It's a book bursting with tips that seem too good to be true.
A diet and fitness plan that helps you drop 20 pounds in 30 days, without exercise? A technique that produces a 15-minute female orgasm, or advice for doubling your sperm count? Binging during the holidays without gaining fat?
To those schooled in conventional approaches to nutrition and health, the claims made in Timothy Ferriss' new book "The 4-Hour Body" may seem dubious -- impossible even.
For medical experts who place their trust in the reams of published research studies, the book is just another self-help program promising a fast fix with a fad diet. Decades of peer-reviewed research have already revealed that there are no magic bullets for weight loss and fitness, they say.
But Ferriss, a best-selling author, entrepreneur and professional jack-of-all-trades, master of much, says he has personal experience, cutting-edge science and mounds of data on his side. Not to mention an unquenchable desire to test the boundaries.
"I'm not a doctor, I'm not an academic," he said. "And this is a good thing because I don't have a career to protect by hedging...I don't have to hold back. I don't have to conform to any preset rules."
Fears of Modern Man: Too Much E-Mail and Too Much Fat
Ferriss made his name with his first wildly popular book, "The 4-Hour Work Week," and now makes a living trotting the globe, speaking to top companies, investing in tech start-ups and blogging about his experiments in what he calls "lifestyle design."
Though people associate him with time management based on the first book, he says his real obsession and area of expertise is physical optimization.
"Over the last decade, every conversation, whether it has started with e-mail management or world travel, at the end of the conversation, at a dinner or cocktail party, has always ended on fat loss and physical performance," he said. "I've jokingly said to people, something I think is true, that the fears of modern man can be boiled down to fear of too much e-mail and too much fat."
His debut book tackled the first fear; "The 4-Hour Body" takes on the second.
The "minimalist guide" covers more than 50 topics, running the gamut from a "slow-carb diet" that promises a dramatic drop in body fat, to the secret behind "Michelle Obama" arms, to a how-to guide for producing a 15-minute female orgasm. (That last chapter, he said, was written at the request of his female friends.)
If you want to magnify your manhood, the book says it can teach you to triple your testosterone and double your sperm count. It also includes a way to "hack" yourself into a schedule that lets you perform well on just two hours of sleep a day.
Ferriss said the book relies on data provided by hundreds of others and his own personal experimenting, but medical experts aren't exactly wild about some of its promises. And sexual health professionals say a 15-minute orgasm is not just unlikely, but possibly unpleasant.
Ice Water, Ice Packs Can Help Boost Fat Burning
Ferriss said the book was three years in the making, as he turned himself into a "human guinea pig," consulted with top researchers and leveraged his network of fans and readers to identify and test the small, specific changes that lead to the biggest results.
Ferris said he found that eating within one hour (ideally 30 minutes) of waking up increases fat-loss. Binging on junk food one day a week helps lose weight by keeping your metabolic rate up. Drinking ice water on an empty stomach, a cold shower and keeping an ice pack on the back of your neck can increase fat burning up to 300 percent.
He said he started tracking his own physical performance when he was 18 years old.
"My goal is to train people to be intelligent self-experimenters so they don't have to wait 10 to 20 years for some government conclusion that is probably going to be inaccurate," he said. "Rather, they can simply remove one thing from their diet or add one thing to their diet, and discover in a matter of weeks what would have taken them 10 to 15 years of waiting."
Exercise Science Expert: Stick to National Guidelines
Steven Blair, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina and past-president of the American College of Sports Medicine, said that while he had not reviewed the book, it's "nonsense" that a person could lose 20 pounds in 30 days.
"It's no secret what we have to do… It's not that complicated," he said. "If you want to lose a pound of fat you have to burn 3,5000 more calories than you eat."
National guidelines released in 2008 recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) each week. National nutrition guidelines say Americans should base dietary decisions off of the well-known "food pyramid," which includes eating three to five cups daily of fruits and vegetables and emphasizes the value of whole grains over processed foods. Not surprisingly, there's no recommendation for junk food intake.
By following those guidelines, Blair said, a person could lose one to two pounds a week, maybe three. But more weight loss than that would require limiting food and water to a point that could create other problems, he said.
In his book, however, Ferriss argues that not all calories are created equal, and that there are ways to boost the number of calories your body burns naturally during the day.
Is a 15-Minute Orgasm Possible?
The orgasm argument may stem in part from Ferriss's method of defining it.
The commonly accepted definition of an orgasm is when sexual arousal gets so heightened that it sends the body into spasms, with muscle contractions, heart palpitations, heavy breathing and other physical changes, said Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist and sexologist at the University of Washington. But the female orgasm lasts about 30 to 40 seconds, not minutes on end.
Schwartz said that in her decades of research in sex and relationships she had never heard of a 15-minute long orgasm.
"Can you imagine being in orgasm for 15 minutes? I'm not sure that would be a pleasant experience," she said.
"Could you stay in sustained heightened arousal for a long time? Yes," she said. "But once you have that orgasm the body does a whole lot of funny, interesting things and it then uses up an enormous amount of energy and it doesn't produce that kind of energy in that kind of sustained way."
In his book, Ferriss takes an alternative, "more useful" definition of orgasm.
"Orgasm is when there is no resistance -- no physical or emotional blocking -- to a single point of contact between one finger and the clitoris. This state naturally leads to the involuntary contractions and flushing that most associate with the word orgasm," he writes.
Ferris said he interviewed and was coached by female experts to come up with a how-to guide that could relieve frustration for both men and women.
Ferriss: Take Responsibility for Your Own Health
He also said that while medical and health experts can be incredibly helpful, bureaucracy and business can suppress cutting-edge conclusions.
"The USRDA [United States Recommended Daily Allowances] and governmental policies are influenced by industry subsidies and many other factors that have nothing to do with individual health or have very little to do with individual health," he said.
And though his book offers health recommendations, Ferris makes no bones about the fact that he isn't a medical professional.
"I am not a doctor and I don't play one on the Internet," he said, adding that a disclaimer at the front of his book encourages readers to consult their doctors before following the recommendations in the book.
Ultimately, Ferriss said, he hopes his book encourages people to take ownership of their health.
"At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own health and no one is going to care more about that than you," he said.