Few entrepreneurs have had such a profound an impact on as many people in the last 5-10 years as Tim Ferriss. The list of achievements under attributed to his name speaks for itself, but Ferriss is perhaps best known for his books and podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show.
In 2007, he published his first book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ (2+ million copies sold), largely inspired by his time running his first company, BrainQUICKEN, which was sold to a London-based equity firm. Follow-up books were ‘The Four Hour Body’ (1+ million copies sold) and ‘The Four Hour Chef’ (350,000+ copies sold). He launched ‘Tools of Titans’ in 2016, which subsequently debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. His fifth book, ‘Tribe of Mentors’ was released in November 2017.
Habit building and diet with Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is a staunch advocate of habit building, and a prime example is his approach to diet and nutrition. In ‘The Four Hour Body’ he details the slow-carb diet. In short, the slow-carb diet – one high in protein and fats but low in carbohydrates – is Tim’s suggested approach for people who want to lose weight. Rather than restricting people to “clean” eating seven days a week, the program allows for a cheat day each week.
Tim himself struggled with health and fitness and recognized that many other people struggle for similar reasons. “The decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit,” said Ferriss. It’s this belief that inspired him to form dietary guidelines around a lifestyle, rather than an out-and-out diet.
To help himself and others stick to the routine of a healthier collection of meals throughout the week, Tim developed a couple of tricks to help him build habits in order to achieve a regular eating schedule. These three suggestions aren’t necessarily steps; instead, they’re stand-alone sub-habits that Tim suggests through his guide. Some people might find that one or two of these apply more to them than the third, for example.
1. Eat the same meals for breakfast and lunch every day
It might sound boring, but ultimately it will ensure that you get into a routine of eating nutritious, filling meals six days of the week. By starting the day with the same breakfast and then topping up with a repetitive lunch, you’re restricting the opportunity to stray from your set meals. The easiest way to do this is to pick a breakfast that you enjoy and have it, perhaps with slight variations, every single day. Preparing it in advance is also strongly advised.
“Eat the same breakfast every morning for a week”
Note, that while it’s important that you enjoy the breakfast, it’s also essential that it’s a nutritious start to your day. As Tim suggests, as part of the slow-carb diet you’ll be eating predominantly fats and protein, with minimal carbohydrates. With that in mind, your repetitive meals should primarily consist of items from those foods groups.
2. Eat whatever you want one day per week
The element of the slow-carb diet that appeals to many people is the one day per week where you can eat whatever you want. Tim recommends that you do this on a Saturday, or a day when you know you’re more likely to be socializing with friends or family for example. The habit building aspect of this comes from eating your foods of choice on the same day, each week and sticking to it, for example:
“Have three meals that you don’t eat the rest of the week every Saturday”
You mainly want to be eating meals that you can’t eat during the week, but that you’d maybe like to. For example, if you like burgers, then you might choose to have one on Saturday in the above example.
3. Do a weekly food shopping trip so you always have “good foods” in your fridge/cupboards
One of the key elements of the slow-carb diet is preparation. It’s important to understand that although you can mean well and intend to eat the same meal for breakfast and lunch every day, you’ll probably fail a decent percentage of the time if you don’t have the ingredients you need. Similarly, it’s easy to be tempted by foods that are “unhealthy” if you have them in the house.
For that reason, it’s a wise idea to clear out your refrigerator and cupboards before you begin the slow-carb diet, and then write a list of everything you’ll need for the week ahead. If you don’t have the storage space for a week’s worth of food you might want to try:,
“Shop twice a week for the ingredients you need for the next three days”
This takes into account that on the 7th day of the week you’ll be eating whatever you choose. Having exactly the right amount of ingredients you need not only saves money and reduces waste, but it ensures you’re steadily in a routine of going to the store on the same day each week.