What is the PAGG Stack?


If you’ve read anything about The 4-Hour Body, you’ve probably heard of the PAGG stack.

If you haven’t heard of 4HB, you probably have no flippin’ clue what it is.

This post is my way of bringing us all together (*queue some cheesy song about friendship and unity*).

If all the text on the page gives you hives, you can skip ahead to my PAGG cheat sheet.

It all started with a homeless guy

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body, did some intense research, investigation, and testing regarding supplements. He’d been working on a combination when a homeless guy told him the secret to it all.

You know how I lost…more than 100 pounds? Garlic. Clove after clove. It’s that simple. (p114)

Apparently that was the turning point for Ferriss and his research. But it’s not all ramblings of homeless guys and somewhat OCD authors. There’s quite a bit of other research to back up his results.

All I knew about PAGG was that it’s in The 4-Hour Body and people who follow 4HB ask about PAGG all the time. In fact, it was the first search term someone used in Google to find my site, and I didn’t even have anything about PAGG on the site. I decided to do my own research to be able to speak intelligently about the stack. I’ll let you decide whether or not I reached that goal.

The Stack: basics

Simply, PAGG is a group of dietary supplements.

  • Policosanol
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Green tea flavanols
  • Garlic extract

I had heard of green tea and garlic, but as for the rest I had no idea. Below I break apart each layer in The Stack to outline what it means and what it does. The doses I indicate are what Ferriss’ studies showed to be ideal for fat loss on 4HB.

Policosanol
Policosanol is a fatty alcohol extract from plant waxes, usually from sugar cane or bees wax and wheat germ. Studies have shown that it can lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol (remember: “l” stands for “lethal” and “h” stands for “healthy”. Not really, but that’s how I remember which is good and which is bad), but the effect is not considered conclusive.

Ferriss tested on himself and other volunteers three different brands and three different dosages. In his studies, he found that policosanol helped to reduce bodyfat in himself and his “guinea pigs”. The optimal dosage he found was 23mg/day for lowering body fat. It’s taken once a day.

Alpha-lipoic Acid
ALA was first processed and tested in the 70s to fight liver disease with amazing results. 75 out of 79 test subjects actually showed a reversal in their disease. ALA also has antioxidant behavior.

In terms of fat loss, ALA is a “free radical scavenger”. Free radicals are waste products that weaken our immune system. They’re made by our bodies while converting food into energy . ALA seeks out those free radicals and handles them! It also helps our bodies fix themselves and make more of what we needs (like vitamins C and E).

You can find ALA in organ meats like liver and some green veggies like spinach, but it’s not much. It’s easier to take it in a concentrated form, like a tablet. The recommended dosage for alpha-lipoic acid is 300-900 mg/day.

Ferriss offers us one sentence that tells why it’s spectacular: “ALA helps you store the carbohydrates you eat in muscle or in your liver as opposed to in fat.” (p118)

Green Tea Flavanol
Aside from being delicious, green tea is also very good for you! Many of you already knew that. But there’s more than we knew.

Flavanoid basically just means “yellow pigment”, and that’s where a lot of the antioxidant characteristics come from. Ferriss tested for two other effects: the ability EGCG (the flavanol) has to redirect carbohydrates headed towards fat storage into muscles for use and its ability to cause fat cells to die off. Ever noticed how your body seems to hover around a certain weight no matter how hard you try (mine was 300)? It’s because fat cells shrink, they don’t really go away. They can be filled up again. The idea is that EGCG possibly helps them to die.

The recommended green tea extract dosage is between 975 and 1300 mg/day.

Garlic Extract
Garlic is one of my favorite flavor-enhancing foods. I didn’t know about its other health benefits, but I knew people took garlic supplements for its benefits.

Garlic can be used to help prevent some types of cancer and plaque buildup in arteries, and it’s been used to manage cholesterol levels. It’s generally better to take it in a supplement form for higher doses. Too much raw garlic can upset your stomach and make you smelly! It is delicious to use, though. I especially love it as a garlic paste on fish.

Dosage: 800mg/day. The PAGG supplement I use has 200mg per capsule, and I take 4 a day.

Cautions

At the 4-HBTalk forums, several people have reported headaches while on the PAGG stack, so keep that in mind. I’ve been on it for a week, and I haven’t experienced any problems at all. In fact, it seems to have stimulated fat loss as hoped, and I had more energy this week than I remember having in a while. However, I need to mention some of the cautions I found in my research.

