Tim Ferriss: What Ketosis Does to Your Brain, Why He’s Not Doing Crossfit, and How to “Evaluate” Your Husband

Tim Ferriss, the bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef returns to Fat-Burning Man this week (click here to listen to his first appearance on FBM where we talk about eating crickets and more).

The New York Times calls him “A cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk,” and Wired Magazine says he’s “The Superman of Silicon Valley.” Not too shabby, Tim.

Tim’s got a new show in the works, including the launch of a new TV series that’s a sort of combination of Jackass, Mythbusters, and A Beautiful Mind.

Before we get to the show, here’s the review of the week for my new book, The Wild Diet.

5 STARS— More than recipes…By Michael Wesselson April 13, 2015
I bought this book after listening to Abel’s “Fat-Burning Man” podcast for months. Abel takes a practical and positive approach to eating well and exercise. I have lost 3 inches in my waist from following his simple plan for 3 months. I look better and feel fantastic. I decided to buy “The Wild Diet” book so I could explore new and different recipes and still stay true to my new way of eating. There is a lot more than recipes in this book and I enjoyed having extra information on why this diet works and why traditional American eating and dieting does not. It is especially useful to have this resource because so many friends and family want to know what I have done to lose weight and look so good. Thank you Abel!

Thanks, Michael! Get your friends to try the new cheesecake recipe – there’s no turning back…

If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Wild Diet, please check it out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, or anywhere books are sold. And don’t forget to leave a review – I read every one!

Click here to see where you can grab your copy of The Wild Diet

On this show with Tim, we talk about:

  • How to get started with Ketosis (and witness first-hand what it does to Tim’s brain)
  • The daily habits and hacks that could make you 10 times more effective
  • Why Tim isn’t doing intense, cross-fit type exercise right now
  • How to heal from Lyme disease

This is my first podcast off the grid, running on solar and cellular up in the mountains by Santa Fe. So, the audio is a little bit scratchy, but it’s a dang good start.

Tim Ferriss’ Ketosis Experiment

To kickstart his ketosis experiment, Tim ingested the following:

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Caprylic acid
    • This is essentially MCT oil that converts well to ketones.
  • A spoonful of KetoSports KetoCaNa
    • This product contains the ketone Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB), and jacks up the ketones like a cup of coffee would.
  • Morning brew of tea with ginger, turmeric, and a dash of green tea which supplies a steady stream of energy without the crash.
    • According to Tim, the degree to which you crash after drinking coffee depends on the roast.

Why is Tim Experimenting with Ketosis?

The short answer is, curiosity!

Tim has done a ketogenic fast before, but now he has better tools available to him. For example, before he didn’t have a Precision Exra Glucometer from Abbot that also tests ketones. He just used keto sticks, which (in his words) is like trying to hit a target from 50 yards away holding the gun in the wrong hand with a blindfold on.

But one of the deeper reasons is that Tim was really incapacitated after contracting Lyme disease, and he wanted to see if keto could correct some of his biomarkers. Apparently his lipids were way out of whack.

NOTE: I talk about it in the upcoming episode with Dave Asprey in much more detail, but suffice it to say that some people have a really hard time sleeping when on a strict ketotic diet. It solves itself when you do a carb refeed, but it just seems that some people tolerate ketosis better than others.


Tim’s Take on Lyme

Lyme is somewhat of a controversial topic, but it nearly destroyed Tim for six months. He had swollen knees and he couldn’t even remember simple names or numbers. He had no typical bullseye rash, but that’s not uncommon—only 20% of people with Lyme are asymptomatic and most cases are misdiagnosed. A lot of the symptoms of Lyme are similar to chronic depression or chronic fatigue.

Tim advocates a conventional approach, destroying the Lyme bacteria with antibiotics.

Furthermore, after seeing a lot of very good doctors, he’s come to the conclusion that there can’t be chronic Lyme. Instead, he says those chronic symptoms are the result of a depleting gut microbiome resulting from the devastation caused by the antibiotics.

