Gone in 60 Seconds: One Minute of Activity to Avoid Storing Calories of a Meal as Body Fat.

December 21, 2010

“Why didn’t I think of that!” This is exactly what I thought when reading this “hack” in Tim Ferriss’s new book, The 4-Hour Body. Instead of a book review, I would rather talk about a clever strategy Tim talks about on page 105-107. This is by far my favorite part of the book, because it really makes a lot of sense. I could see how this little tweak could make a difference over time when it came to gaining muscle and losing body fat.

Gone in 60 Seconds

[What if a brief exercise of 60-90 seconds, made it less likely that this dessert would get stored as body fat? That is exactly one of the things Tim Ferriss explores in The 4-Hour Body].

Brief Muscular Contractions a Few Minutes Before You Eat?

So most of you probably know that after an intense workout, food calories are less likely to get stored as body fat. A simplistic explanation is that your muscles are depleted of glycogen and that a lot of the calories you eat at this time simply serve to refuel these depleted muscles. What I did not know was how little the stimulus needs to be in order for this to happen. Tim has found that this effect can happen in as little as 60-90 seconds. The proper activity done a few minutes before eating can encourage food calories to get shuttled into the muscle cells, before it has a chance to get stored as body fat.

Encouraging Insulin to Store Food Energy Into Muscle Cells

What exercise does is increase a substance in your body called GLUT-4 (glucose transporter type 4). Tim explains that exercise will encourage insulin to store calories in the muscle cells:

“The more muscular gates we have open before insulin triggers the same GLUT-4 on the surface of fat cells, the more we can put calories in muscle instead of fat”.

In The 4-Hour Body, Tim talks about a study which compares the effect of 280 seconds of intense exercise to a 6 hour low intensity exercise session. What the study found was that 280 seconds of intense exercise increased Glut-4 in the muscle by 83%…and 6 hours of lower intensity exercise increased it by 91%. So 280 seconds of exercise had almost the same effect as 6 hours when it comes to increasing GLUT-4 levels.

From 280 Seconds…Down to 60-90 Seconds

So Tim suggests that you keep the pre meal and post meal exercise down to 60-90 seconds. The GLUT-4 levels will increase with this amount of exercise, but it will drop down to normal levels after 1-4 hours. Tim recommends doing 60 seconds of exercise right before eating and 90 minutes after eating. Why 90 minutes? He has found that blood glucose levels to be the highest 90 minutes after eating.

The “Air Squat” is Tim’s Exercise of Choice

[The guys in this video do a great job of demonstrating Air Squats.]

“Killing Two Birds With One Stone”

If there was one weakness in my physique, it would be flexibility…particularly the lower back, hips, and hamstrings. As I’ve outlined in previous articles, actively stretching the muscles through a full range of motion is the key to flexibility. Doing traditional stretches has a much shorter lasting effect. Special Forces Trainer, Scott Sonnon explains this proper way to increase flexibility in an interview I did with him a while back. So these Air Squats will improve flexibility over time, especially if you are performing them a few times per day. For me this is almost as big of a benefit as the “calorie shuttling” effect.

Tim Also Recommends Two Other Exercises

Wall Presses & Chest Pulls are the other two exercise that Tim recommends. These are to be done for 30-50 reps. Even if you can do 30-50 push ups you will want to stick with wall presses, because you don’t want these pre and post meal exercises to interfere with your normal workouts. What Tim calls chest pulls in his book are more commonly known as “Band Pull Aparts”. Here is a video demonstrating that exercise.

[The closer your hands are together on the band, the more resistance this will provide. So in order to get 30-50 reps, you may have to begin with your hands wider than a shoulder width grip. The resistance also depends upon the band being used.]

No Need to Use These Exact Exercises

The main thing it looks like Tim is accomplishing with these three exercises is working the entire body. The air squats seem like a great idea, because these can be done anywhere. Then you would just chose some sort of pushing movement and a pulling movement and you would be good to go. Just make sure and do around 30-50 reps and don’t push so hard that this interferes with your normal workouts.

