The Scientist

SCI is where you will explore the questions “What if?” and “Why not?” Making ice cream in 30 seconds? Hitting 26 restaurants in 24 hours? Eating 15,000 calories in 20 minutes? It’s all nuts, but as the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “Oh, you can’t help that. Most everyone’s mad here.”

– Timothy Ferriss, The 4 Hour Chef


Choose Your Category: Antioxidants | Enzymes | Polymers | Amino Acids | Salts | Surfactants | Acids

Antioxidants – Slow down oxidation reaction


Ascorbic Acid (aka vitamin C)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Ascorbic Acid

Prevents browning of fruits and vegetables. Can also be used as a seasoning to add mouthwatering acidity, particularly to fruit-based dishes. For injury and sickness recovery, Tim dosed up to 20 g/ day orally with effervescent vitamin C. I’ve tested 50 + g via IV, but this must be done under close medical supervision, as you can become hypoglycemic if blood sugar isn’t monitored. Mega-dosing is not recommended.“Antioxidant; helps protect against free radical damage; essential for healthy bones, teeth, blood vessels, and collagen; may help support the immune system.”

Enzymes (increase the rate of chemical reactions)


Bromelain (derived from pineapples)

Meat tenderizer. A little goes a long way. When overused, you’ll turn delicious steak into mush. When used perfectly, you get something like the rare beef consommé in Modernist Cuisine. Tim doesn’t use this for digesting protein (humans are pretty good at that), but he depend on it for accelerating bruise healing. Tim uses 250 mg 3x/ day orally between meals, per the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. “Aids in the digestion of proteins; prevents swelling and muscle soreness.”


Meat Glue - The 4-Hour Body - Transglutaminase

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

So-called meat glue (even sold as “Moo Gloo”) forms bonds between proteins. In nature, it is an enzyme and clotting agent that heals wounds. In cooking, we might use it to turn chunks of stew meat into filet mignon. Wear rubber gloves unless you want webbed hands:

  • Mix the meat with the powder.
  • Wrap it tightly in cling wrap. • Refrigerate for 12 hours.
  • Voilà! That $ 5 meat has become $ 50 meat. Well… maybe. Some in the media claim they’re indistinguishable, but chef-scientist Chris Young would certainly disagree.
Not applicable.




Great Lakes Gelatin The 4 Hour Body

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Gelatin

Gelification. One of the most versatile gelling ingredients known to man. Nothing melts in your mouth the way gelatin does. “Improves bone/ joint/ tendon health; natural anti-inflammatory; shortens recovery time after exercise and sports-related injury.”

  • YouTube: Gelatin (Health Benefits)


Xanthan Gum

Xantahan Gum 4-Hour Body

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Xanthan Gum

Emulsification, 5 stabilization, 6 and thickening. This is the closest thing the culinary world has to a gluten replacement. If you want to thicken something, whether making water like soup or soup like cement, xanthan gum can do the job. Useful for gazpacho (0.25% of total weight). “Good source of fiber; lowers blood sugar and cholesterol in diabetics.”

Sodium Alginate

(A component of the cell walls of colder-water brown seaweeds. It gives seaweed some of its flexibility to move with the motion of the ocean.)

Sodium Alginate 4-Hour Chef


Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Sodium Alginate

Spherification7 (when combined with calcium lactate), stabilization, and thickening. First used in the late 1940s, this ingredient became popular when chefs like Ferran Adrià used it to create faux caviar, faux egg yolks, etc. The pimentos in most olives are made this way. A pimento puree is made with alginate in it and then pumped into the center of a pitted olive, the calcium in the olive causes the alginate in the puree to set, and then you have a pimento-stuffed olive. Used by some as a chelator to remove heavy metals from the bloodstream. Highly controversial. I’d consider MD-supervised DMPS (2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonic acid) first.