To repopulate his gut bacteria, Tim takes probiotics, including kombucha. But he also includes prebiotics, like inulin and insoluble fiber. The jury is still out on this, because he’s still having trouble getting his bacteria population back up. But he’s hopeful that a ketogenic diet could help with this.

Tim is hopeful, but he says the tests used for detecting Lyme are very primitive, yielding a lot of fast negative and positives. He cautions you to be careful when choosing a lab or doctor for this testing, generally avoiding the ones that specialize in Lyme testing because they make their money off of further testing. He says that’s like asking a barber if you need a haircut.

Prophylactic Antibiotics

Tim recommends the use of prophylactic antibiotics if you live in a high density tic area. This would be something like a one-dose prescription for use if you find and remove a tic from your skin, rather than waiting until the onset of symptoms and then going on weeks or months of antibiotics. (He says it’s like the morning after pill for Lyme.)

Tim’s Habits for Highly Effective Living

First off, Tim admits that he’s a night owl. Like many writers, he gets his best work done between bed time and 5am… which means that he would then sleep all day. However, when he’s not burning the midnight oil writing a book, he has a few things he does every day to keep his life on track.

  • Give yourself time to wake up.
    If you have to jump out of bed and dig right into emails and work, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Instead, wake up with an hour or an hour and a half to get yourself together before starting your day. Generally, Tim wakes around 7:00 or 7:30 am, giving him a couple hours before “work time.”
  • Meditate in the morning. Just 20 minutes of a silent meditation BEFORE checking your devices or calendars helps clear your head for the day. Tim uses transcendental meditation, and recommends taking a class to train yourself in your chosen technique. He says that meditation is like a warm bath for your brain.
  • He recommends the following books and apps to help with and understand meditation:
    Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
    Peace is Every Step by Thich Nat Hanh
    Headspace meditation app
    Calm app
    He also recommends the books and products on Sam Harris’ web site.
  • Practice daily movement, ideally outdoors. This doesn’t have to be a workout. You don’t have to be banging around kettle balls. For Tim, this usually takes the form of a 2 – 3 hour walk outside… which can actually work to deepen ketosis. You can listen to music or podcasts while you walk, or just be silent.

The Tim Ferriss Experiment

So, there are a ton of different ways to experience Tim Ferriss—including his ridiculously popular podcast, The Tim Ferris Show and his insane new TV show… The Tim Ferris Experiment.

How does he juggle it all?

Tim views LIFE as a series of experiments. He makes his life work by taking new projects and mitigating the fear associated with them.

For example, a lot of people try doing podcasts, but they have no exit strategy. When Tim started his podcast, he committed to doing six episodes. Then, if he didn’t like it, he was done. But he ended up loving it and continuing on. Doing it like this gives you a clear goal, and a way out.

Tim approaches everything this way, in a series of 2 – 4 week experiments. In fact, he has some friends that renew their wedding vows annually and even knows a highly successful businessman whose wife evaluates him quarterly—with great success!

Tim makes a point to hang around highly successful, happy 60 to 70 year old men who have really good relationships as a sort of way to study their habits. Good relationships are not common… because relationships are challenging. Really good, smart, benevolent people are getting divorced left and right.

What about Tim’s friend who is formally “evaluated” by his wife? Well, it works! He’s graded every three months on a ten point scale in four categories: Husband, father, provider, and lover. He has a total that he has to hit, so that if he’s away for two months on business trips, closing deals and making money, he gets a high score as a provider but perhaps has a lower score for father and lover.

This process illustrates how and where you allocate your resources and prevents problems from festering. How would that kind of rating system go over in your relationship? How about in your business relationships?

How Does Tim Ferriss Manage Everything?

