Like Tim Ferriss, I Try to Overeat Without Gaining Weight

AS PROMISED in This Holiday, Overeat Without Gaining Weight, posted on December 23, 2011, this is my report of how I fared following Tim Ferris’ protocol for binging without gaining weight.

IF YOU want to understand what’s going on in this post, please first read This Holiday, Overeat and Gain No Weight.

The idea is to do certain things during a day of binge eating in order to get away with adding all those excess calories to your mid section.  The basics involve:

–       Beginning the day with protein

–       Taking grapefruit juice before you binge meals

–       Drinking coffee and Yerba Mate tea

–       Ingesting certain supplements

–       Performing certain exercises at the right time

(At this point, you really should read This Holiday, Overeat and Gain No Weight.)

I confess right at the start that I didn’t prepare properly.  I wrote about the Tim Ferris protocol too close to my planned Binge Day, Christmas!

The plan for Christmas dinner was to go to my sister’s house.  I knew there would be all kinds of nasty, tasty food there for me to over eat.  The timing was good for the binging, but not good for acquiring the supplements recommended in Mr. Ferris’ protocol.

OK, with that said, let’s dive into what I did and what the results turned out to be.  First, what I ate, when I ate it and what else I did and didn’t do.

But before we launch into that, a little interlude brought to you by the Kwinana Children’s Choir singing “I Ate Too Much At Christmas”:


Now that you’re properly tuned for this post’s topic, on to “My Binge Data”…


My Binge Data

This is the food eaten, when eaten, estimate calories courtesy of Google (for instance, search for “10 walnut pieces” and, magically, get 150 calories), as well as exercise sessions.

9:00 AM:

8 oz water with 1 Tbps of apple cider vinegar, 0

9:15 AM:

Protein drink consisting of — 6 oz almond milk, 4 oz water, 3 oz aloe vera juice, 20 grams whey protein powder, 3 Tbps flax seed powder and 10 grams Ultimate Greens. Approximately 120 calories.

5 raw Brazil nuts, 150 calories.

10:00 AM:

8 oz coffee with 3 Tbps low fat milk, 10 calories.

10 walnuts, 150 calories.

1 tangerine, 45 calories.

10:45 AM:

16 oz green tea, 0 calories.

2 dried figs, 70 calories.

6 oz orange juice, 100 calories.


2 minutes squats, push-ups, squats, wall presses.

12: 15 PM:

200 mg alpha-lipoic acid, 0 calories.

200 mg garlic extract, 0 calories.

1 small oatmeal muffin, 125 calories.

6 oz coffee + 2 Tbps eggnog, 30 calories.

3 oz smoked salmon, 220 calories.

1 Tbps cream cheese, 35 calories.

1 sprouted whole wheat bagel, 250 calories.

3 slices tomato, 10 calories.

3 slices onion, 5 calories.

2 Tbps blueberries, 20 calories.

2:00 PM:

3 oz eggnog, 115 calories.

1 shot brandy, 65 calories.


8 oz water + 1 Tbps apple cider vinegar, 0.


2 minutes squats, push-ups, squats, wall presses.


3 oz orange juice + 5 oz water + 2 Tbps psyllium husk powder (shake and drink), 50 calories.

5:45 PM:

25 pistachio, 85 calories.

4 crackers, 50 calories.

10 almonds, 70 calories.

4 green olives, 45 calories.

2 oz cheese, 230 calories.

6:40 PM:

2 minutes squats, push-ups, squats, wall presses.


12 oz salad, light dressing, 75 calories.

6 oz turkey, 200 calories.

1 oz stuffing, 108 calories.

3 oz kale, 43 calories.

2 oz sweet potato, 55 calories.

2 oz mash potato, 60 calories.

6 oz white wine, 150 calories.

12 oz beer, 150 calories.

12 oz green tea, 0 calories.

5 oz strawberry rhubarb pie, 400 calories.

14 peanut M&M, 140 calories.

9:50 PM:

2 minutes squats, push-ups, squats, wall presses.

10:30 PM:

8 oz water + 1 Tbps apple cider vinegar, 0 calories.

I’ll now grab the calculator and add up the calories…and the total is…

3,431 calories for my binge-eating day!

Now, if you’ve dutifully read This Holiday, Overeat and Gain No Weight as I instructed sweetly requested, you may now be snickering,

“Ha!  Ferris’s 6,214 calories blew the Garma-dude away!!”

