMMV.

Next time I get the writing bug, I’ll share some other one-course meal recipes or random findings about the 4HB experience. Short version, one month in: My weight has only gone down a little, but I’m putting on muscle with a rapidity I couldn’t even achieve in college, which means that I’m losing fat beyond what the scale shows. Based on results so far, I recommend the book (or the Kindle version, which I got). Bloodwork gets re-done in August, keep your fingers crossed.

How Many Pushups Was That?

Here’s something for your pecs: This site offers a six-week program that claims (plausibly, I’d say) to be able to get you from your current fitness level to the ability to do 100 pushups in six weeks. I started a little over a week ago, and the workouts seem well-calibrated, because I sometimes struggle to get to the end, but I can make it. At the beginning, I was able to do 16 pushups at a go. There’s another test at the end of this week, and I’ll be interested to see how much progress I’ve made.

Anyway, if you’re looking for something to shake up your exercise routine, give it a shot.