He doesn’t. Tim says that the problem with the digital age is that we are drowning in a lot of kind-of cool stuff. Here’s an analogy:

Imagine you have mason jar, and you fill it half way with sand. Then you throw in some small rocks. When you try to put in a few large rocks, they don’t fit. Those large rocks are the most important things in your life… so, if you fill your jar with the “sand” (all the kind of cool small things) you won’t have space for the important stuff.

Here’s a good litmus test—if you say, “That sounds cool, I’ll have to think about it,” then it’s a no. But if it’s a, “Hell, yes!” then do it! So, if it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a NO. If you like that philosophy, check out this book by Derek Sivers!

You have to put first things first.

“There is no one path to success, but the sure path to failure is trying to please everyone.”

This type of life management has to be sophisticated and stoic. If someone has no empathy for you and your situation, then maybe that’s not a relationship you want to invest in.

Where Can You Find Tim Ferriss?

You can find all of Tim’s projects– including the TV show, the blog, the books, and the podcast—at fourhourworkweek.com.

Get all 13 episodes of The Tim Ferriss Experiment on iTunes. Watch him try to become an expert poker player in three days, learn Jiu Jitsu and spar with pros, become a speed shooter, a drummer, and more. Check it out here.


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  1. Hi Abel,

    How I wish you would have answered Tim question about sleeping when you start a fast or in are in ketosis. Would like
    To get an answer because I don’t know how to solve that. G

    • I talk about it in the upcoming episode with dave asprey in much more detail, but suffice it to say that some people have a really hard time sleeping when on a strict ketotic diet. It solves itself when you do a carb refeed, but it just seems that some people tolerate ketosis better than others.

  2. I disagree with almost all of what Tim Ferriss said about Lyme .disease. I’m a physician who has had Lyme Disease for about 10 years. I believed that I had it from the onset of the first symptoms, soon after I found two ticks from a highly endemic area for Lyme deeply embedded in my body. Unfortunately, the tests did not confirm that, so I was only diagnosed three years ago after being evaluated by a “LLMD” – a Lyme Literate MD. As a result of the delay in diagnosis and, therefore, treatment, I became more and more debilitated and finally had to close my private practice and go on disability. I’ve read at least five books on Lyme and many articles. There are two camps that disagree strongly. The doctors who buy into the approach to Lyme of the IDSA – the infectious Disease Society of America – who say, as Tim said, that there’s no such thing as chronic Lyme disease, and those who are members of ILADS – the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. The film “Under Our Skin” sides with ILADS and shows its conflict with the IDSA, and is, I believe, very enlightening. It has been proven that the organisms are able to persist in our bodies and that chronic Lyme Disease does, indeed, exist. The organisms in Lyme are not just “simple”spirochetes (which, by the way, have the ability to bore into tissues and organs throughout the body and brain). Biofilm layers are not magical. They do form and have been seen. They are difficult to deal with but must be dealt with for healing to occur. While it’s true that there are many, many false negative tests for Lyme and other tick-Bourne diseases, the same is not true about false positives, as stated by Tim Ferriss. I have chronic Lyme Disease, as do a vast number of people and animals, such as dogs. I suggest you check out literature such as Richard Horowitz, MD’s new book, “Why Can’t I Get Better: Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease”.

    • What a great reply. Dr. Horowitz’s book is absolute gold. While Tim is very knowledgeable on certain subjects, Dr. Horowitz has been treating Lyme and the common co-infections for over 30 years and has witnessed firsthand the denial the traditional medical community, led by the American CDC, of chronic Lyme disease. Only in this wonderful land of the “free” do we deny chronic Lyme to such an extent.

      I personally have experienced both the traditional medicine route of trying to diagnose and treat both my immediate and latent symptoms post-tic bite. Most doctors do not have a clue about Lyme because being such a difficult disease to treat, diagnose, and distinguish from other diseases it masquerades as, they turn to the authorities that compiled their medical education and that serve as guides for the majority of American doctors nationwide.