Malto Dextrin 4-Hour Chef

Now Foods Carbo Gain Maltodextrin – Complex Carbohydrate Powder – 2 Lb

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Stabilization and thickening.Maltodextrin falls somewhere between a simple sugar and a starch. It’s also a bulking agent used to create a syrup-like consistency (e.g., red-pepper puree) without unpleasant sweetness or masking of flavor. Plain maltodextrin shouldn’t be confused with tapioca maltodextrin. The product that can turn oils into powders is derived from tapioca maltodextrin (N-Zorbit, made by National Starch), but it is very different from plain maltodextrin, which won’t work for that purpose. “Helps sustain energy levels during endurance-oriented workouts and/ or athletic events; supports weight gain.”


(from red algae)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Agar-Agar

Gelification Not applicable.



(from red seaweed)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Carrageenan

Gelification, suspension, and thickening. The Irish have used this for hundreds of years to create panna cotta– like desserts that won’t melt when warm, unlike with gelatin. Not applicable.



Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Sugar replacement in some confections; it is more resistant to humidity and crystallization, and it spikes insulin levels less than sucrose. Not applicable.




Gltuamine Powder 4 Hour Chef

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Glutamine

Can be combined with other sugars in a meat marinade to help produce greater Maillard reactions, contributing to the deliciousness of roasted chicken skin, toasted bread, or seared steak. Replaces glutamine lost in the body during high-intensity exercise. Tim routinely takes 8– 10 g post-workout. Used at high doses to help repair leaky gut syndrome (50– 80 g/ day in divided doses of 10 g), it can eliminate muscle soreness, even after high-rep squat workouts.


Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Glutamine

Reducing agent. Gluten gives dough its elasticity, and it also produces dome-like bread. So how do you get flat sides on hamburger or hot dog buns? Just add L-cysteine, an amino acid that interacts with sulfur bonds and also extends shelf life. L-cysteine is used to improve skin, hair, and skin conditions. It aids in the formation of structural proteins, such as collagen and keratin. Tim finds N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) more interesting for its effects on glutathione and taurine, particularly during multi-bout sports with 60 + minutes between sessions.

* D-Ribose

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Ribose

D-ribose is the backbone of many molecules and caramelizes at low temperatures (< 93.3 ° C/ < 200 ° F). Dust it on meat before grilling for unparalleled “meaty” flavor. It’s a modern secret ingredient in BBQ dry rubs, which typically contain paprika, brown sugar, allspice, etc. On the sweet side, it can be used in water to make fudgy caramel candies. Popular with power athletes (including me) for regenerating ATP. Has a synergistic effect with creatine supplementation, though Tim prefers to combine beta-alanine with creatine.“Enhances cardiac energy levels and supports cardiovascular metabolism; plays a role in supporting energy recovery during/ after exercise; may strengthen and support the body’s antioxidant defenses.”

* I think D-Ribose is interesting and may be worth a try!

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Whey Protein Isolate

Whey protein isolate (not “concentrate,” which spoils too easily) has an enormous number of uses. Found in Old Mother Hubbard’s “eating her curds [think cottage cheese] and whey,” whey is a fraction of milk. It can be used as a thickener, a gelling agent, a foaming agent, or to emulsify everything from vinaigrette to mayo. For mayo, you can even sub it for the egg yolk, starting with 0.5% by weight and adjusting as needed. It can be used to create gels; just combine your favorite liquid, 10% WPI by weight, and some calcium lactate (or nigiri salts used for tofu) to trigger the gelling. Tim’s favorite use is chocolate wine. It’s existed for hundreds of years, but here’s the modern method:

