4-Hour Body Supplements: What Should You Take?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the recommended supplements for The 4-Hour Body? How can The 4-Hour Body supplements enhance your results?

The 4-Hour Body supplements are used to improve your results. Tim Ferriss walks through three families of supplements in The 4-Hour Body.

Read more about The 4-Hour Body supplements you should consider taking.

The 4-Hour Body Supplements

The author discusses three families of supplements:


The author recommends taking a combination of supplements for The 4-Hour Body. This combo has the acronym PAGG and it can help reduce the amount of insulin your body releases and aid fat loss:

  • Policosanol is a plant wax extract. The author originally took it in an attempt to lower his cholesterol (it worked for him even though there’s no conclusive scientific evidence of its effectiveness). He discovered that it had a side effect of increasing the effectiveness of the other three supplements below. Take one dose (20-25 mg) per day before going to bed.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant (a compound that protects cells against potentially dangerous molecules). It’s useful in fat loss because it encourages carbohydrate storage in muscles or the liver, rather than in fat. Take 100-300 mg (less if you experience acid reflux) four times a day before breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bed.
  • Epigallocatechin gallate, which is found in green tea. It’s useful in fat loss for two reasons: 1) like ALA, it encourages carbohydrate storage in muscles and additionally inhibits storage in fat cells, and 2) it kills off mature fat cells (when you lose weight, your fat cells shrink but don’t die). Take 325 mg three times a day (use decaffeinated green tea extract pills to avoid the caffeine and imprecision of tea-drinking) before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
  • Garlic extract. Garlic contains allicin, which appears to inhibit fat regain, though the science isn’t well understood. Take at least 200 mg four times a day before breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bed. Raw garlic will upset your stomach, so cook it, or take an aged-garlic extract that contains allicin and S-Allyl cysteine (which may help the body uptake allicin).

You should take the supplements six days a week and take a full week off every 60 days.


Before discovering PAGG, the author took a combination of supplements known as the ECA stack (ephedrine hydrochloride, caffeine, and aspirin). While many studies agree that the cocktail is effective, and the author saw results, it produces some serious side effects including adrenal fatigue and withdrawal pains. He doesn’t recommend the ECA stack.

Probiotics and Prebiotics: The 4-Hour Body Supplements for Gut Bacteria

There are two types of gut bacteria related to fat absorption: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Obese people have a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes. As they lose weight, the ratio includes more Bacteroidetes. Scientists don’t know exactly how Firmicutes and obesity are related yet.

You can influence your gut bacteria populations by taking probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are bacteria, and prebiotics are substances that promote the growth of bacteria.

Additionally, to keep your gut healthy:

  • Avoid Splenda. A Duke University study discovered that Splenda reduced the number of healthy gut bacteria.
  • Eat more fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut. Fermented foods contain healthy gut bacteria and are a common element to the diet of extremely healthy indigenous communities.

A healthy gut comes with some additional benefits besides fat loss—95% of the body’s serotonin, a hormone related to mood, is produced in the gut. Therefore, a healthy gut contributes to better mental health.

4-Hour Body Supplements: What Should You Take?

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  • Why you need a cheat day in your diet
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Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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