      Just like growing up under mom and dad, I had no reason to believe that Cinnamon Toast Crunch, low fat homogenized and pasteurized milk, and soda pop were the Frankenfoods or the ticking health bombs that they were. I had no reason to distrust them for the majority of their information was generally accurate. Now, allowed to do my own research, listen to the people who have been most successfully treated, and what the wider world says and does about this troubling disease, I have come to the conclusion that the CDC is corrupt and that Lyme presents a very lucrative way for health care systems to keep customers for a lifetime hidden behind a veil of authority and mystique.

    • I agree! I have CLD and never had the chance 25 years ago to use antibiotics, so the underlying multi-infection (viral too) scenario is very real and not just depleted microbiome from antibiotic usage! There are different phases, and I do believe antibiotic usage is crucial for Stage 1, but overuse drives the pathogens even deeper causing more issues in the long run even if they help decrease the symptoms.

    • Okay, Tim. Then explain to me why after years of treatment, my oldest who was on 2 antibiotics for lyme for 3 yrs is the only one of us in the family to go into remission with his Lyme. youngest and I continue to test positive for Lyme and bartonella again and again, no matter what tests we are given- Igenex, western blot, immunosciences, etc. It is seriously doubtful Tim had lyme disease for very long before treatment. personally, I went for years without treatment. I take high dose probiotics, but I start to get bad mentally, physcially and neurologically without prophylactic antibiotics.

    • Sybil, I agree with you about the Lyme. It can be chronic. I was mis-diagnosed for 25 years. It almost killed me. There are many misconceptions. The Lyme Spirochete is highly intelligent and will burrow into every part of your body and can going dormancy. Correct treatment is rare to find. Finding a practitioner or treatment to kill/pull out what is in dormancy while detoxifying and supporting your body at the same time is essential. I have been in intense treatment for 6 yrs now. If you get bitten by a tick the doctor recommended 3 weeks of antibiotics will only scratch the surface. You willed to be on for at least 6 months and you need to test for co-infections like Babesia which needs it’s own protocol and can kill you. I am very fortunate to have brilliant care from a practitioner who is a acupuncturist, master herbalist, functional medicine practitioner,naturopath and an extremely accurate muscle tester. I was so ill ( stage 4 Chronic Neuro Lyme ) that I would of needed to be on a IV drip of pharmaceutical antibiotics for years if I chose the “western medicine” approach . This is where many Lyme patients die from the treatment. I have done only herbs that kill lyme, supplements, detoxifying and RIFE machine ( kills with frequencies ). I am 80 % better after 6 years of treatment but we are still finding pockets/layers of lyme and pulling them out of dormancy.

  3. I’ve been very much interested in the human micro biome and general health. I’ve done some experimenting with diet and I currently enjoy a moderate diet learning towards low carb/high fat. I’m curious how you feel about green drinks? When looking at those drinks, what ingredients are important? What’s not? Thanks Abel, I enjoy your show.

  4. Hi Guys,

    Looking for fecal transplant testing/results. Tim could guinea pig this. It could be the next big thing and it is popping up everywhere but not quite this angle.

    – experiment 1 – tim gets fecal transplant from obese subject and test for xyz result
    – experiment 2 – tim fecal transplant from lean subject and test for xyz result

    Determine if fecal transplant from VERY lean donors would be viable means to get to that lean state and keep it without all the diet micro-managing required. Many other applications but curious about applications for cutting edge physique enhancement…


    • I’ve heard Tim address this either on his podcast or as a guest elsewhere.

      He considered getting a fecal matter transplant but after consulting with specialists he trusts, the consensus was that it’s too risky given that there are probably a great number of pathogens that we have yet to discover which he would be potentially exposing himself to.

      Basically, it would be a game of Russian Roulette and he was unwilling to play.

