The 4 x 4 Diet (Amazon Affiliate Link) is a fairly simple book about clean eating and a healthy lifestyle geared to beginners and experienced exercisers alike. It includes:
- Relatively simple, tasty, healthy recipes
- A simple to follow clean eating program
- Tabata-style routines from beginner to advanced
- A meal plan/exericise schedule
I reviewed an ebook, so I can’t speak to how the physical book looks.
Who is The 4 x 4 Diet For?
Anyone interested in trying to eat healthy and stay fit (and maybe lose some weight) by eating and exercising sensibly.
But What’s in the Book?
- The Clean and Healthy Lifestyle
- Eating Clean
- Getting Lean
- The 4 x 4 Diet
Erin Oprea lays out her philosophy of getting, and staying, healthy in four sections. She calls it the 4 x 4 Diet because the clean eating is based on 4 simple rules and the tabatas are 4 minutes each. Don’t be fooled by that simplicity; they can get you results!
The first section, The Clean and Healthy Lifestyle, is an overall roadmap to Erin’s take on clean living.
In Eating Clean, Erin delves deeper into what she calls clean eating, and that consists of 4 basic guidelines:
- Cutting out starches at night
- Reducing sugar
- Reducing sodium
- Reducing alcohol
Erin guides you through how to stock your pantry, and arms you with simple recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and the occasional treat.
In Getting Lean, Erin gives you a little bit of history on tabatas: interval workouts where you go hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times for 4 minutes of exercise.
Erin lays out a variety of tabatas for you to do, and they are broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
Erin ties it all together in The 4 x 4 Diet, where she gives you a 4 week meal and exercise plan.
What I Tried
I tried many of the tabata workouts, at least a few from all the levels. The ones from the advanced level seem so simple, but they kicked my butt — in a good way.
You are supposed to aim to get 4-5 tabatas a day; I usually did 4, with a warmup and a cooldown, and that basically was 30 minutes of exercise.
I’m not sure I’d term them fun and addicting, as Erin does, but I did enjoy them, and I especially love that you can do just one or a couple at a time, and more throughout the day. My philosophy is that small bouts of intense exercise like that throughout the day keeps your metabolism burning all day long.
Erin does say it’s better if you do them back to back, but it’s okay not to. Many involve short bursts of cardio: jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. I had to modify them since I was dealing with some ankle problems, but I still felt I got in great workouts.
I tried a few of the recipes: Asian Tuna Steak, Mashed Cauliflower, Honey Roasted Butternut Squash, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies (which I thought were really good, but my husband thought they were dry).
There are actually a lot more recipes I’d like to try, but just didn’t get around to. Most are pretty simple and don’t take a lot of time or strange ingredients. Lunches were heavy on salads, which I do enjoy, except it was quite cold while I was reading the book, and I’m not as into salads when it’s cold.
Some of them are so simple I wouldn’t call them recipes and are actually things I already make, like the Peanut Butter Apple Crunch and the Not-so-boring Brown Rice Cake (only I use a dark chocolate rice cake which really makes it not so boring!).
The only thing I didn’t try was the exercise schedule/meal plan. I’m never good with being told what to eat — I like to do my own thing.
What did I think?
I really enjoyed the workouts. I enjoyed all the recipes I tried. I don’t drink, so that was easy for me. Reducing sugar consumption is always an aim for me, because I have a wicked sweet tooth.
The reason Erin suggests no carbs at night is that we tend to be less active at night, and therefore can’t burn off carbs consumed at night as easily as those consumed earlier in the day, when we’re more active.
I’m not a doctor, or a nutritionist, but even this layperson thinks that’s probably untrue. For the most part, my understanding is that if you eat more than you need, it will be stored as fat, whether or not it’s carbs, protein, or fat.
I was never a fan of the whole “I’m not eating past a certain time” thing. If I’m out late, and I can’t eat til late, you better believe I’m going to eat — otherwise I’ll be starving and much more likely to overeat the next day.
Erin even suggests that you shouldn’t be eating the fruit higher in carbs after 4 pm — apples, bananas, for instance. Again, I highly doubt there is scientific data to prove that a banana after 4 pm will make you fat. I did try to adhere to that rule, and stuck more to mandarins and berries at night, but I won’t lie: there were nights I had the second banana of my day or an apple. I still lost weight.
You are allowed a couple of dinners a week that can be heavier on carbs, and that made it workable for me. I found myself adding back in more carbs during the day, which did seem to make me less hungry towards the evening anyway.
I did lose weight while going through the recipes and the exercises, but it’s unclear if it was due to the tabatas and reducing carbs at night, or simply the fact that I normally start to lose the winter weight around this time of year.
Would I Buy This Book?
Yes, I would. I really enjoyed the recipes, I really enjoyed the workouts, and I plan to keep using both.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.