  • Melt and mix dark chocolate (it’s good for you) into a red dessert wine like Banyuls (around 50 ° C/ 122 ° F).
  • Blend well with an immersion blender and then let settle for a few hours (off heat) until the cocoa butter rises to the top. Skim off the fat and save the chocolate-flavored wine underneath.
  • Add 0.5% WPI (by weight) to the chocolate wine, warm to a nice drinking temperature (I like 55 ° C/ 131 ° F), and use an Aerolatte or similar foaming wand, or the hand blender, to froth it into a velvety texture.
Tim routinely uses unflavored WPI to satisfy the “30 grams within 30 minutes” fat-loss rule. He also consumes either 1 T coconut oil or almond butter to slow the uptake of amino acids, as WPI can act like the simple sugar of proteins: rapid rise and rapid fall into catabolism. Given the many sports and culinary uses it is economical to buy WPI in ridiculously sized jars.“May preserve muscle glycogen stores and help reduce the amount of protein breakdown during exercise.”



Calcium Lactate

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Spherification (used to trigger gelling of alginate and other calcium-sensitive gelling compounds). Calcium lactate tastes better than calcium chloride, but you need to use three times as much. “Supports bone health.”

Sodium Citrate

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Not Available

Spherification, but also an emulsifying salt. This salt of citric acid is often used to soften “hard” water to aid spherification; if your water or liquid has too much calcium in it, you won’t be able to get things to successfully spherify. It’s also the secret to a great fondue, in which you want cheese that melts smoothly and not into lumps. The mark of a ruined fondue is separation: curd that burns on the bottom of your pot and a slick of oil floating on top. Traditionally, this was fixed in Switzerland by using low-quality, overly tart wine (high citric acid) that loosened up casein proteins, helping to keep the fondue emulsified and smooth. Luckily, it’s hard to find wine sufficiently bad anymore. Now the solution is what built the Kraft empire: sodium citrate. James Kraft used citrate as a melting salt to make it easy to cast cheese into cans and then sterilize the cans so that the cheese could be shipped unrefrigerated. Emulsifying salts are why Velveeta melts as smoothly as it does. But you can make your own Velveeta using real cheese. It’s easy:

  • Shred your favorite hard cheese. If you’re using a really mature cheese like a hard Parmesan, you should blend it with a softer, mild cheese for the best results.
  • Add a small amount of water or wine to a pot, add about 0.5% the weight of the cheese in sodium citrate to the liquid, and heat to dissolve.
  • Add the cheese a little at a time and stir until it all melts.
  • When the cheese is melted, you can adjust the consistency by adding more liquid to make it thinner, or you can pour the molten cheese into a mold, wait for it to harden, and then slice it into your own singles.
Ingested by some athletes 90 minutes prior to race time for events 2– 15 minutes in duration. Orally dosed sodium citrate (often at 0.5 g per kg body weight) quickly degrades into sodium bicarbonate— baking soda— which has been demonstrated to improve performance in events 1– 7 minutes in length.Empirically, I can say that there are high responders who see great endurance gains and nonresponders who see nothing at all. For anyone who tries it, use it near a bathroom the first time. It can cause rapid evacuation, if you catch my drift. Sodium citrate is hard to find at GNC, but the Internet provideth.



Soy Lecithin

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Soy Lecithin

Emulsification and thickening. Oil-based soy lecithin is used to make smooth chocolate and can be used to make a really smooth mayonnaise or salad dressing that won’t separate into oil and water over time. The “de-oiled” powder, on the other hand, can be used to make dish suds– like foam. El Bulli restaurant brought this to the forefront with a mignonette sauce (shallots, pepper, vinegar) “cloud” served on oysters in the half shell. “Helps the body emulsify fat; supports a healthy cardiovascular system, nervous system function, and liver function; supports normal choline levels during exercise.”



Malic Acid

(often derived from cherries or apples)

Natural Medicines Database Consumer Information: Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Gives food a tart/ sour flavor. Good food triggers a saliva response, which malic acid does in spades.Chris uses it to season many things (cherry puree, lentil salad) at the end of prep, just like you’d use a pinch of salt. It makes everything taste fresher. “Prolongs the body’s ability to produce energy during physical activity and reduces the onset of fatigue.”

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