  5. I am so stoked that I stumbled across your podcast. I’ve always been an addvid wieght lifter, but after starting a family I’ve always put them first and career second. So I’ve “yo-yo’d” through the years and have paid for it physically. I had just started following Tim’s book again because it worked so well for me ( just couldn’t eat all the legumes though), when I came across one of your shows and you explained Ketogentics. This is the first time in my life I don’t feel like I’m on a diet and my energy level is through the roof. My blood sugars have dropped in just 3 weeks and also I’m down 12 pounds. Thanks for the quality content and guess speakers on your show.

  6. I’ve just lost a lot of respect for Tim given his outlook on chronic Lyme disease. He was recently infected and took a course of antibiotics and luckily it worked for him. Unfortunately there are thousands of us out there that have tried IV antibiotics and antimalarials for years to no avail. I have had Lyme disease for 17 years. If Tim thinks he has the magic solution, please feel free to enlighten me and the hundreds of thousands of others who are suffering.

  7. Thanks a lot for putting the work to produce the notes Abel,!

    I am surprised how difficult it is to repopulate his gut bacteria.

  8. Tim, I hope you will do more research on Lyme disease. I used to surf, ski, hike, ride horses and I loved to go fast in every area of my life. Now I’m lying here, my whole body in pain, feeling like I have early-onset dementia and totally debilitated from some crazy syndrome which includes Lyme and Bartonella infections (CDC positive). When I heard what you said about Lyme disease, Stanford doctors, IDSA doctors, and charlatan labs, I was so shocked. But it also reminded me of how I felt when I was diagnosed. I didn’t believe that an infection could invade my body without my permission. I read Lyme disease blogs and thought “these people are f**king insane!” I didn’t want any part of that! I wanted the Stanford doctors to be right. I didn’t want to be a Lyme-Looney. My question for you is, do you think that your research lead you to a conclusion that confirmed your own bias about Lyme disease? I have done a lot of research too and I have, much to my horror, come up with a conclusion that is opposite yours. What do you think about all of the studies cited in the book CURE UNKOWN by Pamela Weintraub? It’s a terrifying thought that there is a pathogen that can evade an arsenal of antibiotics, especially if you are a control freak (like me) but I’m afraid that it is a reality and (based on my research) there is science that proves it. As far as Stanford doctors and other deified doctors, aren ‘t these the guys who advocated a low fat diet for the last 40 years and don’t even understand basic nutrition? Doctors are just like most humans who seek data and information that confirms ideas with which they are already comfortable. But they are often wrong. Your notion that Lyme disease is or can be psychosomatic is insane– the people I’ve met who had Lyme were active, Type A people, like you. Not bored housewives or depressives. The microbiome is fascinating and lack of gut health is probably a huge factor in many illnesses. It may set the stage for Lyme and other co-infections to take hold. So it’s great to bring awareness to that. But I hope you will continue your research. Or, rather, start over in your research with an open mind and new sources.

  9. I think that my neurologist, PCP, and psychiatrist would disagree with Tim’s subjective, nonscientific conclusion that chronic lyme is based on insufficient gut flora. It’s so offensive to patients, like me, and their highly-qualified doctors who have dedicated their careers and studies to helping patients with chronic Lyme. Also, it’s worth taking the time to read the scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals about chronic lyme – the research coming out of Columbia University Medical Center is a good start.

    • Both my brothers got lyme, one of them chronic. I’m very interested in seeing more research, especially as the incidence grows at what seems to be an exponential pace (especially in the Northeast).

  10. I’ve followed Tim for a while. My company publishes SUCCESS magazine that he was on a few months ago. Part of the cover feature talks about him trying to stay in ketosis. I am also learning about this and am taking a ketone supplement (beta hydroxybutyrate) that also has MCT. Really helps my cravings and sustained energy. I really need to find more keto-friendly food or shopping guide. If anyone knows of good ones please let me know. But I really don’t want to go to some exotic jungle to find stuff!

  11. What is the prebiotic Tim is talking about at 17:00? Sounds like Bau bau? and Inulin. What the heck is Bau Bau? :))

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