Before starting any kind of supplement or medication, you really should do some research about it. You never know if something will affect you badly. It’s just responsible to consult your doctor before starting anything that could potentially cause problems. For example, if you’re on blood thinners, policosanol might not be a good idea. ECGC (green tea) in high doses can complicate the effects of some cancer-treatment drugs. If you are breastfeeding or pregnant, you should not take PAGG because of it’s blood-thinning compounds.

Ferriss says to be sure to get “adequate consumption” of B vitamins while on PAGG. He doesn’t say why or how much is “adequate”, but I’ll take his word for it. If you’re doing 4HB correctly, you’re probably OK. You can get B vitamins in tuna, turkey, lentils, beans, and peppers (there are more items I found, but they’re not allowed on 4HB). So while he mentions it as a caution, we usually get enough B vitamins in our diet anyway.

PAGG Cheat Sheet
I just dumped a bunch of info on you all. I think a short, bulleted recap might be helpful.

PAGG is:

  • Policosanol
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Green tea flavanols
  • Garlic extract

You take:

  • Before breakfast – AGG
  • Before lunch – AGG
  • Before dinner – AGG
  • Before bed – PAGG

For:

  • 6 days a week
  • For 2 months
  • After 2 months, take a week off

Where to get PAGG

Many of the pieces of the PAGG stack can be found and consumed in food, but to be sure you always get the right dose, it’s handy to use supplements. I know you can find some of them in WalMart. Below I’ve provided some links from Amazon.

Policosanol
Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Decaf Green Tea Extract
Aged Garlic Extract

The easiest solution I’ve found is the PAGG Stack by Pareto Nutrition. It’s hard to find the precise doses Ferriss recommends (I’ve tried to make it easier for you at Amazon), but Pareto Nutrition put the precise doses all in two capsules. The photo above is one day’s dose. You can buy from Pareto here: (PAGG affiliate link). This is what I’ve been taking.

Resources

As I did research, the reasons I found for taking these supplements is astounding. I’d recommend reading through the following resources I used in writing this report. You might be really surprised at the benefits of the PAGG stack that go beyond fat loss.

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss
Policosanol – What You Need To Know About Policosanol by Cathy Wong
Non-prescription Cholesterol Lowering – Policosanol by Richard N. Fogoros, M.D.
Alpha-lipoic Acid at UMD Medical Center
Lipoic Acid – Use of Lipoic Acid as a Dietary Supplement at Wikipedia
Flavonoid at Wikipedia
Garlic – Medicinal Use and Health Benefits at Wikipedia
B-Vitamins – B-Vitamin Sources at Wikipedia

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Comments

  1. Book arrived on Friday, and I’m digging into it this weekend.

    It’s hard to put down! But I keep thinking Tim Ferriss is an absolute whackadoo! I mean, crazy in a good way but OH MY GOD, the man is extreme. Despite what he says, I want to read the whole thing. I’m a big picture kind of a person. Going to go check out 4hbtalk.com, too. Thanks for the comment at Baker’s site!

    • Yeah, I thought the same thing. I read all the recommended reading for the fat loss in a night. You’re right about TF too…he’s frickin’ nuts! I can’t be that extreme, but I really love the principles behind what he said. It made a lot of sense when I read it, and I noticed the difference in how my body handled it within the first week. Good luck with it all! I hope you find some good stuff here too. I’d love to see how your progress goes.

      -j

  2. Great article, thanks! I’m ordering my stack now (using Tim’s recommendations where possible, your links otherwise).

    One thing about your comment on B Vitamins, though. There is no such thing as “the 4HB diet,” so to say certain foods that contain B vitamins aren’t allowed is simply wrong. Depending on what your goals are, the book recommends different diets, exercises, and drugs. The most common “diet” people will talk about is probably the slow carb, but Tim also discusses GOMAD (gallon of milk a day), drinking citrus fruit juices, etc., depending on what your goals are.

    • Hi Danny, thanks for the comment!

      I didn’t mean to suggest that the foods are not allowed. I actually got that line from The 4 Hour Body directly. Tim mentioned (can’t remember the page offhand) that it’s important to get enough B vitamins, so that’s why I mentioned it. Like I said, he doesn’t say why it’s important, he just says it is. I think I even had to look up foods that contain B vitamins to know what to write up there!

      -j

  3. Just a caution that in the book Tim says that before bed only take PAG (remove EGCG). For those of us that forget to be decaffeinated EGCG sleep is impossible. Also, even with the decaf. there are still trace amounts to beware of…

  4. Jason,

    I was trying to resarch the following questions and came across your blog (great job of breaking down the PAGG stack btw):

    – If I combine Coenzyme Q10 with the Policosanol does that have any effect?
    – Has anyone have any issues with the Policosanol combined with CoQ10 as part of the stack?

    Thanks!

    • Chris, good question! My short answer is that I have no clue. :) I’d never heard of coenzyme q10 until now, so I really can’t speak for it.

      Some really quick research suggests that it’s got some claims of being good for your heart, but there isn’t much science behind the claims yet. It seems to be safe, but it’s got some potential side effects that would make me uncomfortable. It also sounds like it might not play nice with things like aspirin.

      I saw a couple supplements that combine policosanol and coq10, so it seems like they’re safe together, but it also could really depend on how much of each. I’d check with someone at a supplement shop to see what they say. Also, a question to your doctor might not be a bad idea.

      Here’s some interesting info: http://www.policosanol.net/story/close-look

      Sorry I can’t be of more help, but I don’t want to make up stuff and then have you die! :)

      -j

  5. Hi Jason! I’m so happy I found this wonderful bunch of info :) … on to the question, I’m on the 4HB and been doing great, slow but stady weight loss. Then I thought, why not use PAGG and speed up the process even more. I have about 10 kg left to lose. After starting PAGG I’ve gained weight????? I havn’t changed a thing?? I’m pretty “arrrghhh!!!!!!!!!!” to say the least! What’s a girl to do? I’m taking complex B as Tim advises + calcium and magnesium. I’m drinking water as I should – eat lentils & beans with every meal. I walk most evenings 4,6 km. During my work day I walk all the time, I only have 30 min. break where I can sit down! I keep measurements of my body and I’ve also gained cm!!!
    I’ve tried writing Pareto about PAGG, aparently they don’t have time to respond! I don’t know if I should stop, if it takes days to kick in or????
    Hope you have an idear??? Really dont want to gain more weight, been so hard getting it off :/

    Sincerly Tanja, Denmark

    • Hi Tanja, thanks for the question. My initial response is “that doesn’t make sense”, but I’m going to do some research to see if I can find any reason. I do have a couple questions, and if you want you can reply to them over email instead of in this comment thread.
      1. How long had you been following slow-carb with results before starting PAGG?
      2. How long have you been using PAGG?

      I’ll see what I can find. :) A quick search hasn’t turned up anything, so I’ll have to dig around a bit more.

      -j

  6. Hi Jason, thanks for your quick respons! I know it dosn’t make sense, I’m just as surprised as you are – and to be honest a bit discurraged as well. I was on Dukan for 2 weeks while reading 4HB, then I started following Tims instructions. I was on 4HB a week, then I started on PAGG. Before PAGG I was loosing 200 – 300 gr a day. After PAGG, I gained weight 1,2 kg :( I’ve been useing PAGG 1½ week, cant figure out why it dosn’t work!!!!! I follow the slow-carb to the letter, I eat lentils and beans to a point where I should get a medal! Thanks for looking into my problem :) Perhaps someone following this thread have an idear?? I’m open to anything…..

    Tanja

  7. Hi Jason, just a quick update :) I stoped taking PAGG tuesday morning and this morning (48 hours later) I had lost 700 g. … havn’t changed a thing except PAGG – I sure hope tomorrow, and the following days will bring equal great weight loss? Maby PAGG just isn’t for me???
    Have a great weekend, Tanja

    • Interesting correlation, Tanja! Would you be willing to try again? If you can gain weight by taking it again and then lose it again by stopping, then we at least know PAGG isn’t for you. :) That’s so strange though. Have you tracked your weight (instead of just noticing it day to day) to see if week-to-week there’s less change when you PAGG?

      -j

      • Hi jason, sure I’ll give it a try again. I’ll start in 3 weeks time, cause right now I’m on medication that shoudn’t be mixed with PAGG. I’ll let you know when I start and how it goes :)

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