How I Plan on Using This Strategy

I’ll bring a pair of resistance bands to my work space and do these brief exercises for at least one meal per day. Once I develop this habit, I may apply it to two meals per day. Typically I eat 3 times per day when I’m not doing an ESE style fast. At least one of my meals is eaten an hour after intense training, so no need to add additional exercise before that meal.

Note: I highly recommend The 4-Hour Body, by the way. I don’t agree with everything Tim recommends, but there is easily enough helpful tweaks to make it worth your time and money. Tim’s Blog —> Four Hour Work Week Blog.

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Rusty Moore

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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

star777 March 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Could you do an entry on the fitness/weight loss books you recommend we read?

Thanks!

Tatianna March 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I loved this article so much. I want to get the 4 hour body book now.
Thanks Rusty

Steven Bancroft April 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Although I don’t agree with the purported effectiveness of the Low Carb Diet, this tidbit gem of advice makes perfect sense to me. I will give it a try. Tim certainly is a resourceful and thorough guy.

One problem with the 60 to 90 second workout before meals will arise in restaurants. I don’t see my self hitting the floor pounding out 50 pushups as my 12 oz. sirloin and baked potato hits the table. But then I don’t eat out for every meal so exceptions can be made. I wonder if Tim sticks to this regimen when dining out … probably not … but then he’s not afraid to pretty much try anything.

Tatianna May 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

Great Post Rusty! I love all the information you provide. The things that all the trainers should know. Thank you again

Daniel May 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I just discovered your blog through google, I like it a lot. I’ll be trying the air squats too. Thanks!

Mark's Fat Burning Food and Fitness Blog May 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Rusty,

that’s what I use on my Carb days since a goodly while, it’s basically the nutrient partitioning concept:

Muscular contractions will facilitate increased nutrient transport into the muscle s-cells for up to 4-6 hours afterwards!

The key is to just do a little pumping: nothing extreme as far as intensity or volume.
You don’t want to build strength here, nor deplete carb stores, rather you want to fill them up to the max!

Mark

Jeff June 29, 2011 at 10:33 am

This experiment would be easily conducted in studies all over the world. I’d be curious to read the sources. At first blush it sounds like pseudoscience.

Exercise On Abs November 8, 2011 at 10:22 am

4-hour body is one of my favorite books.. 4-GLUT part is really the best, because I never heard before for such an easy technique :)

Niko@noexcusefitness November 11, 2011 at 4:21 am

For all the advice that is out there, this would have to be one of the easiest to impliment. I’m willing to spend a few extra minutes a day to try out the theory, what have I got to lose.

David @ The Natural Health Service January 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

Really like the video on squat technique. And this seems an interesting idea. Might give it a go once per day on non training days.

Although I do take the point of others on here that it’s not likely to do much for anyone who is overweight. In fact any muscle building strategy will work much better once you get down to under 15% body fat.

David February 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

Hey Rusty,

Great post, I did not read the Four Hour Body, but I usually follow Tim’s Blog. He is really smart and original, so I’m going to give it a try with 60 secs of burpees before eating.

Thanks!

Julio February 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

I love Tim’s book, The Four Hour Week and I have also read Tim’s book The Four Hour Body and although there are interesting titbits of information, to me it is all about trying to sell you the magic pill, to wow you with his unusual ways of doing stuff, but most of it is NOT practical at all. This information on which your article is based is pretty good really and I have to admit that just this may justify buying the book. However, lots of the research in the book is flawed, like that guy that gained a bunch of mass in a month or so. It sounds like a smart snake oil salesman to me.

Ryan - Beyond Weight Loss Tips June 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Thanks for your recommendation Rusty, I do this tweak when people don’t see me. It might feel awkward seeing a guy doing squats, push and pull exercises before eating. :)

Rita March 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

Great advices! It is very important to set right goals and constantly move forward to them. This requires lots of energy and it is perfectly provided by military grade nutritionals. Their pre-workouts are awesome. They give me quick boost of energy and enhance my physical capacities. I am gaining muscle and strength and achieve all goals I have set.

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