Indeed he did, and I am humbled.  I really did try to eat more, but what can I say except to say that matching Tim Ferris in anything is a long shot — a statement that will be underscored as we get into BMR relative to calories consumed calculations.


A Primer on “BMR”

Let’s dig deeper into the calories consumed relative to Tim’s and my respective basal metabolic rates (“BMR”) – the calories a body uses at rest to maintain a body’s caloric needs.

In Ferris’ book, The 4-Hour Body, where I read about this “Binge Protocol”, he reports that his BMR over a 24-hour period is 1,765 calories, or 883 for 12 hours. To that he adds his estimate for calories expended that 12-hour day by walking and a twenty minute weight lifting work out, and then divides that total calories expended number into what he consumed – 6,214 – resulting in a net caloric intake of 6.8 times his BMR!

My BMR estimate is 1990.  As expected, it’s a larger number than Tim’s given that I weigh considerably more and therefore need more calories just to be a couch potato. (Get a crude estimate of your BMR as this calculation does not consider lean body mass – how much muscle vs fat you have on your body.)

On Binge Day, I walked two miles and did those two-minute exercises mentioned above, adding to an estimated calorie burn of 150 calories.  Add that to my BMR and you get a total of 2,140 calories expended on Binge Day.

3,431 in and 2,140 out, results in a net caloric intake of 1.6 times. Notice that 6.8 is a much bigger number than 1.6. I’m not even close to what Ferris achieved in terms of how many calories he consumed relative to his BMR.

Surely, I should be able to match his feat of overeating without gaining weight.


Pay the Piper?  The Scale Speaketh

One hour ago, I stepped on the scale wearing the same clothes I did two days ago on the morning of December 25th, Binge Day.  Here are the results…

December 25th weight:  216.4 pounds.

December 27th weight:  218 pounds.

Yep, despite eating far fewer calories than Tim Ferris, I gained weight (1.6 lbs) and he lost weight (4 lbs).

I wasn’t able to test body fat as he did; those of you who read about his protocol will recall that his body fat percentage was actually a tiny bit lower two days after his Binge Day.


Spinning the Results

If you expect to duplicate the results of a scientific experiment, it must be precisely followed.  As I’ve noted, I fudged.  I did not have the specific supplements that Tim Ferris used and recommends for this protocol to work.

My hope was that some substitute actions would assist me in getting results similar to Tim’s.  Here were my all-too-weak substitutes:

-Rather than the grapefruit juice, I ingested apple cider vinegar as it mitigates blood sugar spikes.  I also tried orange juice to see if this citrus would work as well as that in the grapefruit juice.

-Of the four supplements, I had only, and therefore used only, two — obviously insufficient.

-Not having Yerba Mate tea, I drank green tea.  I also used the time-tested psyllium husk drink to pave the way to the exit door, thus underscoring Tim’s “Principle #2: Get the Food Out Quickly”, which did work, but could not overwhelm the other deficits in my reenactment of his protocol.

One other factor to consider is that on Binge Day, Tim did a 20-minute, moderate intensity weight lifting session.  I did not.  This could have helped measurably in boosting his metabolic rate over the next 24-hour period, and might have reduced the weight gain I experienced had I done the same.

Moreover, even though the next day, December 26th, was a scheduled exercise day for me, I did not do it as I had no information as to whether Tim exercised the day after Binge Day.  If he did not exercise and I did, I would be adding yet another curve ball in my attempt to maintain his protocol.


Lessons Learned

Despite not being able to overeat without gaining weight, can I justifiably feel that my interventionist actions reduced the pounds I would have gained if I had done nothing on Binge Day but binge?


This is near impossible to accurately know, or measure, because it’s very difficult to duplicate everything exactly, including what my body was doing on Binge Day and the intervening two days until weigh in.

Which underscores the soft spot in protocols like this one.

Given the difficulty for any of us not in the lab to reproduce an experiment, and given the uniqueness of our bodies and body biochemistry, one size does not fit all. What works for Tim or Joe (me) might not work for you.

That said, the science behind Ferris’ method seems solid, and I, for one, will endeavor to follow it more closely the next time I prepare for a Binge Day.

As ever, your comments are appreciated and may be presented in the Comments section below.

Last Updated on February 27, 2022 by Joe Garma

Share. Someone you know will be thankful.
Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments